If your woodworking shop is small, it is essential that you take advantage of every nook and cranny of space. Organization is key to getting the most out of cramped spaces. Filling every potential space should give you more work area. As you fill every possible space, do not forget the seldom-used areas above your head. These loft spaces can be used to categorize and store rarely used wood and tools.
How to Organize a Small Woodworking Shop
Stand in the middle of your shop. Visualize how you use your tools during your building projects. Determine the three or four basic and common steps of every construction process. Organize the areas of your shop accordingly. Locate your work tables close to your major power tools, so you do not have to walk across the shop to continue working with your wood.
Set up your major workstations. Depending upon the size of your shop and what tools you have, create work areas that allow adequate room to use tools properly—without being cramped and sacrificing safety—and that minimize needlessly walking back and forth from one work station to another.
Locate and centralize your power tools. For example, make a space for your power saws. Organize and set up your table saw, jigsaw and other saws you may have. Your wood lathe is a frequently used tool, so set it in close proximity to your power saws. Also, place your vacuum in this area, since it is the area in which you will be creating the most sawdust and shavings.
Assign one area for your hand tools, just as you have done for your power tools. Place the ones you most frequently use within convenient access. Organize them on your work surfaces so you do not have to hunt for them every time you need them. Find and designate a place for every tool. Do this by setting up as many workstations as your available space will permit. Include adequate storage for related items at your workstations. Dedicate certain areas near your hand tools, in which you will store related wood working items, like nails, tacks and bits, in small, clearly labeled bins.
Utilize the wall space that is easily reachable and not blocked by worktables or huge tools. Hang pegboard on the walls in certain areas. Draw outlines of the tools you plan to hang there. Use pegboard hangers, and hang the tools you have drawn outlines for. Group the tools that have similar or closely related uses like pliers, hammers, planes and others. This will give you a permanent place to always look for tools. If you look and see no tool in your drawn outline for it, you will know it is misplaced. Find it and rehang it, or else you defeat your purpose.
Group and tie together kinds of wood to make taking inventory quicker. Store all fasteners, clamps and related items close to the areas of their uses.
Be sure to firmly secure any items and materials stored overhead. Secure your shop, and be particular about whom you allow to have access to it.
Chuck Brown is a freelance writer and former teacher and athletic coach. He has held professional stints as a business owner, personal fitness trainer, curriculum designer, website designer, market trader and real estate investor. Brown holds a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in Christian counseling.