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8 Woodworking Shop Layout & Design Tips for More Efficiency


A well-organized shop can make a world of difference in productivity and the quality of a woodworking project. Plus, there’s just something satisfying about stepping into a tidy and efficient workspace!

Reorganizing your woodworking shop layout can take a lot of upfront planning and effort, but the time is well worth it. Whether you’re working from a large or small woodworking shop, the best layout will save you time in the long run.

So what can you do to enhance space efficiency in your woodworking shop layout? Here are some handy tips to get the most out of your available space.

1. Consider Your Workflow 

The key to a smoothly operating shop is understanding your workflow. Think about which tools you use one after the other. It makes sense to have these tools nearby to save you time (and a few steps).

Some common pairings might include:

  • Table saw and outfeed table
  • Jointer and planer
  • Lathe and turning tools such as chisels and gouges
  • Drill press and drill bit storage
  • Bandsaw and bandsaw blade storage
  • Router table and router bit storage
  • Assembly table and clamps, glues, screws, and other fasteners. 
  • Miter saw and stock support/stop block system

If there are tools or items you don’t often use, store them in the far corners or another room where they won’t take up the more valuable space in your shop layout. 

Every shop is unique, just like every woodworker. You may not need every tool on the market, so think about what projects you focus on and organize around those.

2. Drawers, Not Doors

The best layouts for small and large woodworking shops all include plenty of drawers and pullouts!

While standard cabinets can have their uses, drawers and pullouts allow you to maximize storage without taking up a lot of space. Instead of rifling around for items in the back, you can simply roll out the drawer and see everything at once.

Convenience hardware like drawers and pullouts can be easily customized to fit specific needs, too. Modular dividers, tool inserts, and non-slip drawer mats can ensure items stay in place instead of getting shaken around as the drawer is opened and closed. Depending on your needs, you could install LED strips, power strips, or dust covers inside the drawers. 

You can even make the most of corner spaces with lazy Susans or blind corner solutions.

Some tools and supplies might be better suited for vertically oriented pullouts, like saw blades or longer cuts of wood. Especially in the case of lumber, a pullout with wood propped vertically against the sides can help you avoid the time-consuming process of stacking and unstacking cuts to get the exact piece you need.

3. Leverage Your Wall Space  

Walls aren’t just for hanging inspirational quotes (though we’re all for that!). Efficient use of your wall space can help you fit a lot of tools and equipment – even in especially small woodworking shop layouts. Cabinets, pegboards, French cleats, and other wall-mounted storage options are just a few options to consider. 

For large woodworking shop layouts, floating shelves can be a fantastic place to store long, thin cuts of wood. The bars of a standard storage rack might be inconvenient, but shelves allow you to avoid that.

If you use the shelves for various types of wood, be sure to install more than one shelf. Stacking too much wood on a single shelf could lead to problems of its own–especially if you find you need a piece of wood located at the bottom of the stack.

4. Turn Up The Lights

A well-lit space is essential, not just for safety but for accuracy in your work. Ensure there’s plenty of bright lighting wherever you work. If you have a lot of overhead cabinets in your space, consider installing LED strips underneath to provide good lighting where you need it.

Are there any windows in your space? Setting up your workbench or polishing area near a window can provide natural light and good ventilation.

5. Don’t Forget About Safety

We can’t stress this enough – your health and safety are paramount.

Ventilation is key! Consider adding fans or situating your workspace near windows. Installing a dust collection system is a wise move to keep your lungs in top shape.

Be prepared for potential emergencies, too. Having fire extinguishers, preferably on opposite sides of your shop, can be a lifesaver. Equally important are masks, safety glasses, and first aid kits. Store these essentials in a dust-protected, easy-to-reach spot.

6. Go Mobile 

The ability to move things around can be a game-changer, especially for large woodworking shop layouts where the same toolset might be needed in various areas. Consider storage sets with wheels, mobile carts, and even tool chests. Even a stool with wheels can be an efficient way to move around the shop without wearing yourself out. 

When dealing with mobile tools and equipment, just keep two things in mind:

  1. Keep the ground space open and clear from cords. Accidentally yanking or damaging cords as you roll over them can be dangerous and expensive. 
  2. Ensure there’s a way to lock the wheels when needed. Build a habit of locking the wheels every time, then giving a firm shake to test that it’s secure. 

7. Don’t Skimp on Outlets 

There’s nothing more frustrating than having a tool but no place to plug it in. Ensure you have plenty of outlets distributed throughout the shop, so you’re never left searching for a place to power up. This can also help you avoid the temptation to use multiple extension cords or overloaded power strips.

High-power tools like table saws, dust collectors, air compressors, and planers often need dedicated circuits to prevent overloading and tripping breakers. If a tool has a motor that draws a lot of current on startup (like a large dust collector), it’s especially important to have it on its own circuit.

Do your best to minimize the need for extension cables. That said, sometimes they’re necessary, especially if you’re working in an older space that was not originally designed to be a woodworking shop. Just be sure to use extension cords with enough amperage and avoid daisy-chaining multiple extension cords together.

8. Consider Your Ceiling Height

While it’s not something you can change easily, the ceiling height is worth considering, especially if you’re on the move to a new shop. 

Ceiling storage and installations can be valuable additions that free up space in your woodworking shop layout, but they should be added with care. 

Long cuts of lumber require space, and there’s nothing worse than navigating around hanging lights or bumping into a low ceiling. In the room(s) where you will be carrying and rotating large cuts of wood, be aware of which ceiling installations might be in the way. Consider low-profile lights and installations, or fix them to the sides and corners of the room where they won’t be in the way.

Ceiling installations might include:

  • Hanging lights
  • Retractable power cords
  • Air filtration system
  • Retractable hose reels
  • Storage
  • Pulley systems
  • Shop fans 

Set Your Woodworking Shop Up For Success

Setting up a woodworking shop is more than just having the right tools. It’s about creating a space where you can safely and efficiently do your best work. With these tips in hand, you’re on your way to designing a shop that’s as impressive as the projects you’ll create in it.

At Dakota Premium Hardwoods, we’re more than just a hardwood dealer. Whether you’re a large enterprise woodworking shop or a small business just getting started, we’re your partner and we’re here to help your shop do its best work.

If there’s a location near you, stop by to pick up high-quality hardwood lumber and plywood, tools, and supplies from our warehouse. We also offer speedy next-day delivery to shops in our service area! Contact us today or reach out directly to one of our locations to see if we can provide the materials you need for your next project.


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