Woodworking in Small Spaces

Paul’s studio and workshop is the size of a single car garage, this is because we did a survey a few years ago asking what space you work in. Most people came back letting us know it was a double or single garage, but there were also people working in sheds and spare rooms too. To ensure our studio reflected that of a real workshop, we wanted to ensure the spacing was the same so whatever project Paul was building, you had the option to build too. However, it is possible to do woodworking in a small space, you just have to work smart.

Project Size

Consider the project you want to make and measure up to see if it can be comfortably made in your work space. If not, many of our projects on Common Woodworking and Woodworking Masterclasses are scalable. The cut lists can be amended to suit your requirements so resize to a more manageable scale.

As a beginner to woodworking, we recommend starting out with smaller projects before tackling the larger ones, this is because it requires less wood and usually less time.

Glue Up

If you’re making a project that won’t fit in your workspace once fully constructed, consider working piece-by-piece then taking the parts elsewhere for a dry fit and then glue up (if required) in the location you intend for the project to stay.

Paul often advises you use clamps orientated the same way, this is to minimise the footprint of your project. If the clamp direction was alternated, this would extend the footprint of your project which wouldn’t be favourable in a smaller space.


Wondered how to do woodworking without a workbench? Paul demonstrated how you can do this by making our chopping board project without a workbench, using a Workmate®. These foldable work stations can be stored in small spaces, great if you don’t have a space dedicated to just woodworking.

If you have a table to work on but don’t have a vise, Paul has demonstrated how you can make a jig which can be held in place using clamps. You can see more photographs of this in our blog ‘Woodworking without a Workbench’.


It is possible to make some projects with a minimal tool collection, some tools come as a combination, such as a combination gauge (a marking gauge and a mortise gauge in one).

It is important to keep organised if you have a limited area, using shelving or a trunk/tote to store your tools will help keep yourself organised. Our free tool tote project is great for beginner but is also a handy storage solution. On Woodworking Masterclasses the dovetail caddy is another example of a useful beginner project which can help out with organisation too.

We’d love to hear more about the spaces in which you do woodworking, let us know in the comments below!

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  1. My workbench is in a 6 x 4′ shed pressed up against the 4′ end and filling the entire width. So holding work can be tricky (when the vice isn’t suitable) as there is no access to the sides or back of the bench to use clamps.

    Do you have recommendations of techniques/equipment/poor man’s inventions that could help?

    1. Hi Sam,

      Paul says:
      Personally, if it’s possible, I would cut a hole in the shed wall front and back and have trap door on it. I’ve done it myself, even put a trap door in the shed door and it worked well.

      Kind Regards,

  2. I have a small, odd-shaped, shop area in my basement – a 5′ x 12′ section which is up three stair and off in a corner. There is very little wall space for mounting tools. My question is : preference toward a tool chest or wall cabinet style chest mounted on top of an approximate 3′ x 6′ assembly bench on wheels. Seems to me the cabinet style would be more user friendly than a big chest that will sit over to the side of the shop.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Paul says:

      I think the cabinet style is more user friendly, I don’t really like tool chests because often they take up floor space that is too valuable to lose.

      Kind Regards,

  3. @bobmccct
    I actually find that the Joiners trunk on an elevated platform so the top is about or a little above waist height is excellent and organized. Bonus is if the closed top is even with the top of your bench you can rest long items between them. I find that limited space makes things with doors troublesome since they effectively take more space they actually occupy.

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