Moving your woodshop can be a major hassle and a MAJOR expense. There are a number of options out there though, and a wealth of ideas and suggestions from those who have gone before. This write up is more for the home owner/extreme hobbyist woodworker than for the pro, but I think there might be useful stuff for the pro here too.

My inspiration for this post came from WoodNet’s Moving! Any suggestions?

First off, the only answer to the question “how do I move my woodshop?” is “IT DEPENDS.” I found a great list of depends by Allen Bookout over at SawmillCreek’s thread Shop moving question?:

It depends on what you already have.
It depends on who is paying for the move.
It depends on where you are moving to.
It depends on what kind of equipment you have to move.
It depends on how long the move is.
It depends on how physically fit you are.
It depends on your current financial situation.

In order to sort through all of these “depends” I’m going to outline the basic methods that I found listed in forums. Some of these you can mix and match. If you have any more ideas or experiences please include them in the comments!

Pack Your Own Pods
This isn’t intended to be an advertorial for pods, but I did notice more than a couple forum members describe good experiences with using them. Basically they drop of big storage units at your house that you load up and move when you’re ready. Another advantage is that they’re low to the ground and you won’t have to lift your tools. Pods are midway between DIY and pay someone to do it for you.

Some issues noted:
They have a weight limit that people at pods seemed reluctant to state. Plus you have to pack them evenly or they will have difficulty lifting and transporting them. One forum member mentioned laying down 3/4″ plywood on the floor to keep from punching holes with his heavy power tools. Also one guy at WoodNet had an issue with a Pod contractor who tried to load a pod on a truck with a non-standard vehicle. This ended up wrecking some of his stuff though the contractor ended up paying for it. Oh yeah – you’re still doing all the loading yourself here too ;)

Hire a Moving Company
If your company’s paying for you to move then this is probably the best answer. I noted lots of folks offering great common sense advice like taking pictures of all your valuables before you move and talking to your insurance company before moving to make sure that everything is covered. Some folks described supervising the tool loading pretty carefully on both ends. Another note – be sure to tip these guys after they load up and after they unload.

Some issues noted:
This is probably the most expensive method of moving. For long hauls I saw prices as high as $14k to move a house + shop. If your company’s paying for it AND you don’t mind giving up control then this could be a good move for you.

Buy Heavy Duty Trailer and Sell It Afterwards
If you already have a truck as your primary vehicle you could consider purchasing a heavy duty trailer and selling it or even storing it afterwards. Many folks find such trailers HIGHLY useful for hauling wood, power tools and other assorted heavy items.

Some issues noted:
Reselling the trailer could be a hassle, as could storing it depending on where you live. Also, if you don’t have a truck then you should have already skipped to a different suggestion.

Sell Non-Essential Tools, Move the Shop Core and Purchase New Tools
I saw this suggestion a number of times… it seems that many woodworkers use moves as an opportunity to upgrade their woodshops. Basically, don’t move what you would soon upgrade or replace anyway. Sell what you want to replace before you move and tuck that money aside for upgrades once you’re settled.

Some issues noted:
This can add expense + sometimes you don’t really need to upgrade. If you’re not moving very far then it’s not quite as much of an issue.

Rental Truck with Lift Gate/Rental Truck + Rental Fork Lift
For the more DIY folks out there who like to have a little more control over the process consider renting a truck with a lift. Or a truck without a lift and a fork lift. OR a truck plus movers working on the side for extra cash. This method will probably be the cheapest all the way around because you’re taking more responsibility.

Some issues noted:
You’re doing all the work yourself – some lifting included. You will have to find, hire and manage the help yourself (if you hire people). Definitely check up with your insurance company on how to best cover your stuff during the move. And remember to tip well if you hire people – these are heavy tools we’re talking about here.

Have Your Tools Moved by Freight
I saw this mentioned only once by someone from Canada. He did it about 10 years ago. I’d say look into it, but I don’t have many details about it… Here’s a company that ships freight style (you crate it, we freight it).

Prepping Your Tools for the Move
Prep your tools for moving. Remember they may jostle some and those heavy motors could break off. I read of some folks crating tools with home-made crates and then attaching the crates to the truck bed. Others simply removed the add-ons and added a coat of wax. I read about one guy who simply rolled his power tools onto the moving truck last and hit the road.

Layout Your New Shop Before You Move In
Think hard about shop layout before you start unloading your tools. You might even consider packing your tools with your new shop layout in mind. Why? That way you can pack so that you unload with your tools and equipment in the order you want to put them in your new shop. Pay careful attention to your dust collection duct work!

Woodshop Tool Moving Resources:
Moving! Any suggestions? (WoodNet)
Shop moving question? (Sawmill Creek)
Question about moving vans (Sawmill Creek)