54 SERVO 05.2017
Most of us do not have an unlimited budget or space. So, we will look at some basic requirements for a functional shop, as well as ome items you should consider when stocking your shelves and toolbox.
Selecting a Suitable Spot
The first priority is selecting the space that will be
transformed into your shop. Although your kitchen table
may be currently available, it will not serve as a viable work
space for long. (At least my wife would not allow it!)
I find it useful to have separate spaces for clean work
(soldering and other electronic work) and the dustier
carpentry and metal work (see Figure 1 and Figure 2).
Having the benefit of an outside space available for
painting, messy, or large projects is especially
advantageous. Of course, working outside often requires
some additional planning for weather and darkness.
For painting outside, some sort of “paint booth” will
minimize the amount of overspray and will improve the
finish on your completed project. I have an improvised area
that is enclosed by a fence on one side and sheds on two
more sides. It is a simple matter to clip up a drop cloth to
totally enclose the area. I throw down a couple of large
cardboard pieces I keep on hand to cover the concrete and
I am ready to paint.
I also have a pair of rolling “walls” that are constructed
on salvaged clothes racks. I built a framework of 2 x 2s that
are zip tied to the frame. I then stapled black plastic to
them, providing me with a portable two-sided windbreak
that can be positioned wherever it is needed (Figure 3).
You do not necessarily need a large space in order to
have a useful work area. Even a small corner of a garage
can be converted into a dedicated prop building area
(Figure 4). I have seen some very creative uses of small
spaces, including building it into a closet. You will need to
be frugal with what you include, but even such a small
space can provide a reasonable work area. An added
benefit is that you can hide your mess by simply closing the
You can purchase premade parts from a big box
hardware store. Workbenches and storage that comes to
the outside edge of your bench requires you to stand in
order to work. They do not provide you the opportunity to
sit and put your legs underneath the bench. A rolling
Cool characters are best created in a work environment that enhances creativity and
organization. Whether it be a dedicated workshop or a converted closet, having a
special work area is extremely important in your efforts to maximize your productivity.
For those that already have their shop, I hope you will find some useful ideas that you
can add to improve your efficiency. If you are one of the unfortunate souls without a
place to have a permanent work area, we will explore some solutions that may work for
you as well.
Setting Up Shop By Steve Koci
Figure 1. Clean space reserved for electronics work.
Figure 2. Primary construction area.