Think you need a large workshop to build amazing furniture and awesome DIY projects? For us, the answer is no! We do all our woodworking and DIY projects in a fairly small workshop. We’ve managed to fit a lot of tools and items in a small space, so check out how we do it!
A workshop needs to be flexible and organized to allow you to create amazing DIY projects. However, if you’re like us, space can be limited in a home and most people don’t have the luxury of an empty 2-car garage, warehouse space, or large workshop.
Our workshop is fairly tiny, which means we have to have it organized and laid out strategically to get everything we want in there. It wasn’t always the most organized or maximized space, but we’ve improved the workshop layout over the years!
So here’s a quick tour of our small workshop to demonstrate how we implemented organization ideas and maximized our space, which you could then apply to your own workshop.
If you’re looking for more generalized ideas for setting up a workshop, check out our other article on How To Organize A Garage and Workshop. We implemented a lot of these concepts in our small workshop!
Now onto the workshop tour!
Our Small Workshop Tour
Okay, so the workshop is not really that tiny, but it isn’t particularly large either. We are lucky enough to have a two-car garage that is as deep as the house. This leaves some extra room left over for a small shop. With the cars in here, we’re left with a workspace about 20 feet by 13 feet.
For large projects, we can pull the cars out to temporarily increase our usable space to 20 by 32. This gives us extra room for assembly or finishing. But since the cars are in the garage most of the time, everything we use has to be able to fit in the shop portion.
So we’ll give you a quick tour of how we implemented workshop organization ideas within our small workshop.
Table Saw Work Area
The heart of our woodshop is the table saw work area. We inherited this Craftsman table saw from my husband’s grandad, who was the one to introduce him to woodworking. Being an older saw, it does have a few quirks, but it still runs well.
With a sharp blade and a few jigs, we’ve made some great DIY furniture pieces. It is on wheels so it’s easy to move it if we need extra room for managing large sheets or extra long boards. However, by far the best thing we have done for this saw is the addition of an outfeed table and a side support table.
This side support table also migrates around the shop as an assembly table or to the front of the saw as an infeed table for longer pieces. The outfeed table can fold down to give us more room at our bench if we need it, but is usually left upright. Both tables have adjustable feet so that they can be leveled on our sloped garage floor. This is made possible by simply using a carriage bolt with two nuts to capture its position.
You can DIY outfeed and infeed tables for your table saw like we did. Or purchase products that work with your specific table saw brand.
French Cleat Organization System
On the far wall of the workshop, we have a french cleat system we made from scrap wood. This cleat system holds a lot of the tools we use regularly like clamps, hammers, screwdrivers, chisels, etc. The best part about these french cleats is how easy it is to reorganize as we get new tools or add new holders. We’ve already rearranged this layout several times in the last year as we have relaid out the shop in order to maximize the space.
Also on the same wall, we have all of the table saw tools hung up next to the saw. This is a convenient spot to hang up the table saw fence or miter gauge when we switch between rip cuts and cross cuts. The best feature, however, is this bin for holding push blocks and a pencil for marking. We used to set the push blocks on the lumber shelf if we needed to get them out of the way. This occasionally came back to bite us as someone would be mid-rip on the table saw before realizing the block was out of reach. Never again! Lesson learned, organize your workspace to have exactly what you need in reach.
Maximizing Tools & Workbench Space
In a small shop, you have to get creative with your use of space out of pure necessity. This leads to the invention of creative solutions like our flip-top workbench over on the shop’s main wall. This workbench was inspired by those flip-top carts that you see all over the place, but we took it to the next level. We have a 16 ft long workbench with a bandsaw, router table, planer, miter saw, and belt sander mounted to it. The final position at the end will be for a small benchtop grinder that will be added soon.
Every tool here can be flipped up as needed in order to maximize our capacity allowing us to run full 8-foot boards through the bandsaw, router, planer, or miter saw. And when we just need a large space for layout, glue-ups, sanding, or assembly, everything can flip down and we have plenty of room.
We also set the workbench at counter height to save our backs, which means we have room under the bench for miscellaneous items, an air compressor, and room for future storage expansion if needed.
Workshop Shelving Area – Open & Closed
Using whatever vertical space you have is another critical way to maximize your workspace and organize a workshop. The shelves above our workbench hold all of the miscellaneous tools for both DIY and woodworking. We house the items we use constantly on an open shelf on the bottom level and have closed-off shelving on the upper to hide everything else.
Transform Basic Shelves
Because we like to DIY sustainably and use what we already have, we recently added doors to our small workshop’s open shelving system. The doors help keep dust off the shelf and make the space feel more organized and clean.
Instead of removing the open shelves and installing cabinets, we built two long doors in a shaker cabinet style. Then simply hung the doors from the ceiling by screwing in a board to the studs and attaching the door to that board. The doors can then swing upwards and be held open using a simple latch system.
We love this hybrid as it allows for flexibility behind the doors and you aren’t limited to the width of a cabinet.
Organize By Usage & Similar Tools Together
The best way to organize a small workshop’s shelves is based on how often an item is used and to group similar tools together.
On the lowest shelf, we have our most used items. Items that we grab regularly during projects and don’t want to have to open a door for. The most used items in our small workshop are:
- Sandpaper and Orbital Sander
- Drillbits and Drivers
- Wood Glue & Super Glue
- Measuring Tools
- Safety glasses and Headphones
- Batteries for the tools
Yes. We have a lot of drill batteries, but that’s what happens when you’ve had a drill for 12 years. The drill is still only just now starting to slip, but the batteries kept slowly getting worse and had to be replaced. We’ll probably be replacing this pretty soon for a Dewalt to standardize with our impact driver.
On the second shelf are the tools used every now and then depending on the project. This could be things like the handheld belt sander, block plane and sanding blocks, router bits, impact driver, biscuit joiner, buffer, electrical tools, and tarps.
Finally, the top shelf is all the items rarely used. For us, that is items like the circular saw, angle grinder, multi-tool and Dremel, paint sprayer, plumbing gear, rope, and miscellaneous odds and ends from past projects.
Organizing workshop shelves by usage and our setup puts the items we need most close at hand, while also giving us a visual queue on if something isn’t being used and if we should consider getting rid of it.
Beyond tools and storage space, all workshops have some form of assembly space and our small workshop is no different. When it comes to time to assemble a project component, we generally use the workbench for most of the rough assemblies or glue-ups. If it’s critical to have a flat surface, then the side feed table for our table saw doubles as an assembly table. For larger projects, we honestly just use the floor. If using nicer wood, then we throw down towels or cardboard to protect it. But typically we just sweep the floor space clear of debris and then start building. We’ve used these smaller assembly spaces for all our DIY projects from our modern platform bed frame to our storage shelves and rain barrels.
However, every once in a while, we just need more room to work. Larger projects like our DIY wall-mounted headboard with floating nightstands required us to lay out 13 feet of boards to finish the project. When this happens, we just pull the cars out into the driveway to utilize that floor space for a few days while we complete that step of the project.
Wood Storage & Lumber Rack
Most DIYers and woodworkers have some need for wood storage, even if it’s mostly scrap wood. Our small workshop has wall-mounted lumber racks/shelves along the long wall of the garage. Most of the wood is offcuts from previous projects awaiting use as new projects. For example, there are some gorgeous Sapele boards left over from the modern platform bed frame project. We’ll be using them to make a mosaic headboard and a large cutting board in the near future.
Below the storage, we’ll store large plywood sheets and some sawhorses. There are some miscellaneous items on the storage shelves too though, like some extra screen from when we redid the screened-in deck, conduit from installing our own solar panels, and the router sled up top. This could definitely be improved on or reorganized, so that will probably be a project in the not too distant future for our small workshop. But right now there is a spot for everything needed with room left over at the end for our garden tools.
Our Recommended Tools for A Small Workshop
With that full tour of our small workshop, here are some of our favorite tool recommendations that we have in our own shop!
- Tape Measure by Fast Cap – has ALL the measurement marks so you never have to guess
- Japanese Pull Saw by KERYE – versatile and cuts wood like butter
- Miter Saw by WEN – definitely a must for a basic workshop and projects
- Table Saw by Dewalt – if you have space you need a table saw
- Orbital Sander by Dewalt – if you’ve only hand sanded or used a belt sander then this will change your life
- Rubio Monocoat – not a tool, but the best finishing product for any wood project
DIY Project Inspiration For Your Small Workshop
Hopefully, we inspired you to get your workshop organized and how to maximize a workshop space. Now that means it’s project time, right!? Check out these 15 DIY projects at home you can do or in our DIY project archives. Whether you’re looking to DIY furniture like a hanging daybed or for the perfect balance of DIY and sustainable living with a stacked rain barrel system, we’ve got a ton of resources for you.
What do you think of our small workshop!? Hopefully, it gives you some creative ideas for ways to organize your workshop. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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