who has the smallest shop?

behind the glass

Grumbler in Training
Oct 25, 2002
prescott, AZ
I am moving my shop into two rooms 11 1/2' x 14'. My oranization will be at it's best. Do any of you have small shops and suggestions to go along with my planning? Thanks
Perhaps more details about your plan?

Will you be cutting moulding? Will yo ube joining?

Will you cut glass, acrylic, and mats? Will one room need to be for design only and the other for work?

Will you stock glass, mats and acrylic?

Will design only be done in the field?

How much epuip do you need to put in the space provided?

How much worktable and design space do you want/require?

Do you have a mounting press?

How many frame corner samples will you have, or want to put up?

How many mldg vendors do you have in mind to cary?

The same 2 questions for mats and fabric?

Do you have any fixtures already?

Do you have any clients already?

Just flesh it out a bit, and you will answer some of the nuts and bolts questions. Then you can get the really good advice that finnesses it over the top.
That sounds perhaps a little BIGGER than my shop. Whaddayawanna know? If I had my druthers, I would have preferred a bit more space, but I would just fill it up with crap so why bother?

You have to think like they do when they design boats. Multiple uses for all areas. For instance, my fitting/mounting/mat cutting/design tables consist of 2 4x8 tables. I have a small desk with a 24" paper cutter, and, since I have no wallspace for a glass cutter, I cut most of my glass on top of the paper cutter (better angle, lower surface).

I have one revolving rack for small RM frames, and also a small shelf for display. But mostly I do custom stuff and repair, I don't need a lot of display space.

I have a huge display window, which I make infrequent attempts to "decorate" but usually I just stick stuff in there willy nilly. Part of the charming ambience of the place, doncha know.

I know all this makes me sound like some sort of idiot, but I am into my 22nd year of business in this location, so I must be doing something right. ;)

Seriously, organization of any space is very important and I have been doing MUCH better since I had a professional Feng Shui designer re-organize my space a couple years ago. Made a world of difference. Now I have "good chi."
Are you serious about the Feng Shui? I have a friend who knows a little about it and suggested I keep an interior door shut so that the good luck doesn't flow out the back door. (Keeps the dog away from the cat too, so that's good).

What changes did you make?

Yes, Rebecca, I am serious about the Feng Shui. The major changes were to the "flow" of the shop, before you could throw a bowling ball in the front door and right out the back door. Customers need to meander, and so does the chi energy. I was really opposed to switching all this stuff around, I mean I haven't rearranged any furniture in my home for 20 years (I just keep adding shelving!).

I was astonished at how natural the new layout felt, the minute we did it, and since we were open during the remodeling and re-arranging (it was very slow that season), as soon as we moved the main work benches to begin to create the flow, customers actually climbed over boxes to get to me.

We also added more lighting and painted the walls a sunny gold (instead of the dark fake paneling the shop came with). Then a few plants, mirrors, bright touches.

Feng Shui is one of those things, like my sig, that the more you pay attention to it, the better it works. Business dropped off last year (they were paving out front and Buffalo is the economic dead zone of the state) but maybe it was also due to the fact that I forget to turn on the fountain!

BTW, the Feng Shui master who did my shop is now doing buildings for Andrew Weill, the bushy herbalist/holistic guy.

There was an article about Feng Shui in one of the trade rags a while back. Forget which one, but it was a really good article.
Thanks for the reply Marc. Yes to all of the above except the mounting press.(want one). I am putting the shop on grid paper and am playing with that. I have an idea of puting 2 4x6 tables parallel,with the joiner in the middle. I have 5 distribs and I have corner samps floor to ceiling. people like the look and feel of this room. I'll put my 4x8 in here and store incoming art and outgoing..Well, I'll play with it. And for the feng shui, I need to paint my door red. thank

So I'mm guessing you will have one "clean room, and one not so clean.

In the clean room you will have have the corner samples. Let's say, on two walls.

On the third wall, some really nice framed samples you have done, and keep making more of, and rotating them. If you are a bit thin on them in the begining, bring in stuff from home, or use customers art that is ready to be picked up. Customers like to see more than mat corners, and frame corners.

On the 4th wall you will lean customers finished work. (It will stay cleaner in the clean room right?) (I'm guessing this will be the smaller wall with the dorrway and a window on it.)

There should also be one or two comfy chairs. A design table. I would build a 4 x 4 square base, and a 5 x 5 top. On the base, I would have shelving acess from opposing sides, giving you 2 foot deep shelves, that ware 48 wide. Mats on side, catalogs, on the other (as well a weights, work order forms, recip books/system and ledgers and whatnot. As well as tools for fitting.

It will be tempting to leave things on the counter top, but keep it free of junk. It is for customers art, and designing.

In reality, you will not have customers in this room all the time. Use this counter for final frame fitting. (it's the cleaner room, after all, less dust in theory).

If space permits, you can work in a way for customers art to be kept in this room too. (that clean thing again).

Now, this leaves the other room for the dirty work, and all the bluky stuff. Matboard and foam board, glass, and mldg storage.

Mat cutting, glass cutting, joining etc.

Hows that sound?
I'm planning on building (awaiting city approval) my new shop at my house. It will be approx. (depends on city approval) 22x30. I think one open room will be a good approach for me based on the logic I'm a one woman show. I buy all chops so there's no real need for a dirty area.

I'm very interested in any input here for the original post since I lay awake nights trying to figure out the layout of my work areas in my new building . . . and get very confused.

I need some shen fue or something miraculous to show me the way.
In 1990 when I decided to become "offical" and got a business license, etc, I was working in a 10x30 space that was sorta divided into 2 rooms that was also a utility room for the our house (pantry, etc.)

AND I did chair caning and wicker repair. Which means that in order to do either caning or framing, I had to clean up and put one or the other completely away.

In 1993 we moved into a 30x40 freestanding 2 story building. The upstairs is my studio/shop.

My advice for arranging is to, yeah, draw it out on paper, but also think about your work flow. Close your eyes and think about how you go about doing any given job. Think about where you move, what you do, and what follows what.

And, what you want your customers to see first.

We designed the new shop so that any caning customers would have to walk past the frame samples to get to the caning room (which is extremely "dirty") So now, the most common remark I hear is "Oh, you do framing, too?" :D (Caning is a highly specialized field and is very expensive!)

Works well for us.

Betty's right about work-flow.

Sometimes it's obvious. You don't want to carry a lite of glass across the room to a wall-cutter.

Sometimes it's not so obvious. When I switched to UV glass as my default glazing, I moved all the UV glass to the upper rack, which is a more convenient height. The regular glass, non-glare, etc got moved down to a rack where I have to lean over to get to it.

Matboard is all at eye-level. All the fitting tools and hardware are on a rolling cart (my crash cart) so they can follow me around to a couple of different fitting areas (including the 6'x8' fitting counter I sometimes have to use to fit a large piece.)

When I first got my AMP sander, I put it in the basement near the saw. When I realized I was using it on chop as well, I moved it upstairs near the vises so I wasn't running down the stairs every time I wanted to sand a frame.

In my current location, I have a generous amount of space. Years ago, I was in a 900-ft spot and most of that was showroom. I did everything in the backroom - which was about the size of a nice walk-in closet - except store and cut mouldings.

When I'd get a moulding delivery, I'd transfer it to my cargo van. At the end of the day, I'd take it home and shove it through an old coal-chute into my basement. (It's an old house.) I'd store and cut the mouldings there and join the frames in the shop the next day. I was my own chop-service.

You do what ya gotta do.