The first step in setting up a workshop is establishing your needs.
A suitable location for the workshop must be determined. Workshops can be located in the home or garage, but ideally the
basement or garage are very suitable locations. You should plan for future
expansion prior to designing the shop, since you will at some point in the future, outgrow the present shop. Many factors are to be
taken into consideration in designing a workshop. Storage, lighting, ventilation, power requirements, and
noise reduction are important.
The typical woodworking shop requires a workbench, tool storage, stationary
machine area, and finishing area. Ample space should be provided to move between
the bench and walls, and to provide the necessary clearance for long, wide boards and panels.
collection is a major
consideration. Unless you are using only hand tools, most power tools and specifically, powered sanding operations create large amounts of airborne
dust, which is easily inhaled. If a workshop is not feasible at this time, a small work area in a corner of the
home is perfectly suitable. The minimum requirement of a workbench and hand tools is all that is necessary
to begin woodworking.
floor plan should be drawn up. All equipment should be positioned as to provide
maximum flexibility and the ability to manoeuvre around
the machines and bench. If you have a large space available to you, plan for future additional equipment. A lumber storage area is
important, and can be either situated in the workshop or outside. Make sure the workshop has adequate
electrical service and plenty of lighting.
consideration is the ease or difficulty in transporting materials into and out
of the workshop. Ventilation is important, and sometimes a common household fan placed in a
window of the shop or in the vicinity, can satisfy the ventilation requirement. Safety
considerations include a non-slip floor, adequate lighting, and room to manoeuvre around equipment. Fluorescent lighting
provides more light than incandescent lighting and is less expensive to operate. Some fixture come
with wires to plug into a receptacle, other fixtures need to be permanently wired.
receptacles are of primary importance, and guard against shock. If the workshop
is located in the basement,
should be considered. GFCI's sense small changes in current flow, similar to a short circuit, and disable the power instantly. Portable clip-on
spot lamps can be used in proximity of the workbench or stationary machines, to serve as task lighting.
Dust Collection In The Workshop
collection is becoming increasingly important in the workshop. Airborne dust
generated when wood is machined or cut has been proven to be a contributing factor in lung ailments,
etc. In light of this, the best method to prevent airborne dust from being generated is to collect it
at the source or right at the woodworking machine. A modern dust collection
system is composed of central ducts or pipes and flexible tubing leading to a central dust collector This system of pipes and
flexible tubing originates from the heavy dust generators in the shop, typically the router table, tablesaw,
thickness planer, jointer and bandsaw.
The cost of centralized dust collection has been dropping over the
past few years, and a decent system can now be installed for a few hundred dollars. The capacity of the system is
directly related to whether one machine or multiple machines will be used at a time. The shop size
and length of ducting is also a factor in determining dust collection capacity. Dust collectors
typically work on moving high volumes of air at lower suction rather than a conventional vacuum cleaner
with low volume and high suction. In light of this, the ductwork and flexible tubing has bee
standardized at 4 inches
for a average workshop dust collection system. The 4 inch diameter ducting is
ample enough to move higher volumes of wood dust and chips to the central dust collector.
The 4 inch
diameter ductwork and tubing of workshop dust collection systems is in stark
contrast to the 1.5 inch diameter size of conventional vacuum cleaners designed to have
high suction. Dust collectors consist of a motor, an impeller blade, a shroud and a bag
system. The motor size is the determining factor in the capacity of the dust collector. Dust collector
motor sizes typically range from 1 HP to 2 HP for the average workshop. Although it is economical to
select a 1 HP collector initially, you will find that your needs will quickly outgrow the
unit. In our opinion, the 1.5 HP dust collector is the best compromise initially. The cost is not
excessive, yet it provides enough capacity for unanticipated growth in shop size and number of machines in
The 1 HP
collectors are primarily designed to be wheeled around to whichever
machine you are presently using. On the other hand, the 1.5 HP and above dust collectors
can be set up centrally to be ducted to multiple machines. Each machine in turn has a
blast gate which turns the vacuum on or off to the machine. There exist very large capacity
systems from 5 HP and up which allow three or more machines to be used simultaneously. Blast gates are either made of metal or plastic and are sufficient for average
use in the workshop.
A workbench should be comfortable and highly functional. The
workbench can be placed in the middle of the shop, you can then work on four sides of the bench. This
arrangement leaves plenty of space for maneuvering large workpieces around the bench. The workbench can
also be placed against a wall or on the two sides of a corner. This arrangement leaves less
room to maneuver
large work pieces, but it offers accessible wall space for storing tools. It can
also take advantage of natural light if the bench is placed under or near a window. A small compact
bench is well suited to working with smaller workpieces. At the front and side of the workbench are
located vises which in conjunction with
hold work firmly down. The tool tray running lengthwise at the back of the workbench is visible. This bench does not include any
shelving or drawers beneath the bench top, but it is straightforward to construct, and is the ideal
first workbench for hand tool based operations. The "cabinetmaker"
workbench is much larger and has a tool drawer incorporated into the bench top. The side vise is a
vise and offers more
flexibility than the standard side vise. The length of the workbench offers the woodworker more
flexibility in using longer workpieces.
essentially a table for working on. It must be extremely reliable, strong and
rigid. The top should be very flat, and deep enough (from front to back) to accommodate
your work. The overall height of the workbench should be stressed, as it should be
convenient for yourself. Workbenches can be purchased, but if you design and build one, it is best to
follow an existing plan, as many sensible details have already been incorporated in. Common features of a
workbench are a tool recess at the rear of the top running lengthwise along the tabletop.
The tool recess is to ensure that tools do not protrude into the work piece above the level of the
table top. Other common features of the typical woodworking workbench are drawers , or
shelves, under the work area, and two vises. Vises are very important because holding the
work piece firmly is essential to a good job. Often there is a
the front of the bench and another at the end of the bench. These vises work in conjunction with
"bench-dogs" to hold long or wide material firmly to the work surface.
information about workshops is available in the WoodSkills Woodworking Course