Shop layout is all about making the best use of space. Place your machines so that you have adequate “safe space” that you need to work around them. The “buffer area” beyond that is the amount of room you need to run large stock though a given machine, keeping in mind that buffer areas can overlap between machines. If you want to get more organized, buy some 1/4-inch squared paper, make scale models of each machine including the safe space around each, and place them on your model shop layout. Remember that buffer areas need to be long enough to put an 8' sheet through a table saw, or a 6' plank through your planer, for instance. I raised my planer, so that I can use the area above my router table to pass long planks through the planer – all it takes is some modelling, and a little shuffling, and you will find the layout that works for you. Each space will have chal­lenges; I had the area under the stairs that was wasted space, so I installed the dust collector there.
One subject that a woodworker must always consider when building a project is how seasonal moisture and temperature fluctuations will cause expansion and contraction of the wood stock in the assembled project. For instance, if you've ever experienced a drawer that sticks only in the winter time, you've experienced seasonal movement of wood. Since each wood species is affected by these temperature and moisture fluctuations, you'll need to know a bit about the climate where the project will be used, and how your chosen wood stock is affected by the climate changes. Again, your local woodworking supplier can be a great resource for answering these types of questions in your area.
If you’re looking to setup a shop equipped mainly with stationary power tools, I’d focus the bulk of your budget on the primary big tools. It’s easier to come up with $10 for a couple of clamps as an impulse purchase, than it is $1000 for a good table saw (TS). Most shops feature the TS, and that’s where I’d focus the bulk of my research and budget, unless you’ll primarily be using a band saw (BS). The biggies for me would be a good full size stationary table saw, planer, jointer, router and router table, and maybe a modest DC (like the HF unit for $150). With those main tools, you can build just alot using dimensional lumber or sheetgoods. A BS and DP are nice, but can be added down the road…in the meantime, a modest jigsaw and handheld power drill worked fine for early on. You’ll want a reasonable work surface, whether it’s a nice bench, or an old door. I’d add a good tape measure, squares, a chisel or two, sandpaper, and some basic clamps, then would add more clamps, block plane, and other extras as you go. (Ask family members for gift cards to Rockler, Woodcraft, Amazon, Lowes, HD, etc….). $3k is doable if you’re selective….the used market can be your friend if the right deals come along.
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Whatever your dream for a rustic look, you are sure to find something in this collection that will help you along. Many of these projects are so easy to do and you can complete them in less than a day. Some make wonderful gifts as well so if you know someone else who just loves the country, rustic look, make them something to brighten their own décor. The projects use all sorts of materials, many of which are really inexpensive or even cheap in some cases.

These how to videos and articles of information are dedicated to my woodworking instructor who trained me during my apprenticeship. This body of work is also in honor of the journeyman who were generous in sharing their woodworking knowledge and skills with me throughout my long career. All of you have helped me to make a wonderful living  in a great craft. My hat is off to all of you.


If you'd like to learn more about the differences between hardwood species, I can think of no better resource than R. Bruce Hoadley's 1980 masterpiece, Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology. Not only does Hoadley detail nearly every species used for woodworking, he does an exceptional job at describing how to prepare, work with and finish these hardwoods. This is an industry-standard resource, one that I'd highly recommend to every woodworker.
The best advise I can give you is to get and read the book "Hand Tool Essentials" by the staff of Popular Woodworking before buying any tools.  It is sort of an inexpensive crash course in hand tools.  Chris Schwarz's book "The Anachrist's Toolchest" is another good source of information on handtools that I found to be a fun read.  Use the internet to learn all you can about a tool before buying.  The tools you need are dictated by what you want to build.
A layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model, simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill. The layout square is a triangle that you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain. You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when you’re trying to measure for a bevel on a table saw, or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle. Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless.
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