Working Efficiently in a Small Shop

It can be a challenge to work efficiently in a small shop, but I have arranged the equipment in the space of a 1-car garage to allow me to build with components up to five feet in length without having to rearrange. In fact, the only machine that is on wheels is my 13″ thickness planer.

Most of the things I build involve components not longer than five feet, so work goes very smoothly. Some machines have the capacity to work with stock greater than five feet as they sit and I sometimes take advantage of that, and other times I use a hand-held tool instead.

I have written an article for Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement Magazine that will appear in a future issue describing my layout, the benefits, and why it works well for me. If you work in a shop with limited space, I think that you’ll find the article interesting.

This time-lapse video was recorded during the Wall Shelf Build-Off, and illustrates my workflow in the shop, and how I use the limited space that I have. Duration: (10:18)

For more pictures of my shop, check out this post: Welcome to the New Shop.

6 thoughts on “Working Efficiently in a Small Shop

  1. Wow that was frantic!! You have set up an amazing shop space Chris. Double knot your shoe laces and you won’t waste 11.67 seconds retying them!

    You were on the phone a lot, any of that using it as a calculator? At one point you had a story stick on the slider, at least I think that is what it was.

    Send Baby pics soon!! Morgan

    1. Hey Morgan,

      All the time spend on my phone was for taking photos and posting them to Twitter for the build-off, as well as engaging with others participating in the build-off.


  2. Chris that’s an interesting holding mechanism on your work bench. What is it?
    Great demonstration of a small shop. I too have a single car garage to work in and you’ve given me some ideas.
    Looking forward to reading the article.

    1. Hi Grant,

      I’m experimenting with a V-Clamp brand vacuum clamp to hold work from the bottom, using compressed air instead of clamps. I have it installed on a Veritas Carver’s Vise so I can tilt and turn it as I need.


  3. I am always amazed by the folks that work in a small shop. I have a 30′ x 80′ shop and often that doesn’t seem to be big enough. My hats off you!!

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