10 Wood Shop Layout Tips from The Pros

Setting up your wood shop requires careful planning to ensure efficiency and optimization of space. But aside from considering the layout’s efficiency, it should also be personal. The layout varies greatly based on the woodworker’s specialization, preferences and sometimes level of expertise. Unlike floor layouts which can be replicated from other similar woodworking shops, the organization and workflow is highly dependent on the shop’s process. It can take several months or even years before a workflow can be finalized. Other times, you may need to adjust or rearrange to suit the new processes.

Wood shop layout

But while you cannot perfect the organization and workflow instantly, you can learn some ways to improve the arrangement and efficiency of your workshop. Here are ten woodshop professional layout tips you can use as you setup your shop.


  1. Wood shop layout must be customizable.

Consider your workshop as an ever-growing place that will evolve over time. As you build skills and gain new projects, expect the layout of your shop to change so it suits your newly acquired tools, techniques and projects. The shop must reflect the current needs of your work.

Your workshop’s layout isn’t fixed and won’t remain the same through the years. Think of a design that you can move around in case you need some changes. As much as possible, have enough free space and sufficient room where you can add new tool in the future. For sure, you’ll need that soon!

  1. Consider the path of your projects.

As mentioned above, your wood shop should reflect the ideal part of your work. That’s the key to making your shop more efficient. Before you even begin making plans for your layout, know the workflow of your projects.

Make sure that there is a designated area at each stage of the project — from classifying the wood to cutting them into desired size to shaping them. Give attention to the size required at each stage of the workflow.

Once you know the workflow, you can start plotting layout design on paper. However, don’t be too “attached” with your layout as you will soon need to say goodbye to it. The ergonomics of working on projects will surely necessitate some adjustments soon.

It’s a nice idea to use mobile bases instead of placing them fixed on the floor. This should allow you move things around without need of complete renovation as well as heavy lifting.

  1. Ensure adequate space for storage and tools.

Woodworking tools can be cumbersome and difficult to store. As such, you have to think of ways of maximizing the limited space that would allow enough storage. To achieve this, you should use custom-built storage instead of pre-fabricated storages.

The arrangement of your toolboxes and storage must be efficient to enable efficiency within the wood shop. Professional woodworkers suggest segregating tools depending on function to make it easier for you to pick the right one at each stage.

Meanwhile, some woodworkers think that tools should be within easy reach at all times, since you’ll likely need them at any stage. If you are a type of worker who don’t really follow a set workflow or your project don’t require such, then you can opt for mobile tools storage.

  1. Layout to ensure your tools is protected from rust and elements.

Your woodworking tools are your lifeline and your most important investment. As such, you have to keep it in good shape at all times.

There are a lot of elements around your wood shop that can cause your tools to breakdown fast. Dust, moisture, heat, chemicals and even direct exposure to sunlight can hasten the wear and tear of your tools. Although using oil or certain mixtures can help mitigate the effects, still the best way to preserve your tools is through having proper storage.

Instead of using open-air shelves and racks, you can instead make chests or sealable sturdy plastic crates. These storages not only protect your tools from the elements but also help in organizing your stuff.

Again, make sure that your storage is just within your reach so it won’t hamper on work efficiency.

  1. Maximize your limited space.

Probably your major consideration when drafting a layout is the available space. Unlike other factors, this one is often fixed and non-negotiable. When planning your tool storage and work tables, think beyond the primary function of the item you’re putting. For instance, beneath the work table can be used as additional storage.

You can also maximize and effectively use the corners for space-occupying tools like drill presses and band saws. Think of ways so that your tools don’t impinge on internal space. As much as possible, lay out tools that require long lengths along the walls or windows.

The windows also prove to be useful particularly in providing ventilation for finishing as well as lighting, necessary when inspecting color and other fine details of your work.

  1. Ease of access to tools.

One common mistake of woodcraft workers is that they overly dwell on how the workshop would look like. They put in wonderful designs and stuff but when it comes to the actual work, they don’t add to the efficiency of the space. Sometimes, getting in and out of storage can be a hassle. Other times, packing and unpacking stuff make things very cumbersome. That should not be!

  1. Place tables at the center.

Regardless of the table you pick, it is highly recommended that the workbench is centrally located. Not only will it save you space, it also makes working on the different stages of the project a breeze. Moving around is also easier.

  1. Store woods near the entrance.

If your shop permits, keep the wood as close to the entrance as possible. This makes the entire workflow congruent and efficient. Moreover, it would also make it easier for you to transport the raw wood from the storage to the working area.

  1. Make it a comfortable place.

As a woodworker, expect that you’ll be spending more time in your shop. Therefore, you should give it a little touch of comfort to make your day’s work less stressful!

Often, basements and garages are the popular picks for setting up wood shops. The problem is that these spaces can either be hot or lack proper heating and ventilation. Investing on cooling or heating devices should be in your bucket list. You can also design aesthetically looking storage for books, plans, reference materials and portfolio. Wall-mounted shelves are great ideas!

  1. Never compromise on usability.

For sure, you’ll be tempted to pick bargain tools and fixtures. But don’t ever compromise usability for the price. Get ergonomic tables, saws, and benches that fit your height. This not only makes your work easier but also prevents unnecessary injuries! Moreover, you’ll be using them for extended periods.

A better way to look at these necessities — consider them as investments instead of expenses. That way, your pocket won’t mind it too much.

There you have it. Some professional wood shop layout tips you can use as you embark on your journey to becoming a great woodworker. We do hope you get some food for thought from these tips.

Author: John Clax

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