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Toolmongers love to cluck and fuss over shop layout. A clever layout can almost double your shop’s expected productivity and storage, while uninventive layout can rob you of usable space at a lightning-fast clip.Β  Smart tool guys like Tmib_Seattle lay out their shops beforehand to get a feel for maximum yield.

The convenient 3D program SketchUp helped Tmib get a handle on where to put his gear, showing him how different configurations might affect floor space and the all-important workspace.Β  With 3D modeling you also get a good idea of what your shop would look like from any angle or workstation, which can further help in getting placement of your larger pieces just right.

Time you spend moving large equipment around via software also saves your back some extra suffering, since you won’t be pushing it around more than you have to.

Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]


13 Responses to Flickr Pool: Tmib’s Future Shop

  1. SketchUp is amazing. I recently used it for designing a canvas awning for my back porch. Because you can dump it into google earth, giving the model a physical location, it’s able to figure out the angle of the sun at any given point in time.

    I was able to use that to figure out exactly how large the awning had to be in order to provide shade from 10am to 7pm may through september. You can’t beat that. πŸ™‚

  2. TMIB_Seattle says:

    I admit, I took inspiration from your earlier post about shop layouts.

    I’m moving into the new space in the next couple of weeks, and really wanted to figure out where stuff was going to fit before the move. I was able to place my workbenches in a few different configurations before I settled on the final version pictured. Sketchup is pretty easy to use, and making things like the English wheel and Treadle hammer in it is actually pretty fun.

    If anyone has feedback on the layout I chose, I’d love to hear it. I’d be happy to share the original Sketchup file with anyone as well.

    With a two-car carage like this, there’s going to be compromises; for example, the gas welding tanks are stored pretty close to the anvil. Not many other places to put them, so it means I’ll be rolling them elsewhere when the time comes to work the forge.

    Some stuff just kind of naturally fell into place. The 6′ workbench I built fits nicely against the chimney, which means sparks from grinding will primarily be hitting brick rather than wood walls.

    I just hope my measurements were accurate. It’d suck to move in only to find out that stuff won’t fit where I thought it would. πŸ™‚


  3. joe says:

    I would do this too, but I’m afraid that once I put everything that I currently have in my workshop into sketchup it would tell me that it couldn’t actually fit in all there in the first place. Much like the couch wedged in the stairwell in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

  4. TMIB_Seattle says:

    @Joe: You just need to open a portal in the wall of the landing in order to move the couch through.

    I recommend the work being done at the Aperture Science labs. Plus they have cake.

  5. Toolaremia says:

    But… where do you put the cars? πŸ˜‰

    SketchUp still not available for GNU/Linux. >-(

    The Talented Linux user can use Blender (blender.org) or gCAD3D (gCAD3D.org). Folks more like me with less talent and a pretty good computer can use Sweet Home 3D (sweethome3d.sourceforge.net).

  6. TMIB_Seattle says:


    no cars, but I made sure there was enough room to park my motorcycle.

    Parking my truck would likely require a garage of its own. πŸ™‚

    Sweethome3d is a funny app. Someone spent a bunch of time on the windows version making a file dialog that looks *just* like the Windows file dialog, instead of just calling the GetOpenFileName API which would have done it for them.

  7. PeterP says:


    The cake is a lie!

    Nice shop layout.

  8. _Jon says:

    Nice layout.
    I was just looking for a piece of software like that, and here it is.
    (As a tangent, I was looking for a prototype modeling software and a comment in an earlier post suggested eMachineShop – which is fantastic. So this will be the second time that a ToolMonger – a site about tools – has lead me to software.)

    As for the layout, I recommend a large single sink, rather than a double. I’ve had times where stuff just wouldn’t fit. Perhaps the software doesn’t have a model for the single, or you’ve already got the double. And while the software pro’lly doesn’t model a pull-out handle, being able to use the faucet to wash unwanted crap off your face quickly is quite a useful ability.

    Also, you might consider swapping the tool boxes to the end of the bench. That way you won’t have to walk around that tool (cutter?) in order to get to tools. I guess it depends upon a bunch of things, like where you will be when you need to get to those tools – workbench (e.g. side of garage) or front of garage / outside.

  9. tmib_seattle says:

    Thanks for the feedback _Jon, that’s exactly the kind of response I was hoping for; folks looking for improvements in the design.

    In this case, the double-sink is already installed as part of the garage. I might see about swapping it for a single, deeper sink at some point in the future though. I agree that a single sink is a better choice for a garage.

    The toolboxes are full of mechanics tools and will be used primarily for working on vehicles parked in front of the garage, my motorcycle (which is typically parked inside the garage), or on various engine related projects that will likely be on the long black workbench not visible in the above pic.

    In general, I tried to separate the garage into three sections; metalworking, mechanics, and “kitchen”. The taller tools kind of provide a border between them.

    Oh, and the funny looking tool that you mentioned is an English wheel. Here’s a better picture of mine: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3204/2375685623_4a19907967_b.jpg

  10. _Jon says:

    Yeah, that’s funny lookin’ alright.
    Wouldn’t wanna get my dick caught in that…. :/

  11. Tim B. says:

    Hey tmib — those aren’t a gas water heater and gas furnace right next to your workbench, are they? =} Call me paranoid… but I’d be worried about a total Murphy’s Law incident occuring (visualizing grinding something on the grinding wheel, it somehow getting it away from me and ricocheting into and rupturing the copper gas lines, causing more than ‘minor sparks’ to fly…). Maybe wall it off with thin plywood, and cheap closet doors for access (louvered, so you aren’t affecting your available ‘combustion air’)?

    Yeah, yeah, I know… that would on many levels be an almost comically (or at least astronomically) unlikely occurance… but I’d still be worried (did I mention I was paranoid? =)!

  12. tmib_seattle says:

    Heya Tim,

    I’m thinking that’s pretty dang unlikely. Even so, I’ll probably swap things around a little so the drill press is closer to the water heater and the grinder is more towards the table middle. That way anything that does end up getting caught & flung hits the brick chimney.

    Thanks for the word of caution.

  13. PeterP says:

    At least in my basement, the gas lines are cast iron. Anything moving fast enough, and heavy enough, to damage them is going to cause problems no matter where it goes.

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