Decide on Your Equipment
For those who like to work with wood, cordless tools are a good start. You’ll need tools that will last and will fit your hands. Visit your local hardware store and handle these tools. Consider factors like weight, grip space, and balance. A badly balanced jigsaw can be a dangerous and clumsy tool. Anything with too small a handgrip will be tiring and limit your creativity. Nothing beats a tool that fits you well. When you need additional tools, such as a miter saw or table saw, head back to the hardware store. For those interested in metals, take a welding class. Adding a welder to your shop may require a power upgrade to your workspace. If you’re going to use acetylene, make sure to study the safety requirements for keeping gases in a small space.
Organize Your Tools
Your hand tools need to be protected from dust, rust, and one another. A fine woodworking chisel is a joy to work with. A chisel that’s gotten dull or damaged from banging against another tool is no good to anyone. If you have space, invest in a sizable table and a sturdy chest of drawers. Set the table near an outlet and set up space for your cordless charger and any tools that need electricity. Hang a pegboard above the table so you can hang hand tools. If you are tall enough to put high shelving to good use, use heavy particleboard and supports on each stud. Add a 1 x 2 lip to the front of the shelf to keep things from rolling or sliding off. In the chest of drawers, put down an old blanket or towel and lay your chisels on the fabric. Invest in desiccant to keep the drawers dry and protect your chisels from rust.
Dust happens when you work with wood. If you don’t have the space for an air handling system, invest in a shop vacuum and use it after every woodworking session. Don’t leave a mess that you have to clean up before your next project. Use soft cloths to protect your safety glasses and face mask from scratches. Protecting your eyes is critical. There’s nothing scarier than searching for the power switch on a saw when you can’t see because there’s debris in your eye.
Keep Things Clean
In addition to keeping dust down, keep an eye out for moisture and mold. If your shop is unheated, moisture can build up on metal surfaces during the coldest days. Use desiccants in drawers and replace them regularly to protect your hand tools from getting rusty. If you’re going to be using solvents or other flammables, keeping dust and dirt to a minimum is critical. You will need air moving to get stains and sealants to dry thoroughly. Airborne dust can badly damage the finish on your latest project, so keep things vacuumed to protect your work. After each project, schedule time for tidying up and cleaning so you’ve got a fresh workbench for your next adventure. If you’re struggling to manage the dust in your shop, an epoxy floor coating is a great way to seal your concrete.
Dealing With Scrap
Determine whether you need a scrap hopper for your shop. Depending on the size of your projects, you may be able to get away with discarding scrap or waste from your work in your ordinary trash bins. However, many trash companies won’t take construction products. You may be ticketed or even have your trash service canceled. If possible, set up bins for the smallest pieces of wood, and keep them separated by hardness. You may be able to use them for decorative projects, whittling or turning.
Having your own shop space may take some sacrifices. However, with careful organization, you can pack a lot of tools into a small space. Get in the habit of cleaning up after yourself every time you work on a project. Celebrate the creativity of building a new project in a dust-free shop.
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