Shop & Tool Growing Pains #8: Electrical Layout

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Blog entry by pendledad posted 12-03-2012 09:49 PM 2251 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Patience is a Virtue Part 8 of Shop & Tool Growing Pains series Part 9: Electrical progress & quality time »

The past two weeks have been spent planning, buying, and sketching. I’m trying to figure out the best layout for my lighting, tools, bench, and storage in my tiny 8×18 space I have to work with. I’ve decided to flip my current 8’ bench to the other wall and have two dedicated “zones” in my shop. I’ll have a garage bench, which is where I’ll keep my drill press and toolboxes full of wrenches and all things non-woodworking. The other area will be a dedicated woodworking area for a new smaller 2’x5’ workbench, a new cabinet saw. Here is a sketch of my plan:

Over the garage bench area, those two outlet boxes will be on a dedicated circuit. This will cover chargers, drill press, dremel, etc… In the woodworking area, I will have 4 outlets, 2 per circuit. This allows me to plug in a shop vac, portable heater, sanders, routers, etc… without worrying about popping a breaker. The other two walls will make up the final circuit, and I will primarily use these outlets for my circular saw when ripping plywood on the open bay of the garage. That totals 4 circuits covering 8 outlet boxes all 20amp 110v.

I will run a 220 line up to the ceiling and branch out to each window area. I may or may not install a 220v in the ceiling, but I will probably just put a junction box to begin with. The 220v will be on a 20amp circuit. It will be dedicated for the TS.

The final circuit I plan on putting in will be a 15amp just for the lights. I am going to put in 8 4ft flourescent shop lights with some nice electronic balasts and good bulbs.

I’ve decided to use MC cable because I don’t want to deal with conduit and bending and buying spools of wire. It was about $100 for 250’ of 12/2 MC cable. 500’ of THHN wire cost $75 … and then you add conduit at $0.38/ft, and fittings, and bending tool … it was just too much money and hassle. Granted I’ll have more cables running from my panel, but I am going to get clever with bundling them and making them look neat.

I’m almost ready to start running wire. I’ve put up some 5/8” firing strips of plywood on the walls and mounted the boxes where I feel like they should go. I just need to disassemble the pegboard wall and move it and the bench to the other side of the shop… say goodbye to this:

I plan on building a pegboard cabinet to get the same sq. ft. storage space in a smaller area so I can get more efficient. I also plan on building some drawers for the garage bench to get the surface cleaner and less cluttered with random stuff.

The cold is moving in though … and I’m not sure how much I’m going to get done this winter. I have some nice insulating clothes, but my hands just can’t take more than 30-45 minutes at a time. Maybe I’ll get some fingerless gloves and put those skiing hand warmers inside the palms and give that a shot.

I’ll post again soon once I start the wiring.

Edit #1:
Here are a few shots (bad flash) of the firing strips where I’m mounting my boxes. I can’t help but feel these outlets are going to be to high off the floor. They are 50” to the bottom of the box. I felt having 12”+ from a 36” bench would be a good thing because I don’t want to splash or spray anything near the outlets. I have a good solid 40” above the boxes for cabinets and french cleat storage … so I think it will work out just fine.

This shot you can see the 2×8’ make-shift lumber cart thing I threw together over the summer. It takes up way to much space and will be demolished very soon. That wall is where my 8’ garage bench will go with the drill press.

This picture shows the light switches right on the inside of the door. I practiced opening the door and feeling where my hand wants to naturally flip on lights. The nice thing about these strips of plywood on the wall is that I can mount these boxes wherever I want without worrying about studs.

Bad flash in this picture, but it shows how a piece of 4’ tall plywood rests comfortably against the wall without interfering with the outlets.

I have to keep reminding myself that whatever I do is better than what I had. Rather than second guess all my decisions, I’m just going to give this a shot and make it work.

2 comments so far

View hairy's profile


2701 posts in 3526 days

#1 posted 12-04-2012 12:49 PM

This is the fun part, enjoy it while it lasts.
Maybe this will help. Good luck!

-- My reality check bounced...

View pendledad's profile


190 posts in 2083 days

#2 posted 12-04-2012 01:51 PM

Thanks for the link hairy. I’ve used that planner to get the basics of what layout will work best. I wish they would update that tool with the most recent tools in their catalog. The dimensions are roughly the same, but in a tiny 8’x18’ space, every inch counts for me.

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