Garage Workshop Conversion #1: The Basic Plan

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Blog entry by Mark Briley posted 01-22-2010 02:46 AM 3546 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Garage Workshop Conversion series Part 2: Remove Current Built-in Shelving »

I was bit by the woodworking bug about 9 months ago and now I’m too the point where I need to convert my attached 2 car garage into a dedicated home woodworking shop. My garage is roughly 25.5’ x 22.5’, and it’s currently used used for storing some of our household stuff which takes up about 30% of the space, and the rest I’ve been using for woodworking.

I’m working on cleaning everything out and starting from a clean slate, and I’m breaking up the project into a multiple stages:

  • Remove current built-in shelving – The garage has a lot of built-in shelving made out of 2×4’s and hollow core doors along some of the walls. I’ve recently removed all of this so as to start from scratch and utilize the space better for lumber storage and other types of cabinets I’ll need for a home workshop.
  • Painting/Trim – The garage was built in ‘77 and fortunately has already been sheetrocked, aside from one wall not being mudded, taped, and painted. Most of the sheetrock is in decent shape, but it’s taken a beating over the years and so I’ll need to patch all the holes, prime, and paint all the walls and the ceiling. I’m currently completing the rest of the taping and mudding, along with repairing all the numerous screw and nail holes that have accumulated througout the years. There’s also sections on one side of the garage where the previous owners had a built in dog kennel and the dog (German Shepard) shewed up some of the sheetrock, so this will have to be replaced to make everything look nice. I plan to add baseboards and upper trim to give the garage a finished look.
  • Floor – The current concrete slab is in good shape but needs to be painted – I’ll plan to use an epoxy paint from one of the Big Box stores unless there’s a better product out there.
  • Electrical – Based on the types of machinery I’ll be running simaltaneously, I plan to to run a 100 amp service into the garage from my main breaker. I plan to do this by replacing a current 50 amp 6 gauge drop running from my main breaker to the garage with a 2 gauge 100 amp drop.
  • Insulation – Fortunately, all the walls are insulated, but I’ll need to put insulation in the attic which should be straightforward.
  • Heating – This is already complete, but I have a Dayton 5000w heater currently hooked up to my 50 amp subpanel running on a dedicated 30 amp circuit. I just installed the heater last week and it keeps the garage at an even 60 degrees when the temp outside is in the upper 20’s. I’m hoping its effeciencly will improve once I get the rest of the insulation in place.
  • AC – It gets pretty warm here in the summer. In the past I’ve opened up my garage door and left the rear door open to let a breeze flow through which makes working comfortable. I’m thinking of installing an AC window unit so I can keep the garage buttoned up and control dust especially if I’m finishing.

Since this is my first time doing this type of conversion, any suggestions might be helpful – Thanks!

-- Mark, Utah

7 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3668 days

#1 posted 01-22-2010 03:50 AM

Sounds like a plan.

View jcontract's profile


84 posts in 3083 days

#2 posted 01-22-2010 02:03 PM

Mark. What do you plan on doing for storage? We’re sorely in need of a garage overhall as well, but haven’t decided on the type of shelving for storage. The type of overhead storage for Christmas stuff, etc.

View JimF's profile


144 posts in 3289 days

#3 posted 01-22-2010 03:58 PM

If you will be sharing with a car, the big box store floor epoxies are prone to hot tire liftoff. Sherwin Williams makes a floor coating product that resists hot tires. I had it installed for about $2/sqft. The main thing to get a good bond is preparation of the floor by acid etching or grinding. My contracctor used a floor polisher-looking machine with an 80 grit diamond wheel for prep. If you do a good enough prep, the big box epoxies might perform properly. Maybe that’s why people have the problem. Sweep and apply doesn’t work.

-- Insert clever tag line here

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3060 days

#4 posted 01-22-2010 04:52 PM

I wish I could leave my wifes car outside all the time so I wouldn’t have to move things around all the time..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3757 days

#5 posted 01-22-2010 05:36 PM

I like your plan. Using a garage for a workshop usually presents several problems; lighting and electrical capacity is inadequate, it must often be a “multi purpose” space, wall space is limited and you’re lucky if you have one window for natural light, there is this large totally unusable wall called the garage door, and there is this ugly door mechanism on the ceiling that is in the way.

For an attached garage, put dust control and noise considerations high on the priority list. Limit HP whenever possible, Portability is essential, but keep in mind the fact that a 500 lb machine, even on a mobile base, is not easy to move around. (unless you are built like a NFL defensive tackle)

Paint the walls and ceiling white, and consider using electronic ballast fluorescent fixtures with T-8 bulbs having the highest color rendering index (CRI) that you can find.

Send us pictures as you progress.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Mark Briley's profile

Mark Briley

25 posts in 3248 days

#6 posted 01-22-2010 05:48 PM

jcontract – Good question. I guess we’re lucky in a way because we don’t have too much accumulated. One solution we had that has made this work out better is to simply get rid off as much extra “stuff” that we really don’t need/want/use as possible. Then we sold what we could, and chucked or gave away the rest to good will. We have a modest 12×12 storage building with overhanging storage for all the lawn, garden, and some misc. items, as well as 15×15 (canning room) with shelves similar to what was in the garage for most of our other stuff. The kid’s bikes and other outdoor toys go in the backyard under a covered porch – we just had to trim the fat and re-organize.

JimF – thanks for the info. I probably won’t be storing a vehicle in the shop, but I’m going to have all the larger machines on casters so I can make room for 1 vehicle if need be. I’ll have to look into the Sherwin Williams product and do some more research. I’m right there with ya, no way will I put a coating down without proper preparation including the acid etching to clean up the slab. The HD epoxy product I was looking at recommended that as well – like you said, some people might have a problem with certain products due to improper prep…

-- Mark, Utah

View jpw1995's profile


376 posts in 4294 days

#7 posted 01-22-2010 07:32 PM

Mark – I’m in the same boat brother. I moved into a new house 2 years ago, and I’m dying to get the garage converted to a shop. I had a detached garage shop at my last house so I do have some experince with the setup, but finding the time to get it done can be difficult. Some things I’m going to consider as “upgrades” from my last shop will be lumber storage above the garage door (to save wall space), dedicated sub-panel (as you mentioned), routing all wiring in exposed conduit to make future wiring changes a little easier, mobile bases, mobile bases, mobile bases, and a wall cleat system to hang anything I need anywhere I want. I’ve found that I tend to move things around a lot so keeping everything on wheels and wall cleats will make it a lot easier than permantly installing cabinetry. Hope this helps. Keep us up to date on the progress.

-- JP, Louisville, KY

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