Discover how we took a 12x16' basement space and outfitted it into a feature-filled shop.

The emphasis in this 12x16' basement shop was to squeeze in all the tools and machines needed for a complete workshop and still provide room to move around. Can you imagine how crowded the space would be if all the machines were on separate stands? The other challenge was to take care of the dust as quietly as possible. Even if your shop is spacious and above-ground, you'll find all kinds of small-space solutions in IDEA SHOP 3.

Floor Plan


Tablesaw/jointer cabinets and extensions

Centered in the middle of our shop is a 10'' tablesaw with a custom base, outfeed table and extension table that doubles as a sanding table. Holes in the top of the extension/sanding table lead to an air-tight collection box fitted with a 4" dust-collection port. In addition, the tablesaw cabinet and its twin jointer cabinet sit in our mobile tool bases. For small cleanup jobs, a portable shop vacuum fits nicely under the sanding-table extension.

Mobile tool base

Built of maple and heavy-duty fasteners for industrial strength, the mobile bases for each of the shop's woodworking machines have foot-operated locking mechanisms. The wooden lever uses a cam to rotate the stop against the casters.

IdeaShop3 Mobile base

Multi-functional workbench

At the heart of any good shop lies a great workbench. With that in mind, we went all out to design the unit shown here, including the end cabinets, drawers, and sturdy laminated benchtop.


Flip-up benchtop-tool tables

To make those cabinets even more versatile, we added a pair of cabinets—one with a lift-up router table and another with a flip-over top that accommodates a benchtop power tool (see below). To access a tool, simply open the cabinet doors, tap the foot pedal, pull up the table, and lock it in place. For the cabinet with the flip-over top and scrollsaw, you'll also need to swivel it 180 degrees and then lock it in place.


Modular wall cabinet system

The smaller your shop, the smarter you have to be when laying it out to meet your needs. That's why for IDEA SHOP 3, we decided to go with a cabinet package that can be anything you want it to be. A bevel-ripped strip on the back of each cabinet allows them to be easily moved. A mating strip rides atop the perforated-hardboard wall panels.


Perforated hardboard & stay-put tool holders

Wall-mounted perforated hardboard provides ideal tool storage -- as long as you can get the hanger "pegs" to stay put. Faced with that challenge, we designed a number of tool holders for IDEA SHOP 3 that attach firmly, but take only a minute or two to move to a new location on the pegboard.


Cyclone dust collector

In designing and outfitting the IDEA SHOP 3 basement shop with a shop-built cyclone dust collector, we had several objectives in mind. We wanted a space-efficient unit with minimal noise, dust-free emission, low-cost construction, and convenience of use. Hopefully, you'll agree that we met all these criteria with this wall-hung dust collector.


Window-mounted exhaust fan

We outfitted a window with a fan designed for dusty conditions. It doesn't block light and the window still opens.

Exhaust Fan Idea Shop 3

2-in-1 Tool Cabinet

Space is a lot like clamps; you just never seem to have enough of either. But with this storage-conscious 2-in-1 tool cabinet, you can have two tools plus a spacious drawer in the amount of space usually dedicated to one tool. The swivel top that the tools attach to rotates 180 degrees and locks in place. This lets you quickly switch tools as needed.

Swivel-topped tool cabinet

More great ideas from Idea Shop 3

Looking into this corner of IDEA SHOP 3, you see the tablesaw and jointer with their custom base cabinets and mobile bases in the foreground. Directly behind them on the walls is a good view of our modular wall cabinet system.


The multi-function workbench and modular wall cabinet system fill this corner of IDEA SHOP 3. In the foreground are the tablesaw and jointer with their custom base cabinets and mobile bases. Note the sanding-table extension on the tablesaw.


The cyclone dust collector (far left), the 2-in-1 tool cabinet (second from the left), the lathe cabinet (center), and the mitersaw stand (far right) fill this wall in our compact shop.