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@nfarrar nfarrar/
Last active May 14, 2018

What would you like to do?
Woodworking & Microshop Design


I'm completely new to home ownership & woodworking. I've tried to tackle a few projects myself & bought a couple tools in the process, but mostly still have no idea what I'm doing. My garage is a currently a complete mess. I've put some stuff up on the walls to make more space and start organizing, but I don't have any decent shelves and the "workbench" is currently just a storage area (leaving me no place to work). The surface of the workbench is warped and there are no vices or clamps making it a less than ideal work surface anyway.

I've started doing some research and dumping the notes here as I (very slowly) make progress.



As I'm doing some research, I'm breaking down the tasks into specific, measurable goals.

  • Layout
    • Measure the dimenions of the garage and cars and figure out how much space there is to work with.
    • Get a rough idea of what tools, tables (workbench & stations, etc) I want and how much space they will take up.
    • Park both cars in the garage and visualize the space with some 'placeholders' to help visualize the space with tools & tables.
    • Build a to-scale diagram of the layout with all the planned tools & tables.
  • Project Sequence & Timeline
    • Build a timeline & plan for the project
      • Electrical upgrades
      • Building the workbench
      • Building tables & stations
      • Building cabinets
      • Finishing the garage


I have a small 2-car garage and a mess of tools that are completely unorganized. There's not a lot of space to work with, but after looking around a little bit it seems like this is a pretty common scenario and some really smart people have figured out solutions for setting up well-designed "microshops".

The garage currently looks like this:

Garage Starting


The garage & care dimensions:

  • Width of garage is 19' 4".
  • Length of garage is 19' 1".
  • On each side of garage there are 4" x 4" concrete risers.
  • On front of garage there is a 4" x 4" pressure-treated riser.
  • Olivia's Subaru Forester is is 14' 11" x 6' 6".
  • My Nissan Fronter is 17' x 6' 11".
  • On the backside of the garage is the downstairs bathroom and my office (we can't extend it backwards).
  • The walls on both sides of the garage are exterior walls, but we cannot extend those out either.

With the dimensions of the cars, this leaves very little remaining space to work with:

  • Behind or in front of truck: 2' 1" remaining space (just enough room to walk around it with doors closed, not enough space for a workbench).
  • Behind or in front of forester: 4' 2" remaing space (possibly enough room for a stationary workbench in front of car).
  • Remaining horizontal space with cars: 5' 11" (just enough room for about 2' on each side and in the middle).

To visualize this, I made cutout diagram, to size (each square is 1ft):

Garage Dimensions Cutout


The largest tool in the garage right now is the lawnmower, which is about 23" wide. Because of the 4x4 positioned against the back wall, it requires about 27" of clearance. Unfortunately, there's not enough room to make this fit in front of my truck. It's currently positioned under the existing "workbench", which leaves enough room for my wife to park, close the garage door, and comfortable walk around the back.

  • I've looked into building an 'addon' shed on the side for gardening tools to create additional space for the workshop, but didn't find a good plan.
  • I've looked into building a shed outback, but again didn't find any good options.

The lawnmower will have to stay where it is, and I don't want a lawnmower tucked under my workbench, so this front area (on the right-hand side, by the door) will be a good place to centralize the gardening tools. Most likely this will be a table with doors on the front, where I can store the cart, lawnmower, and the 5-gallon gardening bucket. Some drawers can go on top to store hand-held tools and parts for the sprinkler system. Above can be a closed-in cabinet in which all the various shovels, brooms, etc can hang.

This leaves very little space on the left-hand side to work with and two options that I can see:

  1. Concede that I will no longer be able to park my truck in the garage - and then I'll have all the space I need for a workbench, table saw, etc.
  2. Look into fold-down or fold-out options, and forgo a stationary table saw for a benchtop unit.


Advice & ideas on setting up a workshop with limited space.


The garage only has two outlets - one on the back wall (which is being used to charge various hand-held tool batteries) and one on the ceiling for the garage door opener & single light bulb. I'm going to need some more electrical wiring.

  • Extra circuits separate from garage door opener & existing circuits, with a kill switch.
  • 220v Circuit
  • Extra wiring for lighting


A good workbench is essential. Right now I have an old MDF workbench that's junk (from the previous home owner). It's bolted to the wall & the placement is bad - so I can only work from the front of the bench. There's are no vices or dog holes for clamping, the surface is warped, making everything difficult. I have no organization, so the surface is covered with tools anyway, leaving me with no place to work.
I don't think that a fold-down bench or "minibench" will meet my needs. However, a supplementary mini-bench may be useful - and fold-down tables to provide additional workspace may be useful.



Supplementary work tables - extra surface area to work on, purpose built for working with specific tools, etc.


So many tools! Really need some good organization to keep things usable.

I really like this 'Sliding-Door Pegboard Cabinet':



Lumber storage.

Dust Collection

Advice on setting up an inexpensive dust collection solution in a small shop.


Need some lighting.


My workspace is extremely limited and I've jumped through hoops to figure out as many ways as possible to limit the amount of tools I need, to use smaller tools where possible, reuse workstations, and use handheld tools with jigs where possible.

Tool Price Have
Table Saw
Dewalt 10-Inch Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw (DW717) $447.99
Skil 120-Volt 10-Inch Drill Press (3320-01) $126.47
Fein Turbo II (9-20-28) $399.00
Senco 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 hp running 1-Gallon Compressor (PC1010) $109.96
Bosch 2.3 HP Combination Plunge & Fixed-Base Variable Speed Router Pack (MRC23EVSK) $273.99
Skil 4.2-Amp 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw (3540-02) $99.99
Rockwell JawHorse Material Support and Saw Horse (RK9003) $174.59
Rockwell Jawhorse Foldable Plywood Jaw (RK9206) $59.99
Rockwell Jawhorse Tool Tray Accessory (RK9205) $26.92
Rockwell JawStand XP Work Support Stand (RK9034) $$79.99
Wixey Mini Digital Height Gauge (WR25) $17.25
Incra T-RULE12 12-Inch Precision Marking T-Rule $21.69
Incra BNDRUL12 12-Inch Incra Precision Bend Rule $19.02
Gripper Advanced System (200) $79.00
Dewalt 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Circular Saw with Electric Brake (DWE575SB) $114.00
Dewalt 18-Volt XRP Lithium-Ion 1/2-Inch Hammerdrill/Drill/Driver Kit (DCD970KL) $294.52
Dewalt Heavy-Duty 18-Volt Ni-Cad Cordless Top Handle Jig Saw Kit (DC330K) $233.98
Keter Folding Work Table (17182239) $79.99

Table Saw

A table saw is arguable the most important tool in a workshop. A proper saw, fence, and table are essential to getting accurate cuts.

There are four basic types of table saws:

  1. Portable (Benchtop) Saw
  2. Contractor Saw
  3. Hybrid Saw
  4. Cabinet Saw

I've no need for a cabinet saw as I'll never be a professional woodworker. A benchtop saw is a step up from a circular saw, but doesn't have the power or accuracy of the larger, stationary units. However since I'm so limited on space it may end up being my only option (unless I want to not be able to park my truck in the garage, ever).

Suggested Requirements

  • 10" Blade - Share blades between table saw and mitre saw.
  • Expandable side table.
  • Ability to accept dado head.
  • Dust port for dust collection.
  • Guard that's easy to use and remove when necessary.


Rigid R451X

Out of the various saws I've looked at, I think I like the look of the Rigid R4512 the best. It's not prohibitively expensive, has very good reviews, and with some common upgrades is extremely accurate.
However, I don't think it will fit in my garage. It's dimensions are:

  • Depth: 46.3 in
  • Width: 30.63 in
  • Height: 37.187


  • 110V or 220V (need to have a 220v circuit installed in garage)
  • Comes with a mobile base
  • Dust port hookup


Bosch 4100-09

Dimensions: 39.3 x 29.7 x 21.2 inches


Benchtop Table Saws

After going over all the possible scenarios, I think I'm going to be limited to a benchtop table saw. Therefore, I'll need to build some sort of station, and potentially make it multipurpose, so it can be used with multiple tools, allowing me to tuck the various tools away for storage while not in use.

I don't want to be stuck with a benchtop unit that's going to leave me without the ability to get accurate cuts, so I've been looking into various methods of increasing the accuracy:

Stan Sullivan has an awesome series on building a benchtop table saw workstation & increasing the accuracy with a DIY fence, here:


From what I've seen, benchtop table saws are not powerful enough (and therefore not equipped) to handle dado cuts. However, with some proper jigs, I should be able to do do these with a router & router table.


Push Blocks

Zero Clearance Inserts


I have a nice handheld jigsaw and would like to build a jigsaw workstation or jigs to utilize similar to a scrollsaw if possible:



Various notes on jigs:


Basic woodworking tasks for home owners.

Trim Carpentry

Finishing a Garage



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commented Dec 8, 2016

Did you ever finish getting a setup in your garage? I am curious if you did what your final setup was as I am in the exact same boat.

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