How to set up your workshop
By William Kriel
Do It Right The First Time!!!
These are but a few tips setting up a woodworking workshop, there are many other things to consider when planning your workspace.
We do not always realize how important it is to properly plan the layout of of our new workshop. Planing ahead can save you a lot of frustration in the long run. The size of your workshop will have a big influence on your layout.
It is a good idea to make a scaled drawing of your floorplan, scaling the square meters and machine dimensions will give you a good idea of how much space you are going to need around your machines. It is time consuming but definitely worth it.
How To Set Up Your Workshop
Consider Your Workflow
First of all one has to think about the workflow. Consider the path a piece of timber takes from the moment it enters your workshop. This will help guide you through nearly all of your shop layout decisions in the future. Grouping of tools near to where it is going to be used most of the time in important, otherwise it will always be running around looking for stuff.
Grouping Your Tools
Tools that perform similar functions or are usually used in succession should be located together. One of the most important groupings is the jointer/planer/table saw trio. During the machining process, these three machines will be used repeatedly so it’s a good idea to shorten the distance between them.
Workbenches must be well lit
Natural light makes it easy to see what you’re working on and it’s free, it makes it a more pleasant working environment as well. Your workbench is where you will likely spend most of your time so why not have it located in a comfortable spot that gives you a nice view out the window. REMEMBER NO LOOSE AND TANGLED POWER CORDS ON THE FLOOR!!!
Store your timber near to the entrance of your workshop if you do not have a seperate storage facility for your wood. This way when you come back from the timber dealer, you can back up your vehicle and quickly offload the stock into the workshop. Make sure that your timber stock is not near damp areas or open flames. Sort timber types together otherwise it will be a nightmare finding the correct piece of timber for different projects. Also separate timber according to size.
During nearly all stages of a project, the assembly area is the focus point. It makes sense then to have the assembly space located somewhere near the center of the workshop. This way, your project parts are never more than a few steps away and easily brought together. Doing this at a later stage is going to be a difficult exercise. Make sure that your assembly area is always kept clean and free of extension power cords, if you need extra electricity cable points let it come down from the ceiling on square tubing. Never start putting anything other than assembly parts or projects in the assembly area otherwise this is going to become a habit hard to be broken.
If you do not have a dedicated spray booth for preparing, mixing, and applying finishes, try to locate it near a window. Often times we’re dealing with toxic chemicals and it’s nice to have one or two open windows nearby for ventilation. You’ll have the additional bonus of natural light to help with colour matching and better inspection of your work. Keep the workshop well ventilated at all times and don’t skimp on paying a few extra bucks for good lighting.
Put machines in the right place
Certain machines work better against the wall than others. Bandsaws, router tables, drill presses, mortisers, and stationary sanders are all good candidates for placing against the wall. If you keep these tools next to each other you need to leave enough space in between them to operate correctly, however you may need to occasionally pull them away from the wall for full access if you do not have enough space in you workshop.
These are but a few tips setting up a woodworking workshop, there are many other things to consider when planning your workspace. In following posts we will discuss this more in depth. Remember: It is always better doing it right the first time than realising a few months down the line that you need to move your workshop around. Believe me when I say that it is going to take you much longer doing it over later and you are going to lose a lot of production time.