The Smallest Workshop in the World

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Been a woodworking enthusiast is not enough especially if you don’t have a place to work and you leave in an apartment court.
In my case not only this was the issue but also I had no budget and space for big machines, so I came up to do the impossible for me.
I leave in Nicosia - Cyprus and woodworking it’s not at its best here. The woodworking accessories they sell here are very basic and everything is mostly oriented on the cabinet makers. Even a simple miter track I need to import from UK or USA, most of my things are from there, as for wood... Oak - Beech - Swedish pine - low quality plywood - cheep-boards and MDF that’s mostly all you can get and there price is ridiculously high.

Everything was design by using Google Sketch-up which I believe it has been proven to be a valuable tool to woodworkers.
The sketch-up general view image shows the whole idea in detail. Also I will provide detail photos of the whole project built.

So at my open air parking space which I have in my building there’s a small storage room with dimensions a bit more than 5X5 feet (1.6X1.6 meters). In that space I decided to keep my workshop and work openly in my parking area.

The problem is that you can spread things around in that parking space but everything has to be stored and locked safely when you are done as well as to clean to area.
Fortunately my neighbors had no problem with me doing so, but I am also been careful running the power tools only at selected hours.

Step 1: My Multi Power-Tool Bench

I decided to build a multi power-tool bench 59X20 inches (1.5X 0.5 meters) which will fit into my storage room and hold simple hand tools that will allow me to build any woodworking project I want.  Made out of 2X4” and 2X2” for the body, plywood for the sides and an 3/4 MDF top laminated with Formica for better strength.

The tool bench holds 5 major tools, drill press, sander, jigsaw, circular saw, router with a lift device and the possibility for a lathe (later addition).
It also has a vice, 5 small drawers (one for each tool’s small accessories), under storage space, and 8 electrical sockets with wiring. The bench sits on 5 casters with stoppers so that it can easily roll into and out of the storage room.
You will also noticed that there is an angle cut on the bench design, that was done so that it will allow me some space to pass through into my storage room even when the bench is inside it.

Step 2: 1. Drill Press

My bench top drill press was modified a bit for better workability. I changed the old pole to a stainless steel one, which is taller and allows me easier up-down movement. Also I attached a drill press accessory bar made from a piece of aluminum angle and two shallow boxes from ¼ inch MDF, and it has been proven to be a very useful asset to the drill press.
I have also made a drill press table from an old office shelve together with a plywood fence that pivots at one point and a stop block. Some home made hold-down clamps run into the two T-tracks which are nothing more than simple curtain aluminum tracks. The drill press table has two ¼ (6mm) plate inserts on top each other, one has the standard drill press hole opening and the second plate a larger hole to fit my drill press spindle sanders.
Another accessory I made for my drill press was to attach over the drill press table a piece of plywood base with two homemade knobs to hold onto the t-tracks and my drill press vice mounted on it.

The old depth-stop system with the 2 nuts was so unfriendly to use, so I came up with an easier way to work around this problem. A small piece of hardwood and a threaded iron base with a small knob, made the depth-stop now very easy to adjust and use. Then I replace the broken plastic depth ring with the one made out of clear 3/8 acrylic. Two magnets one holds the drill press chuck always in the right place so I don’t loose it every time, and the other one on the top holds my plastic bit cleaning brush.

Step 3: 2. Disk Sander

My very old drill was used to become my disk sander. Mounted under the table with a sanding wheel velcro attachment and a sanding table makes perfect job.
With the help of a friend we rewired the drill’s electrical functions and put everything in an electrical socket box. On and Off switch - Forward and reverse - Fast and Slow fixed speed - adjustable speed control, all functions run smoothly and it’s so handy (see picture below).

The sander’s table is attached with two threaded inserts on the tool-bench, bolds and wing nuts through the table to tighten it to the bench.

The sanding table has several functions, one is the use of a simple T-square for parallel sanding, has an angle guide for sanding miters and a circle sanding jig attachment for cutting perfect circles from very small ones up to 12 inches (30cm) diameter circles.

Step 4: 3. Jig Saw

The Jig Saw is mounted upside-down under the tool-bench with t-nuts and 8mm bolts, and over the top a hold down arm design system (ShopNotes #23 Magazine) with a blade guiding system which guides/holds the blade with the help of two bearings can cut very good as high as the blade you use.

Very practical for cutting patterns near the line and finish them with your sander. Also the use of a good quality wood blade like BOSCH you can cut very straight and give precise perfect finish results.

Step 5: 4. Circular Table Saw With Fence & Miter Gauge

I mounted a circular saw under the bench and hold it with 4 bolts and wing nuts. I made 4 holes on the circular saw base 3 of which are elongated for fine adjustment. I also cut a space for insert plates from 0º to 45º clearance and added 2 miter track slots to the left and right. The circular saw is powered by a safety stop switch and can hold a riving knife also on the blade (not shown here).

My wooden rip fence is made out of 3/4 MDF body and hard wood for the round center piece and the off center handle; also a small aluminum angle is used to run on the fence guide rail. It’s design is based on Biesemeyer fence. Left site of the fence is used for ripping with the circular saw and the right site is used as the router fence with an opening and dust hole.

The fence guide rail is simple a 2X2” attached along the side of the bench and with an aluminum angle across it so that the fence locking mechanism won’t damage the 2x2” when tighten. A UHMW tape is used to help the 2 aluminum angles to run smoothly.

Some push sticks have also found there way on my tool-bench. Even though almost everything here is home made, security was always in my mind before anything.

My miter gauge is a mixed idea from various DIY designs (one is from Phil B instructables). Hard wood bar piece to run into the miter track slot, plywood for the body, a clear protractor, a piece of thick clear acrylic and a wooden handle with a T-nut at the bottom to act as a tightening handle and keep everything tight in place.

Step 6: 5. Router With Fence and Lift

Installing the router is no different than other tutorials. I made my own router table plate from 11/32 clear acrylic on which later I put red plastic adhesive for color (the clearness of the plate was distracting me from the work piece). A miter track slot is also there and on the joint circular saw and router fence I can now attach an external 2 piece fence with the use of special clamps.

An inexpensive router lift method is used with the help of a scissor car jack. Mine is a replacement out of my car’s jack as it is very smooth to turn and has accuracy down to the millimeter.

Step 7: Bench Vise

An inexpensive bench vise always comes in handy on any bench, so is mine.

Step 8: Cross Cut Sled

My cross cut sled is 2X2 feet of 1/2 plywood, 2X4” fence and an acrylic piece for safety. A mixed design from various ideas runs on metal miter track bars and its true 90º, can do without it.

Step 9: Miter Sled

The miter sled I build is based on the David Marks aluminum one and is made basically from plywood and some scrap pine wood. The T-tracks are from aluminum curtain tracks (try them they work perfect) and 2 metallic hold downs and a stop block complete the project. Perfect 45º miters every time.

Step 10: Bench Extensions

I have made 2 extensions for my multi power-tool bench. One piece serves as an extension to the circular saw and router area and the other one as an extension to the front side of the router.

Step 11: Assembly Table

Using a kitchen counter top and 2 saw horses I have a mobile assembly table that serves me well.

Step 12: 5X5 Feet Storage Room

Some thrown away shelves from a friend and some 2x2 made my shelving system. A few drawers and lots of plastic containers keep me organized as much as I can.

One wall mounted cabinet to keep accessories inside. An old narrow bookcase thrown sideways and added a few doors serves me as small cabinets to keep my essentials.

I keep all my power tools in there plastic cases to keep them safe from humidity (we have lots of it here). I had to screw a double layer nylon to the inside face of the storage room aluminum door to keep the humidity out and keep things from rusting. Over the door I install a strong light that tilts inside out.

I have a good collection of small medium clamps and now I am building up my stock on the big ones (you can never have enough of these). A bench grinder it’s also inside there together with my tool storage cabinet. A tiny area is kept for some wood left over wood pieces; unfortunately I cannot store any sheets of wood for more than few days.

Step 13: Tool Storage Cabinet

A simplify idea from the WOOD Special magazine. Its dimension are W32XH32XD13 inches and is a very cleaver idea to have lots of storage in a tiny space, about 7 square feet of wall area will give you about 26 square feet of storage space.

At the bottom of the cabinet there are 7 removable screw bins (2 divited in half) which holds most of the common screws I need. Bins are made out of 3/4" plywood and 1/4" MDF.

Made of 3/4 plywood it rolls on 4 casters so that its mobile and I can roll it out to the open if needed. The only trick here is to organize it correct - plan it on paper before putting up the tools on the wooden surface. I think it’s one of the best storage ideas I have ever seen.

Basically that’s about it... The Smallest Workshop in the World!
With lots of patience and love you can build almost any project you want even if it looks impossible.
Stelios L.A. Stavrinides
Nicosia - Cyprus

Step 14: Bench Lathe Idea (later Addition)

Mr. rickharris got me thinking the other day when he asked me “Where will you put the lathe? :-)”
That made me feel that the bench was kind of incomplete so it was back to the drawing board.
Wanted to come up with a lathe system that is made of wood and inexpensive materials that anyone can build.
Don’t know if I will build this but at least the possibility is there. So this is what I came up with.

On popular demand I revised my first idea for using a a hand drill as a motor and now there's a bench grinder to that place.
The Lathe I design is 39" or 1 meter long and can take up to 2 feet or 60 cm stock. Will be stored under the bench and you can clamp it on top either with clamps or bolts in threaded inserts.
Is made out of a plywood base, two 2X2 pieces of pine with t-tracks will be used as the body. 
A bench Grinder with a pulley is mounted on the base and will act as the motor (thinking of doing the same electrical modifications I did with the drill sander for speed control), a double ended mandrel with bearings and a drill press chuck, and a reverse t-shape hardwood with a threaded rod pointed at one end, some t-nuts and a wooden handle will act as a vise tail to hold firmly the stock and it will run on the two t-tracks of the body.  For tool-rest a piece of T-shape iron rod in a piece of wood with a groove and some wing nuts that wil hold it on the t-tracks could do the job.
Maybe another drill chuck in the tail end is also possible as well as a few standard lathe accessories to hold the stock into the drill can work even better.
Basically that’s about it, I think it could work.
I am sure there will be better ways to build it, but unless I get down to do a biger research and learn more about lathes I won't know.

Also now by using the bench grinder as a motor for the lathe I still have the other grinding wheel to use, so the bench now has a Bench Grinder also on it.

Now the bench has everything or is there anything else :-)

Stelios L.A. Stavrinides
Nicosia - Cyprus

Finally I did get to design a Bench Lathe 3 in 1 and you can find it in my instructable here:

Also to complete the set-up I needed a dust collection system and I choose to build a mini cyclone bucket dust collector which you can see here.

Step 15: Acknowledgment

Fine Wood Working - Tools & Shops, annual issue magazine

The Smallest Workshop in the world is feature in a 4 pages article in the Fine Wood Working - Tools & Shops - annual issue - winter 2010/11 No.216 magazine on page 78 under the title:
Shop Design - Think your shop is small? Think Again!

That’s an achievement for me that I have never expected.

In 2013

Also my workshop set-up project was feature in the...

Extraordinary Projects for Ordinary People
book from
( )


Best Workshops
book from the editors of Fine Woodworking magazine
( )

If you like to follow the progress of My Workshop, you can do that in this "HERE": in My Workshop blog.

Stelios L.A. Stavrinides:



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    496 Discussions


    Ok if all of those components are mobile and expandable, but yet they fit in that small storage shed, I'd say you're a genius mate.

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Tis really is an incredible Instructable, 8 yrs after first posting it's still getting 'results'


    1 year ago

    Excellent stuff, quite inspiring. you have been very dedicated to your goal despite space restrictions


    1 year ago

    I got the same router as you. Very hard springs! I made a lever but not easy to adjust. Your system is better but I will need to find a jack. Thanks for sharing!


    1 year ago

    Useful and interesting


    1 year ago

    Great concepts - well done.


    1 year ago

    Very creative and inventive. Helped me a lot. Thank you for sharing and inspire for more ideas and solutions.


    1 year ago

    Wow, I am very impressed with your creativeness. Well done, I say!


    1 year ago

    This is really a stunning idea. Thanks for sharing. :)


    1 year ago

    Your neighbors must love the sawdust on their cars.

    1 reply
    Kathleen Basiewicz

    1 year ago

    I used a roll around cabinet as my work bench for 3 years. Looked a lot like yours. I used magnetic bars on the back of mine to hold tools, with shelves on the inside. I finally bought an aluminum building to house my lawn equipment and am presently using an 8X10 shed for my workshop that I put 3 windows in. I too had the same idea of putting everything on my workbench, but after I built the bench I didn't want to put holes all over it, so I ended up making a roll around table top for my table saw allowing me to butt it up to the workbench and I mounted the roll around cabinet permanently as a cabinet in the workshop. I mounted my grinder, drill press and band saw to another roll around table top. I decided in the very beginning that almost everything in my workshop will have to be mobile for it to work out. I love your idea, it is excellent. I know that you put a lot of forethought into building this. Thanks for sharing your idea with us.


    1 year ago

    Very ingenious, and a real inspiration! Thanks.


    1 year ago

    This is amazing! I SHOULD never complain about my lack of space again...I said should. You have some really terrific ideas and I'm not ashamed to say I'm going to copy a few! Keep up the great ideas!


    1 year ago

    Very nice job! I have an 8'x8' woodshed that contains my Shopsmith and a small collection of inexpensive power tools. Although I like the Shopsmith for its versatility, I can't use it often because my woodshed also has to serve as a storage shed for all the stuff I can't store in my house. That means I have to empty out my shed before I can even get to my power tools, and then I have to fight the mosquitoes from the property next door every time I want to work on something. Worse, the one thing I have no space for at all is a workbench - not even a small one like a Workmate. How do you do woodworking without a workbench, I keep asking myself? So, my tools have sat idle for years while I figure out a solution to that problem. You seem to have figured it out by combining everything into a very organized and accessible space while avoiding the flotsam that collects when one must share living space with a spouse (need I say more?). So, my hat's off to your ingenuity!

    One question, though. I should think your drill press would make your table top-heavy, especially side-to-side when positioned on the narrow end of the table the way it is in the pictures. Shouldn't you anchor the table somehow, perhaps with cantilevered outriggers, or at least raise it off its caster wheels before turning on the power tools?


    1 year ago

    Awesome! Congrats.


    1 year ago

    Congrats mate!

    One of the best projects I have seen!

    Thanks for sharing it.


    1 year ago

    Great Job! I bet that project gave a lot of us some hope.