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How Do I Set up a Woodworking Workshop?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

The specific steps in setting up a woodworking workshop can vary slightly depending on the space in which the shop will reside, but for the most part, the process is fairly straightforward. You will need to start by choosing an appropriate location for your woodworking workshop. Garages and basements are popular locations, though attics can be used in some cases as well. Think carefully about the location before you begin setting up; available light and dust collection possibilities should be your major determining factors, as well as enough space for all the tools you will populate the room with.

Once you have found an appropriate space for your woodworking workshop, think about installing a dust collection system before you lay out any tools or work benches. It may be helpful to draw out a layout of the space so you know where the dust collection system should be. A woodworking workshop can become thick with sawdust without a collection system, which can be harmful for you and the space itself. Some tools feature individual dust collection systems, but the workspace will need to be adequately ventilated anyway. Windows make great ventilation accesses, though spaces without windows can be fitted with ventilation units that will collect dust and pump fresh air into the space.

A power sander, which is used for woodworking.
A power sander, which is used for woodworking.

The layout of the woodworking workshop will often depend on what type of woodworking you intend to do. Think about the common processes you undertake, and try to lay out the space accordingly. Larger machines will usually be permanently placed, as will workbenches, but other, smaller tools are usually stored on shelves in an out-of-the-way place. Consider installing shelving to accommodate your tools, and try to work such shelving into the workbench structure for easy access and convenience. Pegboard can be installed on the wall above a workbench to help you keep smaller, hand tools organized and accessible.

A jointer, which is used in woodworking.
A jointer, which is used in woodworking.

Keep in mind that you will need to maintain a clear path to the room's exits when setting up your woodworking workshop. Do not obstruct major pathways to the door whenever possible, as this can cause a dangerous situation if an emergency occurs in the workshop. If you will be using power tools often, make sure a first aid kit is hung by the door or otherwise stored in an accessible area, and make sure a fire extinguisher is present and accessible as well. Store these items by the door so you always know where they are.

Discussion Comments


I would also put some consideration into what you intend to do with the sawdust. There are all kinds of things you can do with it if it is collected (and you need to make sure it's not left lying around as it can be a fire hazard).

You can use it as a mulch or in the compost heap, or you can give it to farmers who might use it as bedding (make sure it's clean wood sawdust or shavings though and not treated).

In any case even if you are planning on throwing the sawdust away, you need to make sure it's easy to remove from your work space.


@indigomoth - It really depends on what kind of area you have available though. I could think of just as many objections to setting up a wood working workshop in the garage. And that space is even less likely to have windows than the attic would be.

Personally, I think if you are serious about getting your own workshop, you're better off just buying one of those pre-made sheds and using that.

That way you can make sure it fits all the specifications you need it to, it can be spacious and aerated and out of the way.


I know it will probably depend on what space you have available to you, but I would advise against setting up your woodworking workshop in an attic if you can get away with it.

I had a small artist studio set up in our attic for a while, thinking it was the perfect space for that kind of activity. It was private, difficult to get to and quite light and airy.

But, it was difficult to get to because it was accessed only by a ladder. Carrying objects up that ladder was a nightmare and carrying them back down again was even worse.

And woodworking tools and products are going to be even heavier than art most of the time.

Then, there is also the fact that it is always the hottest room in the house. When you add in the equipment you will be using that could get unbearable.

Finally, you might have a better space than I did, but ventilation was always a problem. Attics aren't really designed with windows in mind.

So, yeah, I wouldn't do that again. The garage is a better choice.

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      A power sander, which is used for woodworking.
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      A jointer, which is used in woodworking.
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