Garage or Basement workshop

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Forum topic by ChrisBarrett posted 07-19-2015 05:34 PM 1405 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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99 posts in 1085 days

07-19-2015 05:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I know this has been asked several times before on here, and I’ve read all the material I can find on it. But i’m just looking for people’s opinions on my situation.

Basement is where I have most of my tools right now. It’s usable dimensions are 22.5 X 30 feet (675 sqft). Pluses are that it’s right downstairs, it’s unfinished, it has 8 foot ceilings for half of it, the other half has ducting for hvac so it is more like 6.5 feet. It’s climate controlled staying generally around 60F all year round.
Downsides: it’s dark, kind of smelly. Floor is not flat at all. It’s fairly unorganized filled with old moldings, lumber, doors and stuff. It would be several weekends worth of work to move things around so I can put my tools on the high ceiling side of the room. There’s plenty of space in the breaker box, but there’s only one outlet wired that I am just using with a power strip for everything at the moment. There is just enough room down the stairs to fit a 4×8 sheet good, but getting finished pieces back up would be a huge chore. Meaning I’d probably have to do assembly in the garage.

The Garage: 25×29 feet (725 sqft). Totally unfinished. Pretty high clearance overhead. Has a vaulted ceiling. It has it’s own electrical service and is wired for 240. The floor is totally flat and in good shape! :-D However, it’s hot in the summer, super cold in the winter. It would cost more to insulate and finish. It also only has one outlet right now, even though it has a full breaker box. I would need to share the space with my automotive tools, riding lawn mower, some bikes and my snow plow for my truck. Potentially a car in the winter. It would be expensive to heat in the winter, even if I did insulate it.

Right now I have my jointer and planer out in the garage as I was cleaning and fixing them after purchase. I don’t want to lug them downstairs till I make up my mind on where to go.


28 replies so far

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2352 days

#1 posted 07-19-2015 06:09 PM

You should already be happy to have such a space to work.
I am not sure I got what you are asking for except you are not satisfied with either your basement or the garage.
Do what feels best for you.
I would opt for the basement.

View ChrisBarrett's profile


99 posts in 1085 days

#2 posted 07-19-2015 06:15 PM

I’m happy with both, just trying to figure out which is better before I start wiring one up and adding ducting for dust collection. I’m slightly concerned with throwing so much dust into the air in the basement that can migrate into the house.

View dhazelton's profile


2771 posts in 2324 days

#3 posted 07-19-2015 06:22 PM

I don’t know where you live or if flooding is ever an issue, but I’d want to work where it’s high and dry and flat and not smelly. If you plan on doing lots of large projects I’d do it where there’s easy access, unless you can add a Bilco type door for outside access to the basement.

View ChrisBarrett's profile


99 posts in 1085 days

#4 posted 07-19-2015 06:34 PM

So I didn’t think water was a problem, but after the massive amount of rain we’ve been getting there is some leaking into the basement. I need to check the outside of the foundation see what is going on. I can not add external access to the basement. :)

View Stewbot's profile


199 posts in 1111 days

#5 posted 07-19-2015 06:44 PM

This is a tricky one. I work in a garage and love working with the door open, except I do not like when people pop in on me while I’m using saws, it can be dangerous….Basements are pretty cozy to work in, but damn, getting all those machines down stairs. It sounds like both spots need some work done to get them ready for a workshop? If I were you, being that both spots have their ups and downs, I would think to myself “if I were just hanging out, having a beer just kind of relaxing, would I rather be hanging out in the garage or would I rather be hanging out in the basement (after it’s been cleaned out)?” This way if you can figure out which environment you would rather spend your time without doing woodworking, it will probably carry over to where you would rather spend your time while wood-working. Maby this logic won’t work for you, but my thinking is that whether I’m doing woodworking or not, I tend to spent alone time in the garage just hanging out. It’s a relaxing place to be and my garage is more for me than just a place to do woodworking. So I don’t know, maby it’ll help out to think of it that way.

-- Hoopty scoop?

View Woodmaster1's profile


984 posts in 2614 days

#6 posted 07-19-2015 06:53 PM

I went with my detached garage. An occasional 6” of water (which has not happened in three years) in the basement and noise. My garage is 30×33 with 200amp service. I use 18×30 for the shop and my wife parks on her bay. I heat it with a gas big Maxx heater 60 when not in use and 70 in use the budget only went up 10.00 a month. It is insulated walls and ceiling. In the summer if I keep it closed the garage stays cool because the floor was not insulated. I live in northern Indiana so the winters are cold and summers hot. I have a shed for lawn equipment and things I do not want in the garage.

View BadJoints's profile


103 posts in 1116 days

#7 posted 07-20-2015 02:10 AM

For me, the staircase would be a deal breaker. It might not seem so bad at first lugging stuff down there, but eventually I would come to dread hauling stuff up and down the stairs. The inability to assemble pieces would become an issue as well. Unless you intend to have two sets of tools, you have to haul those up each time as well.
It just doesn’t make sense to me. That being said, a good friend of mine works out of a basement shop, and he makes it work for him. It’s all about what you think you will be comfortable with over time.

-- Producing furniture grade firewood since 1984

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2998 days

#8 posted 07-20-2015 02:26 AM

I had a basement shop before I had to sell the farm, and that would have been my preference.
BUT, it was a walk out basement on the same level as the garage which was under the house as well.

If I had to work up and down stairs all the time I would opt for the garage instead.

A problem with the basement shop I had was odor from wood working getting in the house.
Every time I would cut pine or cedar my wife would ask me what I was doing.
Forget trying to apply any kind of finish with any VOC, or even use glue like contact cement, or wipe something down with mineral spirits or use shellac or thin it with alcohol, etc., etc.

View johnstoneb's profile


2942 posts in 2200 days

#9 posted 07-20-2015 02:35 AM

If your basement is smelly you probably have a moisture problem. You will have to lug everything up and down stairs. You already have two of your heaviest tools in the garage.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View bandit571's profile


20250 posts in 2710 days

#10 posted 07-20-2015 03:03 AM

Somehow…I make do with the Dungeon Shop…..about half of what the OP has, and I share it with the laundry area, and the furnace/hotwater heater. hauling stuff up out of there? That is why I have my 22 yr old son, and my 21 yr old grandson around for.

Went from a 2-1/2 car garage that never even saw a car in it, to a 1/4 of a LARGE Pole Barn, to a back porch railing, to the Dungeon Shop.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View ChrisBarrett's profile


99 posts in 1085 days

#11 posted 07-20-2015 03:11 AM

Woodmaster, yeah I have 200 amp service at the garage already as well. I was planning on insulating, drywalling and wiring up adequate outlets already.

Johnstoneb – it’s mostly smelly because of cat litter :-/. The cat is on her way out though, pretty old with problems. It is a 110 year old house, so no doubt some moisture makes it in.

I guess I like the space of the garage, whilst I like the convenience of the basement :-D I may take the time to finish off the walls in the garage, move the rest of the tools out there which will allow me to get organized. If it doesn’t work out, I can add electrical and lighting to the basement and move everything back.

View ChrisBarrett's profile


99 posts in 1085 days

#12 posted 07-20-2015 03:12 AM

Bandit, yeah the basement has all the utilities in there as well. And a bunch of beams and posts in the middle of the room so it’s not all 100% open. The layout of the basement is a little funky too with walls that aren’t squares, they’re more like bay windows if you can imagine that shape.

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3092 days

#13 posted 07-20-2015 03:13 AM

I’d go garage. No stairs to contend with, easy to get materials in and projects out. Also, not being tied in the the house’s air circulation is nice when you are creating all that dust.

The only reason I might stick with the basement for now is if you really are not in a position to insulate and heat the garage. In WI, this is a must. If you can’t do woodworking in the winter in WI, that’s a deal breaker. I’d give up all three of the other seasons before giving up winter woodworking.

-- PaulMayer,

View John L's profile

John L

148 posts in 1191 days

#14 posted 07-20-2015 03:16 AM

My one and a half story doesn’t have a garage, but it does have an unfinished basement. I’m self employed and use the basement for my business shop, where I make beautiful things for the interior design field. 2/3s of the basement is for my 12’ work table, 12’ quilting machine, and industrial sewing machines, and other things. The remaining 1/3 is where I do the wood working and all.

The one problem with having the shop in the basement is that no matter how much you try to eliminate the finest dirt, it just doesn’t seem to get rid of all of it. And it tends to make its way upstairs.

There is a solution, and that is a comprehensive dust collection and air filtration system. I’m currently in the midst of upgrading my dust separation setup, and venting all the tiniest particles outside to the back of the house. I’ll know pretty soon if I have solved these problems to my satisfaction.

Good luck on your choice.

-- Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil - Thomas Mann

View ChrisBarrett's profile


99 posts in 1085 days

#15 posted 07-20-2015 03:17 AM

I have a small electrical heater that runs on 220 or something, it’ll raise the temp of the garage to “bearable” in the winter. So from like 10F to 40F. For some reason I always end up doing car work in the winter…

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