Do big things in a small workspace

One of the secrets of building stuff, especially with wood, is that you can do amazing things with just a few tools and a small workspace. When we moved from the East Coast to Portland last year, I managed to find a house with a garage, but just a small one, and one that had to hold bikes, paint cans, and lots of other homeowner accoutrements. But I knew I didn’t need a ton of space to set up shop.

I get most of my work done in the back corner, on a rolling workstation I made by attaching MDF and casters to the bottom, and two layers of MDF on top. I also have a tablesaw and a workbench that I jammed into the POD when we moved, but you don’t even need those to make great things (though they both make things easier). Mostly the tablesaw acts as a third work surface, covered by a couple layers of Homosote, a soft type of fiberboard used for soundproofing, which I painted white on top.

I keep it simple around the walls and ceiling too. I framed in a window where I work, letting some light and beauty in, and I use simple shelves for storage.

You’ll have to read my book, “Build Stuff with Wood,” due out in summer 2017 from the Taunton Press, to see just how many things you can build in a space like mine. And of course follow this blog too!

I do everything in this small space. The white table is actually my tablesaw, with two layers of Homosote on top to create another work surface.
Inexpensive fluorescents hang from the rafters, plugged into normal outlets, which are switched at the wall. Painting the walls white is another trick for brightening a space.
For my book I came up with the idea of buying a surplus kitchen cabinet at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and adding some MDF and casters to turn it into a rolling workstation for my miter saw and general workbench use.
As you can see in the first picture and this one, I prefer simple open shelves for shop storage.



2 thoughts on “Do big things in a small workspace

  1. THIS! I keep telling my husband that it IS possible to get stuff done in a small space. We finally build him a shed in the back yard for all his carpentry. Haven’t even painted it yet and he’s screaming for more space. BUT he finally made a rolling table and it helps. I’m going to send him this post of yours!


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