The home workshop can mean something different to pretty much everyone. We may have a stereotypical vision of a greasy dude lair with an endless sea of tools. But any space devoted to craft-well, that’s a workshop.
A hobbyist who tinkers with ceramics. A mechanic who works on classic cars. A woodworker with a little side hustle. All those folks could use a proper workshop. But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
So, as you envision your ideal workshop, there are lots of things you need to keep in mind.
What work will you be doing? Will your workshop be in the garage, the basement, the attic, a detached shed? How noisy will you be? Will you be picking up so much dust that you’ll need a proper air filtration system?
Let’s look at some things to keep in mind so you can set up a workshop that perfectly matches your needs.
Where’s It Going?
If you’re going to be moving big things in and out of the workshop, it’s best to have easy access to the outside.
That’s probably not going to be ideal if you’re looking at an attic or basement workshop-of course, that may be a little easier in the basement if it has a door that leads directly outside.
It’s also not great to have your workshop in the house if you’re going to be working with any potentially hazardous material. Keep that kind of work in an outbuilding, whether it’s a detached garage or a shed.
Climate control may also be necessary for detached workshops. And, even for an in-house setup, you may need to be mindful of humidity conditions that are too humid can be bad for tools and cause wood to warp.
Any work that requires power tools is going to get pretty noisy. Keep that work outside when you can. Even in those instances, things may get a little unpleasant for your neighbors. For starters, try your best to do that kind of work when it’s least likely to disturb those nearby.
But there are additional measures you can take to dampen the noise that escapes from your workshop.
If your noisy shop is in the basement, acoustic tile on the ceiling can go a long way toward keeping those above from resenting you. And if you’re making noise in the attic, soundproof underlayment on the floor can do a whole lot for keeping the peace.
Of course, you need to protect your ears, too, so always wear proper ear protection when things get loud.
If you are going to be working on classic cars, you need plenty of room. If you’re making jewelry, you’re going to need such a vast area. But no matter the workshop, you need room for storage.
And you need room to operate-a workbench with enough space to do what you need to do is one of the most critical elements in any workshop. And when it comes to storage and easy tool access, pegboard is one of the best solutions you can find.
How much dust will you be picking up? That’s a major consideration.
If you’ll primarily be using the space for a little fiddling with this and that and storage-say, you’re just stowing your tile tools in there, as opposed to creating major dust clouds by sawing through tile, the airflow might not be a major concern.
But if the work you’re planning on will send considerable dust and vapor into the air, you need to be mindful. You don’t want to breathe that in, and you don’t want your family members and pets breathing it in, either.
You need to keep ventilation in mind. Dust and fumes aren’t just unpleasant; they can also be harmful to your health.
Let There Be Light and Power
Too many workshops are lit by dim overhead bulbs or harsh fluorescents. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Simply switching to 60-watt-LED bulbs can go a long way toward giving your space an added boost of brightness that can help up the quality of your work and simply make the workshop more pleasurable to inhabit.
LED bulbs do cost a bit more, but they also last a lot longer and are easier on your electric bill-ultimately, they save you money. You can also bring in some portable LED lamps if the bulbs alone still don’t suffice.
Another easy step to add brightness to space is to paint the walls in a light color. This can rid gloom from a workspace, but light colors also serve to reflect, thereby bumping up that workshop visibility.
If you’re using power tools, it’s critical that your power supply can handle them. Most homes can handle your workshop’s power needs, but there is a chance you’ll need to upgrade the system if the old wiring in your garage or basement can’t handle it.
For small shops, Bob Vila recommends at least one 20-amp line for tools and an additional 15-amp line for lights.
Think It Through
Before you set up your workshop, put a good bit of thought into your specific needs. What kind of work will you be doing? Is your work liable to disturb your neighbors or housemates with noise and dust?
When you know what you want, you’ll be able to best determine where your workshop should go and what you’ll need in there to get the work done.