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Forum topic by UncleSnail posted 03-20-2010 04:36 AM 1570 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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54 posts in 2458 days

03-20-2010 04:36 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question cherry oak ash cedar mahogany walnut maple pine

Hi All,
This coming May I am planning on building a new, larger woodshop. Any tips or suggestions? I have a cabinet table saw, router table, drill press (bench) and various other smaller tools….bench sander etc. I am planning on two work benches…one for all my bench tools and the other for the wood vise, dogs etc. I would appreciate any and all tips, suggestions and warnings….thanks. Uncle Snail
P.S…..I am mostly into small wooden boxes, pic frames…gonna make an end table this summer…..things of that nature. No interest in carpentry. I MAY get a jointer and planer for rouch stock….don’t know yet but need to plan for it just in case. Thanks

-- Dale, Michigan, objects scare wife scares me too.

19 replies so far

View tooldad's profile


659 posts in 3133 days

#1 posted 03-20-2010 04:40 AM

what is the size of the workshop going to be? I currently have about 500sqft, 2 car garage. I used to have 1000 in my old house, loved the space and flow. However I build more cabinets, furniture and ent ctrs.

View UncleSnail's profile


54 posts in 2458 days

#2 posted 03-20-2010 04:49 AM

Hi Tooldad….the workshop size is to be determined…..just guessing….15×20? It is def going to be shed type construction…...price is a factor. Uncle Snail

-- Dale, Michigan, objects scare wife scares me too.

View UncleSnail's profile


54 posts in 2458 days

#3 posted 03-20-2010 04:51 AM

It’s almost 11PM here….going to crash….I will check back with you tomorrow…thanks so much for the advice. Uncle Snail

-- Dale, Michigan, objects scare wife scares me too.

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

555 posts in 2474 days

#4 posted 03-20-2010 10:07 PM

We built an outbuilding 2 yrs ago to get my shop out of the basement. It’s 24 X 30 and 2 story, upstairs is finished and it has a bathroom. There are lots of things I like about it and there are several thing I wish I had done originally. We built it with an overhead door thiinking someone in the future may want to use it as a garage. The door makes moving tools and big projects easy, it’s a must. I only wired it with 110 volt thinking I’d never want 220. Since it was built I’ve upgraded just about all my machines and I’ve gone to 220 for the TS, planer, jointer, and lathe. I had to wire the 220 with conduit on the walls. It wouldn’t have cost much to have had it wired for both originally. Mine has a poured concrete floor. I really wish I had a wood floor so I could put dust collection ducts uder the floor. Think about light, I put in 8 florescent fixtures and I have lots of windows for natural light. I have a phone in the shop, but that’s relly not much of an issue due to cell phones. There are lots of books about setting up shops. I’d recommend getting a couple. Take your time to think it through, and try to plan for what you might be doing it 5 or 10 years, not just for what you’re doing today. Who knows, with a bigger shop you might go from boxes to full sized furniture.

-- Glen

View BOB67CAM's profile


269 posts in 2490 days

#5 posted 03-20-2010 10:40 PM

just to ad to glens post, if its a steel building a cellphone is utterly worthless and youll probly want a landline, if its wood no problem
and as far as the boxes to cabinets go i have 2 car garage also and its fine for lil projects but ive done couple cabinets and from when theyre built till theyre out the door there is no way to get them out of the way and i dont have much for the larger tools other then a small table saw however i do have a tire machine and welder/plasma cutter and such that do take up a bit of room but if swapped with a nice jointer and a bandsaw and i would be in about the same boat and i have absolutely no wallspace
so what i did was basicly made sure everything was on wheels especially beings i have to bring plywood from 1 side and stock from the other side which is a pain but i havent found a way around it do to lack of wallspace
in an ideal world id have a 100’x50’ polebarn and that would allevite most issues but in reality thats where im at

-- if you dont have it, build it, especially when its a stupid idea

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 2586 days

#6 posted 03-21-2010 01:34 AM

I bought my shop and house used, so I am stuck with what I have (25’x30’). The worst things I have are the two support posts holding up the sealing and loft. I was forced to lay out my table saw to optimize it’s use. I say, don’t use posts in the center of the shop. My saw works best with a post right beside where my fence reads 52”. I find it easy by myself to move sheet goods standing up and have trouble getting the 8’ sheets though the doorway and under the 8’ ceiling where my loft is. I’d recommend 10’ ceilings.

In January I bought a magazine about shops (Americas best home workshops, its one of three special issues by Wood) which is very helpful for ideas. One featured shop basically has a loading dock. I think it would be really nice to just dolly your finished projects right onto your truck. Delivering lumber or machinery would be easier with the shop floor higher up.

If I was building this elevated design, I’d build a wood floor with joists and tung and groove floor. The dust collector could be on ground level making it possible to run all the duct work directly under the tool its going to. Electrical could be run in this crawl space too. If the floor is at about 30”- 36”, smaller air compressors could be underneath also. You could store all kinds of stuff underneath. This is one of my crazy ideas that’s not practical or traditional but might work great.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View PawPawTex's profile


61 posts in 2412 days

#7 posted 03-21-2010 02:04 AM

My advice is to build it as large as you can afford or have space for. Even if it’s bigger than you think you need now. You’ll be glad later. Also don’t skimp on the electrical. Just like clamps you can never have too many outlets! Be sure to post pics as you go so we can all get a look at it ok?

View okwoodshop's profile


448 posts in 2593 days

#8 posted 03-21-2010 10:45 PM

I have a 20×30 but if it was twice the size I would still want bigger. pawpawtex is right about the outlets, only thing I can add is make the workbench where you can work all the way around it.(not up against a wall).maybe design your shop where you can add on later???

View bobkberg's profile


420 posts in 2492 days

#9 posted 03-22-2010 09:36 PM

To add to the wiring discussion – Put in 3/4” or better conduit, and you can re-pull the wires as needed without tearing apart your walls.

You can use the corrugated blue NMT (Non-Metallic Tubing) commonly called “Smurf Tube”, if it is allowed by your local building codes.

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2650 days

#10 posted 03-23-2010 09:51 PM

While there is such a thing as too big, unless you are loaded with cash, chances are you won’t be able to afford too big…

Your lot, building codes, city and HOA if applicable will help determine the size of your structure. For example, the biggest I can build according to city code is 16×20, but according to my HOA it’s 10×12. While 10×12 is nice for a garden shed to keep the lawn & garden tools in, it’s not big enough for my shop. I can get a waiver from the HOA due to precedent, there are 4 lots within a block of my with 16×20 outbuildings…

Don’t neglect insulation. You won’t want to be in the shop if it is freezing, or frying… Design, placement, and insulation of the building are critical to this. To your insulation you will also want cooling and air conditioning. Depending on the size of your building, the window units with heat work pretty well and are affordable…

Electrical like has been touched above, is something a LOT of woodworkers ignore to their peril. Make sure you have a dedicated panel or sub panel, with as much power / as many circuits as you can muster. It’s a show stopper to need 3 20 amp circuits and only have 2…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Sarit's profile


514 posts in 2558 days

#11 posted 03-25-2010 01:33 PM

Considering the scope of your projects and the equipment you already have as long as you can fit what you have under one roof, it sounds like you’re already set. Are you planning to break out into much larger projects or mass producing your work? If price is a factor, have you considered doing some projects that will allow you to more efficiently use the space you already have? A real workshop with permits, foundation, electrical, etc is not cheap. Even selling some tools and buying one of those European combination machines might be a significantly cheaper option.

View Rasta's profile


120 posts in 2860 days

#12 posted 03-25-2010 01:43 PM

Go as big as possible, keep wood storage in mind as you do your layout, I never have enough room for wood storage and to sort through it with out clogging up the rest of the shop, putting a stop to other work going on at the time

-- Roscoe in Iowa

View 8iowa's profile


1540 posts in 3179 days

#13 posted 03-25-2010 03:10 PM


My Upper Peninsula “Workshop in the Woods” is a Menards garage package. I selected a 24’ x 28’ model with a gambrel roof. This gives ma a loft for storing and drying wood, which has worked out very well.

I chose not to have the typical garage door with all that ugly mechanism on the ceiling, and because sealing it efficiently for winter heating is a problem. Instead, I have 60” wide double doors at the entry and also directly overhead at the loft. I can stand on the bed of my truck and pass wood back and forth to the loft.

There are always compromises in any design. I chose to have six windows, which gives me a lot of natural light and summertime ventilation, but reduces the amount of wall space for cabinets and storage. You can’t have it both ways.

My walls and ceiling are OSB, which is much more durable than sheet rock. The interior of the shop is semi-gloss white. I have installed a combination of T-8 electronic ballast fixtures with high CRI rating bulbs, and standard incandescent fixtures. Being able to see the true color of paints and stains is important.

I placed electrical receptacles 44” high about every five feet. They are on 20 amp breakers. I also have three 240V receptacles, one each on front and two side walls. Presently they are on the same breaker, but are wired so that a separate breaker can be installed if necessary. Lighting of course is on two separate 15 amp breakers in three zones. If you are going to use a computer in the shop you might consider an additional 15 amp dedicated circuit for this and any other sensitive electronics.

My shop is 110 yards from the house. Last year I installed a small septic system and this Summer I plan to drive a well and install a toilet and small sink. With this, and a small microwave and coffee maker, my wife says she will never see me again.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3312 days

#14 posted 03-25-2010 04:25 PM

Doesnt matter how big you build a shop, it always seems not quite big enough. What looks huge when its empty looks very crowded when tooled and working.

I guess our always somewhat limited as to size, while looking at available property and of course a budget. I can only say that it is very rare to ever build anything and come in under budget.Like others here, I have a loft, a rather large one and now in hindsight I wished I had skipped the loft and jusyt built a bigger footprint on the ground floor. ......ce la ve.

Also in hindsight, I would have done other things like a spetic system, running water but the wife was forgiving then, now…..........she is tighter with her purse strings. I framed in for 6 windows but again,in hindsight I would have made them much bigger in hieght. There is nothing like natural light when sanding, finishing etc and of course the view where I am, is sweet.

I sometimes look at my walls that are covered in 5/8” plywood and wonder about the nice look of drywall painted whtie, the reflected light…..which is nice but drywall gets banged up quickly, you have to hit a stud to hang things of wieght. No regrets here on running conduit for wiring, it makes change over quick and simple.

I also put some load bearing beams on two walls so that in the event I want to put an addition on, the engineering is done, the opening are behind the walls, I just remove some plywood, undo a few screws and a portion of the wall will fall out.

Pitfalls are many.

2 cents

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View UncleSnail's profile


54 posts in 2458 days

#15 posted 04-12-2010 06:47 AM

Hi All…..
Thanks a ton for your comments. Most helpful.

I have decided on a 16×20 foot shed type building with a wood floor, 10 ft walls, standard 4/12 roof with basic double 36 inch doors. The bid came in at just over $2400 (materials). I will get the grill out and some ice cold tea and soda and git er done (recovering alcoholic :). Flooring, joists etal will be treated. I wood like to build it on cookies but I believe that constitutes a permanent building (taxes)…will probably put it on cement blocks. Comments, suggestions etc. are welcome. Thanks Uncle Snail

-- Dale, Michigan, objects scare wife scares me too.

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