One of the most significant constraints for woodworking is finding space. Like the old adage, you can never have too many clamps; you can never have too much space in your workshop.
I’m at the point with my woodworking business where I’m content in my small space at my current workload. I’ve also spent a lot of time considering where I want my woodworking business to go next, and growing would mean needing to look at renting a workshop space.
The business model I have in mind wouldn’t be scalable in my current space. Luckily, that is still a few years down the road as I’m still a full-time stay-at-home dad during the day. That doesn’t mean I’m not considering places that could potentially make for a woodshop rental down the road.
Finding the Right Woodshop Rental Space
Knowing what type of workshop space you need will be the best guide forward in your search.
If you’re just looking to use a couple of specialty tools on-demand then joining a maker space may be the best way forward.
Conversely, if you are ready to take your business full time and need a dedicated space for production, shipping, photography, etc then seeking out a dedicated rental space may be your best bet.
I’m guessing that a lot of people will be looking for that in-between space. Somewhere that doesn’t require a full-time income from woodworking to pay the lease yet offers enough space that you can spread out and start expanding your woodworking capabilities.
Makerspaces have exploded in popularity around the country over the past 10 years. I’d venture to guess that nearly every medium to large-sized city has at least one available.
These spaces are a great resource if you’re looking to get started with woodworking and don’t have the room for a full set of power tools.
I use one in my town for their higher-end machinery that I don’t have the space for in my woodshop. Tools like belt sanders, CNC machines, and a glowforge are all available and I only have to pay $10/hour for shop time. There is an annual membership fee of $90 as well but it is more than worth it for the tools they have on hand.
Some maker spaces will even have dedicated woodshop rental spaces where you can set up a permanent station to work at.
Make.co has a good directory of maker spaces to get you started with finding one near you.
How Much do Makerspaces Cost?
Makerspaces will charge either a monthly fee or charge by the hour. Monthly fees can range from $50 to $500 depending on the tools, materials, and space available. Some maker spaces on this model will charge extra for specialty tools or consumables.
Other spaces charge a lower annual or monthly fee but then charge by the hour for machine time. These spaces often allow you to rent specific areas so you know you’ll have access to the tools you’ll need while in the shop.
Pros and Cons of Choosing a Makerspace
- Wide Variety of tools including woodworking, metalworking, CNC, laser engravers
- Lower financial commitment
- Available in most cities
- Little to no dedicated space for storing projects
- Sharing tools
- Limited hours
Co-op Workshop Space
The next step up in both space and cost for renting a workshop will be to look at coworking or co-op woodshops.
These rental spaces will come in a few different forms.
Some will serve as dedicated woodshops with a selection of shared power tools with dedicated workbenches. These will usually have staff on hand who help maintain the machinery and manage the studio so you can focus on your woodworking.
Others will have private studios or workspaces but no shared tool areas. These will often be filled with artists working in sculpture, pottery, painting, woodworking, etc so they can be a good chance to network.
One of our favorite events of the year was to attend the artist’s open house weekends at a local co-op located in a three-story warehouse. Each floor had a dozen+ artist studios so it was a fun way to see what a variety of artists were working on and a good way for artists to get exposure to potential clients.
Others will have no shared tool area but instead dedicated workbenches surrounding a retail space for selling your wares.
Woodworking co-op spaces in large cities often are quite popular and will often have waitlists for bench space. This is especially true for woodworking rental spaces with a full set of tools included.
How Much does it Cost to Rent a Co-op Workshop Space?
Rents can run from $300 to $1000 depending on the exclusivity of the space, tools available, etc. Spaces with a retail space attached will usually require crafters to work a certain number of hours at the retail desk. This can be a great benefit though as it is a chance to meet new customers.
Pros and Cons of Choosing a Co-op Workshop Rental
- Lower Cost than renting own woodshop space
- Exposure to other woodworkers and artists
- Retail space to meet customers and sell work
- Tools may be limited or nonexistent in mixed artist co-ops
- Personal space limited to workbenches/studios
Shared Workshop Rental
If you have outgrown your shop and are looking for more space without leasing a dedicated workshop then teaming up with another woodworker can make sense. I have seen a number of listings in my area where a woodworker has a large workspace and is looking to lease out part of the space to another maker.
Sometimes these arrangements will include shared tools while other times the two workshops will stay completely separated.
In a shared space its a good idea to set expectations and come to a mutual understanding of space usage, tool maintenance, utlitity costs, etc, before signing a lease.
How Much does it Cost to Rent a Shared Workshop Space?
The cost to rent a shared woodshop will vary wildly city to city and space to space. Out here in the Pacific Northwest I’ve seen listings that range from $300 per month for smaller spaces to over $1,000 per month for large warehouse shops.
Pros and Cons of Choosing a Shared Workshop Rental
- More space for machinery and projects
- Generally no hour restrictions
- Chance to share costs of larger machinery with other woodworkers
- Less room to grow with your business
- Expensive if other woodworker leaves space
Dedicated Woodworking Rental Space
Moving into your own dedicated woodworking space can be a dream for many woodworkers after working in the limited space of a garage or shared space.
While the costs can be high with renting a workshop so can the rewards in growing your business.
When choosing a space there will be a wide range of facilities and amenities to choose from so understanding the needs of your business is crucial. Do you need, or will you need, high overhead doors, a public facing entrance, power or air requirements, restrooms, a kitchen. The list goes on and on.
Obviously all of these will factor into the cost you’ll end up paying so they are important to get right from the start.
A few woodworkers I follow on Youtube have recently moved into their own shop spaces and it has been fun to both see the spaces and their thought processes to find what works best for them and their businesses.
Where to Find Woodshop Rentals
Finding space to set up a woodshop will be a bit more difficult than finding coworking spaces or shared rentals as you will most likely be building out a space from scratch. Here are a few sites that are a good place to start to browse commercial real estate rentals. Keep an eye out for listings that advertise as industrial, garage, workshop, etc.
Loopnet – Loopnet is a commercial real estate site that lists both properties for sale and for lease. While it won’t have everything available on the market it is a good place to start to get a feel for what’s out there.
Craigslist – Craigslist is no secret but it is still one of the best sites for finding commercial spaces for rent.
Connecting with a commercial real estate agent will help you give a leg up as they will be familiar with pricing, availability, and help navigate the complex world of lease structures.
How Much does it Cost to Rent a Workshop?
Once again this is a “how long is a piece of string” type question. Location, size, amenities, etc will all dictate the cost of a space. I’ve seen spaces over the years where during high tide the water will start splashing up through the floorboards and others that look clean enough to live in.
This will be the most expensive option but the growth potential for your woodworking business can be limitless with your own space.
Pros and Cons of Renting a Woodshop
- The space is 100% yours
- Freedom to customize to fit your business’ needs
- Ability to build in retail, office, and shipping space
- Most expensive option
- Tool maintanence, security, build out is all on you
Derek grew up woodworking in his father’s shop and has since gone on to start up a successful woodworking business on Etsy. In his spare time, you can find him mountain biking, skiing, or writing.