My workshop is my sanctuary—but only when it is well-designed, organized, and maintained. Spoiled, right? Not really. Because otherwise, it just turns into a jumbled mess of items that only serve to impede the flow of my projects.
If this sounds like you, then you’re in luck because I’m here to help you learn how to design the perfect workshop. With everything in the right place, you can easily move forward with your planned projects and make excellent progress every time.
Here’s how to get started.
Table of Contents
- Create an Efficient Floor Plan Before Renovating
- Build Your Ideal Workbench
- Select Tool Storage Elements
- Strategic Electrical Wiring Tips
- How to Light Your Workshop
- Ensuring Adequate Ventilation
- Installing Your Flooring of Choice
- Don’t Forget Heating and Cooling
- Address Scrap Storage and Trash
- Bring in the Food and Entertainment
Create an Efficient Floor Plan Before Renovating
As much fun as it is to jump right into creating a new workshop, planning is key. When to comes to creating your perfect workshop setup, everything comes down to the floorplan. You must have all the elements in the right areas to build an efficient workshop layout for all your favorite projects.
So, start by creating a floor plan that shows where you will have your main elements, including:
- Assembly table
- Scrap storage
- Garbage receptacles
- Food and entertainment items
You should also make an elevation floor plan, which will show cabinets, electrical outlets, and other storage features that may be stacked on top of other equipment.
When planning your new workshop, you should study your current workshop setup to identify any large items, such as air compressors and generators, that still need a space. Make a list of all the large items and equipment in your garage to personalize your floorplan and avoid leaving anything out.
Need help figuring out where everything goes? Never fear! Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Start by placing your workbench near a window in your workshop.
- Group your toolboxes near the workbench, so you can intuitively find each kind of tool.
- Locate your assembly table in the center of the room, keeping all edges accessible.
- Put your scrap storage and garbage receptacles near the workshop door.
- Dedicate a small area to food and entertainment to elevate the fun in your workshop.
As you define where each of your main elements will go, your vision for your perfect workshop will come into focus. You can then move forward in acquiring or placing the items you need to make your ideal workspace.
Build Your Ideal Workbench
A workbench is a place where you can cut, grind, and sand to your hearts’ content on your mission to complete your projects. You need a good sturdy workbench to lean on as you complete the tough tasks your projects demand.
If you do not already have one, or if you simply want to upgrade (who doesn’t?), then it’s well past time to build your ideal workbench.
If you aren’t sure how to build a workbench, rest assured, we’re here to help. Great workbench designs must always begin with a sturdy base. It should not have a tendency to wobble or sway, but rather keep your projects on sure footing at all times. In adding the legs and top, make sure your workbench height makes sense for the tasks you will complete.
The top surface of the workbench should have room to complete manual tooling tasks and still have plenty of static tools around the edges, such as a bench grinder and vise. Shelves above and drawers below can ensure all your most used tools remain within arm’s reach while you are at the workbench. When building a workbench, you can also consider mounting a pegboard above the workbench surface, keeping all your favorite tools and important protective gear like safety glasses and particle masks close at hand.
Since you will spend plenty of time at your workbench, your efforts in generating workbench ideas will definitely pay off. Your beautifully built workbench will provide you with ample space to complete many different phases of your projects.
Select Tool Storage Elements
When every item has a dedicated place, you have the ability to keep your tools well-organized and easily accessible for every job you complete. You cannot accomplish this goal without the right tool storage elements on hand, however.
In short, you will need toolboxes—and you will need them in greater quantities than you might ever believe.
To help you out, here are few types of tool storage ideas to consider.
Stationary Tool Boxes
With stationary metal tool boxes situated across your workshop, you always know where to find specific tools you keep there. The stationary boxes give you a way to separate your tools by type and use, making them more accessible than ever. You should place these boxes atop your workbench and near your assembly area to ensure your tools are always within reach.
Rolling Tool Boxes & Tool Chests
Rolling tool boxes give you a place to store tools that are needed at every end of the workshop. You can roll these boxes from place to place, putting them wherever they are needed at a moment’s notice and giving you access to all the tools you can dream of, thanks to their expanded storage options. They can also easily roll out of the way when not in use, which helps your workshop look clean and tidy.
Wearable Tool Belts
Sometimes not even the rolling toolboxes are mobile enough and, for that, you need tool belts you can carry around freely. As you prepare for the day’s tasks, you can fill up the tool belt with just the items you will need for your current project.
DIY Tool Storage Options
If you want to create your own DIY tool storage, try building drawers and shelving units into your workbench and adding cabinets on the walls. You can also construct a pegboard to hang hand tools. These homemade tool storage ideas are great for saving money and vastly expanding your storage space.
Take your time in picking out and setting up your tool storage elements to really help your workshop shine. Your diligence in placing these items in the right spots can go a long way in improving your efficiency and reducing your frustration level as you work.
Strategic Electrical Wiring Tips
There are many things to consider as you strategically handle the setup of your electrical wiring. Paying attention to the right areas helps to ensure that every corner of your workshop can handle your project demands.
For starters, if you have a lot of large equipment to run, you must have circuits dedicated to those items alone. In setting up these dedicated circuits, pay special attention to your workbench area as well. As your projects get going, you might bring in additional tools to that area, overloading circuits that were not built with that purpose in mind. Also, remember to wire all overhead lights on a different circuit than your outlets.
With the dedicated circuits in place, turn your attention to adding electrical outlets to every corner. Although you will undoubtedly have extension cords galore, it is really (really!) nice to not have to run them whenever you want to work in a different area. Consider placing these outlets higher up, as is common in professional workshops.
Your efforts will help make sure that running multiple lights and tools at the same time will not blow a breaker or otherwise damage your circuits.
How to Light Your Workshop
Your safety, comfort, and project outcomes all greatly depend on the lighting in your workshop. You need many layers of bright light to clear out the shadows and keep all your projects well-lit. Start by placing many fluorescent overhead fixtures across the length of your workshop. These will provide the workshop lighting foundation for your entire space.
You can then brighten up the space even more by adding other lights, including:
- Track lighting
- Undercabinet lights
- Articulated lamps
You can also greatly benefit from having lots of different portable light options on hand. Though they are important, be sure to go beyond flashlights in sourcing these lights. You should have portable floodlights, mobile lightbars, and pivoting floodlights, for example, to shine bright light wherever you need it most.
Paying close attention to your workshop’s lighting needs will help boost your safety and productivity across the board. You can also count on the lights to improve your comfort by helping eliminate back pain and eye-strain from stooping and squinting for a better look.
Remember, wiring a garage workshop is different from wiring a newly built workshop. You may need to work with what you have, or hire a professional contractor to re-wire the garage lighting layout for your needs.
Ensuring Adequate Ventilation
When building a workshop, adequate ventilation is key. There’s nothing better than exhaust fans and air purifiers working together to clean and refresh the airspace. You can sand, paint, and more without the risk of breathing in noxious fumes when you have the right ventilation elements in place.
You can start by looking at the windows in your workshop and verify that they all function. If your windows will not open and close smoothly, or you just want more, a contractor can help you out. Once you have operational windows, you can improve their function by buying window fans for each one. These fans can pull air out of the shop or bring in fresh air as needed to refresh the space.
A ductwork ventilation system can also help draw air out of the shop and replace it with fresh air on an ongoing basis. As this system works behind the scenes, you will always be treated to the freshest air possible. Barring that, consider putting ceiling fans in to keep air circulating through the shop and moving out the open windows.
Optimizing ventilation from the start will make it easy to circulate air through your workshop, though you can make improvements as you go as well.
Installing Your Flooring of Choice
The right flooring makes all the difference in easily and efficiently moving through your workspace. Though there are a number of flooring options for your workshop, applying epoxy-coating to your concrete flooring is one of the sturdiest and nicest-looking flooring options, filling in imperfections in the concrete and smoothing its surface. Your epoxy flooring will make it so you can move your rolling toolboxes around with ease and walk through your workshop without tripping.
What it doesn’t do is keep your feet from hurting after long hours working on your project. For that, you will need rubber floor tiles and anti-fatigue mats.
You should place these mats wherever you will spend a lot of time standing in one place, such as in front of your workbench and assembly table. You can also move these mats to different areas in your garage as needed to complete your tasks.
Don’t Forget Heating and Cooling
Keeping your workshop the right temperature is an important part of ensuring your comfort while you work. You will need to make heating and cooling a priority then to keep your projects going through every season—and it all starts with improving the efficiency of your space with insulation.
By adding insulating elements, you can keep heat transfer to a minimum, decreasing the load on your HVAC system. You can start by adding caulk and weather-stripping around the windows and doors. Then, use spray-foam and filler to fill in cracks and patch holes that allow air to escape the room. Finally, add quality insulation to the walls to fully optimize the efficiency of your workshop.
With insulation maximized, you can turn your attention to the heating and cooling systems. You can add radiant heating through the floors or use a standalone forced air system. If your workshop is connected to your home, you can potentially add the ductwork to connect it to your existing heating system.
You have even more options when it comes to cooling, as there are portable, window, and mini-split systems. You will need to assess your space and budget to see which will work best. At the low end of the budget range are window AC units, but they will take up an entire window and need to be removed to lock up. Mini-split systems are the most expensive, but they operate with the flick of a switch once professionally installed in the wall.
Whichever system you choose, your investment can help improve the comfort and function of your workshop for year-round use.
Address Scrap Storage and Trash
As you work, wood and metal scraps, and heaps of trash, may start to pile up. To keep your workshop neat and tidy, you must have a plan for the storage and disposal of those items.
For scraps, you can set up a receptacle to hold them all as you move between projects. You can then dip into that bin whenever you need a small piece of material to use. Trash, on the other hand, can go straight into a dedicated bin for later disposal in the outside can or landfill.
Consider placing both your trash can and scrap bin next to the door for easy sorting of your refuse. As you finish up for the day, you can head over to the cleanup area to separate scrap and trash, and then put them in their dedicated receptacles.
Although a seemingly minor detail, taking care of your trash and recycling can help keep your workshop operational and comfortable for the long-term.
Bring in the Food and Entertainment
Saving the best for last, food and entertainment are up next. You can liven up your workspace quite easily by strategically placing these elements throughout its layout. Begin by infusing entertainment elements across your workshop with radios, TVs, and speakers galore. You can hang your speakers on the wall or integrate them into your cabinets to optimize the flow of sound through the workshop.
With entertainment squared away, it’s time to bring on the food. Place a mini-fridge, or even a full-size refrigerator, in the corner to hold your snacks and beverages. Add your favorite juice, soda, and more to stay refreshed while you work. Skip the alcohol, however, as that is never a good idea while working around power tools. Don’t forget to fill up the shelves with easy to grab snacks as well to keep your trips back inside to a minimum.
Although this sounds like a lot of work, and it is, you will see your efforts pay off as you move through your projects with ease. Your optimized workspace can help ensure you find the right tools when you need them and breeze through the steps required to complete your work.
So, now that you know how to get started, why are you still here? Take the first steps to move toward the perfect workshop of your dreams.