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Space-Saving Ideas for a Small Shop

When it comes to building projects, preparation is everything. This includes figuring out what materials you’ll need before heading to your local lumberyard or home center, taking the time to select quality materials, and planning ahead to make sure you have a way to get your materials home hassle-free. Read on for helpful hints that will make your next trip to the lumberyard quicker, easier, and more productive. 

Pick Your Wood & Find the Best Boards Header
Maximize Every Square Inch One key to getting a good start on a project is selecting the right materials. This includes deciding what type of wood you want, as well as looking it over to make sure you get the best boards possible. In past editions, we’ve talked about how to pick the best plywood and spot defects in wood.

An Inside Job: Take-Along Tools Header

An Inside Job: Take-Along Tools ImageGetting to the lumberyard is the easy part. But in order to find the right materials, you’ll need to gather a few take-along items before making the trip. It’s a good idea to always bring along your materials list, which can double as a shopping list, to keep track of what you need to purchase, the appropriate sizes, etc. A calculator (or the one on your smartphone), will also come in handy to keep track of costs.

When buying boards, it’s a good idea to purchase a little extra material. By purchasing (about) 20% more material than what your project calls for, you’ll be prepared for defects, mistakes, etc. Planning ahead sure beats a second trip, and you can always use the excess for testing setups and for other projects.


Versatile Panel Options  Header
Versatile Panel Options  Image

Even though sheet goods are popular for project-building, the selection can be limited. Plus, you’re usually required to buy full 4x8 sheets. That may mean you have to purchase more than you need, and the big sheets can be a hassle to get home. Luckily, there are alternatives to buying and handling full sheets of plywood and other sheet goods.

Some home centers and lumberyards offer partial sheets. These smaller pieces are more manageable, and may better match the sizes you need. The drawing at right shows some of the handy sizes that are available. They also come in varying thicknesses to meet your project needs.


Custom Project Panels, Just a Click Away Header

Being able to find sheet goods in the sizes you need is great, but finding them in the wood species you want can be a challenge. Most stores carry just a couple of species of better-grade plywood, such as oak and birch. At Home Depot, though, you can order plywood “Project Panels.” They’re available in more species, as shown below, and in a variety of sizes. Project Panels can be delivered to your nearest Home Depot or directly to your home.

Custom Project Panels, Just a Click Away Image


Get It Cut to Order Header
Get It Cut to Order ImageIf you have to purchase full sheets, a good option is to have someone else do the cutting. Many home centers and lumberyards will break down sheets into smaller pieces for free or a small additional fee. Keep your materials list or a cutting diagram on hand, so the store clerk can cut your sheets to rough size. Then, you’ll have easily-transportable project parts, which you can cut to final size at home.

Safe and Secure Travels Header

Once you’ve purchased your material, be prepared to get it home safely and securely. Whether it’s going inside or on the top of your vehicle, you will need to secure it to prevent shifting and causing damage during travel. A moving blanket, ratchet straps, bungee cords, stretch wrap, and a warning flag to attach to long pieces will simplify transporting your materials back to the shop without causing damage to the wood or your vehicle.

Safe and Secure Travels Image


It just takes a few minutes to gather the tools and information you need before heading out to the lumberyard. The payoff for this small investment is getting a jumpstart on a great-looking project.


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From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine
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