Feedback on new shop design please

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Forum topic by leftcoaster posted 11-20-2016 09:11 PM 824 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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230 posts in 1078 days

11-20-2016 09:11 PM

I’m planning a new, freestanding shop in my backyard and would appreciate comments on my plans for tool placement and workflow.

Any feedback is welcome, though the building size/shape/orientation are baked. I am particularly interested in hearing:

  • ideas for better workflow
  • space efficiency suggestions
  • recommendations on where to put things I haven’t shown here: lumber rack? hand tools? clamps? finishes?
  • comments on the electrical and lighting plan.

General dimensions

It’s a small shop at 14’ x 13’ with a “bonus” space that is 4’ x 6’. Cement slab for a floor. All tools and benches on wheels.


I am in coastal california and do not need to heat or cool the shop. I will probably insulate just for the sound absorption benefit.

The building will have a shed style roof, slopping from the south to the north, ending at about an 8’ foot ceiling height. There will be a skylight in the center and two long, 16” high windows at the top of the north wall. I plan to put the workbench along that wall and will use that space and a foldable assembly table for finish work. LED ceiling lights will provide the rest of the illumination.

Air filtration
A ceiling mounted air filtration system will have its intake oriented toward the bench and so deal with any sanding dust not captured by the DC system.

Dust collection
I plan to put the DC into the alcove that I mentioned. It will be on wheels and I will move a 10’ hose to different tools until I am ready to “commit” to a ducting layout. You can see the DC in this drawing, where I also show a miter station with fold-away wings, for rough cross cuts.

For small tools, I have a shop vac and dust deputy. My air compressor will probably go under the workbench.

Sheet goods

Sheet goods will have to be broken down on the floor

Band saw

Any “big” bandsaw ripping jobs will make use of the 5’ doors to the shop, which is why I plan to put the BS near the entry.

Milling stock

Work with the planer, table saw, jointer, and router will be central. The router table will be part of the table saw extension. (This has me thinking of a DC duct drop along the center of the eastern wall, by the table saw):


The workbench height will be dialed in so that it can be an outfeed table for the table saw


I plan to have a subpanel in the northeast corner of the shop, with 240v for the table saw. Everything else is 120v. The DC will be on its own circuit, as will the lights and air filtration. I’m a solo hobbyist so I’m not sure that I need more than one 20A circuit for the remaining tools.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer

9 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2687 posts in 3123 days

#1 posted 11-21-2016 02:14 PM

I suggest you put all the wiring, except for overhead lighting, in conduit on the surface of the walls. This makes future changes much easier to accomplish. I would put a door to separate the dust collector from your shop. Most dust collectors emit very fine dust. Leave plenty of room around this dust collector to make changing/emptying the bag easier. (I put mine in a separate metal shed 8’x8’ next to my shop).

I located my equipment on the perimeter of my shop and installed my 6” metal duct at the floor level behind the machines. No need to have the duct go up to the ceiling and down to each equipment piece, nor back down to the inlet on the dust collector. I would install an exhaust fan in this shop, also.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View leftcoaster's profile


230 posts in 1078 days

#2 posted 11-21-2016 03:09 PM

Hi Jim

Thanks for your reply

Good ideas on the conduit and door.

Main issue with the ducting is that I’d have to make a lot of turns if it were on the floor. Can do a straight shot across the rafters.

What would the exhaust vent do? I’m on coastal CA and my current shed is never hot/cold. Are you thinking about humidity? Fumes?

There will be operable windows on the north wall and an air filtration system.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3338 days

#3 posted 11-21-2016 03:26 PM

Are you sure you don’t want to make your shop a full 14×19? Even that is not very big.

-- Greg D.

View leftcoaster's profile


230 posts in 1078 days

#4 posted 11-21-2016 04:22 PM

Trees in the way Greg. It is what it is.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


5130 posts in 914 days

#5 posted 11-21-2016 04:24 PM

my air compressor is NOT in my shop …. for noise sake …...... I would hang wall cabinets for smaller power tools …..OH whatever size you think you need …add 50% more …...LOL

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View leftcoaster's profile


230 posts in 1078 days

#6 posted 11-21-2016 04:28 PM

Thanks Tony. I have an California air tools compressor that actually is as quiet as advertised. Good idea on the cabinets. I am also thinking of building a foldable finishing/outfeed table that has shelving in the base. Essentially a cabinet on wheels accessible from either side.

View Woodbum's profile


834 posts in 3267 days

#7 posted 11-22-2016 12:42 PM

I too have a twin cylinder 2 hp California Air Tools compressor and can attest to how quiet it is. Also, the CAT customer service people are great. I had a problem with mine, I sent them an email and two different techs responded within 15 minutes with a solution. How fast is that! The solution worked and I was back in business twenty minutes later. Good product, great service.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1122 days

#8 posted 11-23-2016 02:41 AM


Some thoughts that occur to me are…

I believe erring on the side of too much lighting is better than not enough lighting. As a general rule, I like 35 lumens per square foot at 3’ above the floor. This is the standard I used when re-lighting my garage workshop and when lighting our remodeled kitchen. This standard provides very good general lighting.

I think LED is a great choice. With LED lighting the color temperature and color rendering can be factored in to the lighting and improve the quality of light in the shop. If you have a lighting design center nearby, it may be worthwhile to seek the advice of a lighting designer.

It may be helpful to develop of duct work plan before deciding where to place the light fixtures, even though you may not yet be ready to install central dust collection piping. If dust collection piping will be installed and the lighting did not take into account the duct runs, then some time and perhaps added expense could be required to move some light fixtures out of the way when installing the optimum duct work design.

If I understand your diagrams, it looks as if there will be a lot of moving equipment around to perform various operation. An effort to optimize the workspace for the type of work that is mostly done could save a lot of time. In my workshop, the only stationary tools are the dust collector, table saw, and radial arm saw. Everything else is on castors and where possible, the surfaces are about ½” lower than the table saw table. There are times when I must move a tool or two to perform a certain operation, but not very often. While my workshop is about 22’ x 22’, it offers no alcove for the dust collector. Also, I have a couple more tools than you show. The shaper occupies the space where a router table once set. With adjustments made, perhaps a look at my shop layout would be helpful as you work through your shop design. By the way, the distance from the table saw blade and the jointer fence is 6’ but could easily be reduced to 4-1/2’.

View leftcoaster's profile


230 posts in 1078 days

#9 posted 11-23-2016 02:57 AM

JBrow, thank you for the thoughtful and informative post.

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