10 must-have items for your dream workshop

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Photo by donatas1205/Shutterstock

The best part about being a DIYer is making do, but what if we didn’t have to? What if we came into some extra time, or money, or both, and could put together the perfect workshop, no questions asked?

Depending on whether you’re a woodworker or a welder, builder of custom creations or passionate restorer of old classics, your dream workshop will look different than somebody else’s. Maybe, like the Brojects bros, it’s about having an open space big enough to go crazy in, the room to fly drones around workbenches, and a totally crazy rock-climbing wall in the corner. Or maybe your dream space is packed (neatly) from floor to ceiling, like a tool-filled playground that would make Bob Vila blush.

While the tools within them may change, there are a few constants we think belong in every dream workshop. Here are 10 of them.

Light it up!

We’re hoping your dream workshop has its share of windows, preferably ones that, you know, open, but if you’re like us, chances are you’ve stretched more than a few work sessions late into the night, and that’s when proper lighting is crucial. Feel free to get fancy with some beautiful under-cabinet lighting near your tool displays and along the lining of your workshop, but remember that a lot of lighting solutions, like track lighting, are going to cast distracting shadows on your work stations. Modernize old fashioned fluorescent setups by switching to a more neutral LED system that, paired with the right app, will give you full control not only over the brightness of your space, but the temperature of the lights themselves.

Hydraulic workbench

Knees a little creaky, or just sick of having to bend and adjust with every different project? A good hydraulic workbench can solve that. Spring for an adjustable, preferably modular workbench and thank us later. Opt for a wood-topped model to class it up a little, but definitely don’t skimp when it comes to adjustability. Even a hand crank can save your back.

Tool wall

We’ve all seen a perfectly organized tool board in our day, and some of us have even had the patience to build one for ourselves. This is that, but on a much bigger scale. Forego plain old pegboard with a custom finish, and line it from wall to wall. Organize it how you see fit—by function, shape, or size—and the end result will be so beautiful you’ll have your fellow DIYers drooling. You put a lot of thought into the tools you buy; you might as well show them off!

Top-of-the-line speaker system

Power tools are loud. Most of them, anyways. But when you’re not using your loudest saws and cutting equipment, a great set of speakers can work wonders for setting the mood right in your workshop and allowing you to lose yourself in your work. Back in the day, we’d settle for a cheap set of speakers and a little local radio, but these days why not opt for a bluetooth setup with enough oomph to push your playlists from wall to wall?

Dust-collection system

We’ve talked in detail about the benefits of a properly ventilated workshop, and we’re sure you’ve installed some sort of solution in your every day shop, from a ShopVac setup to one of those Jetsons-like roving disc vacuums. But this is your dream workshop we’re talking about, and that means going all out on a fully automated dust collection and ventilation system that will help keep your lungs as clean as your workbench.

Power outlets everywhere       

So you’ve spent hours researching your new tools, almost as long starry-eyed in the TIMBER MART aisles picking up the best of the best, but then you get home and … there’s nowhere to plug them in. If you ever have the chance to build your dream workshop, make sure you have more outlets than you think you’ll need (and please have them installed by a professional). You don’t need to have ten tools running at once, but never having to unplug or replug your tool of choice is a convenience we should all be so lucky to have.

Mini-fridge

We want to make one thing incredibly clear—if you’re working with power tools, please be sober. There is no margin for error when it comes to your safety, but you’ll have earned a beer (or two) after a long day in your workshop, toiling away on your newest masterpiece. Keep a mini-fridge nearby and stocked and enjoy a mini-celebration every time your DIY day is done.

Plumbing

What, you were going to use that rusted old bucket to clean up? At the very least you should spring for a plumbing hook-up to a laundry styled sink, but if we’re talking about our dream workshop, we’d go one step further with an actual bathroom. We’re not saying you need a big beautiful bathtub in there, but a toilet, sink, and maybe even a stand-up shower means you’ll have a shop the whole neighbourhood is jealous of and a significant other who’s happy you’re not tracking your work into the house with you when you’re done.

Climate control

Whether you’re working on a hot summer’s day or a cold winter’s night, temperature control is a must in your dream workshop. Sure, you could fire up a space heater, a box fan, or even open up a window, but go big or go home … even if home is a few steps across your driveway. Aside from keeping you cool, a good air-conditioning system can help keep your materials from warping or rusting by dehumidifying the air, while a properly distributed heating system can keep pipes from freezing on the plumbing we just mentioned.

Separate the clean from the dirty

At the very least, you’ll want your workshop to have separate sides for clean and dirty work. Saw on the west end; paint on the east. Sand on the north side; stain on the south. No matter how the split works, future-you will be glad when that piece you’re about to finish isn’t mucked up with dust and dirt. For absolute luxury, consider an entirely separate finishing room.