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Good things come in small packages

We all have to start somewhere. This young woodworker proves you don't need a lot of space to equip a functional shop-just some ingenuity.

  • Shed kit

    Matt sought out a shed kit that combined size and economy. "Even then, I knew I would be constrained," he says. Kits with 2x4 framing appealed to Matt. "You can cut scrap 2x4s and create shelves," he says. He also wanted a sturdy shelf to keep his lathe workstation stable. "When you're turning," Matt explains, "there's a lot of vibration, so a rock-solid support is essential."

  • With such a small space, careful planning is a must

    Careful planning enables Matt Fuller not only to fill his 8x12' shed with his uncle's woodworking tools and accessories but also to give himself enough room to work.

  • Studs are great for hanging shelves

    One thing Matt Fuller made sure of when constructing the shelves and cabinets was that they would stay put-especially the table for his lathe. The cabinet underneath houses turning tools; a compartment farther inside stores his router bits and handsaws. Wherever he encountered space that was too small to put anything else, Matt attached all his shelves to walls and rafters.

    TYPE: Residential storage shed kit.

    SIZE: 8x12', 96 sq ft.

    HEATING: Propane space heater.

    ELECTRICAL: Two circuits with four 110-volt receptacles each.

    LIGHTING: Two dual-tube fluorescent fixtures, one on each long wall.

    DUST COLLECTION: None. Matt makes sure to use a personal respirator.

  • A mobile platform to the rescue

    Matt's jointer came with casters. "But the wheels were old-school steel wheels," he relates. "Lugging that thing across the shop and down a ramp and into the dirt got real tedious." So he fashioned an I-shaped mobile platform out of 2x4s that not only makes the tool easier to move but also elevates the worksurface to the same height as his tablesaw. Cross braces on the jointer stand work well to support his 12" portable planer. Lap joints make the platform sturdy: Locking casters mounted to the bottom of the platform allow Matt to keep the unit from moving around when he's ready to joint stock.

  • Not fancy but functional

    Matt's store-bought workbench was collapsible. He didn't want that. "I wanted my bench to be rock solid." To accomplish that, he disabled the fold-down capability so the table locked in the open position. Then, he added casters for mobility. Installing plywood cross braces keeps items from falling off the shelf and helps prevent the base from racking. He also drilled 1" holes in the top for bench dogs.

  • Work around your largest tool

    If I had to do it all over again...
    "Hopefully, my next shop will be much bigger," Matt Fuller says with a laugh. "But if I had the same constraints, I'd apply the same principles I did here. The largest tools go in first, then the next largest, and so on."

  • Working from the ground up

    When Matt Fuller walked into his dorm room on his first day at Texas A&M University, he found his roommate, Ben Smith, constructing a loft. Their shared interest in woodworking later resulted in rustic-style kitchen chairs the pair created in the shop of Ben's grandfather.

    Matt had built a few simple things with his father. "But my uncle was really into it. He built bedposts, boxes, chests, and tables," Matt recalls. "I regret that I never worked with him on woodworking." Nevertheless, his uncle bequeathed his entire shop to Matt, who moved to Illinois with his wife of two years, Kerri.

    Between class work and teaching assignments, Matt strives to be worthy of his uncle's inheritance. "I ask around and read up on a lot of things," he says. "But I'm never going to be as good as he was. I just hope that one day I know how to use all the tools he gave me."

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