Basement Woodworking Shop

woodworking toolsHave you ever wanted to make your own basement wood working shop? Many of us have considered it, but we have a tendency to procrastinate, don’t we? May we keep putting it off because we just don’t know where to begin. If that’s the case, this article is for you. We will discuss what all is needed and how to arrange everything in your basement, so you can build that woodworking shop that you have always wanted.

Each person’s list may vary slightly, but here is a list of potential things that you can have in your basement woodworking shop. Some of you may have size limitations, but if you place everything correctly, you should be able to put all of this stuff in your basement. Here is the list of things you will want to acquire.

Hopefully you will already have a lot of the items. The following list is based on making your woodworking shop on a limited budget. If you have a ton of money and want to spend it, there are other options, but if you enjoy woodworking, you might as well put those skills to use and build your own counters and workbenches.

Equipment and Storage Items

1. Work bench: The first thing we need is a good solid workbench. You can easily build a very useful work bench out of 2 by 4s, ½ inch or thicker plywood and wood screws at minimum. Another very helpful feature for your workbench is a sheet metal top. If you have access to some thick sheets of metal, you can cover the top of the workbench with it by driving some drywall screws through the back of each sheet, fastening it to the bench. Then work the metal over the counter’s surface towards the front and bend the metal over the front edge of the counter top and fasten it to the front lateral face. Screw it down in the center and at appropriate intervals. You will want to use as many lengths as necessary to cover a suitable area to work on. If you don’t use the sheet metal countertop, your counter will still work, but may take on a lot of damage over the years.

2. Vice: You should have at least one vice attached to your workbench. Once you are done building your workbench, attach a vice to one of the front corners of the workbench. You do not want to put your vice in the center of the bench because having it on the edge allows you to clamp down large items that can hang over the edge of the bench. You need to have a fairly large vice for woodworking. A larger vice can handle small tasks such as making metal angle brackets for holding wood pieces together or it can handle larger jobs such as holding down a large piece of lumber so you can work on it.

3. Bench grinder: On the opposite corner of the workbench from the corner with your vice, you will want to have a bench grinder. If you want to save some money here, you can make your own with a little ingenuity. I once made one with an old electric motor and a fan belt to drive the stone wheel. If you have an old motor laying around, bolt the motor down toward the rear of the bench and bolt the turning stone down toward the front. You will have a belt running from the motor to the wheel. Ask your local hardware supplier for ideas. You’ll most likely end up just buying a good bench grinder. They are not that expensive.

4. Peg board: You should have a large section of peg board behind your workbench. I like to have the entire wall behind my workbench made of pegboard for as high as I can reach. That way you can hang the tools and things you use most often right there in front of your face for easy access. You use metal hooks or pegs in your peg board to hold tools and other items of use.

5. Tool holder: I don’t know what else to call this, but I like to have a custom built holder for my screwdrivers, files, and other similarly shaped tools. I install this in front of the pegboard, at the back of my workbench. This is easily built yourself. It just needs to have a top that you can drill holes into. Then slide your screwdrivers, drill bits and other tools into the holes for quick easy access. You’ll want to first figure out what tools you want to put there and drill appropriate sized holes for each tool. Then drill some randomly sized holes for things you will think of later. While nothing beats a good toolbox, you will want some tools in easy reach to save valuable time.

6. Rubber mats: Chances are that you will spend many hours standing right there in front of the workbench working on pieces of furniture or whatever. To save your feet and ankles from the pressure of standing in one place on a hard floor for long periods of time, a thick rubber mat will save your feet from hurting at the end of the day. You should put them on the floor in all of the areas you will spend a lot of time standing. In front of your lathe is another good example of places to put rubber mats.

7. Lathe: You will need a lather if you plan to turn anything, They are used to make round wood items such as table legs and baseball bats.

8. Table Saw: A decent table saw is essential for making smooth even cuts on larger faces of wood such as a table top or desktop.

9. Band Saw: These are needed to make wood cuts that are not straight or to cut rounded edges and intricate designs.

10. Drill Press: A drill press comes in handy for many tasks in a wood working shop. They are used to drill precision holes and can also be fitted with sanding bits and other tools.

Where to Put Large Items

Many of you will have limited space available. You can fit most of this stuff in a fairly small basement if you do it correctly. You will need at least one clear wall to put your workbench against. Your workbench will hold a large portion of your tools and also the bench grinder and a vice.

You should try to position your lathe, drill press and other machinery off to the right and left of your workbench in the area in front of it. That way, you will have a clear area in the center, in front of the workbench. You need a good size area of about 10 feet by 8 feet or more if possible, so you can have room to build things such as tables, chairs, cabinets or whatever your woodworking task of choice is.

Essential Small and Handheld Tools

This is a list of minimal essential tools that any decent woodworking shop should have to be effective:

    1. Hand held planers: You will need an assortment of planers for different tasks. You will need a jointer plane, smooth planes, low angle block plane and other planers you have found to work. If you are just starting out, you should have at least a jointer plane.

    2. Water stones: A good set of water sharpening stones is essential in every woodworking shop. You will use them to put fine edges on tools and machinery.

    3. Chisels: you will want to have a nice set of wood handled chisels for shaping your wood. These would be perfect for putting in your tool holder you built in the rear of your workbench(mentioned earlier).

    4. Clamps: Clamping pieces of wood is essential in woodworking, especially for gluing. You will want to have a variety of different types of clamping devices. Minimally, you will want to have a set of four pipe clamp heads with several different lengths of pipe for different size jobs. You should also have several adjustable wood clamps, clamp vice grips, and simple spring clamps.

    5. Electric drill: You may want to have at least one with a cord and one cordless drill. Corded drills are used more for making holes and cordless drills are mostly used for driving screws.

    6. Router with a six piece bit set: Routers are essential for removing waste wood from uniquely shaped wooden objects.

    7. Circular saw: A circular saw is good for cutting off lengths of two by fours or other boards that do not necessarily require use of a table saw or on cuts that a table saw can not get to.

    8. Jig saw: A jig saw is used for many of same cuts a band saw can be used for, but a jig saw is hand held. They are used to cut rounded or uneven cuts.
    9. Carpenter’s square: You must have this to mark off 90 degree cuts and to make sure your work is square.

    10. Woodworking books or other reference materials: Books are great for learning woodworking techniques. Also, the internet can be a great source for project ideas and instructions.


You will certainly end up with a lot more tools than that, but that is a starter’s list for those of you that haven’t got a thing. Start working with those and you will discover what else you’ll need from experience. There are many books available on woodworking and there is always information available online.

Photo by geishaboy500, Creative Commons Attribution License