View Full Version : No Shop Space... so what do you do?
09-26-2007, 09:33 PM
Hi folks -
Anyone else dealing with having no shop space?
In a nutshell, we have no garage, no useable basement space, and just a 10 x 12 shed for much-needed storage of outdoor stuff. We also won't have the budget for a garage or freestanding workshop for another 8-10 years.
My first course of action needs to be to get all of my tools in one place, instead of stored in multiple places around the house like they are now. I'm considering carving out space in the shed to store it all, and hauling what I need out into the backyard or driveway to work on something. Here in northeast Massachusetts, the shed gets very cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer. I'm not sure if that would be a problem for the tools.
Right now I'm limited to home-improvement/repair projects, but would love to make furniture. That would be difficult to do in the outdoor environment, I think.
So, back to my question: anyone else do woodworking/furniture-making without a shop? How do you do it? Any and all ideas would be welcome.
09-26-2007, 10:56 PM
From the mouth of one north of you... the tools don't care much one way or the other about being stored in the cold. The grease in bearings (motors, arbors, etc) can get pretty sluggish in the cold, though.
My shop situation hasn't been quite like yours for quite some time now, but there've still been plenty of times I've hauled milled workpieces into the house to do my glueups because my shop was subfreezing. Yellow glue does NOT like freezing.
It's doable. It's not overly pleasant, but it's doable. Wood movement is a little unpredictable when the wood is frozen, you should know that.
Is there a way for you to carve just a titch more space out of that shed, and possibly give it a little supplementary heat while you're working inside, out of the weather? The smaller the space, the easier it heats. It BITES to have to hold off on woodworking because it's raining outdoors...
During warmer months, you could set up shop under a canopy. That's not too rugged a lifestyle. You may want to set it up in the shade, since canopies aren't terrific about staying cool unless they're shaded.
-- Tim --
09-27-2007, 03:03 AM
I have a regular visitor to my site who does all of his woodworking on the balcony outside of his apartment. He has become a master at working in that space and with the tools he can muster but the projects are beautiful. some of them are way larger than I wold have thought possible considering his "shop space". He also is very proficient at building things in pieces and then assembling them inside.
Most of woodworking is in your head anyway. Lots of nice tools is great but people learn to be very good and very creative within their constraints.
09-27-2007, 06:48 AM
I am dealing with the same sort of thing myself...
What I am having to do, and it is starting to look like it might actually work, is to redistribute all that stuff that needs to be stored... and clear out the storage room and make that your shop.
Anything that can go on a pallet and be covered up?
Can you move anything inside into a closet or any other space you have in the house?
Good luck... it can be done! :)
09-27-2007, 07:32 AM
I had a similar problem until we moved into the new shop, errr house.. Anyway I found that rather than the cold, the drastic humidity shifts in the shed was the problem. The garage was a better option. You would be surprised how much stuff you can put against the walls and still park a car in there. Tools on rolling carts is the key, I had a system that allowed me to store the compressor, chop saw, jointer, tablesaw, planer, dust collector, tool box, and various other tools around the walls and still park a car. Then just move the car and set up shop.
09-28-2007, 06:16 AM
Here is Southeast Massachusetts, it is a bit warmer in winter and cooler in summer. If you beleive that I can sell you the Boston Commons. Now in Western Mass - where Ken is - now thats another story.
Anyway - I litterally "TOOK" ownership of about 1/3 of the cellar and shared that with the oil tank, boiler, electrical box, freezer and such. Gave me about 12x20 space (shared). That was my shop from 1983 till 2002. Made lots of things in there. I did not have much for tools at that time, but I did OK. I had the RAS right in the middle.
If your cellar is used to "store" - **STUFF**, maybe you don't really need that stuff. Maybe, it can get reorganized into a more compact pile of stuff in a floor to ceiling pile in order to clear our some space. If you have had it for a year and have not used it you probably don't need it.
So - can you stand in the cellar - near the bulkhead door and come up with some ideas about shelves, storage containers and space freeing things. None of it needs to be expensive. Cardboard boxes, scrapwood shelves, etc.
09-28-2007, 06:57 AM
If I were you I'd do the following.
1. Get a cheap furniture mover dolly. It's taller & wider than other dolly.
2. Build a tight shelf for power tools in the bottom.
3. Another shelf on top for chisels and any thing with sharp blade.
4. Hang clamps on the back.
5. Get a bucket boss for all other loose tools.
1-5 get you to get your tools to where you want to work with just 2 trip to the shed and also keep your tool arranged properly.
6. Get 2 mover blankets that you can use to store work in progress in the house w/o getting damaged. In a pinch you can do glue up inside the house on top of the blanket (put a plastic sheet over the blanket).
My FIL's father used to go to the jungle with an ox carrying his tool on its back. First he selected and down some trees and put them in places they could dry and marked them with his name. He then made the ox cart & furniture from trees he had downed and let air dry the year before. Then he'd take the cart & furniture to the city and sold them all. He'd go home with the money, ox & tool, rested a week and started over. If he could do that, you can do what you want much easier.
09-28-2007, 09:12 AM
That's a pretty cool story. I like that. Hard work, no doubt, and not without its frustrations... but still a neat story.
-- Tim --
09-28-2007, 09:06 PM
Uhhh Huhhhh Yeah a cool story --- but --- this is New England. It's wintery cold in the winter. No we cannot work outside in the winter - unless you are really a tough subject. Poly is "not" of that nature.
Tim - you know cold better than Southeastern Mass knows. Heck - you can get signifacant snow in mid October.
In the dead of winter in New England - to us woodworkers - anything to do OUTSIDE after mid October is virtually useless. Yep - I have done building projecct outside in January - but nope - to painting, staining, finishing or anything of the sort - without heat.
Last year I did some Cabots exterior stain on the SOUTH side - note warm, side of the house. Not really recommended, and it was an exceptionally warm day.
Only thing we can do is store wood in a covered area outside. When we want to use that wood we need to bring it in - then let it acclimate to the WARM 45 degrees for a week before we can use it. I have cut frozen wood on the TS and RAS and SCMS. It does move after it warms up.
Winter starts in mid November.
I still ask Norm - is there any way possible, to get rid of some junk and commendeere some cellar space. That is really the only hope a true New Englander has in this wintery world. Also to be near the furnace is good.
I love New England - and there ARE good work arounds. I know many a great woodworker that has a New England woodworking shop - in the cellar. In every case the woodworker "TAKES" a portion of the cellar.
Sooo - Norm - as CJR noted, - space saving, and space organizing is KEY here - can you comandeer??
09-29-2007, 04:43 PM
Marc and Tim...
I never really gave much thought to making the shed I have the workshop. Hmmmm... It might work! The shed is in need of cleaning and organizing, something that's on my to-do list, but I was just thinking of trying to add the tools, to get them all in one place.
The shed currently holds the usual assortment of lawn mower, wheelbarrow, garden tools, snow shovels, bicycles, etc. - the list goes on and on. If I can get all the big stuff to one side, hanging the bicycles perhaps, and put the smaller stuff on the wall of shelves I have on the back, maybe I can get a clear space.
I doubt I could manage more than about a 5 x 9 foot space in there, but it could work for a place where I can do some smaller projects. I have a Rexon BT2502W tablesaw that would fit in that space, and could double as a worktable with a plywood top. I could probably do 3 to 4 foot long cuts inside, which might be all I need. For longer cuts I could pull it out onto the driveway.
Thanks for the new direction for my thoughts! You might have hit the nail on the head.
09-29-2007, 05:03 PM
I wish comandeering was that easy. About 85% of the basement space is taken up by what we "store" there... my in-laws!
;) We actually have a good-sized house - it's a 4 bedroom colonial with a walk-out basement. But the basement is finished into an in-law suite for my wife's parents. What is unfinished down there is a room about 10 x 12 that holds the boiler, water heater, freezer, metal cabinet for my paints and stuff, and freestanding racks for all the stuff you normally store in basements.
Sharing that space would be tight - I could probably purge some more, but we're already pretty lean, you just end up with a certain amount of stuff when you have 7 people in the house (me, wife, 3 girls, 2 parents). And even if I could get enough space down there, running noisy tools like routers while they were trying to watch TV in the next room wouldn't work.
I'm starting to like the idea mentioned before about trying to make the shed the workshop. Granted, it would be TINY, and not useable in the winter, and maybe not in the peak of summer, but it would hold possibilities in the spring and fall. Best of all, it would be more than I have now, which is nothing.
We are on year 2 of college payments with my 1st. #2 goes next year, and #3 three years after that. So, about 8 years from now I'll feel rich again, and I'll be able to do something large and permanent, like a "garage" or freestanding workshop. Maybe this shed-space might work to keep my skills and interest going.
09-29-2007, 05:08 PM
I like the story, and the portable tool storage idea. I could use that wherever I set up shop. I don't have a ton of tools, at least not big ones, so I could probably get a lot of what I own on one of those.
Definitely will keep that one in mind! :D
09-29-2007, 08:40 PM
Come to think of it - that's spawned yet another idea... usable in warmer months.
Ya know a hotdog cart? Got that picture? With something akin to a hotdog cart, one could put together a pretty reasonable shop - a portable one, with a heckuva lot of tools in it, and possibly with sides that open out like a gypsy cart to form workspace roofing.
Two-wheeled, four-wheeled. It's not even a "structure", so it wouldn't be taxable. :)
-- Tim --
09-30-2007, 08:57 AM
Yeah - I was afraid you had something like that going on.
Can't by that one.
Well - I guess the shed is it.
Can you build onto the shed?
I have a 10x12 shed. I used to store my motorcycle in there - AND work on it. Though not huge - there is a workably space.
I saw in a magazine one time, maybe 2 or 3 times, a sort of tool "rack". That is, you have ONE tool stand for all tools with a universal base. Each tool is attached to a platform that would then fit on the universal base. You would use one tool at a time and store the tools in the tool rack. The rack might have scroll saw, router table top, OSS, disk sander, planer, woodworking bench top, etc. Think of it as modules. The rack would fit into the corner of the shed from floor to ceiling.
In the summertime - you sould have workbenches attached to the outside side of the shed. Above the outside workbenches you could build tool storage cabinets with weather tight doors. You could build circulating fans into the cabinets to circulate air.
I do still often times use an outside workbench - just because I like being outside.
Wood can be stores in outside covered cabinets on the back of the shed. Again weather tight but definately with air circulating fans.
I would insulate and heat. It doesn't take much to heat a 10x12 shed. I at one time had chickens in my shed - a few heat lamps do an amazing job.
10-02-2007, 07:50 PM
Hey Tim, I like that idea. If the shed turns out to be too small to work in, I can make something like that and store it in the shed, then wheel it out into the yard when I'm ready to go. I'll keep that one in mind for Plan B, if needed.
10-03-2007, 06:25 AM
Hey Tim (or any one who wanna chime in)
How about helping me with a design for a hotdog cart with a Cabinet saw, chop saw, router table all on a rolling cart that I can roll around under my house. Right now I am thinking about a chop saw hanging upside down on the outfeed that can be swung up into cutting position via a couple good hinges. The table saw fence can then be the chop saw fence as well. The router will be mounted on the infeed just like other cabinet saw/router table set up. The whole things will be mounted on some heavy duty wheels. I'm thinking about going to the flea market and look for a good used pallet jack with rollers. Hmmm the possibility is intriguing....
**LadyRider in da background watching her hubby scratching his head.**
10-03-2007, 10:47 AM
Yeah, no getting around the in-laws. That's OK, though. It has been great having them here with the girls as they have been growing up.
I think you are thinking about the Tool Dock system. I've seen it in advertisements too. Looks like a great space saving system, although it looks pricey. Don't know that for sure - I've never priced it out.
Maybe I can use that same concept with the tools I already have, though.I haven't really thought out how to best use the shed space. It will depend on how much room I have available once I clean/purge/organize the shed in a couple of weeks, before winter hits. I will still have to share the space with the outdoor stuff we keep in there. I'll take one end of the shed, but at best I'll end up with a 5 x 10 space. I do like the exterior weather-tight cabinet idea for storing stock. The back of the shed is to the north - that wall doesn't get any sun, so stock in there shouldn't bake. I'll use that idea for sure.
Thanks for the ideas!
10-03-2007, 11:01 AM
I don't think just a few heat lamps would work for cooking chickens.:+
My first real project was a built in closet movie, CD, DVD and video game shelf. I built that in the front two rooms of my house over the winter. Even though it may not seem like you have a lot of space, you'll find some somewhere to do the work if you really try hard.
10-03-2007, 12:53 PM
Yes I agree, Tim. The space can be enough for most things. I could do some assembly in the house if I need to. I'm mostly concerned about having a place where I can cut wood and it doesn't matter if I make a mess, or have to worry about damaging the floor, etc., and having a central place for all my tools that is close to my work area.
10-03-2007, 01:40 PM
For you... I might suggest pontoons instead of wheels. :) :) :)
Either way, that sounds like a rather cool project. I'd set the table saw sideways to the wheels rather than inline with them... so a rip would run parallel to the axle(s). If it's got one axle, I'd set that axle near the center of the table saw, on the side away from the tongue... so long crosscuts will add more weight to the tongue instead of tipping the cart over on its butt. The rest is just stitching it together & getting a platform & wheels under it.
It'd be good to build the apparatus, then look at "wheelifying" it, I think.
-- Tim --
Things are bad...
Last night my fantasy girlfriend
For an imaginary guy...
10-03-2007, 01:57 PM
I understand that completely, I had to make sure not to screw up the floor because at the same time I was refinishing those (I take on a lot of projects at once). I think this winter if I do start making projects that need glue I'll be moving into a different room so I don't screw up the floors but I also live alone so that makes things much easier. I have a few shop projects lined up for over the winter that don't need much if any glue so hopefully those will last me.
I'll share with you my newest idea for saving space in my garage though. We all need tables for doing work, right? And sometimes we need tables of all different heights, right? Well, there are some of us that need all of this and we need as much space as we can get our hands on. So that's what got me started on this idea. I first saw what I kind of wanted in the workbench book. It was a torsion box mounted to the wall but could be lifted up with a pulley system whenever space was needed or you just weren't using it. The problem I saw with it was that I eventually want to make furniture of all sizes and one single height doesn't make for the best working conditions. So I decided that I'd like to keep the torsion box and also the hideaway feature with the pulley system (The one I want to build is 4' x 8' so if you wanted a smaller one you probably wouldn't need the pulley system at all) but everything else just wasn't going to work for me. So here were my two problems, how do I adjust the height and keep it stable and also how to I make the legs adjustable but not too much work. So for some odd reason I thought about the back of one of those lay down pool chairs and it got me thinking I could use something like that with a dowel going through the entire torsion box for support. I'd have to use more than one for mine because they don't make a 9' one readily available. If there is a joint in the dowel just use glue and make sure you put the joint in one of the drilled holes of the torsion box members. Then cut out big enough slots in a 2x6 to house the dowel but keep it tight enough so nothing can just easily slide around. Install one of the slotted boards onto the wall, then put your torsion box in it and after that just take the other slotted board and put it almost up tight to it and screw those to the wall. Make sure the table is level before you put any screws in one of the boards though.
The legs I'm still working on but one idea is to have many sets all locked in place and when you need a specific one just unlock that set and the table should rest flat to the floor. What you could do though because you'd probably want a smaller table is put the supports on an angle that will reach the wall and just put stops on the wall for them to rest on. I probably wrote this all jumbled up so if there is anything you need clarification on just let me know.
10-03-2007, 08:27 PM
Tool dock system --- nah, I would not spend money on a pre made thing. I'm a cheap yankee.
Build it. It's a pretty easy thing to build. 2x4's, some plywood - stuff like that.
06-02-2010, 09:04 AM
Hi, speaking about small,i needed some place to store boxes and what not at our getaway cabin and a place where i can do some woodworking why i am there,LOML says i gotta get those tools out of the spare bed room.So we came up with a 12x12 shed made like a reg.sized building.8`walls and storage for boxes and small lenghths of wood up above.It is on a packed bed of gravel on 6x6 PT skids.It is board&batten built totally with rough sawn lumber.it is done now but the finnish pick is some where on my cell phone