It’s pretty exciting to set up a woodworking shop right in your garage. You have to prep the space, make sure everything is safe, and you need your woodworking tools as well. You may have a long to-do list on this one, so it can be frustrating if you don’t know where to start. 

Here’s everything you need to know:

Before we continue, you might want to check out Ralph's video. This whole article is based on his experience:

General Wood Shop Layout

Whether you’re setting up your small woodwork shop in your car garage, a rental space, or just an outbuilding outside your house, there are a few tips you need in terms of layout. Here’s our advice:

Don't Disrupt the Flow

Create a smooth traffic flow inside your shop. From the first cut up to finishing, you want to have a well-organized process.

The journey of the wood from shaping to polishing should be smooth. You don’t want to place the first tool you need at the center of your workshop and the last tool at the door. Create a flow where you can move from one machine to another without hassle.Try it out so you know if you need shop rearrangement, like which equipment should be near the door or away from the door.

a white car parked outside a garage

Tool Storage

As mentioned, heavy-duty stuff such as a radial arm saw, jointer, router table, or tablesaw should be placed in the order you need them for a seamless process. 

Planning a specific workshop area to store them is important. Ideally, it should be near your work bench so they’re within reach. Utilize tool cabinets, the floor, or even wall space in your work area. 

Storage units would help. Wall mounted organizers are great for hand tool storage. Clamps on walls are a great for storage too. Sometimes, a door on the floor can open to a compartment.

Let There Be Light

In every book for woodworkers, you’ll find this tip: woodworking shops have to have good lighting. When you use a jointer or a tablesaw, you want to stay safe.

Have overhead lights and lamps to provide lighting as you work. If possible, place your workbench or work table near a window to get natural light during the day. Remember, you will sit or stand in your workspace for a length of time, you want it to be well-lit when you cut or plane pieces.

Wood Storage

The best place to store wood pieces or sheet goods is near the front of the shop (like near your garage door) or your workbench. You’d want to grab a piece of wood when you walk in the door, and this makes it more efficient.

Another option is a a dedicated cabinet for raw pieces of wood and another for unfinished workpieces. Consider plywood boards and other sheet goods in planning your floor plan, too.

different tools displayed in a garage

(Looking to build your own audio equipment? Here are our top wood picks for speaker boxes.)

Have a Middle Ground

We actually mean a table or an island in the middle of everything. This is also called an assembly table or assembly area, and it holds lumber, boards, a saw, a hand tool or two, jointers. Your screws and nuts can go on here for easy access. With this option, you will have a smoother flow too.

End at the Window

After our boards and materials become a beautiful workpiece, we need to coat it with finishes and paint. That’s why the area where you apply finishes should be near windows or doors. Being near the door helps air out the fumes. And if you have an AC unit on the side or against a wall, that helps fan out fumes too.

Alternatively, you can have a high-velocity wall or floor fan as well. The amount of chemicals you can inhale in a workshop can be potentially harmful, so have this option for better ventilation.

If you have a respirator mask, that’s good protection. However, many of us forgo this, causing health problems if you’re always working on a ton of wood projects.

Try to Keep Things Moving

Setting up storage can be tricky and you may never know what works  immediately, so be prepared for any adjustments on your shop floor.

Thankfully, most large tools today (like the router table, tablesaw, or jointer) have mobile bases so you can roll and push your machines around your workspace. This allows you to move the machines when you need space on either side of it.

Clamps on walls are useful too. Planning to have shelves on your wall will also be great for other products.

paint and other stuff stored on shelves

Setting Up Your Garage Workshop

If you’re just starting out but wanting to create profit in woodworking, you might want to begin in the comfort of your own home – in your car garage. This saves you money on rent and also allows you to customize the wall and floor space as you see fit.

Spending time in your shop sounds heavenly. To set up your shop, here’s what you need to do.

The Space

Determine how much space you have to work with. Not all garages are the same size, and a one-car garage may not accommodate the same amount of materials or workbenches as one with a larger shop floor. But before you set up shop, clean and clear out the space. Garages often double as storage spaces, so decluttering would reveal how much space you have.

If you’re still shopping for larger power tools, aim for mobile ones for more flexibility. Be careful with the big machines though, you might end up choosing between which ones should stay on the floor and which ones should go.

blue car parked inside a garage

The Equipment

The equipment others would need in their dream shop may not be what you need. Every woodworker is different, but basic machinery such as a table saw and jointer are common. For some, a beverage cooler might be a necessity. If you work in winter, a wall-mounted heater would do wonders. Whatever you choose, just have high-quality and heavy-duty equipment in your floor plan. That is extremely important because you want every piece of equipment to last withou having to buy new ones soon.

Organization

Having a few organizers like a toolbox, clamp racks, workbench, assembly table, and work belt can make your shop neater. Hangers, hooks, a clamp rack, cabinets, and rungs are all great for keeping your materials out of your way.

As for your work surface, having bench dog holes may help depending on the work you’re doing. You can even have an accent wall on the side to make your shop prettier. If you care about aesthetics and you want to brighten up the space, that’s a good idea.

Power It Up!

Make sure you have outlets working at a capacity of both 110 and 220 volts. Larger equipment will need more voltage while smaller ones will do well with the 110. 

These outlets should be placed in optimal positions for your garage workshop layout. It’s nice to be able to plan each receptacle around each machine, but extension cords would help with that.

You might also need heating in your space so include that in planning too. At least 5000 watts of heating power is enough.

It's All About Lighting

Aside from the planning the storage, heating, and wall organization in your layouts, it’s important to have lights in your space. Of course, you want to build your first ever woodworking projects for novice with ease and without straining your eyes.

Generally, what helps is having light from two separate sources. If you have a row of overhead lights, use another lamp to offset the overhead light and eliminate the shadows.

Having adequate lighting is crucial to a workshop. You want to be able to create small projects of furnitures with accuracy. It’s a safety feature as well since you’re working with potentially harmful equipment and you don’t want any accidents happening.

a drill and other equipment on wood table

Dust Collection

A table saw, radial arm saw, sand paper, jigsaw, and almost every other tool can accumulate particles in your work surface. This can damage your airways especially after long term exposure, so dust extraction is a must.

Use a dust collection system. Different from your run-of-the-mill shop vacuum cleaner for woodworking, dust collectors move higher volumes of air. Combined with blast gates, they gather waste and wood chips from your wood shop to prevent health risks, fires, and safety issues. 

Give It A Try

When you start building your projects, that’s the time you’ll figure out what you need to modify in your plan and organization technique. You can plan your setup all you want, but sometimes, you still need changes to the space. It can be wall organizer or moving storage near the door – or you’ll realize you’re missing some more things altogether.

Don’t be afraid to work on a few projects even when your layout isn’t completely done. Start by building simpler projects like frames, wine holders, address signs and any easy piece. If you need more tips, we have articles packed with beginner woodworking project ideas.

You can also sign up for services that will provide you with tips and information, like the Woodworkers Guild of America. After you’ve attempted the easy tasks in your space, move on to a complex project. This will help you get a better idea of what works in your small workshop space.

hand tools attached on the wall

Small Basement Workshop

There are problems that come with a basement workshop. As you probably know, basements are have mold, leaks and moisture issues.

Moisture is a killer of heavy machines. When assessing the condition of basements, also make sure that the plugs and clean and in ideal positions. 

Basements aren’t usually known for adequate task lighting, so you may need to enlarge the windows and even install a door to let the lights from outside in.

The Tools

A lot of beginner woodworkers are concerned about overspending or buying the “wrong” accessories. After all, it’s hard to take advice off from a page or person who just love building projects.

In this quick guide, we’re going to help you weed out the “good” from the “bad”. Read on to find out how.

What Not To Do When You Buy New Tools

Instead of reading off of untrustworthy sites, we suggest looking into proper reviews. Don’t buy and use hand-me-down products.  Some items you might need on the shop floor include a combination machine, radial arm saw, a drill press, router table, miter station, and some air tools as well. Planning the organization and storage is crucial in your layouts.

a Dewalt power tool on top of a plywood

Good Tools to Invest In

Power Tools

Table Saw – You might have seen a table saw on many of the lists you’ve come across. Whether it’s a large table saw or a portable design, table saws are great for cutting angles and cutting through surfaces. If you’re planning to have a table saw, have an outfeed table.

Miter Saw – The use of this is for cutting rounded corners. The standard blade is about 8-15 inches. A miter saw station is common in a basement shop or a garage shop.

Drill Press – This is our favorite stationary machine for small workshops. Similar to a hand drill, drill presses have precision and are easy to use. It’s capable of drilling holes, sanding, and producing grooves as well.

Planer – Also known as a thickness planer, these are used to trim lumber into consistent sizes.

Sanders – This does the job that any best quality sandpapers do, but much more quickly and effectively. The abrasive surface smooths down surfaces upon contact. This is often used as a finishing touch on most projects, including these fun plywood projects.

Band Saw – A band saw is a machine that sports a thinner vertical blade that moves up and down when it’s powered on. It can also cut through metal and is a common fixture in a small shop. You should have space on either side of this equipment.

Router – These handy devices can be handheld and are used to hollow out pieces for your project.

Circular Saw – An enjoyable piece used by many professional woodworkers, the circular saw is for crosscutting. 

Power Drill – The use of a power drill is common in the house and in the shop. It’s one of the accessories most commonly required in a job.

Jigsaw –  It’s a versatile power tool. It’s ergonomic and gives you a lot of control.

Want to know the power tool for your lawn? Check out our review of Husqvarna YTA24V48 here. 

Hand Tools

Measuring tape – How do you know if you have the right sized lumber?  A measuring tape is an essential in any tool box for length, width, and depth measurements.

Hammer – One of the most trusted items in the woodshop and in the household space. It’s essential for securing nails or whenever you need force.

Chisels – Chisels are used in shops for chiseling surfaces and are ideal for beginner woodcarvers.

Speed Square – Another must-have in your work shop, this tool is used for measuring the right angles.

Screwdrivers – Even if you have an electric power drill that can double as a screwdriver, having one you can operate with your hands is still useful. 

Wrench – Screwing in nuts would require a handy wrench. 

Workshop Safety

Even a small workshop can be an accident-prone site. Workshop safety knowledge is imperative. 

Cleaning up and keeping your new workshop neat minimizes risks. This is crucial especially if you let your kids work on the shop from time to time using their own wood kits to build.

FAQ

How do you Layout a woodworking Shop?

You layout it by thinking first about your workflow and setting things up according to that. Group related tools, place your bench near a window, and have available wood near the entrance. An assembly table at the center helps, too.

What is the ideal size for a Wood working Shop?

The ideal size is 75 square feet to 125 square feet depending on the number of tools you have on the floor. Power tools will occupy much space, so that’s one thing to consider in shop size. You must also have a lumber storage or a lumber rack.

How do I set up a small wood working shop?

You set up a small woodworking shop by creating a layout that fits your workflow. The garage or the basement are good locations. For layouts, determine the space you need, the equipment, the dust collector system, and the light in the area. A small shop should also have windows for ventilation.

What is A Workshop Layout?

A workshop layout is a plan that indicates the placement of equipment, storage areas, and your workbench inside your workshop. A good shop layout is ideal for optimum workflow and doesn’t result in too much clutter or excessive unnecessary transportation within the floor space.

Conclusion

We hope our guide helps you in your endeavor to set up a small workshop. The basics are the same, whether you’re renting out a workshop space or working in your basement.

If you’re thinking about starting your own small woodworking business from your garage, ensure your success with some of these resources:

Employment Law Changes for 2021

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Want to build something for your home? Check out these recommended 8×12 shed plans, next!

Robert