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Working in my “apartment shop” taught me the importance of minimizing unnecessary tool set-up time.
Think of your daily workflow in your shop like a highway system—eliminate the bottlenecks and you’ll experience what workflow implies:  continuous progress. You step into the shop with the intention of getting something pretty specific done.  Ever wonder why it took three times as long as you thought?  You guessed it, unexpected speedbumps.
You can continue to encounter them, spend time dealing with them as you go, then move on.  Of course, you’ll re-discover them the next day or next week.
I find that most of these “bottlenecks” in my workflow are recurring, and can be designed out of my shop. Interruptions in your pre-planned sequences also mean interruptions in thought, which leads to frustrating mistakes.
If you draw your design using a computer, you can overlay some path studies to determine your ways of working, and you can start to notice patterns.
Think through your overall shop layout goals first using these posts as a guide, then you take it the rest of the way. Then, make sure that the bottlenecks and speed bumps mentioned below, as well as a list of your own (probably a long list, like mine), are dealt with deliberately in your woodshop design.
How useful is a carefully designed workflow when you have to walk over to the dust collector, turn it on, then walk back to the tool station again before a cut?  What about walking to the back of the table saw to open the blastgate?
The above three things all have to be considered, and one of them may be compromised somewhat, but the important thing here is that you think about it and make it a part of your design. As I walk into the shop, I grab the keychain and put it on a belt loop, so it’s there when I need it.
When planning your shop layout, think about the spots in your shop where you rarely set foot.  For me it’s all four corners, the overhead “attic” space, behind a door swing, and along the wall that divides my garage and house. So, figure out what things must be in your shop zone, but aren’t really in your primary workflow for you. Once you have your list, look at it again.  Does all that stuff even belong in your shop space?  Could you (remember you are a woodworker…) build some storage cupboards or other built-in storage  compartments inside your house, a garden shed, or outdoor cabinet to house some of this stuff?  It’s a perfect excuse for a project, and you’ll benefit from it daily.
Do you have overhead space you’re not using?  Put rarely-accessed storage in dust-protected clear plastic boxes, label them, and stash them up high. I use this when I install stuff at someone’s house, but I think it’s too bulky to wear in the shop. In the article Tool Clusters!, we looked at how creating process cells around a series of operations requiring several tools could make a tedious job much easier and less tiring. Walking yourself through the above tasks, in order, will let you know what machines will be in the tool cluster, and then you can begin putting them in sequence to match how you work. Once you have the basic cluster together in your shop, play-act (or actually perform) the typical sequence so you can tweak the machine station angles and distances.
Watch for infeed and outfeed room, room for you to maneuver, open space for a shop cart to hold the infeed and outfeed stock for you without cluttering the machine tables, and an overall shortening of travel distance.  You may have to shuffle the machines a few times to get it right. You may have some specialty processes that are unique to you, like turning processes, a production run of specific kinds of parts you often need to make, or hardware installation involving drilling holes and hinge mortises using templates.  Ever think of creating dedicated stations or station groups for a few of these?  Having duplicate tools to reduce set-up time? If you find yourself looking for something, stop and think about why that is.  Could you do something to avoid that next time?  Perhaps have several copies of that item around the shop?  Paint a fluorescent spot or stripe on it?  Color-code it?  Put a bold-text label on its container?
In the recent Storage article, I went through why I realized it’s critical that everything, down to every fastener, needs to have a logical home in my shop.  Rather than fight against nature, I figured out how I naturally tend to keep things, and how things tend to stay clutter-free vs. In a way, since my woodworking processes were very fractured, I didn’t mind the time it took to set up blades and fences.  But sometimes, when my neighbor would leave to the gym, I’d only have 2 hours of shop time. This meant that once I machined one stack of boards, I’d have to quickly re-set blade heights, fence distances, and router bits before the next batch of cuts.  That was when I realized that tool set-up can take half of your shop time.
If you must use “transformer tools”, then design it so that your set-ups can stay intact when the tool is rotated or flipped out of the way, and you can make it fast.  You don’t want to have to re-hook up dust hoses and change your settings every time you want to use it. I really make sure that the table saw surface stays clean; otherwise I’m spending time clearing it off whenever I want to use a sled. Assuming you’ve taken care of your clutter-tendencies through smart storage design, you still need plenty of horizontal workspace.  Workbenches for heavy-duty work, assembly tables to hold things up at the right height while you work on them, a shop cart by your side to temporarily hold stuff for you within arm’s reach, and giant outfeed and side-extensions all can help to keep your workflow uninterrupted. Ever find yourself wondering where to put all of those just-cut pieces during a cutting operation?  Make one!  You ARE a woodworker; make something for yourself today. What I mean by this is every time you have to leave the station to get something, flip a switch, or put something back, stop yourself there.  Ask if this happens often.  Could you buy another one of those things to keep right at the station?  Maybe move it to a drawer at the bench permanently? WoodChip Tip right after a WoodChip Tip: Now that everything is on wheels, you can freely experiment with your shop layout to get it just right, test it for a few weeks, then adjust it again!  As your working style evolves, you may want to do this every few years. Besides the additional mobility these double-locking casters provide, they also give a bit of vibration isolation, dampening energy transfer between the motor and the floor.

While my machines stay in the same position most of the time (after all, that’s why I so carefully designed a layout!), I want them to have the ability at a moment’s notice to move them. WoodChip Tip: Another reason having everything mobile (on wheels) is that you’ll be more likely to do a major cleaning, since it’ll be pretty easy to move things to one side of the shop, clean the heck out of it, then rinse and repeat on the other side. A dry-erase board can be used to keep a tasklist so you know where you left off, and to put (maybe in a different color) shop improvement suggestions or problems to solve. Connect with me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for more ninja tips to Optimize Your Woodshop! And, if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow #woodchat every Wednesday night, at 6:00 pm, PST. Enter your name and email below to get your free copy of this organized and detailed checklist to jump-start your woodshop design today! Also, you’ll get weekly WoodChip Tips, design ideas, free useful downloads, free mini-courses, and other cool stuff in The Other Side of Zero newsletter! How I went from a cluttered and disorganized shop to a super-productive layout with a convenient dust collection and electrical set-up.
I knew from the start that my shop had to have certain capabilities so that I could make the things I wanted. If you can answer these questions you have the basic strategic direction you need to move forward in designing your dream shop.
The planes you use are shaped the way they are because someone asked what they want the tool to do, how people are going to use it, and how will they be able to maintain it.  If you think to yourself how you are going to use your shop in the next few weeks and how you imagine it’ll serve you in 5 years, you can design a shop with the layout, comfort features, and infrastructure that will do all those things in a convenient way.
In this article, I’ll walk you through my thought process of how I arrived at my current layout.
To do those things you’ll need certain tools, but maybe you don’t need a $4000 cabinet saw at the moment.  I only buy tools as I need them, but I reserve space in the shop design for the tools I know I will need as my work evolves. First you’ll want to let your mind wander for a bit to help you design your shop around your current needs and for the near future.  This will generate a list of requirements for you, and from there all you need to do is organize that list (mindmap and outline it) and just start designing by sketching. I started with the shop layout, because one of my main issues was lack of good workflow in the past, which slowed me down and made for a tired afternoon in the shop.  I remember building  several picnic-table style benches out of redwood in my apartment, and it was a real pain, and it took four times as much time and effort as it would now with my current shop.
I started with my first shop in my apartment bedroom, then moved to a one-car garage, and on to a 3-car garage.  Before I bought the house with the 3-car garage, I drew up a design assuming I would have a 2-car garage, which you can see below. See the posts Revolutionize Your Woodworking Enjoyment Part I, Part II, and Part III for a more detailed walk-through of each type of woodworking operation and the tools used for each. After cutting things to rough size, I take that stock and mill 4 sides square (S4S) or further dimension the plywood panels.  This involves my table saw, jointer, the planer, and sometimes my drum sander.
After that, I start paying attention to the joinery and the final shape of each piece.  I’ll use the bandsaw, router table, bench tools, the oscillating spindle sander, mortiser, drill press, and the table saw. Once assembled, I often set it aside to dry and work on something else.  This is how I came up with the idea of leaving an open “blank” area in the shop for staging glue-ups and miscellaneous finished projects out of the way. After I pull apart the clamps, there is always some final sanding and touch-ups to do before finishing.  Then I start the multiple-coat and sand-between-coats dance.
After milling the parts, I spend most of my time at the workbench measuring and marking each piece, and tweaking joinery with hand tools. It’s important to have good workflow, but there are some other things to think about before you start placing outlets and dust collection ducts. I found it frustrating to not have any place to plop glue-ups or partially finished projects besides on my table saw or workbench.  So now I made sure I set aside tow “open areas” in the shop (denoted by the circle on the plan you see in this article) that is out of the workflow. Don’t forget that the primary purpose of your shop is to make stuff, either for clients, yourself, or your friends, and even with your friends. I want to make sure that I keep unnecessary things out of the shop, especially if I don’t need those things very often.  The bulk of my lumber will be stored in an outbuilding, the garden tools will go in a separate shed, and finishing (especially spray finishing) will be done in a separate small outbuilding. I left room for future tools that I know I will eventually need, such as a 20” bandsaw, panel saw, and scroll saw. I think you’ll have a lot of fun trying different layouts, and imagining yourself in the future doing a more advanced version of what you’re doing now.  If you have a shop that naturally fits an advanced level of woodworking, that’s what you’ll tend to do.
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I also planned the location of my primary table saw (the PM66) so I could rip boards up to 12' in length.
Of course, this requires that I open the front door for the out feed of pieces longer than 10'. In regards to electricity, my Father and I wired a 60 AMP breaker with service drawn from the house.

I frequently setup both saws for operations and switch back and forth until the run is complete. Pins about woods tell on Ideas hand picked aside Pinner Jeff Dansie hear more about plan the Bottlenecks Out of your Woodshop Workflow The prowess of. The woodshop is where we engage some of our nearly primitive instincts to figure out with our hands to solve problems and build up things.
Henry Wood Shop Visio page has woodworking templates and of people buying the SWMBO T shirts that we lately designed American Samoa substantially as. Finding a still picture of Norm's shop is not easy, but I was able to find this shot taken a few years back. Dave Knaw's basement was unfinished and therefore a blank canvas, which he turned into a very workable workshop.
Although I'm a writer by education and profession, I have a not-so-secret DIY and craft (of almost any kind) addiction. Designing a general workflow isn’t enough; the various bottlenecks need to be identified and designed out of your shop. Also, realize that you’ll start a shop session somewhere in the middle of this workflow most of the time.
In this case for my friends Joe and Andrea and their son Tyler, where the most awesome part was Andrea helped with the build.
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I have almost 10' of space in front, 8' of space behind, 6' to the left, and something like 12'-15' to the right.
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Wood shop design But ane don’t know how practical that would represent in a woodwind shop. Maven's incredible organizational skills we can fit into it one full-size table saw, one portable table saw, one free-standing jointer, a portable planer, miter saw, several drills, three or four sanders, a router and stand, our scrap wood collection and two rolling tool chests plus just about every thing else we might need when dealing with wood, electricity and plumbing. You should have one that is useable, provides amble work surface, and is easy to keep clean.
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