A place to talk about the fundamentals of a workshop or as my family refer to mine as the “mancave”

My place to unwind, stretch my mind with happy problems to solve, a place to be mindful. Mindfulness in the workshop can be listening to a machine tool, hearing the tool cut metal, listening for something being over stressed. A great way to add depth to what you are making by understanding the whole maker process.


workbench height

I make my benches from 12mm thick chipboard and coat the upper surface with polyurethane varnish. Fit a pine front strip to stop the edge getting damage. Underneath I have a lattice of pine braces. The result is a really hard wearing bench that will take the knocks, you can drill holes to mount stuff and when you want to repair: just fill with wood filler, sand and varnish.

The distance from the floor to the top surface of the bench is 93cm (~365/8inches)

I’ve built a few of these benches now and this height works really well for me being 5ft 11in tall.

This height is repeated for all benches and also works really well for a bench mounted vice.


Be careful to keep the dust down, use an extractor where possible, use a mask and if possible something to remove the dust generally from the air.

My workshop is a mix of wood and metal working and I use a Microclene air filter to keep the general levels of dust down. This dust filter also works great in the house if you’re having lots of building work or even if you’re just sanding down surfaces ready to paint.

I do find that machining certain metals can result in quite high levels of dust – one of the worst is cast iron.


Nothing worse than a cold working environment and a cold workshop floor just creeps into your feet.

I have a sheet of 3mm corrugated rubber that covers my floor. It’s clean, non-slip and gives me a level of insulation – my workshop is very old and sits on a solid cast concrete base with no insulation as you would get in any building nowadays.

The only downside with this corrugated rubber is that you can only really hoover it in one direction.

chemical de-humidifier


There are a few ideas here for coping with workshop humidity and you may find you need to use a combination of heat, de-humidifying and rust control with something like ACF-50.

Insurance for the Home Workshop

Things to think about when looking at home workshop insurance. I thought I would write a list of good practice: Security, Identify Your Tools, Keep Records and Insurance Cover.

Noise & Vibration

The last thing we want to do is damage our hearing whilst working on hobbies. It might just be that you don’t want the noise to break into other rooms in the house. However, one of the most significant issues you’re likely to experience is vibration associated with cutting tools.


Sharp cutting tools and rotating machinery along with the fact that we’re often working alone with the radio on solving the world problems in our heads. So a few tips and thoughts:

  • turn machinery off and off at the wall when you’re mending it or setting up a workpiece
  • wear a dust mask when needed
  • wear safety glasses – you can get prescription safety glasses and 3M make off the shelf reading glass versions
  • never let go of the chuck key when setting up the workpiece in the lathe
  • check the floor is clear of obstructions
  • make sure you have no loose clothing or dangly items around your neck
  • open windows and doors when using paints, glues, resins etc


coffee tins as storage

I use various forms of storage in my workshop.

Old coffee tins are perfect for storing nuts and bolts.

Sometimes I enhance this using plastic bags to keep certain bolts together.

coffee tin storage system

There are quite a few good sites that I’ve been looking at around the subject of workshop organisation and some strong views as to whether everything should be on show and easy to hand or stored away in drawers and cupboards.


There is a certain pleasure from tidying the workshop and ordering (knolling) tools, materials and parts ready for the next project.

cleaning, tidying and ordering


I keep thinking that I need to write a list of what to put in the basic toolbox….so here goes.

A wide panoramic view of my workshop shows the total space from door edge to door edge. A lot of machines crammed into quite a small, but very friendly and loveable space.