Professionals and Amateurs Together

Novice Shop Setup


I am a novice woodworker setting up my first shop. I have a 12 x 24 barn that I will be using but am not sure the best way to start setting up the shop. Is there a resource that gives general advice on what should be set up first, what NOT to do or is this just a learn by your mistakes type of task?—John Dube


Garrett Hack replies: Taunton Press (Fine Woodworking) has many books about setting up a shop. Start with where do you want to work in this space and where is the best light or view? That’s where your bench goes along with your hand tools in a cabinet on a wall close by. If you are building small things you can set up your machines where they are convenient, the ones you use most often closest. If you plan on doing work with longer pieces you’ll have to orient your tablesaw, bandsaw, jointer and planer (if you have them) to the length of your space and placed near the middle. Maybe a couple can be on wheels and moved when not used.

Getting material into your shop and finished work out is something else to consider. Make it easy. Beyond that, storage, extra bench space for a grinder or small tools, racks for lumber and clamps, these can go anywhere. Have plenty of outlets including some for 220 volts if you can. Start somewhere and change things if something isn’t working.

Steve Costain replies: There is something called analysis paralysis that happens with many of us. Get started with something. I have revised and moved things around in my shop at least five times and it gets better each time. We all work differently and do different work. A shop for building kitchen cabinets would be set up differently than one for making small boxes.

Tags: Shop