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How To Setup A Small Woodworking Shop In A Garage: Beginner’s Guide.

How Do I Convert My Garage Into A Woodworking Shop?

This is a very simple guide on how to setup your own small wood shops in the garage.

It’s not as hard or expensive as you might think, and it can be done with just about any kind of tools that are available at most hardware stores.

Step 1: What You’ll Need

1) The first thing you need is some space.

If you have an extra room in your house then great, but if not then we’re going to go out into the garage.

This isn’t really necessary though because there are plenty of other options like basement shop, sheds, etc…

2) Next up is power.

We want to make sure we have enough outlets around our dream shop area.

Most garages don’t come equipped with them, so you may have to buy some additional ones from Home Depot or Lowes.

Make sure they’re rated for 120VAC/60HZ. Also, make sure you have one outlet near where you plan to work.

That way you won’t accidentally trip over something while working.

3) Now let’s talk about lighting.

There are two types of modern LED lights you should consider getting; incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes.

Incandescents last longer than fluorescents, however they cost more money per bulb.

Fluorescent bulbs also use less energy which makes sense since they only produce adequate light when electricity passes through them.

They do tend to break easier than incandescents though. So depending on what type of projects you plan on making, you may want to invest in both.

4) Speaking of project ideas, here’s another important item to add to your list. An electric drill.

While many people prefer using hand drills, electric drills are much faster and allow you to bore holes without having to stop every few seconds.

Plus, they usually come with variable speed settings, meaning you can adjust the drilling speed according to the material being used.

5) Finally, you’ll probably want to pick up a router table along with accessories such as sanding blocks, effective dust collection capability bags, cutting mats, jigs, bar clamps, etc.. These items aren’t absolutely needed, but they definitely make things easier.

 Step 2: Get Organized

Now that you know exactly what equipment you’ll need, it’s time to start organizing everything.

Start by putting all of your supplies inside large plastic bins labeled accordingly.

Then take each bin outside and place it next to its corresponding tool.

For example, put your saws together, followed by your routers, followed by your screwdrivers, etc…

Once you finish labeling all of your bins, move onto step 3.

 Step 3: Set Up Your Workbench Area

Now that you’ve organized your workspace, it’s time to set up your actual bench.

  • First off, you’ll want to lay down plywood sheets.
  • Depending on how big your workshop is, you might be able to fit 4-6 pieces of wood.
  • Lay these down flat until you reach the desired height.
  • After laying down your boards, measure the distance between the top board and the ceiling.
  • Add 8 inches to this measurement and cut your second piece of plywood.
  • Place this new piece right below the first one and repeat the process.
  • Continue adding layers of plywood until you reach the desired length.
  • You will now have an open space at the bottom of your bench.
  • This is where you’ll store your bulkiest tools.

The best thing about doing this is that you can easily access any part of your bench if you ever need to get anything out.

What is A Workshop Layout?

A workshop layout refers to the arrangement of different basic woodworking tools within a room or building.

It’s basically like arranging furniture for optimal usage.

In other words, there isn’t just one perfect setup.

Instead, there are several options available based on personal preference.

Here are some examples of common advice on shop layout:

1) The “Lazy Susan” style

If you’re looking for something simple, then the lazy susan design should suit you well.

All you really need in order to build this type of system is two long tables.

One sits directly under the other.

On the underside of both router tables, you’d install shelves.

These shelves could hold bunch of power tools, including circular saws, miter saws, planers, grinders, etc…

To use them effectively, simply rotate the upper table around the lower one.

When using the lazy susan style, keep in mind that you won’t be able to see certain parts of your entire shop from above.

That means you may not always be aware when someone else needs help.

Also, because the entire surface area is used, it doesn’t leave much room for storage.

But if you don’t care too much about having extra space, then this is probably the easiest way to organize your larger tools.

2) The “Upright” style

Another popular choice among DIY enthusiasts is the upright style.

Unlike the lazy susan, this method uses only one large table with multiple drawers underneath.

Because everything is stored vertically, you can still view every single item without moving.

However, since most people prefer horizontal surfaces, they often find themselves struggling to locate things quickly.

For example, say you want to grab a tool off the shelf but you can’t remember what drawer it’s located in.

With the lazy susan, all you had to do was turn the whole unit upside down.

Now imagine trying to flip a full size cabinet upside down. It wouldn’t even make sense.

As such, many people choose to avoid this kind of setup altogether.

3) The “Tower” style

Finally, another popular option is the tower style.

Like the previous setups, this also involves installing multiple levels of shelving. However, instead of placing items horizontally, these shelves are stacked vertically.

Since the top level is usually empty, it provides plenty of additional storage space.

And unlike the others, this setup allows you to see everything clearly while standing up straight.

Of course, this comes with its own set of drawbacks as well. For starters, it requires more floor space than either of the first two styles.

It also makes it difficult to reach high-up areas like ceilings or roof rafters.

This might seem like an obvious point, but I’ve seen countless projects where builders have struggled to access those hard-to-reach places.

The good news is that you can easily modify any of these designs by adding different features. 

You’ll just need to decide which ones will work best for you and your project.

In fact, there are so many options available today that choosing between them isn’t nearly as daunting as it once seemed.

So whether you’re building a small woodshop on a budget, or you’re planning to expand into a larger facility later on, we hope our guide has helped you get started!

Will I need an air compressor or shop vac?

Yes, you absolutely must purchase at least one of each.

An air compressor provides pressurized airflow so your saws and drills are capable of cutting and drilling materials quickly.

Shop vacuums help remove dust from surfaces while keeping debris away from your eyes.

They’re especially useful during sanding operations, allowing you to avoid breathing in fine particles.

Both types of devices come in handy throughout every stage of construction. In fact, many woodworkers prefer using both together.

For example, after finishing a project, you might use a large shops vacuum to clean shop all of the excess material left behind.

Then once everything is dry, you can switch over to an air compressor to blow down the room.

This helps prevent mold growth and also keeps dust levels low.

What size table saw should I choose?

The best option depends largely upon what kind of projects you intend to tackle. You can start with either a 10-inch or 12-inch model depending on how big of a space you have available.

A 10-inch outfeed table saw will give you plenty of larger power tools but won’t handle very thick stock.

On the flip side, a 12-inch version offers enough capacity to cut through thicker boards.

Of course, there are pros and cons associated with each choice. For instance, a 10-inch model tends to cost around $200-$300 whereas a 12 -inch unit typically costs between $400-$600.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $100-$500 extra for accessories like fence rails, miter gauges, etc.

So before making any final decisions, take some time to consider your needs and budget.

What is the appropriate shop size for a woodworker?

I’m sure everyone would agree that a smaller workshop is better suited for hobbyists who enjoy working alone.

On the other hand, a bigger shop spaces is ideal for professionals who plan to produce lots of products at once.

If you fall somewhere in between, here are some tips to consider:

1) Keep Your Tools Close At Hand

One thing that separates professional shops from amateur workshops is their proximity to power sources.

When building projects that is something big, you don’t want to be constantly running back and forth to plug in equipment.

That means keeping your tools close together.

Ideally, you should keep your bench right next to your router, drill press, saws, etc.

But if you live in a rural area, then maybe you’d rather put your machines further away.

Either way, try not to leave anything too far out of arm’s reach.

2) Consider Adding Storage Space

Another important factor when deciding how large your workspace needs to be is how much stuff you intend to store inside.

Do you only use one type of machine? Or does every single piece of machinery require its very own spot?

If you find yourself using several types of tools regularly, then you may benefit from having separate spaces dedicated to each item.

However, if you rarely use certain piece of equipment, then perhaps they could go outside.

3) Don’t Forget About Ventilation And Lighting

As mentioned earlier, adequate ventilation is especially crucial in a workshop environment.

Without proper airflow, dust particles tend to accumulate quickly, making it harder to breathe.

Also, additional lighting helps make your workplace safer during long period of time spent hunched over a table saw or lathe.

4) Make Sure You Have Enough Work Area

Finally, you must ensure that you have enough room to comfortably move around while performing various tasks.

For example, do you prefer to stand up while cutting boards with a circular saw?

Or do you prefer to sit down while doing this task?

Whatever works best for you, make sure you have plenty of room to maneuver.

5) Choose The Right Location Based On What Works Best For You

Now that you know what factors influence the size of your workshop, let’s take a look at where you can actually set everything up.

The first step is determining exactly what kind of space you have available.

This includes both physical dimensions, but also things like electrical outlets, plumbing access points, and even parking spots.

Once you’ve figured all these details out, you can start thinking about where you might place different items.

Three common locations for woodworkers’ workstations:

In-Home Workshop – This option is great for those living in apartments or condos because there isn’t any extra space required beyond an actual garage shops.

You’ll need to install additional shelves on top of existing wall space, as well as add proper storage cabinets underneath.

A downside to this setup is that you won’t always have easy access to electricity.

So unless you plan to run power cords through the ceiling, you will likely need to invest in some battery backup systems.

Outdoor Shed/Workshop – If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, then you probably already have a shed or other outdoor structure that would serve as a perfect location for a small shop.

Just remember to check local building codes before installing new structures.

Also, keep in mind that most sheds aren’t designed to hold heavy machines such as tablesaws and routers.

So if you want to build something sturdy, consider adding support beams instead.

Garage With Attached Carport – Finally, if you live in a house with attached garages, then you should definitely think about setting up organized shop here.

While not ideal for storing large machinery, this type of workspace does offer several advantages.

  • First off, since you don’t have to worry about running wires into the attic, you can easily plug in tools without worrying about tripping hazards.
  • Second, you get more natural light than working inside a dark basement.
  • And finally, you may be able to park multiple vehicles right next door!

 If you decide to go ahead with one of these options, it’s important to note that they require much less floor area than traditional workshops.

Which means you could potentially save money by purchasing smaller pieces of equipment rather than buying larger units.

However, when choosing which machine to buy, try to focus on quality versus quantity.

That way, you’ll end up spending less overall.

As long as you follow our tips above, you shouldn’t find yourself struggling to create a functional home dedicated workshop.

But if you do encounter problems along the way, we hope this guide has helped you figure them out.


Woodwork shops are becoming increasingly popular among hobbyists who enjoy creating their own complex projects.

Whether you choose to set up your own shop at home or opt for a commercial model, following the steps mentioned above will help ensure success.

By using proper planning techniques, you’ll be able to avoid making costly mistakes while still enjoying the benefits of having a dedicated workspace.

Have fun designing and crafting!

Scott Buckley

Scott Buckley

I'm Scott, a Woodworker by day and book geek by night. I love making things out of wood. While I have and still, on occassion do, work with metal and plastics, I find them to be cold and somewhat boring. Wood is warm and I feel close to nature with it. I started as a means to help like minded creative folk to answer burning questions. I hope you enjoy reading and learning, and always feel free to reach out to me should you have any questions!

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