Our family moved back into our current home after renting it for two years. We had spent those years working in another town and renovating a home together. In that time I started to play around with woodworking as an extension of what I was learning doing remodel work. When we moved back here I started setting up a dedicated workshop. That space has undergone steady transformations over the past two years, and while there are so many things I would like to do (and tools I would love to own!) it has truly become a place where I feel creative, relaxed, and happy.
If you are looking to set up a work space for whatever you do you probably noticed that there are a ton of awesome ideas out there. You probably also started to feel that your garage, shed, basement, or whatever you have to work out of, is hopelessly inadequate. Shop envy. It’s real.
What I want to do is share a few thoughts on how my own workshop has grown in two years, how it has become so much more functional, and what I have done to make our space work. And while we do woodworking, this is applicable to different kinds of shops. It’s a waste of time and creative energy to spend time wishing you had what someone else has. Make your shop your own, and you can bet there are probably plenty of other people out there who wish they had what you have.
First, a shop tour:
I should note that Kreg Tool graciously provided the workbench, which I consider an indispensable part of my shop. All opinions are, of course, my own.
Also, this site participates in affiliate marketing, so this post includes some affiliate links. You can read more about my policy here.
Here are 5 points to consider in building your own workshop or creative space:
1. Make it accessible, and clean it
Building simple storage for my workshop made the biggest difference toward functionality, and I was able to do so for very little money. Investing in a little storage not only frees up space, it improves workflow and allows you to do more of what you love, quicker and without the frustration that comes with not being able to find materials.
A couple lumber racks by Portamate were the game changer for my shop, allowing me to clear lots of valuable space off the floor. All the rest of the shelving was built using simple materials like scrap 2x4s and plywood.
And, clean it. If you have a wood shop add an air filtration system. You only have one set of lungs, so don’t blow them on breathing that stuff, guys. I trash the place pretty hard when I’m in the middle of a project, but before starting another I try to get it fairly clean. Find what works for you, and clean it up once in a while.
2. Consider what inspires you
This was my shop just a few months ago, after a major clean up.
And here it is after painting last week. I also wrapped the big beam overhead in scrap cedar from our leftover fencing.
Painting the walls may not have done much in the way of functionality (other than making photos less yellowish), but it feels pretty amazing. It feels like a space where creativity flows. It feels like a place I can be proud of. Make your workshop an extension of you in some small way.
3. Let your space grow with you
The way you work, what you make, and what you like change over time. So should your space. This bench worked for two years, but it grew cumbersome and slowed my work flow as time went on. I found myself moving tools far too often. It was also far too high, and offered little to no actual work space.
The solution came to me one night that instead of figuring out exactly how to fit all the power tools on one bench I needed to move the tools off the bench itself. The table saw and router table on stored on the bench right now because I haven’t yet made a stands for them, but when I do the bench itself can double as an outfeed table.
Good workbenches can cost a whole lot of money, but Kreg Tool makes solid, strong benches in an incredible range of sizes for a great price. This one measures 28 x 64″ and is mounted on their locking casters that roll smoothly and easily. You get the rails and hardware, and then add the top and shelf. I elected to top mine with 3/4″ plywood, attached to another 3/4″ frame, and framed in walnut wood. It is finished with Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane.
4. Think in terms of dedicated work stations whenever possible
Whatever it is you do, think about how you work and set up stations accordingly.
I have to highlight this awesome mobile miter stand made from plans by Brad at Fix This Build That. With the wings up it can hold an impressive load of wood, and with them down it can fold into a small space. Taking Brad’s recommendation, I will be adding a switch that will turn the vacuum on when the saw is in operation, and run for a few seconds after the saw stops to clear the sawdust.
I topped the stand with Kreg Tool’s Precision Trak and Stop System, which I cannot say enough about. The system allows me to make repeated cuts with perfect accuracy.
5. The best tool is the one you have
This is maybe the most important point. Don’t let not being able to afford the latest and greatest stop you from doing what you love. I would love a $2500 table saw, but this $299 job site saw by Dewalt has served me very well over the past three or so years. We all have a wish list, but don’t let that list keep you from making something cool.
Thanks for visiting my humble shop. Best of luck as you make (or continue to make) your shop your own, happy building!