One of the joys of woodworking is creating something you can actually use in your home. To be productive, a separate creative work space is needed to plan, pursuit, and produce projects. To set up a dream woodworking workshop, there are many factors to consider: Location; space available; storage; lighting; ventilation; electric power requirement; and safety. Use these guidelines and build yourself a perfect workshop.
- Location: Select the location that have a separate entrance and be in a convenient place for the ease of transporting materials into and out of the workshop. It should have an extra-wide door to make getting things in and out easier. Find the place that is off the beaten path so you need not worry about disrupting family activities as you work.
- Space available: You need a space large enough to install your stationary tools such as a table-saw or radial-arm saw, a place for your workbenches, sawhorses, and storage for your portable tools and accessories and still be able to move around safely and comfortably. Consider the size of the materials you will be using such as sheet goods (plywood, fiberboard.) Plan how work will flow through the room as you move from one piece of equipment to the next. Plan your detail to make sure your setup would work before you set it up.
- Power Source: Large workshop should have separate circuits for tools and lights. Install Grounded Faulty Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles. Have ample convenience plugs to run your power tools.
- Storage: Install a sheet of perforated hardboard (pegboard) to the wall near your workbench to hang tools. Hang the board so it extends 1 to 2 inches out of the wall so the tools can be inserted. Install wall cabinets and shelves for your portable power tools, finishing materials, and small hardware. The most important things is to keep all your tools organized and in their appropriate place so when you need a tool you know where to find it all the time.
- Lighting: Your workshop should have excellent lighting from artificial source and natural lighting from windows. Large fluorescent lighting fixture usually works best. It provides more light than incandescent lighting and is less expensive to operate. Add task lighting as needed.
- Ventilation: Chemical hazards include finishing’s and solvent vapors. Sometimes a common household fan is adequate for ventilation requirement in the work area. Install an exhaust fan in a window of the shop that can exchange the air every 4 minutes. The cubic feet area of your shop determines the size of the fan needed (the length X width X height).
- Workbench: Workbench is an activity hub for woodworking workshop. The workbench must be sturdy, strong, flat, and large enough to accommodate your work. To get a personalized proper height workbench, stand straight and rest the palms of your hands on a surface just high enough so that your elbows are slightly bent. Measure this distance from the floor and you will get your proper upper work height for your workbench. For woodworkers who use table-saw and radial-arm saw often, you might want to make your workbench the exact height of your stationary tools. This makes it easy to handle sheets of plywood for cutting and allows you to use the bench as an additional cutting support. A full size workbench typically measures 6 to 8 feet long, 24 to 36 inches deep, and 30 to 42 inches high with drawers or shelves under the work area and two vices at each end of the workbench.
- Dust Containment: Efficient dust containment is a major consideration. Unless you are using only hand tools, most power tools especially power sanders create large amount of easily inhaled air-borne dust. Have a plan for a good dust collection system. Make it as easy as possible to keep your shop clean for health and safety reason. Have garbage containers with wheels so you can remove the trash easily.
You have taken the steps to become a carpenter; you bought essential tools and armed yourself with honey-do lists of home improvement. Now begin with a simple project to ignite your woodworking passion. Caution though, woodworking project inevitably leads to another and you might discover that you have an ingrained artistic talent with wood.