Garage Wood Shop for hobbyists – Another guide to optimizing because it never ends!
Garage wood shop for hobbyists is about finding a good space where you have enough room to work is imperative. The most accessible spot for most of us is the garage. The lucky ones can take over and have complete access, meaning they can set up permanently and leave everything in place. The rest of us might be able to claim half of the garage but we must work around pulling cars in an out. Here in Texas, we have to be concerned about weather with hail damage to our vehicles, especially in the spring and early summer. The last thing I want to do is drive a truck that looks like a golf ball.
If you are one of the very fortunate woodworkers, those who has an outbuilding on your property and can build a permanent wood shop, then this article is NOT for you. But let me be very clear, I am extremely jealous. Hopefully at some point in my life, maybe in retirement, I can find that piece of property where I can have that permanent wood shop. But until then, I have to use what’s available and that is my part time garage and part time wood shop for my woodworking hobby.
My garage reno, if you call that took several years. The good thing is that I was fortunate enough to have a good set of cabinets when I moved in, so I was able to store my woodworking tools right away. For those of you that don’t have that luxury, a good place to start is measuring out your garage and figuring out where you can fit shelving and still get vehicles in and out. And of course, if you are a more advanced woodworker, you’re going to try to build some nice ones. For us hobbyists, that could be a big future project.
Step One in creating your garage wood shop
The first thing I did was get everything off the floor. If you can find a spot on the wall for all the tools, chairs folding, tables, etc. you’re going to have a great head start. If you’re a hoarder, and can’t seem to let go of anything, this is going to be a struggle. But maybe this is the incentive you need to get rid of those bikes your kids haven’t ridden in 20 years. One of the things I’m pretty good at is getting rid of stuff that I’m not using. Have I come back and said boy, “I wish I would’ve kept that”? Yes, but the reality is that it hasn’t been that critical and I can usually replace whatever I got rid of easily. There’s always give and take, and when it comes to putting our woodshops in our garage with limited space, these are the trade-offs we must make.
As I roamed around Home Depot and Lowe’s trying to figure out what was the best shelving and hanging configurations, it took several tries before I came up with something that worked for me. Even now, I’m always looking at it from the perspective of how much better I can make it. Another recent idea for me was adding a small storage shed in my backyard. Many of you probably already thought about that but I’m a bit slow and have a small yard. So that helped quite a bit by allowing me to remove all the yard tools, bags of potting soil, etc. which gives me more storage space for tools.
When I buy new woodworking tools storage is always a huge concern. So, from a tools perspective I have to buy everything that’s portable and I can store it easily. Like many of you I have other non-woodworking tools that take up a lot of space, and you can see they fit nicely on shelving or on hooks in the garage. But a nice addition to my storage problem has been this overhead rack that I put up a couple of years ago. Right now, you can see I have a bunch of scrap wood, but I also got buckets, shop fans, boxes of parts and other things that normally take up room in my cabinets. I can stick that stuff up there and kind of forget about it for a while. I do like to keep all my woodworking tools together so I can easily access all that in a few places.
Wood storage is another big concern. As you get more into woodworking, and the more projects you do in your small woodshop, you’re going to accumulate scrap wood. So therefore, you need a good storage solution for the wood. I mainly have two locations; one on the wall for the longer material and one on the floor where I can back the rear end of my truck over the pile and not hit anything. I use wood from my scrap pile on virtually every project so it’s important to take that into consideration.
Additional Storage for your garage woodshop
A really cool option is to put a motorized lift in and store things on a platform and lift it up to the ceiling or even into the attic. I was seriously considering building something like that for my workbench but instead chose to just lean it up against the wall for now. And like everything else there’s a ton of videos out there on YouTube but this is one I really liked and explained everything in detail.
The critical tool
This article is not about selecting the right table saw for your workshop, there are tons of videos and articles about that. But since it’s the primary tool woodworking hobbyists will have to purchase, you have to figure out what kind of space you’re going to have for your table saw. So before looking at table saw features, you really must figure out your garage layout. You’ll have to determine if will be a permanent or temporary wood shop, can you use the whole 2 car garage or only half, and what are the dimensions of your storage area?
Continuing to add to your garage wood shop
But now, as I improve in woodworking, I’ve noticed I need a couple other tools to really improve my accuracy. The first thing I’d like to get is a tabletop drill press, I just find myself using a drill guide a lot and I know a tabletop drill press would be extremely helpful. But the problem is always space, I just must find somewhere to store it. So what I have to do is go through all my cabinets, see what’s in there and figure out if there’s anything that I can get rid of. I do have cabinet below my small, permanent workbench that I just have a bunch of crap in, so I plan to rearrange that by cutting the shelf in half and store the drill press in there. In addition to that I’d like to get a more powerful router, I just use a handheld right now, and do need to add a routing table in addition to the bigger router. Whether I build or buy the router table, that’s another large item that I’ll have to figure out where to store before I decide what to do.
Organizing your garage woodshop for maximum efficiency will not only help you get the most out of your tools, but also save you time and energy. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. If you’re looking for garage workshop organization ideas, there’s a ton of those out there on YouTube and other sites, but you have to figure out what’s best for you. Take your time and remember, anything you do will work for a while, but you will eventually want to change so be prepared for that.
Garages in most cases are multi-purpose and are often a place where people can’t give up parking for a permanent workshop, so plan wisely. For woodworking hobbyists it’s critical for design a configuration to store your woodworking tools and keep peace in the family. Let me leave the woodworking hobbyists with these 10 tips you should consider for converting your garage into a part-time workshop:
- Select the table saw type that will best work for your situation
- Hang tools on the wall where you can
- Use pegboard hooks for small items
- Install shelves on the walls to get tools and other items off the floor
- Install rolling or permanent shelving system if you have the space
- Figure out your wood storage
- Hang shelves from the ceiling
- Use outdoor storage when possible
- Buy tools that fit in your storage
- Get rid of your old crap or store it somewhere else other than the garage
Check out Small woodworking shops on Facebook. I have to say though, some of those shops don’t really qualify as small https://www.facebook.com/groups/664192354329907
Hope this has been helpful and let me know your ideas that the rest of us can leverage.