Getting started with a small shop (or no shop)

In Woodworking, Woodworking Skills by DanLeave a Comment

Sometimes, when we watch those DIY or woodworking shows, it looks like you need a huge shop and a lot of expensive tools to do anything. Well… it’s not true. I started with a few hand tools in the driveway, and stepped up to a skill saw and a sander, and a small shop, when I got married. With this massive set of tools (ha ha) I built our first dining table (with benches), a bookcase, end tables, an entertainment center and a chair. Now, this wasn’t the most beautiful stuff, it was a knock of of Cargo Furniture’s style (it was supposed to look like it was made from crates). These pieces of furniture lasted my growing family almost 15 years, before we sold them to someone else in need of some solid basic furniture.

I have had large shops and small. We just moved into a “new” house, and I’ve lost my workshop. We currently have a one car garage, that’ll be my project home for awhile. Most of my tools are in large rubber totes, by subject (saws, routing, drilling, …) on steel shelving. Long term, this won’t work for me. But this is how I first started out, a few tools in a tote, that I could put away every night. I have worked out of garages, and sheds. I’ve built or refinished furniture in the driveway, in a bedroom and on an apartment deck. Where there is a will, there’s a way. Over the next few weeks I will get the shop set up and organized. I’ll share the drama as we go along.

In the mean time I’ve had to work out of the shop to make built in bookshelves, a new headboard and a few other things, to get the house going.

Over the years I’ve built my collection of tools shopping at yard sales, flea markets and auctions. When times were good, I would replace or upgrade with new tools. Like many of you, I’ve had to balance the “need” for better/more tools, with the needs of my growing family. Often a project helped justify something new, but seldom was it the newest widget.

Don’t let a lack of space or fancy tools stop you. If you really want to get started with woodworking, furniture refinishing or turning junk into gold (up cycling), a few tools and a little room (your deck, porch, driveway or living room) is all you need.

I hope you will follow along with us, as we share our projects, techniques and ideas.


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