How To Set Up A Small Workshop
Woodwork in all its forms is an enormously popular hobby amongst enthusiasts of all ages. Most people, regardless of their abilities, just like to tinker with a bit of wood and make something. Starting out should be easy but the misconception can be that you need a fair amount of space to begin. The fact is that many people create versatile workshops in the smallest of spaces. One in particular we like is Stephen’s 8×6 Workshop as he manages to cram an army of tools into a tiny area in a systematic and neat way.
In the case of this guide we're going to use an area that's a little larger and show you the tools you'll need to set up a small workshop in just a 10x8' shed. The list of tools is generally considered enough to cover the most common tasks. Everyone will have their own opinion on this and naturally it depends on the work you're carrying out. But the tools on the list should be enough to strike a productive balance between having enough to get the job done and not being caught short so you're having to borrow a friend's. Invariably people grow their collection of tools as the jobs dictate. You don't necessarily have to buy everything at once, just build up your list as you need to.
Why am I doing this?
Woodworking isn't just an overnight hobby, for most it's a fun pursuit that lasts a lifetime. As your skills develop, the workshop becomes a place not just to build but to repair along the way. In a world where people are strongly influenced by consumerism, there’s a tendency to revert to a throwaway culture. But if you can fix before throwing away, then your tools start to make a return on their investment and have a bigger impact.
It's natural to start off with simple projects and as skills develop the work can progress in terms of size and complexity
For the hobbyist starting out, simple furniture and fixtures for the house is probably a good place to begin. Hopefully the fun outweighs the frustration and your house and the homes of others will start to fill with the furniture you make.
Make way for the machinery
First things first, the machinery is going to do the bulk of your work. Hand tool purists may argue differently but how many machines do you have in your home to make things easier? The same should be true for your workshop. Yes, there may be moments when you take a deep breath at the initial investment but if you're looking at woodworking as a prolonged pastime then the tools will last you for years to come. Plus you're not buying everything at once. Start small and build up your collection.
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A table saw is one of the most important tools in the workshop for its ability to make long straight cuts. It will also cross cut with ease and if you don’t want to cut clean through a board you can adjust the height of the blade to make a dado or rabbet. A handy feature with the BTS10ST table saw is the vertical stand which also saves on storage space.
The bandsaw is a must for cutting curves and irregular shapes thanks to the accuracy it provides. The HBS200N can be bench mounted which makes it superb for smaller work.
A thicknesser lets you plane and smooth large sections of timber to the correct size. Essential if pieces aren’t exactly the same. If not corrected the frustration of these inaccuracies will follow you all the way through the project.
Making bed posts, table legs, bowls, pens, turn to the lathe when you need perfect symmetry for a piece.
Having a solid surface to work from with a vice will be one of your main requirements. Additional storage underneath the bench can be a great asset especially when you only have a small area to play with.
Safety in the workshop is paramount. Working in a confined space it's essential to be clearing away the dust. Numatic has a multi-functional extractor that's able to connect to machinery and power tools to clear both chips and dust. Even when using an extractor additional PPE is also advisable as there will always be residual dust in the air.
The tools you need for speed
Power tools get jobs done quickly and a cordless drill is one of the first tools people own. A combi drill is a good starting point as it has enough power to drill through masonry as well as being able to drive screws.
Another tool that soon proves its worth is the router for its sheer versatility. Creating hinge recesses, inlay grooves, decorative edges and once you fit it to a router table and you'll be able to increase its capabilities. The Axminster Folding Router Table Kit works well when space is tight.
When you can't bring the work to the tablesaw then a circular saw gives you more manoeuvrability especially when cutting sheet material. Combine a circular saw with a pair of saw horses and you then have a work table you can set up anywhere.
Random Orbit Sander
No excuses, no escape, at some point you're going to have to sand some wood. Although it's not everyone's favourite activity it's an inevitability. A good sander will get this done quickly. If you only have room for one then a random orbit sander strikes a good balance between fast stock removal and smooth finishing.
Hand tools hone your craft
Hand tools offer the finesse and precision you just can't get with anything else. There's a sense of satisfaction you get from working the wood rather than machining it. After all isn't that why you got into woodworking? Again there are a vast array of tools but narrow it down to a core range and you'll have the confidence to complete a number of jobs.
To start with a block plane is an essential as it's useful for chamfering, rounding over and end grain work. If you start with rough sawn timber then a jack plane is a versatile plane for preparing and stock removal. You can also look at a shoulder plane for trimming joints and a smoothing plane for surface finishing and final smoothing.
Chisels and Saws
Next up are the chisels, you can start with a couple of sizes and build from there. When looking at saws, for joinery a dovetail saw is a good place to start, with a choice between western style or Japanese. For precise cuts across the grain, cutting tenon shoulders, and defining the edges of a dado a carcass saw also makes a good complement to the dovetail saw.
Tools that accentuate the adages
You can never have enough clamps... Measure twice, cut once
There are certain sayings that hold true and when buying clamps and measuring equipment parting with cash for quality make sense. But which clamps? G, F, sash, spring or strap? There are so many clamps and measuring tools available. Let the project decide which ones you need. As a reassurance, our Axminster Trade Clamps come with a lifetime guarantee, so this is one investment that literally lasts that long.
There are always clever new ways to get things done more easily. The list of new tools can be overwhelming but having a core line can give you confidence that you have enough to get on with it.
But what are your essential tools in the workshop? Maybe you're a seasoned woodworker; if you were starting from scratch which tools wouldn't you be without? Let us know in the comments below.