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Designing a workshop that works

Domestic workshops tend to be intensely personal places and people who own and actually use one (as opposed to those which are left to the dust and spiders) jealously defend their modus operandi as ‘working for them’. Any attempt to impose a system or layout for such places is often deeply resisted.

Regular users always seem to know exactly where, for instance, the wing nuts are kept amid what to others seems complete chaos. But if others are to use the workshop, or at least have to try and find things there, some kind of order is recommended.

Consider the following options to improve your workshop.

  • Use the walls as storage places by mounting large wooden boards – plywood is a good option – and using nails on which to suspend the larger tools.
  • For smaller items, such as nails, bolts, washers etc, use a cabinet. This could even be a discarded piece of furniture from the main house. Ideally it will have plenty of drawers which can be labelled to make it easy to find things in a hurry. Alternatively, you can build a frame for a series of transparent boxes so that their contents are instantly recognisable.
  • If the ceiling is high enough, make use of it as a place to store awkward things that would otherwise get in the way. Beams constructed a few centimetres below the ceiling are handy for holding lengths of wood or metal. However, these should not get in the way of good lighting, essential when the tasks being carried out involve exact measurements, as well as being a health and safety issue.
  • Ventilation is another area which is often neglected. If paints and varnishes are being used it is essential that a continuous flow of clean air is maintained. The system does not have to be particularly sophisticated – a powerful fan and an open door or window will do the trick in most cases.

If you are starting from scratch, consider getting off on the right foot with a custom-designed workshop. An HIA builder will be able to give you valuable advice, both on the overall structure and the internal layout to suit the kind of activities you have in mind.

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