Setting up a small woodworking shop is not easy at all, especially if you have never run any similar business before.
You will need to take into account the space, the location, the equipment that you need to have, and most importantly, consider your budget so everything will not go beyond your financial ability.
So, how to set up a small woodworking shop?
This article will point out 11 things you need to think through before starting your own workshop:
#1. How Much Space Do You Need For A Woodworking Shop?
The size of the space is very important and must be clarified from the beginning of the process.
If you own available space, it’s great, but if not, maybe you have to consider your budget for hiring a place.
You also need to decide a certain orientation.
Are you setting this up just for fun or are you going to sell your products for a living? What kinds and how many hand tools or power equipment do you need?
Normally, the most ideal space is over 36 square feet. You will need a workbench and enough space to cut the sheets of wood.
So, try to look around and see if you have such a space at home before considering other factors!
#2. Choosing The Right Place:
Doing the carpenting job outside is the best, but if you don’t have any available space as well as budget for renting a place, an empty room in your house is not a bad idea.
An attic is also an option if it is big enough and not located above any residential living space.
However, you should know that it would be difficult to deliver woodworking tools and machinery to an attic, and you can transmit the noise through the entire house.
If you still want to choose an attic, you will need some creativity to make it workable.
The basement seems to be the best option as an in-house space, but it would need large doors and wide stairs to bring in large machinery and lumber.
You can also set up your woodworking shop in a garage as long as you can solve the problems with the noise and insulation of the roof to reduce moisture.
#3. How Much Does It Cost To Start A Small Woodworking Shop?
Considering the cost! The next thing you should take into account is the total cost to start a small woodworking shop.
Normally, if you just start up your business, your budget will be more limited. That’s why you had better avoid buying things that you don’t use.
Actually, the price is quite various. You can buy tools with a budget of $5000 or even $1000.
For a shop list under $5000, you may need a table saw, drum sander, clamps, drill bit set, router bit set, saw blades, crosscut sleds, extension cord, workbench, etc.
If you only have under $1000, then you should start with the most fundamental tools, such as
- Chisels (around $70),
- Hand planes ($40),
- Spokeshave ($27),
- Sharpening system for hand tools ($90),
- Hand saws ($50),
- Marking and measuring tools ($40),
- Marking knife ($11),
- Clamps, power tools, etc.
Remember, estate sales, antique stores, and eBay are a really great way to acquire hand tools cheaply.
#4. What Do You Need For A Woodworking Shop?
This is an indispensable question needed to be defined in the process of discovering how to set up a small woodworking shop.
As you might see in the above part, I have already mentioned several lists of necessary tools you may need to buy, and it really depends on how much money you get at this moment.
If you have a huge budget, just go and grasp as many tools as possible.
But if your budget is limited, then try to invest in the most essential things. You are gonna develop your workshop later.
There are 3 types of power tools:
- Stationary power tools (such as table saws, radial arm saws/miter saws, bandsaws and drill presses, jointers and planers, etc.),
- Portable power tools (like hand drills, sanders, jig saws, etc.),
- And some pneumatic tools.
You need to decide which one you are gonna use for a long time, then it should be prioritized.
#5. How Do You Layout A Small Woodworking Shop?
Knowing how to layout your woodworking shop is also very important. But you need to remember that no workshop is perfect for everyone.
Each person is unique and has their own working style, skills and a collection of tools.
You must know what really works for you, so basically there is no perfect layout plan for everyone.
First of all, you need to consider machine placement in order to make your work process the most smooth and convenient.
Make sure to prevent running around to get one tool and don’t forget to arrange cleaning tools around your working corner.
Next, there are several tools that should be put together to make your tasks easier.
For example, the jointer, the thickness planer, and the table saw should be placed close to each other since the process of ripping lumber and dressing its surfaces and edges involves repeatedly using the three machines.
#6. Need To Soundproof Your Wood Shop
You will need to think about soundproofing your woodworking shop. Otherwise, you will disturb your neighbors by the noise from the tools and machinery.
In fact, this is quite easy to solve. There are tons of ways to soundproof a workshop, from pricey to economical solutions.
If you have the budget to rebuild your wall, a double-wall construction is one of the best choices to prevent the noise from leaking out.
However, not everyone gets enough money and time for remodeling the wall. If that’s your case, don’t worry!
There are still a couple of low cost options you can consider:
Option 1: Use Sound Insulation Batts
Option 2: (recommended for DIYers): Using the Cleat method, in which the drywall panels are hung on a pair (or more) of wooden “cleats” made from a sliced 2×4
Of course, you can also look for silent tools, but they are very expensive and hard to find. The best way is still soundproofing your whole room.
#7. Set Up Electricity and Light
Remember: How safely and conveniently your machine and tools plug in (or switch on) will largely depend on how you handle the conduit carrying the power into your shop.
No matter how big your workshop is, you still need a well-planned and installed electrical wiring system.
In fact, if you are starting from scratch, go for at least two 20 Amp (minimum), 110-volt circuits if you can’t afford to put ln 230V. This, again, depends on your current budget, so try to take into account every factor.
Meanwhile, light helps to complete your tasks better.
Proper workshop lighting needs to come from multiple sources, and not from a single lamp or bulb.
You can build your lighting from 2 sources, and install an additional one near or on your workbench.
There are many types of lights for you to choose, but LED lighting would be more suitable if you plan to work for many hours at your workshop.
#8. Heating and Ventilation:
If you have a separate workshop from your home, you would care about the climate.
If the weather is always warm, you can use a fan. However, if it is getting too hot, you will need something like a window-mounted swamp cooler.
If the weather is too hot and you cannot afford to renovate your workshop, you can flexibly work in the early morning or in the evenings.
In winter, it would be better to install a heating device, otherwise, you will be freezing and your sensitive items such as stains or varnishes can easily be ruined.
A proper ventilation is also extremely necessary.
Properly flowing air can help to keep humidity down and prevent you from overheating when it is hot.
Perhaps more importantly, having adequate ventilation is mandatory when working with many of the chemicals you use in the workshop.
It’s gonna help to prevent unexpected accidents.
#9. Dust Control & Dust Collector
No matter where you are setting up a woodworking shop (maybe in a garage, a basement, or outside your house, etc.),
you will certainly have to consider dust management, since keeping your shop’s floor and machines clean of sawdust helps to create a safer working environment.
In fact, regardless of the kind of dust control or collection equipment you have in your shop, you still need to learn how to use it effectively.
You can use inexpensive furnace filters over the doorway or window to enable fresh air to come into the shop.
You can tape these filters temporarily or you can make a frame to hold them while sliding them in when needed.
To separate large items, it would be better to use a vacuum system and you can easily find it on Amazon and frequently on eBay (it costs around $300 but it’s worth investing).
#10. Fire safety
There are several dangerous factors that you should pay attention to like combustible dust, paint/stain spray in the air, metal shavings and dust, oily rags, etc. because they all can become dangerous once they have the chance to burn.
If you are setting up a woodworking shop in a garage or a basement, you should be very careful.
Basement fires are hard to approach and lead to a 50/50 chance of losing your house because almost nobody would want to enter that risky place.
Garage fires are also extremely dangerous. It usually contains flammable stuff like paint, gas, chemicals, cars full of gas, etc.
When a fire starts from the garage, it should be controlled as quickly as possible, otherwise the surrounding areas can be at a big risk.
To prevent these fire risks, you had better think of having a fire extinguisher, cleaning up after yourself, looking around, and realizing what hazards are in your shop as well as install a fire alarm.
#11. Personal Safety
Woodworking tasks are normally risky. You can hurt yourself anytime without being careful. To protect yourself, you must:
- Always wear safety equipment like ear protection, latex gloves, glasses, and watch your hands when working with sharp blades.
- Wear the right clothes. Don’t wear baggy or loose clothes because part of them can get caught in a cutting head or saw blade. Besides, make sure to remove all jewelry before starting your work.
- Avoid using anything that can impair your reaction time and judgment
- Disconnect power source before changing blades or bits on your power tools
- Work against the cutter
- Minimize distractions
Alright! How to set up a small woodworking shop? Perhaps all of the above information is enough for you to start your own woodworking shop.
It’s a great inspirational job but you would need to consider a lot of factors before actually starting a project.
But don’t worry! You will manage to deal with all the matters, as long as you like this job.