Quick Tip: Home Workshop

These tips will help you consider the different things that go into building your workshop.

Home Workshop

Photo: roomzaar.com

There is no one perfect workshop plan: Each of us has different needs, depending upon whether we’re cabinetmakers, occasional Mr. Fixits, or someone in between.

Home workshops can be freestanding shops, purpose-built structures of extravagant size. At the other extreme, a toolbox and folding card table can also constitute a “workshop.” Most often, though, home workshops are modest spaces that put to use otherwise unused space in the house, cellar, garage, or an outbuilding.

Perhaps the key question to put to yourself is, “What is my avocation?” The layout, size, and equipment in your shop should evolve logically from your answer to that query, as each must reflect the nature of the work you will do there.

At one extreme, perhaps, is the homeowner concerned with occasional repairs around the house. For this, you need little more than a space to store tools in such a way that they are easily accessible. A cabinet or a closet would probably be quite adequate, making it possible to reach for the wrench and screwdriver without having to move the eight dusty boxes of books that got piled in front since the last time you needed a half-inch open-ended wrench. (Keep in mind, too, that the easier it is to get to the tools, the greater the odds you’ll put them back where they belong and be able to find them with ease the next time you need them.) You probably don’t even need a sawhorse, since the cellar stairs will suffice for the occasional saw cut.

At the other end of the spectrum is the woodworker making new kitchen cabinets. In that case, you need to have the space to lay out, cut, shape, and assemble large flat pieces of wood or plywood into bulkier boxes. Such complex projects require considerable time, too, which means that jobs in process will have to remain unfinished from one day (or weekend, or longer) to the next, while the glue dries or until your schedule allows you to return. If you are embarking on a second career as a woodworker, you’ll need a high degree of organization, ample storage space for stock, and a miscellany of tools adequate to the nature of your work.

Somewhere in between is the home hobbyist teaching himself (or herself) toolcraft for reasons having little or nothing to do with the profit motive. In that case, the workshop doesn’t have to be built (or equipped) in a day. A good plan, in fact, might well allow for a small collection of tools, in anticipation of other tools being added in the future as they are needed.