How to Build a Space-Saving Workshop
This Old House general contractor Tom Silva helps a hobbyist woodworker turn her small garage into an efficient workspace—with tips anyone can use
When Stefani Bachetti’s office relocated to Chicago’s River North neighborhood, the new address was only a couple of blocks away from the old office. But while the move wasn’t a big deal, she did lose something major—workshop access. The building where Stefani, who does research for an industrial-design firm, used to work had housed a large shop outfitted with a table saw, an assembly bench, and a drill press. So Stefani decided if she could no longer go to that shop, she’d bring one to her by converting her brick-walled one-car garage into a workspace for building small-scale furniture projects.
Filling her garage with saws and clamps would have been easy, but because it has to pull double duty, storing tools and her car during winter, the layout required some problem solving. That’s where Tom Silva stepped in.
The solution focused on mobility. “Stefani has a long, narrow space, so we made the big tools easy to move around, letting her squeeze her car in,” explains Tom. He added a folding stand to a table saw she had placed on a workbench under the window, where it was too high to use comfortably. Tom shifted the saw to one of the long walls and, in front of it, built a Murphy table that folds up and out of the way when not in use (see Steps 5–10). “The new bench is lower, about 32 inches off the ground, making it more comfortable when sanding or using hand tools,” he says. “But it also works as an outfeed support that prevents plywood or long boards you’re cutting on the table saw from falling down.”