Posted on 6 Comments

Workshop Setup Tips

Since we completed the North Container and we have a bit more living space, we’ve been spending our time shuffling everything around. The goal is to make a more permanent workshop for Small Scale Engineering. For our readers that have dealt with the business side of SSE, you probably know that we have a metal-working workshop in Epping, Cape Town. However, most of the wood work happens at home. Kevin has been thinking about the best workshop setup tips as he constructs an awesome word work workshop. We thought we’d share his thoughts with you.

Workshop Setup Tips Begin With Planning

workshop with tools on tool board storage

Everyone’s workshop requirements are different. Your workshop space might be a portion of your garage, a shed in your back yard, or rented commercial space to run a business. You might require workshop space to maintain your cars, to enjoy some recreational time on a hobby, or run a business.

You can make almost any space into a functional area with a bit of thought. Kevin’s first workshop was a tiny shed in the backyard. In the shed he set up a wood-working lathe. The lathe took up the whole width of the shed. Even though the shed shook alarmingly and (probably) threatened to fall down whenever he used the lathe, he still managed to turn a few pieces that he made as gifts. Now of course, with Small Scale Engineering making unique pieces for clients, a shed isn’t going to quite cut it.

Kevin’s first tip is to not be hasty. Think about your requirements and your limitations. From this starting point you can plan your dream layout. However, when you get to the bit where you’re setting up the workshop, keep flexible, because you might run into a problem, or have a better idea.

Packing Space

spanner storage board

Every workshop needs packing space for tools and materials. Don’t be afraid to scratch for scrap and off-cut pieces of wood. These scraps can be used to make perfectly serviceable drawers, cupboard doors, etc. Kevin’s preference for most of his storage is drawers for their packability and reachability. It is easier to get small items out of a drawer than it is off a shelf in a cupboard. Drawers can usually store more than cupboards.

If your workshop will be a dusty environment (such as for woodwork), you will want cupboard doors that seal well to keep your tools clean of unnecessary dust. And remember, your cupboard doors can also be used to store items, just by mounting a few brackets and/or hooks. Don’t forget to reinforce with extra hinges to take the additional weight, and plan your shelving accordingly.

Old cupboards (such as those removed from a kitchen installation) are great for modifying to suit your requirements. It is very unlikely that your workshop will need to look like it just stepped out the pages of a design magazine.

Working Space

workshop space

If your workshop requires space for big machines, don’t lock in their positions in before you actually use them. After using the machines, you might decide the position is not quite right and a better position might be found somewhere else on the floor.

Don’t forget to make sure your workshop has adequate lighting and plug points. Again with big machines that are difficult to move; you’ll want them situated near an electricity supply. Good lighting, and not having extension cords lying on the floor, can help improve the safety of your work space.

Have a dedicated space for your safety equipment. This might be PPE, a fire extinguisher and even an appropriate first aid kit. Access to clean water can too be considered a safety requirement, should you need to clean a cut or wash something out of an eye. Of course, this is a legal requirement in a business environment, but is sensible in any workshop.

Keep your work space area as clean and clear of clutter as possible. Pack away unused tools so that you can easily find them when you need them. This helps keep frustration levels in check. Just remember that it will be a lot easier for you to sweep a counter top free of dust, then it will be for you to remove weeks of dust from your expensive electrical equipment.

In short, this is the perfect opportunity for you to practice thinking outside the box. Do you have any workshop setup tips to share with us?

Workshop Setup Tips on Pinterest

I’ve found some interesting workshop ideas on Pinterest to inspire you.

6 thoughts on “Workshop Setup Tips

  1. A vacuum cleaner is a great asset in a workshop for cleaning the lathe of turnings. Water is good for cleaning paint brushes and greasy engine parts after washing with paraffin. Capetonians will be aware of the advantages of water if a fire starts!

    1. You are very right! I probably have done another section on “cleaning your workshop”! πŸ˜‰

  2. I think you are both so innovative. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.
    I love the way you recycle old cupboards, pieces of wood, panels, even tiles. Amazing. Thank you for your insights.

    1. I am sure a lot of these points could apply too to art spaces such as an art studio or craft room.

  3. It probably helps that Kevin has experience of a few different workshops, so he knows what problems are likely to arise down the line if you don’t plan for them now – problems that would never occur to you on a first workshop-build.

    1. You may have a point there πŸ˜‰

What do you think? Let us know!