If you’ve been bitten by the woodworking bug, there’s no turning back! Woodworking is an addictive hobby or a serious profession. But everyone doesn’t have the space at home in a garage, spare room, or basement. A great alternative is to work out of a storage unit.
Working out of a storage unit for woodworking may seem a bit offbeat. There are undoubtedly some downsides to working like this. However, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. But if you are going to proceed like this, it would be worthwhile to consider a few tips for woodworking in a storage unit.
We usually consider a storage unit for storing items. You hire out the space on a monthly or annual basis. The owner or manager draws out an agreement with terms and conditions that you have to sign. Then, they hand over the keys to you and it becomes your personal space for the duration of the lease.
Of course, rules apply to the way you use your storage unit like not engaging in any illegal activity, not storing contraband goods or hazardous materials, and so on. But you will be surprised that people use storage units for various activities, woodworking being one of them.
Some people have more than one storage unit, as they lease out more as their business expands. The important thing is to know what to look for if decide on working out of a storage unit.
Pros and Cons of Working in a Storage Unit
Why specifically a storage unit? You may ask. Well, the reasons are many, and there are advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of woodworking in a storage unit first:
- You can work free from distractions.
- All the things that you have on your shop floor will be only work-related
- It’s a standalone and professional-looking business.
- Storage units are usually in remote locations, so you won’t face noise complaints.
- You can work at any time of night or day without having to bother your neighbors.
- Overheads like monthly rent, and electricity will be considerably less than a regular brick-and-mortar shop.
- Space is a constraint – you need to make the best use of every square inch.
- You may not have basic amenities like a water supply, and even the power supply could be limited.
- Customers might find it inconvenient to visit your facility.
- It is not always possible to have heating or air conditioning in a storage unit, so it could be very hot during the summer and exceedingly cold during the winter.
11 Tips for Woodworking in a Storage Unit
If have decided to do woodworking in a storage unit, then before you sign on the dotted line of your lease, here few things you need to consider:
#1 Be Upfront with the Owner/Manager
The manager of the storage unit may not ask too many questions when you sign the lease. So, it is your responsibility to be completely transparent with them about your intentions.
Even if you hire a storage unit that is meant for workshops, you would need to make sure that it would be alright to use it as a woodworking shop. There’s going to be a lot of sawdust. You’ll also be making a bit of noise, especially when you’re using your power tools.
You don’t want to set up your workshop, start working, and have the manager come and tell you that you can’t do what you are doing. So, it’s better to be upfront from the very beginning and make it clear what your work involves.
#2 Don’t Decide Only Based on the Price
When you start looking for storage units, you will see a wide price range. Many factors like location, facilities, approach road, age of the facility, and so on determine the price you pay for a storage facility.
The cheapest choice may not cover everything you need. The most expensive option might provide you with more than you need. So, rather than simply focusing on the price, take a careful look at the facilities that you get for each price point.
#3 Setting a Pickup Location
If customers visit your workshop to pick up stuff, you need to consider where to hand them over. Some storage units have a designated area for meeting clients. But it is not a given. If your storage facility has an access gate that is kept locked, it could prove to be inconvenient to your customers.
While looking for a storage unit, ensure that you have a solution for supplying your finished products and shipping them out smoothly.
#4 Plan Your Lighting
Once the shutter is down, your storage space is going to be pitch-black dark. If you work at night, you won’t get much light from outside. The existing lighting is likely to be very basic. You need to install lighting that best suits your work.
LED lights give you the best illumination with the least power consumption. Moreover, there is a huge variety of LED lights available on the market that you can get online, so get your lighting organized if you don’t want to be scrabbling in the dark or in the shadows.
#5 Look for Anchorage Points
Before you bring all your stuff, look for anchorage points. Most storage unit owners won’t allow you to drill or tap holes in the metal walls. So, you need to rely on the existing metal studs, bolts, and brackets to fix hold your shelves and racks in position.
#6 Categorize the Gear You Store
When you start installing your shelves and racks, it’s a good idea to place all your materials category-wise. For example, you can put your tools in one area and consumables in another.
Then, you can allocate dedicated areas for your hand tools and power tools respectively. In consumables also, you can store paints and primers in one place and polishes and finishes in another.
Spend a bit of time organizing your stuff in a categorized manner. That way you will find it easy to locate every single item when you need it.
#7 Don’t Ignore Vertical Space
Space is precious when you work out of a storage unit. If your storage unit has a high ceiling, you can get the best advantage out of it. Make shelves as high as you can reach. You can store items that you seldom use on the highest shelves, to reduce the clutter at the lower levels.
#8 Leave Enough Space to Move Bulky Machines
You may need to move some of your machines to different locations when you use them. Even though such machines are likely to be on wheels, it’s a good practice to leave sufficient space so that you can move them around according to your requirements.
#9 Be Ready to Compromise
Due to space and power constraints, you will probably find that you cannot keep everything where you want to. Sometimes, you may find that you can’t even use certain machinery in combination. With power supply limitations, you may not even be able to use some of your machines.
Adjustments and compromises are things that you will have to do a bit while doing woodworking in a storage unit.
#10 Use a Tool Apron
When your space is limited, you tend to tuck away things and not find them when you need them. You can get some handy tool aprons that you can load with all the tools that you are going to need immediately. That way, you will not have to forage around in various toolboxes and containers for critical stuff while on the job.
#11 Security Considerations
Your woodworking shop is likely to contain thousands of dollars of gear, even if you have a basic setup. You’ll be locking it up at the end of the day and leaving it probably a long way from where you live.
To avoid your valuable property being stolen, you need to ensure that the area has sufficient security. Here are some major considerations:
Start with Your Locks
Don’t compromise on locks. Buy good quality locks and use more than one. Anyone with basic lockpicking skills can easily pick some of the cheaper locks. But they would be deterred by the more expensive and complicated varieties.
Ensure that the area around the storage unit has security cameras strategically placed. And, it would be a good idea to check that they work and HOW they work. Request to see some footage, so that in the event you need to see something, you can be sure it works.
It is a good practice to lease out storage units manually covered by security personnel. A guard might not be a 100% safe solution, but the presence of one will always act as a deterrent.
Install a few of your CCTV cameras at strategic points inside the unit and outdoors. Don’t attempt to conceal them. If someone comes sniffing around, they will be discouraged if they see CCTV cameras in the area.
Working out of a storage unit can be a fulfilling experience. But you will have to compromise to some extent. Given that most storage complexes are in remote locations, the facilities you get tend to be restricted.
The facilities offered are likely to be suitable enough for the occasional visit to deposit or remove items. But if you plan to work for extended periods at your storage unit, then the tips provided here will help you look for the right things. And, when you take the final step, if you are ready to compromise a bit, you should do just fine!
If you plan to do woodworking in a storage unit, we hope that you find these tips useful and you have a comfortable and productive woodworking experience.