It’s not the size of the shop ….

There’s an old expression my dad used to use just about whenever we felt down or put upon growing up. Maybe our Little League team was down by two runs going into the ninth inning. Or, maybe it was a test we had to take that made up half of our grades. Whatever.

Anyway, it went, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Paco the Brave

I’m sure you are aware that the meaning behind this bit of pithy advice is that it doesn’t matter how big you are, it’s what’s inside that makes all the difference.

So, two weeks ago, when I introduced you guys to the Smart Vise, I asked you guys to show me the shots of your micro shops. The shops shoved into all too often overlooked corners of basements, garages and spare bedrooms. The shops that you need to step outside of to change your mind. Those shops that leave you scratching your head wondering, “Just how the heck did that project come out of that shop?”

Well, I had a few entries, and all of them were tiny. Small. Diminutive. Without any further ado, here’s what we got.


This is the shop of my good friend Paul Carroll. He lives a few miles from my house, and, yes, the shop he occupies fits neatly into a 60 square foot area. Not only does his shop serve as storage for the portable table saw he has to wheel out into the garage or driveway when the weather cooperates, it also serves as his home’s laundry room. It’s very neatly laid out, and you can see that just about every ‘permanent’ power tool has its own dust collection hookup. Believe me, every possible nook and cranny serves as storage, and I’d have to say this is pretty darned impressive.

James Little

This tiny shop belongs to the appropriately named James Little, and as you can see, it’s one of those shops that just looks bursting at the seams with stuff. But, you can see a few different work benches, a whole lot of storage and organization out the ears. Pretty sweet looking shop.

Warren Valente

This spacious abode is the hide out of Warren Valente. Shoehorned into his 10 x 15 foot shop, he manages to build some big pieces. Check out the harvest table and benches he has working in the shop in this shot. Of course, if he needs any extra space for outfeed on his table saw, he can just push the piece through the (hopefully open) window!

Rossetti storage

Next up is the small shop of Justin Rossetti. Man, talk about small. This guy has to move ALL of his stuff outdoors to get anything done at all. That’s right – there is no real indoor shop space. Basically, the only space he has to work is outdoors. The storage area is right off his kitchen, those, so his wife usually doesn’t mind because she gets to keep an eye on him and see what he’s up to.

Eric's shop

Eric Cole from Pennsylvania has a very neat looking shop setup in his condo. While it measures a tiny 8 x 12, he has it packed with a lot of mobile bases on his tools, so he can get things exactly as he needs them for whatever operation he has planned. This he got from Wood Magazine, and his next project is a knock-down workbench by Chris Schwarz so he can get into more hand tool work.

Micklus 1

Micklus bench

Micklus Nail Chest

The winner, however, has to be the cozy shop of George Micklus of Connecticut. When he’s not aboard one of our nation’s submarines (thank you for your service, George), he’s working out of a cozy 10 x 14 shed near his home. He actually downsized a bit from where he started (in his garage), because as his family grew, he was voluntold to move out to convert the space into a new master bedroom. His time on a submarine has inspired his shop layout, which includes a sweet looking workbench, an Anarchist’s Tool Chest and a few other projects designed to maximize storage and working area.

Iggy would like to thank all of you who submitted your shop entries for this contest. It’s amazing to see just how much goes into planning a workshop in a very small space. One thing is for certain, however, from here on out. I will never complain about having to work in a two-car garage ever again. I promise!

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