Woodworking Talk banner

Work area design

556 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  allpurpose
My old Ryobi table saw stopped working so Ive been checking CL for a replacement. The saw was built in to my workbench so I figured an exact replacement makes things easier. But Ive been doing more cuttting lately and started to see the drawback of a cheapo saw (most of my work for 20+ yrs has been rough... framing, steps, decks, etc) So, I went down the rabbit hole of looking at higher hp, belt drive, good fences, etc. And decided if I needed to reconfigure my workspace a bit, that is ok.

Well, I ended up picking up an older craftsman. 3hp (I know its not a legit 3hp) with a biesemeyer fence. Runs great, everything aligned, fence is precision. But... its a monster! I knew it was bigger and Id need to reconfigure my garage but I think I misjudged. Its 7 feet long, which means about 3' left of the fence and about 4' to the right of it. The truth is, I will likely never (and have never) needed to make repetetive cuts on pieces that large. If I need to rip a sheet of plywood, the skill saw would be fine. So really 3' of fence is really all I need.

So, a few options:
#1 is just selling this right away and look for another saw, they are out there. Even if no biesemeyer fence, there are t-square fences being sold as well with saws and any would be upgrade to my old Ryobi. Dont love this option as now Im just spinning my wheels, posting on CL, buying ,selling etc. I have the saw in the garage, lets see if I can make it work.
#2 is cutting the angle bracket and square tubing to shorten the fence, and drop one of the saw's extensions. Dont love this idea either for obvious reasons.
#3 reconfig the garage. This is probably the right move, and where a little input from some more experienced people. The key point here, though, is that Im a hobbyist. So my needs are a little different than those of someone who is in the business. Still, straight easy safe cuts and convenient access to tools is important.

Anyway, below are 4 images of my layout. One is the current layout and the other three are what i think are the best options. Each square represents 6 inches. The gray sections outside the floorplan are a door (the grey one with black outline) and windows (just grey--looks like I forgot to add it near the lathe on two of the pics)

Benches and tools are labeled. FS=file cabinet, DP=drill press, BS=bandsaw.
Table A is the one the Ryobi was built into. Its my main work area. If I need to paint, scrape, hammer, disassemble, assemble, whatever... its where I go.
Table B is just a long thin bench attached to the wall, storage underneath. Had a radial arm at the right side but I just got rid of it.
Table C is big heavy work table, also lots of storage.

Note the saw is already on wheels so if I put it up against a wall, I can easily roll it back a couple feet if I need more outfeed. But it already has about 2' due to the motor in the back.

Option #1: Saw goes where Table A is. And Table A gets wheels so I can move it around and get to the saw as needed. In order to do this, I would need to cut away a bit of Table B--not a big deal.

Option #2: Saw goes where the band saw and drill press are, and they get moved to the left side in front of the lathe. My concern here is that even though its not blocking the door or window, seems tight. When I thought about a just getting a different saw or making this one smaller, this would be a perfect spot. All three could stay on the right wall.

Option #3: Saw goes longways where Table A is. Table A gets rebuilt to be long and thin, to share the space

So, overall, Im thinking one of the above three layouts. Or... making the saw smaller... or reselling and going smaller.


Rectangle Line Font Parallel Pattern

Rectangle Font Slope Parallel Pattern

Rectangle Font Parallel Pattern Slope

Rectangle Font Parallel Pattern Slope
See less See more
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Real personal choices sir, and it all depends on how you work and what you do. For me, I always want my cabinet saw in the middle with plenty of area on all sides, not against a wall. I try to make all my benches the same height as my table saw table to use as an extra set of hands when needed. I like to flow in one direction so I have my jointer, then planer, then table saw. But you and I likely do not do the same type of woodworking. I would think of your shop as a kitchen. What are you cooking in there and what is the most efficient way to set it up taking the least amount of steps during your day. I have had 4 personal shops in my life and worked in about a half dozen others. Each one I did I made changes from what I learned, and would likely make changes if the day came where I built another. My guess is your journey will be similar. Good luck, have fun, be safe.
Get shorter fence rails, either cut the ones you have or sell or trade the long ones for shorter ones if you don't think you need them that long. Shorter rails can be moved over for more capacity if the need arrises. As to the layout that is a personal preference much depended on the kind of work you will be doing.
What @B Coll said is true- you’ve got to figure this out for yourself b/c your work methods will dictate. If you’re doing any hand work you need a bonafide ww’ing bench with a thick top and a good vise.

As a rule table saws with their extensions and outfeed tables take up a large amount of real estate. As a result they dominate the layout as you’ve discovered. And you’ll find this is an issue, particularly with a large project then the table saw/outfeed ends up doubling as an assembly table - not a very convenient set up.

I’ve come to believe that for limited spaces or really any small shop, a track saw system and a router can do everything a table saw can do, and IMO can do it better with regard to sheet goods. You can even eliminate a miter saw or radial arm with the right accessories. There are a lot of examples of this. If you want to look into this Peter Millard has videos on setting up a crosscut MFT table. BTW, you dont need track hinges, just two points to register the track. Just something to think about…..
See less See more
I have always put my table saw in the middle of the side walls and nearest the entry way with my workbench to the left against the wall and at right angles to the table saw. Also table saw is nearest to the entryway because you can unload lumber directly onto the table saw, then cut large pieces immediately or slide it off the backside onto an outfeed/assembly table.
BTW, what are the dimensions of your usable area for the shop?
I don’t keep my saw in the middle. The back , left and font are exposed . The right side sits against the lumber rack. I do have a router in the extension, but I use the fence from behind. The saw at the commercial shop was the same… My saw is set up next to the garage door where materials come in.

People say the table saw is the heart of the shop, doesn’t mean it has to be in the middle.

Keep in mind, I set my shop up more for cabinetry , than furniture. Cabinetry takes a lot of space, furniture pieces don’t..
In my last 2 shops, my table saw was against the wall on the right side. This was because the buildings were 10' wide and 12' wide. Not much choice in long narrow shops.
My lumbrer plywood rack is on the right. That space is dead except for the end. At the end sits the edge sander which there is enough room at tye table saw extension table to fit and sand doors. I do have my Sapele in that hole and I have to step on it each tone to sand. Why I need to finish making the Adirondack chairs...
My shop is 12x35 and just about every square inch of wall space is being used from floor to about 10' high. The only wall space with nothing against it is the roll-up door the full width of the bay.
Id prefer one of the side walls with front/back/one side accessible. Its more natural that way but just too long for my space, and I cant bring myself to cut the nice long rails (as for now). So the easy choice was up against the back wall--what I listed as Option #1 and with Table A on the right wall. If I need more outfeed, its on wheels and pulls back a couple of feet as needed very easily.

The unexpected benefit here is that the entire middle is wide open--which is nice for living space, lets see how it works out for getting things done.
Thanks for all the feedback.
That middle wide open is one of the most important things to me
I spend most of my time on my outfeed/assy table
I need one whole side for cabinetry. I have a center pole in the garage and this would cause more problem, but I’m always cutting full sheets across and length…
I like the open space too. Nothing worse than clutter and tight spaces. But a little bit of a double edged sword too. My liviing space (kitchen, living room, additional added room) are all with flush support beams. Its nice and open but a lack of wall space doesnt give many decorating options. Where to put the pellet stove, one option. The TV, one option, and so on.
I figured out some time ago that no matter how I layout the shop I'll later regret it and spend AT LEAST two years trying to figure out how to fix it. I'm currently considering ripping out every useless table/bench and rebuilding them all, but that would spell untenable down time. Throwing out perfectly good scrap lumber is completely out of the question and it's taking up entirely too much space! I shoula been a rich gigolo instead.. Too late for that idea..
1 - 14 of 14 Posts