Having a workshop of your own, a place to tweak and fiddle and build and create – that’s what dreams are made of. Second to owning your own home (or elegant boathouse for example if you’re that way inclined), it is one of the things we most look forward to as working adults. And now, finally, your dreams are starting to become reality. You are considering setting up space for a workshop and you want to look into what you’ll need to get started.
By this time it is likely that you’ve already collected a number of tools that you use for everyday DIY work and these have become an essential part of your arsenal, but now you need to think bigger. You need to take a look at what you can put into your new workshop that will give you the most advantage, whether it is for mending a table leg or starting on a new home-made Go Kart.
A working set of lights goes without saying, but you might not have thought about actually heating the workshop. If you’re anything like me in the workshop, hours can fly by without you noticing until you realise you can’t feel your toes anymore. Installing central heating in your workshop will make it a warmer (quite literally) and more comfortable place to work, particularly during the winter. It also helps to keep wood dry, prevents damp and condensation from settling in and speeds up the paint drying process, when the weather isn’t good enough to leave projects outside to dry.
“Use in a well-ventilated area” These warning labels aren’t just a load of hot air. Spraying a paint can or a can of primer in an enclosed space once or twice might not hurt. However continued use can affect your lungs, give you migraines and can even permanently damage your sense of smell. And these are just a few of the effects of using aerosols without proper ventilation.
In order to avoid long-term problems, you’ll want a good ventilation system and, if you have the space for it, a designated ‘painting area’ that has been specifically designed for painting, priming and leaving projects to dry. We don’t always get the best weather here in the UK so having the space available if you need it makes the drying process infinitely less stressful. That, and there is no chance of having a pesky fly landing and ruining your new paint job!
You’re going to be storing a lot of expensive and electrical equipment in your workshop, so you need to make sure it is watertight. Having a foundation that is slightly raised off the ground will prevent damp and moisture from the floor. Waterproof paint and the right timber treatment offer excellent protection for the walls of your workshop and a shed felt added to the roof protects it from the worst of the weather. You might also want to consider insulation as this can help with both the waterproofing process and with keeping the workshop itself warm.
These are features which, while not essential, will make life easier for you – so that you take fewer trips to and from the kitchen and can spend more time on your projects.
Don’t get dehydrated! It can be easy to forget to eat and drink when you have your head down. By installing a sink in your workshop, you can easily get yourself a glass of water without having to break your concentration. Having water readily available is also essential when working with clay, during wet sanding and when you need to wash any paintbrushes out.
A cool beer or can of coke could be just what you need when working on an overnight project overnight. Snacks and sandwiches can also be stored easily, so you don’t have to worry about going hungry or forgetting to eat while on the job.
What is a hard day’s work without a cup of tea during breaks? Having a kettle in your workshop means that you can minimise downtime and maximise productivity, and you are free to make your tea just the way you like it.
Of course, if you are looking at more specialised areas of work (glassblowing, metalworking etc.) there will be specific tools you need to take a look at, but these are just starting points. Having a workshop of your own will open up a huge number of possibilities, so you want to take that opportunity to get a few essentials before branching out into more niche areas of work. You’ll have time to invest in a hydraulic press for bending steel for fabricating later, just work on heating the workshop during the winter for now!
Mike James, an independent content writer and lover of comfort – especially in a working capacity, and for that knowledge he has the Hortons Group to thank.