Make Better Use of Your Shop Space: A Spare Room
In the smallest spaces, pick your compromises
Jacques Breau, part-time pro
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Small spare room, roughly 7 ft. x 12 ft.
Jacques Breau thinks his “85-sq.-ft. shop is a good candidate to inspire people to use whatever space they have available.” Amen to that. He recently moved his shop into this small room off the kitchen in his apartment, and already has built a furniture commission in it and a few household projects.
Like Rob Porcaro (in Make Better Use of Your Shop, FWW #237), Breau had to think vertically as well as horizontally to maximize his space, coordinating infeed and outfeed zones. He uses his bandsaw most, so it has the most room around it. He only uses his tablesaw for crosscutting with a sled. The top of that sled sits just below the bandsaw table and acts as an outfeed for it. His jointer is one level lower, tucked underneath the crosscut sled and is parked in front of a window, which he opens to joint pieces over 2 ft. long. By the way, Breau breaks down sheet goods at the lumberyard, and makes furniture quality cuts in his shop using a circular saw and shopmade guide track.
As for the rest of his big tools, a drill press shares the jointer’s stand. A knockdown router table clamps onto a pair of Krenov-style sawhorses. Breau’s vacuum veneer press doubles as a work table 95% of the time, and his thickness planer sits on casters under the table. He stores a scrollsaw and mortiser in the basement until needed.
Bandsaw is a boon to small shops. The bandsaw has unmatched versatility for such a small footprint, so Breau uses it much more than his tablesaw, and gives it a whopping 6 ft. of infeed/outfeed capacity, the most in his tiny shop. Note how his tablesaw crosscut sled acts as a work support for the bandsaw.
Outdoor outfeed. Breau’s jointer sits on a table with his benchtop drill press, and therefore can’t be easily moved. Jointing boards longer than 16 in. requires opening the window. When the weather is poor, he has to work quickly!
Circ saw makes furniture-quality cuts. Breau uses his circular saw with sawhorses and a zero-clearance guide track, to cut sheet stock to size, and also to rip anything that his 12-in. bandsaw can’t handle.
Hand tools close at hand. With no room for his old tool chest, Breau was forced to hang his favorite hand tools on the wall above his bench. That actually made them easier to get to. By the way, his bench fits into the end of the room with about 6 in. to spare.
Veneer press does double-duty. The back wall of the shop is dedicated to a veneer press that doubles as a work table. The press consists of two torsion boxes and a series of sprung cauls. That lets him use common clamps to apply the pressure.