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Layout Ideas for Small Shops
Everyone starting a journey in woodworking faces the same challenge: shop space. Or the lack of it. Space management is often overlooked; but if you take some time to plan your space to suit the projects you want to make, you’ll be happier in the long run.

Building a project typically unfolds in four stages: lumber storage and breakdown, milling and joinery, sanding and assembly, and finishing. In smaller shops, these zones will naturally overlap. The goal is to anticipate and plan for the amount of setup that has to happen along the way.

To start, you need to determine the footprint you’re working with. A common size is about 12' x 22' – roughly the same as a single car garage. Take note of structural elements, such as floor slope, door and window location, access to electricity, and any obstructions. Also, determine if this will be a permanent setup or if you’ll need to tuck tools away to make room for a car.

If you're tight on shop space, check out the Mobile Project Center. It folds down in seconds for easy storage and work on the go. 
Lumber Storage & Breakdown
The heavy and messy work of dealing with plywood and long boards is usually the first stage of any project, so it’s a good idea to have the lumber breakdown and storage area close to the entrance of your shop. That way you can slide sheets of plywood right from your vehicle onto the table saw.

WATCH: How To Carry Plywood Easily
Make It Mobile
The zone for cutting full sheets of plywood is going to be the largest by far. Ripping long lumber is a challenge as well. Tool-wise, this involves the table saw, miter saw, and occasionally a circular saw.

Having your tools on mobile bases or casters will let you enlist these surfaces for extra tasks or just keep them out of the way.
Milling & Joinery
After the material has been knocked down to manageable pieces, it’s time to start shaping them into parts to make up the project you’re building. The zone required to do this is smaller and more spread out. Shaping parts may require several tools. After jointing and planing your boards, you’ll move to the table saw and router table. The drill press and band saw may be used as well. So, take time to set up a logical workflow, like the one shown in the drawing.
Sanding & Assembly
Once you’ve finished milling and shaping, the next step is usually assembly. Pre-sanding as much of the project before assembly is recommended. While doing this, group parts into sub-assemblies to help keep track of progress. The center of this stage is the workbench, but removing fences on the table saw and router table and tidying up cabinet countertops can provide extra surfaces to stack assemblies on. This also works well for gluing up parts.

WATCH: How To Label Project Parts for Easy Identification
You don’t want all your efforts to be diminished with a bad finish, so proper ventilation and lighting are key in this step. You’ll also need a source of fresh air. One trick is to cover your table saw with a sheet of old plywood and a tarp, then roll the setup into the perfect light that reflects the finish you’re applying. On occasion, this can mean rolling equipment out to the driveway.
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