Even the most basic workshop needs to be well organized if you are to work efficiently, and the smaller the workshop, the greater the need to be tidy. Make sure every tool has a home even if it is no more than a humble plastic toolbox and get into the habit of clearing up and putting away tools at the end of each working session.
Try to store as much as possible up and away from the workshop floor. Make good use of all available wall space to add plenty of shelving, which does not need to be particularly deep. Adjustable shelving systems mean you can alter the spacing whenever necessary, or add more shelves to the existing brackets. Use 19 mm (X in) MDF, chipboard or shuttering ply for shelving. It does not need to be of the best quality, so this is a good opportunity for recycling materials.
You can use old kitchen cabinets to support machines such as mortisers, pillar drills and bench grinders. They also provide storage for power tools, abrasives and tooling. Add a work surface of thick MDF if the worktop is missing and anchor the cupboards to the wall to provide rigidity. Unless you have a very low caking, make use of the roof space. In a shed you can stow boards between the support trusses, although be careful of the weight. Support slender lengths of timber along their entire length, to prevent bowing and twisting. Joists can be used for hanging jigs and templates, or small hand tools, but remember to add insulation first.
Tools and Equipment
Chisels can be held vertically in a rack alongside the bench, placed in a tool cupboard or in drawers. Keep frequently used hand tools close to the bench, and those receiving occasional use in drawers under the bench, cupboards or toolboxes. Place small packets of silica gel or rust-inhibiting paper in drawers or toolboxes to preserve expensive metal tools. Shadow boards are a clever way of organizing tools, where you can see immediately if one is missing.
Most power tools do not take up much space, so you can store them in cupboards. Pigeonholes for individual tools are better, preventing cables from tangling. Keep cutters and blades with their appropriate tools. Most power tools now come in plastic storage cases, in which case you can leave them on open shelves without attracting dust. Store router bits in holes drilled into a block of wood so you can always find the cutter you want.
Place sash and G-cramps on racks along the wall or on short pieces of dowel glued to boards. If you have many cramps, consider building a mobile trolley on which to store them. Keep different types of cramp together and always replace them after use.
Screws, nails and items of hardware can be housed in storage cabinets with clear plastic drawers, or in glass jam jars with screw lids. Label everything so you can see at a glance where a specific size or type of screw is kept, for example. If possible, store all flammable products, including polishes, stains and lacquers in a steel cabinet for safety. If there is a risk of children entering the workshop, keep chemicals under lock and key. Make sure you have a suitable fire extinguisher close by.
Timber and Sheet Materials
Although heavy boards will need to be stacked horizontally on the floor, try to store smaller lengths of timber on shelving above. Make sure shelves are very sturdy, using either a heavy-gauge steel system, or making your own support brackets from wood or plywood. Keep boards separate from one another with evenly spaced sticks, to allow air to circulate.
Build a small area, or use a plastic dustbin, for storing offcuts.`Arrange exotics and hardwoods by timber species if possible. You need to be quite ruthless about what you keep and what to give away or use in the woodburner. Try to avoid storing lengths of softwood vertically, as they will bow easily.
Wherever possible, store sheet materials flat to prevent them warping. The alternative is to build a simple storage rack to keep the sheets vertical, making them easy to slide out when required. Wedging them together with offcuts will restrict them from bowing.
Word Discription :
Shadow board A white-painted board fixed to the wall for hanging hand tools. The shape of each tool is outlined in a contrasting colour.