How To Set Up A Garage Workshop
Following on from our guide on How To Set Up A Small Workshop we’re now going to look at what you can do if you have a little more space to play with. Too often garages or garden buildings get stuffed with clutter slowly filling up over time with storage boxes, old bicycles and those secondary items you just might use in the future. If you don’t need the space for your car, a garage or cabin makes a natural place to house your tools and the solitude needed to concentrate on those near woodworking masterpieces you’re going to create.
If you've had a clear out and are ready to start, having your own personal workspace will make all the difference to the way you work. Using a single garage workshop or larger exterior space however still needs careful consideration about how to maximise the floor space.
When planning the layout of your garage workshop, it's worth thinking about what tools you'll need for each stage. Also consider where the outfeed from tools such as the planer thicknesser will go so they're not obstructed. This is when a mobile base for machines can make moving much simpler. You can then set them up in the optimum position for a streamlined workflow. Other areas you may want to look at are where to put your clamps. Supposedly you can never have enough right? So think about where you're going to store them upfront. Then allow for additional space to hang them as your collection grows. Storing fixings and glue near your assembly table is another sensible way to keep groups of tools close to hand.
If you're hoping to have your garage workshop resemble a smooth running production line having commonly used groups of tools within arms reach will help to save time. Mapping everything out on paper first is another way to help save time in the long run. Graph paper can be printed out online for free and this is a good place to start to lay down your provisional plans. Alternatively in each of our Axminster stores there is a Live Workshop where you can see the tools set up in a workshop environment. This helps you to see the size and scale of the machinery plus you can also get hands on with the tools and see if they're right for the space you're working in.
In any workshop having plenty of storage can make such a difference. Making the most of your walls is key as it's otherwise redundant space. In this workshop the turning tools are all housed next to the lathe. This makes a clever use of space so the tools for the work you need to carry out are easily accessible.
Underneath work surfaces is an obvious place to house sundries. As a result, drawers make a good addition if they're available for your workbench. Nails, screws and hardware will quickly start to build up as invariably you'll always have a surplus after completing a job. Garage workshops cry out to accumulate clutter but making allowances for this and actually leaving space will prevent your workspace looking like a hoarders paradise. Also to help with organising your garage workshop, look out for our upcoming article on how to build your own tool storage cabinet.
Which machinery for a garage workshop?
Naturally people start hobbies at different stages in life. The list of tools we recommend here range from the hobby to the professional. Whether you're an apprentice just starting out or if you're retired and perhaps have more disposable income then match the tools depending on your budget. If the machines are receiving medium use then a hobby machine is fine but if you think you'll be using a particular tool for extended periods you might want to look at the trade/professional rated tools.
Tools to consider
Having a decent planer thicknesser allows you to buy rough timber cheaper than pre-planed. Plus you can then prepare wood to the correct size to match your project. Our guide to planer/thicknessers has more information on which models to choose from to best suit your needs.
With any machine it's important to have it hooked up to the right extraction. Above all else safety in any workshop is paramount. Again the dust extractors guide helps to provide some guidance on the range of extractors available. Plus there are hints on the factors to consider when choosing the most suitable extractor for your needs.
One of the most used tools in the workshop, a bandsaw is an absolute must. Many tools make a claim to being the most versatile but the bandsaw is definitely in the top ranks of multi functional tools. Make cross cuts, curves, thin veneers, all from a machine that takes up limited floor space.
For some the table saw is the centre piece of the workshop. Cross cuts, ripping or preparing sheet material it's a machine for a variety of jobs. Look for features such as a cast iron table which will provide an accurate surface to work from and help to reduce vibrations.
When you have some more room to play with like in a garage then a pillar drill is indispensable. It will give far greater accuracy than drilling by hand. Plus the ability to set the depth and angle means it's a real time saver when drilling repetitive holes.
Combining a belt and disc sander into one machine lets you tackle more projects. Run the belt sander for removing large amounts of wood in the early stages of sanding. Then switch to the disc for sanding smaller components.
Room for one more
After thinking about the core machinery that leaves the power and hand tools. Along with the machinery you're not buying everything at once. As the jobs dictate you can build up your collection. Power tool systainers do start to take up room as do chisels, saws and planes so again leave space for these. One option is to use filing cabinets which make a simple solution to neatly pack everything away.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas for creating your own garage workshop. Remember mapping out the space at the start will make a significant difference to the ease and the way you work. If you've set up your own garage workshop please let us know of any of your own tips and how they've worked best for you.
A note about power supply
All Hobby Series machines come fitted with a 13A plug, so will run from a domestic 13A outlet. Many Trade Series machines are much more powerful and so are fitted with the blue 16Amp 3 pin plug which will require a suitable outlet to be plugged into. Having a 16A outlet fitted can in many instances be just an extension of the 13A ring main in a workshop, or may be a dedicated circuit, any qualified electrician will be able to advise and fit a suitable outlet. The main circuit breaker protecting this ring main or dedicated circuit should be of the B or C type which gives surge type protection rather than the A type which is an instant overload trip. The surge protection copes with the short but heavy start up demand many larger machines have.
We are not going to talk about 415V 3ph as 99% of domestic premises don't have access to this supply. Unfortunately, second hand 3ph machinery is quite cheap to buy, especially at plant and machinery auctions, but can present some headaches trying to get it to work at home using cheap inverters.