Getting my garage workshop together #1: Shop Layout Ideas

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Blog entry by Clemson posted 08-28-2010 12:52 AM 20021 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Hi LumberJocks!

I’ve just recently joined LJ after being a long-time reader. Thanks to everyone who participates in the discussions here. Your wisdom and experience is invaluable, and you are are generous to take the time to share.

You can check out my page to learn more about me and my shop, but in a nutshell I am a fairly amateur woodworker working to set up my 2-car garage into a functional workshop. We’ll keep 1 car in most of the time, and I need to get set up to build shop cabinets & a portable bench first, then some built-ins for either side of the fireplace, then I’d like to move into some ‘finer’ woodworking projects.

This blog will document my quest to get the shop setup and ready to go. My plan is to get it in good enough shape to get the built-INS done by the end of this year. The garage is pretty stock right now. It’s an 18 ft wide by 21ft deep fully drywalled space, and needs electrical, lighting, and storage upgrades.

Current State:
  • Electrical – I have 2 panels (150 A each) flush-mounted in the drywall. 2 110V outlets ( 1 dedicated to the sprinkler).
  • Lighting – typical garage style. 2 incandescents and the light on the garage door opener. There is a beam across the ceiling near the back that worries me a bit that it will block any new light fixtures.
  • Storage – not much. A few open plastic shelves, an old desk, and a craftsman workbench.

Here are a few pics of the garage (can I call it a shop yet?) in it’s current condition:

Future State:
Here’s the layout I’m looking at. I want to get the layout nailed before starting the electrical work. I drew this up in Visio with the help of some woodworking-specific templates created by Harvey Chute (thanks!).

The garage doors are on the south side. The green circles are the existing 110 outlets. The blue and red ones are locations I’m considering for new 110 and 220 outlets, receptacles. Im planning to convert my Delta contractor saw to 220 and also need 220 for the Grizzly 1029z2 2hp dust collector I just picked up on Craigslist ($150 brand new -is it too early for my first tool gloat?). The orange rectangles are where I’m considering fluorescent light fixtures.

One of my first shop projects will be the ‘Ultimate Tool Stand’. If you’re not familiar, it’s a modular bench with an interchangeable center space that accepts different tools once you add a simple base to it. I like the simplicity and multipurpose design. This wiIl house my miter saw, router table, downdraft sanding station, etc. don’t have much room obviously so this will also work as my outfeed table. With the saw placed where it is, I can get a full sheet of plywood on both the indeed and outfeed side of the saw without opening the garage door. Could be handy with the winter approaching!

So, that’s my current plan. What do you think? I’d be grateful for your critique and suggestions. Thanks in advance!


-- David in Richmond, VA

11 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


31393 posts in 2892 days

#1 posted 08-28-2010 02:05 AM

David you have done very well on this start for your shop. I like the two electrical panels a lot. Depending on how you paint the drywall it can create different moods. No matter what, I think that the drywall always adds a certain neatness to any shop. I also like the fact that you have studied mechanical engineering. It will add a lot to your woodworking career even if it is a hobby.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View jcontract's profile


84 posts in 3113 days

#2 posted 08-28-2010 02:25 AM

Dave. You’ve already got twice as many shelves as I do. Guess I gotta get going as well. BTW what software are you using to create your future plan?

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 2972 days

#3 posted 08-28-2010 02:41 AM

Hi David, Great Start, love the high ceilings, a good opportunity for overhead storage of non-woodworking stuff! Great buy (steal) on the DC.
Visio is a great tool, I use it for almost everything I do, thanks for the link to templates!

I’m also confined to 1/2 of a 2-car garage, all the tools on one side and on casters so they can be moved into action as needed. No workbench yet, but along with the DC, they are next.

Most recent shop infrastructure addition is a pair of 240/30amp and two 120/20amp dual duplex circuits installed, very reasonable and a joy to have the flexibility to relocate tools because of the outlets.

Paint Drywall. obviously!

-- Smitty

View rimfire7891's profile


123 posts in 2928 days

#4 posted 08-28-2010 03:48 AM

Hi Clem,

I would forget the super tool stand. Put you router on the right end of your TS. Put cutoff saw on the bench behind and to the left of the saw. Your downdraft table can work as an out feed table. Build some hand power tool storage under the out feed table. Have a hanging power 110v outlet and maybe air if you can, over the top of your out feed table. Your out feed table will become your assembly space if you make it big enough. Increase the lighting over the TS and out feed table. You could put a jointer a long side the right side of the TS.
Put up 1/2” plywood horizontally over the drywall for about 8 foot high around your work area. Coat your plywood walls with urethane.
Could incorporate a bench vise into your out feed table on the left far end looking from the TS operating position.
Make sure your out feed table is exactly the height of your TS.

Hope this helps with some of your decisions. Good luck.

Thanks jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 2881 days

#5 posted 08-28-2010 03:53 AM

Hi David,

As everyone else said great start!! I am pretty much in the same boat as you in terms of being a beginner as well as sharing the garage with the family (and we are both engineers by training but dunno how relevant that is :)). Let me tell you that the number one thing that worked for me is to put things on wheels. I see you have some under your saw. This would allow you to move things around and even outside in the driveway (as I do most often since I do not have DC and cutting outside means less clean up inside :))

I am also considering building some “flip-top” cabinets where i can put for example a bench top planer and when not in use, the top flips around and the planer is stored inside the cabinet and I now have more work surface.If its on wheels you can even wheel it outside and avoid the big mess inside

As for a workbench, I was looking around for plans and one thing I noticed is that if you are putting it up against a wall (from what i could see in your drawing) make sure you are looking at a “skinnier” version so you can easily reach the other end. As for me, I opted for a portable one that I built out of 2X8s…it can come outside to the driveway with me :) but since its small I still need extra bench surface. You can see a picture of it(partial) in this blog (It needs its own blog when i finish the what I think is called the “birds-mouth” for drilling sawing etc)

Thats it for now…hope this helps you plan your workshop

-- Tampa-FL

View Rob200's profile


313 posts in 3194 days

#6 posted 08-28-2010 05:13 AM

It looks like my garage lay out and it works good for me

-- Robert Laddusaw and no I am not smarter then a fifth grader ( and no I canot spell so if it is a problem don't read it ))

View GaryD's profile


623 posts in 3395 days

#7 posted 08-28-2010 05:39 PM

Dave, welcome to lumberjocks. Like the screen name as I live just above Myrtle Beach. I would say anything that is dry and you have a thought in mind is now a shop. Looks like you have plenty of room for electrical. You have started in the right direction with your layout, just keep tweeking it until you get it where you want it. Just leave enough room to get around things. Good Luck and will be watching for further posts.

-- Gary, Little River,SC I've Learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I

View MikeOB's profile


89 posts in 3146 days

#8 posted 08-28-2010 05:45 PM

1/2 car garage here as well…Looks like you have a good plan going.

-- Mike, Portage, WI

View Clemson's profile


9 posts in 2861 days

#9 posted 08-28-2010 10:07 PM

Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

I’m definitely going to paint the drywall. I don’t want to spend a bunch of time on it though, so I’m thinking about just rolling some eggshell or semigloss white once the electric is in. I may not even sand the joint compound. Just a little paint to brighten it up a bit.

The software is Microsoft Visio. I have a copy on my work computer. Otherwise, I probably would have used this as an opportunity to learn a bit about SketchUp.

I’ll definitely have as much on wheels as possible. Sounds like your electrical needs were very similar to mine! My county will let
me do the work, and I’m pretty comfortable with it, so I think I’m going to do it but go through the permitting / inspection process just to have someone double check my work. Right now I’m wrestling with whether I should rip out some drywall to run the wires in the studs or just surface-mount in conduit. Any thoughts? What did you do?

great suggestions. I really like the idea of hanging electric over the TS and adding a bench vise. I considered buying or building a router extension for my TS but I can build the whole bench/toolstand for about the same money. The UTS plans include a downdraft module…I don’t actually have a DD table yet. The plywood wall sheathing is intriguing…what is the upside of that vs. leaving the drywall bare?

I like the idea of the flip-top stands. Anything that is multipurpose and space-conscious looks good to me. Those principles are what really brought my attention to the ultimate tool stand . Check it out! In a 6’ x 2’ footprint, I’ll have an outfeed, clamping & assembly table, router table, sanding station, miter saw station, and more. It might be a little inconvenient vs. dedicated stations, but in my limited space I’m thinking it will work for me. I like your 2×8 bench and the fact you can take it outside.

Glad to hear I’m not way off on the layout. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

-- David in Richmond, VA

View Clemson's profile


9 posts in 2861 days

#10 posted 08-29-2010 11:48 PM

I grew up in Pamplico, SC, about 40 miles East of MB. I spent most of my childhood summers at the Ocean Lakes campground in Surfside. Lots of great memories.

I took a look at your workshop. Looks like a nice place to work. I’ll have to consider more outlets. I like the flexibility you have with all of the 110 and 220 receptacles.

-- David in Richmond, VA

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3698 days

#11 posted 10-30-2010 06:04 PM

David you is off to a good start!

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