The shop #1: From Garage to Shop

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Blog entry by Douglas posted 06-09-2011 11:16 PM 5198 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I started setting my first shop in my detached garage last fall, making drywall screw and 2×4 tables and a bench, just to get going. When the 10” table saw arrived, I started getting serious, and built a better bench with a quick release vise & dog holes, and I’ve been slowly upgrading since then. After the winter forced me to stop for the season, I spent the cold months thinking about how to get the shop in better shape.

When spring finally arrived, I was back in the shop full of ideas. First, all the yard tools, rakes, shovels, etc, went outside into a shed I built for the purpose. Now I had the interior to myself (well, and our van). While not 100% committed to insulating and heating for next winter, I did insulate the walls as I arranged things, so I wouldn’t have to re-do anything later if I decided I was going for the full insulated setup. R-13, vapor barrier and OSB went into the exposed studs, and I was able to turn one wall into excellent lumber storage…

... and the rest for shop cabinets (I built those for storage, and to learn how to build cabinets!)

I’ve wanted to get serious on dust collection, and while I used a 3/4HP Rocker DC since last fall, with a 5 micron bag, I’ve since learned I was just blowing the worst dust around. I knew I had to do better, and with DC comes many things: I need to collect the dust, a need to clean the air, and a need to have several machines running at once. This exposed my next shop shortcoming: electrical.

My garage had one single 20amp 110v circuit running in from the house. Although I’ve been able to run my 3/4HP DC and my table saw, AND my lights without blowing a fuse, i knew I was pushing it. One day, I had a tiny fire in one of the pull boxes that melted a cap – luckily while I was looking right at it – and I knew the time had come to upgrade.

Just yesterday, the electricians finished replacing my house’s main panel with a new one (the old one was full, and had a small full sub-panel already… now I have it all consolidated into one big new main panel with room to grow), and a new 50amp 12 position sub-panel in the garage! Wow, I am thrilled. Now I have two separate 20amp circuits for wall outlets, separate 15amp circuits for lights, and room to add as needed. Everything in the shop is surface, so adding/changing will be easy. If I decide to go 220 on the table saw, or add a 12,000btu AC/heater, I can add circuits as needed. Nice.

... so, now I’m set to configure things for my DC. I have a new Harbor Freight 2HP DC, with a Wynn .5 micron filter (see, i learn things on LJ!), and parts to run 4” ducting around the shop. I can’t wait to get that done. Up until now, I’ve been running 4” flexi around the machines as needed, and I’ll still be doing that to some extent. But now I’ll have several stationary ports to choose from, and things will be tidier. We’ll see about electrical load and the DC, but if I need a dedicated circuit, i can do that easily (now).

Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of mucking about setting up shop, and I’m ready to start making non-shop things.

More when the DC setup is in place.

-- Douglas in Chicago -

3 comments so far

View scarpenter002's profile


606 posts in 3928 days

#1 posted 06-09-2011 11:48 PM

Doug, The shop is coming along nicely. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, and I look forward to future progress updates.

-- Scott in Texas

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3696 days

#2 posted 06-10-2011 05:00 AM

Looks like a good start!

View GaryD's profile


623 posts in 3393 days

#3 posted 06-10-2011 04:27 PM

Have fun setting it up. Doing mine now also.

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

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