How Much Space Do I Need For A Wood Shop?


Woodworking: Getting Started

I find that when people are starting a woodworking project they get hung up on where they want to build their projects. Often the question asked is “how much space do I need for a wood shop?” Well, there isn’t just one answer to that question. It all comes down to what you have readily available. do you live in a house without a garage but you have a basement available that can be used. Maybe the house that you do live in does have a garage that can be transformed into a woodworking area.

Woodworking In a Garage

Trying to figure out how to set up your first woodshop can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. Here are some ideas on how to find the area that is just right for you. First, if you have a garage ( which is ideal ) and are thinking about using that, get everything cleared out of it. This way you will have a better picture of what you have to work with. Trust me, even in a small space, you will realize that you have more room than you think. Now isn’t that a lot better? It’s easier to work with an empty room than one that is cluttered.

Once this step has been achieved, this should answer the question of how much space do I need for a wood shop. From here you should be able to visualize where you want to put the power tools that you need. Some of the basic tools are a table saw, circular saw and maybe a band saw. Heck, there are some useful tools on the internet that will allow you to put in the dimensions of a room and the program will create it for you. From there you can start placing tools on that layout to see what works best.

Keep in mind that over time your work area won’t stay the same. For example, if you are a beginner you will probably start out with small projects such as maybe a bird house or picture frames. As you get better and the level of confidence becomes greater, you will probably want to do some projects that are bigger. This means that to do those projects, tool placement will have to change.

Setting up a wood workshop especially when woodworking in a small space such as a one care garage will probably require you to put all of larger power tools on rollers or castors. This will make it much easier for you to move things around to benefit you. Hopefully by doing this, you will be able to get the vehicle in the garage at the end of the day. If you find yourself in a bind to where you can’t cut the piece of wood because the area is too small, this will allow you to move the saw outside to make the cut that is needed.

No matter how big or small your garage may be, it has one big advantage over anything else. That’s unloading the lumber which beats carrying it downstairs or into a room that you have transformed into your work area which can be quit the task. Like everything there are pros’ and cons’ and there is nothing wrong with a basement wood shop. I’ll get to that in minute. Woodworking in a small space also means that hopefully less floor space that has to be swept up and maintained. However, working in a garage usually means that it won’t be climate controlled.

Imagine trying to work when it’s 20 degrees below 0 outside on a project that has to be done by a certain time. It makes it damn miserable which my father soon found out. So his solution at the time was to install radiant heating in the garage which worked out well for his purposes. If this is something that you want to do be careful that it is designed not to cause any fires from all the sawdust that will be flying about. This heat source is just one example that could be used but your situation might be different. Having a heated workshop in a cold climate is very important not just because of comfort, but because some things don’t react well with the cold.

Woodworking In a Basement

Let’s say that the house you live in does have a garage but you are unable to turn it into a wood workshop. The next option that might be available to you is the basement. This served dad well when I was a kid growing up before we had our house built. Some things to keep in mind if you use the basement are make sure that you have enough ceiling room, I would say at least 8 feet. Whatever projects you build be sure that you can get them out without too much difficulty or if you have outside access that would be great. In other words don’t build a boat. This area will work out fine for small projects to somewhat medium size projects. My rule of thumb is don’t make something that will take more that 2 people to carry up the stairs.

If you decide to make a basement wood shop, there are some other things that you should keep in mind. The biggest one is the noise, this can be quit annoying to others in the family but it does shield your neighbors from the noise. I know this used to drive me nuts when I was a kid when dad would be ripping wood downstairs when I was watching TV. The noise just travels throughout the house. On the other hand at least he could stay out of the cold since the basement temperature was just a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the house. plus the humidity was better controlled which helps with whatever you finish your project with.

Some other things to consider is the sawdust, your varnishes or other types of finishes. If the house has forced heat and air, the system will distribute a lot of that sawdust throughout the house. This not only creates more of mess but isn’t healthy either.The same applies when you use varnishes or stains. Smell will travel throughout the house. So what will have to happen is your going to have to install some kind of ventilation to remedy these annoying problems to keep you and the rest of the family safe.

There are some advantages to using your basement as a workshop. There is usually more floor space than a garage plus you don’t have to wait for things heat up before using them. Some tools don’t react very well with the cold. You can go to work right away whenever you feel like it.The security of all your tools and project materials is better than a garage. If privacy is something that you value, the basement provides that as well. Yep, that’s one of my pet peeves is nosy neighbors. Since the basement is bigger, you should in theory be able to design a workbench that would better fit your needs versus one in the garage. Again, these are just my opinions and your situation will always be different. I just hope that some of my experiences can point you in the direction that will benefit you.

Woodworking In a Apartment

Well I saved the apartment woodworking for last in hopes that the first 2 sections would suffice ( garage vs. basement ). Guys and gals I just don’t see how having a space in an apartment would even be feasible unless hand tools are the only thing being used. There are so many downsides to even try this. First of all even if you want to attempt this, it would be who of you to ask your landlord or landlady first ( show respect ). Technically, this property is not yours to do what you want. The next thing is your neighbors, you know as well as I do a lot of them are not going to like the noise if power tools are being used.

The other big thing is how will you keep the apartment clean? Sawdust doesn’t come out of carpet very easily. I just think that this option would be more of a hassle than anything. But if you want to try, be forewarned that you may put your security deposit at risk and there is one or two things that you might have to do to make it possible. One thing is do you have carpet or hard floors in the apartment? If you have hard floors that’s a benefit because at least sawdust can easily be swept up. If you have carpet, your going to have to lay down plastic or some other type of covering over the carpet.

If you live in an apartment and are serious about getting into woodworking I think that it would be a good idea to explore other options for your wood shop. One option would be instead of renting an apartment, look into renting a house that you can afford that has a one or two car garage. Make it a point to ask the landlord if it would be okay to use that as a work area for your woodworking needs. Always be honest and upfront with what your plans are, honesty will always carry you far. Another option would be to find a space for rent somewhere where you live that would be able to accommodate what you want to do.