Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 most difficult things to do in a small shop

1. Building a Kitchen – A kitchen is so large that even when the cabinets are stacked on top of each other three high, there’s rarely enough room to take care of the trim and doors. I often have to store some of the cabinets in another spot for the last week or so of production.

2. Building a Wall Unit – Not as bad as a kitchen, but some wall units can include very tall cabinets, which pose a problem.

3. Keep the Noise Down – The planer and router are the worst, though my jointer and table saw also get used a fair bit. If it’s the middle of a weekday I tend not to do too much to keep the noise down, but early mornings, evenings and weekends I make sure to close the doors and windows when I’m making noise.

4. Keep the Neighbours Out – I get it; you like your neigh­bours, but this is the time you’ve carved out to be in the shop and you don’t want to chat it away. However, being friendly with all your neighbours makes them less likely to get angry at the noise you make.

.5 Lend a Tool to the Neighbour – Some neighbours are very respectful of tools, while others aren’t. Knowing how to tell the difference is important. It’s even worse when they don’t return a tool for months on end.

6. Get the Neighbour to Return the Tool – As I men­tioned, getting a neighbor to return a tool can be a challenge. I’ve considered making a sign-out list.

7. Keep the Shop Clean – Not my strength. A clean shop is nice to work in, but I’m sometimes too focused on production to worry much about it. It really only takes three minutes to sweep the floor. Having said this, I’m pretty good about keeping things organized and putting tools away.

8. Sharpen Tools – Chisels are the worst, but this is the case with lots of my hand tools. Sharpening is a time-consuming task, even if it creates tools that are a true joy to use. And I have a pretty good sharpening setup, so that’s not my excuse.

9. Maintain Tools and Machinery – When it really comes down to it, I will spend the time needed to maintain my collection, but since it means time away from being productive, I find it hard.

10. Leave on Time – For me, this one might be the hardest of them all. Even though I’ve been in my shop for hours, it’s often hard to leave on time. “Will you be home for dinner?” is the question I often get. The honest answer is “I hope so.” There’s always one more thing to do.


Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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