Cold Reality Slapping Me In The Face - Tiny Shop, Here I Come!

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by dpop24 posted 06-14-2011 11:27 PM 3797 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dpop24's profile


115 posts in 2809 days

06-14-2011 11:27 PM

We just bought a new house which is going to get a remodel before we move in. I was excited to design a 16’x25’ dedicated shop into the plans. While that’s only 400 square feet, it seems HUGE compared to the teeny 100 square feet I have now that’s shared with storage, etc. I usually end up taking my tools and sawhorses into the garage or driveway to do any work now. This has convinced me that I don’t want to share space with my truck, I want a dedicated space no matter the size.

Well, our contractor just came back with his cost estimate and it was $150,000 OVER BUDGET. After cutting some of his overhead and planning to do a bunch of the work and material purchasing on my own, we squeezed it down to only $75,000 over budget so I’m needing to cut some more. This will effectively eliminate my shop and I’ll be stuck building my own elsewhere on the property.

Local county regulations stipulate that you can put 200 square feet of outbuildings without obtaining a permit, so I’m actually thinking I may try to stay in that size range (10’x20, 12’x16’, or 14’x14’). I marked off 14’x14’ in the garage and initially it looks doable. THEN, I started marking off the space required for work benches, my table saw, power tools, storage and it got small REAL fast.

I’ve spent an obscene amount of time trolling through the workshop pages to see other 200 square foot shops for ideas, but it’s not organized in a manner which facilitates finding small shops easily so I come across as many shops that could fit the Taj Mahal inside as I do shoe-box sized shops. My initial thinking is to just dump a Tuff Shed away from the house a bit, run electrical service over there and call it a shop.

So, my request of the fabulous LJ community is for those with very small shops, please post pictures or ideas, or point me in the direction of your workshop page, I would greatly appreciate it!

Here are the tools I need to find homes for in this tiny space:

-Ridgid R4511 Granite top table saw
-30 gallon air compressor
-HF 2HP dust collector
-Craftsman 2/3 hp benchtop drill press
-Craftsman 9” benchtop band saw
-Delta 10” Miter saw
-Craftsman belt and disc sander
-Craftsman 2 hp router with bench top table
-Ryobi 10” bench top table saw (likely headed for Craigslist)
-Random assortment of hand tools, sanders, saws, chisels, etc.
-Jet air filtration system

-Benchtop planer (not purchased yet)
-Dare I say I want to squeeze in a 6” jointer as well???? (not purchased yet)

-- If it ain't broke, take it apart and find out why

9 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2933 days

#1 posted 06-14-2011 11:33 PM

I was faced with the same dilemma a year ago. I was closer to $300K over budget, so you’re doing quite well, I’d say. I’m relegated to my tiny shop for now. But I diverted the money for land, so I can build my dream shop one day. Here in WV you can buy entire timber framed barns for wood salvage. For $20,000 you could probably build a dream shop. I don’t have the time but maybe one day. What I’m saying is, all is not lost!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View felkadelic's profile


218 posts in 2780 days

#2 posted 06-14-2011 11:49 PM

Just joined this site a couple days ago, but my experience seems relevant to your situation. My shop is one bay of a 3-car garage (luckily it’s walled off from the other two bays). The overall dimensions are roughly 10ft x 20ft, although about 20 sq. ft. of that is taken up by built-in shelving in one of the corners.

However, even given that space I’ve been able to fit the following equipment:
—52” Unisaw
—DW735 planer on mobile base
—Grizzly DC
—Router Table (on mobile base)
—Floor-standing drill press
—Fairly large workbench with miter saw
—Shop Vac

I’m pretty confident that I could squeeze in a couple more stationary tools and still have room to work. Your best friends in designing your small shop will be mobile bases and interchangeable tool benches (for example, you swap out your sander for your drill press as needed).

Also, I’ve found it advantageous to put shelving/storage in unexpected places. For example, my handheld sanders live on a shelf above one of the doors to my shop. Lumber storage will soon be on brackets above the garage door opening.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3211 days

#3 posted 06-15-2011 12:02 AM

I would go long and narrow before square. You need 8ft in front and behind your table saw, unless you have a garage door you can open up for feed space.
Ryobi to Craigslist sounds like a good idea.
A flip top table for the belt/disk sander and future planer is done often. Some one posted one on here recently.
My first shop was 70 square feet. We just make the best with what we have.
By the way, I put my jointer on one of those mover’s dollies, $19, and block it up when I’m using it so it wont roll away.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2688 posts in 3162 days

#4 posted 06-15-2011 12:51 AM

Hope this drawing of my shop layout works. The table saw is on wheels as is the drum sander. I make small items like boxes toys and trunks.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View dpop24's profile


115 posts in 2809 days

#5 posted 06-15-2011 01:30 AM

All fantastic feedback so far, thanks guys! I’ve been thinking about this non-stop and trying to find other shops for ideas.

My current set up is based around bench top tools, a single rolling cabinet, and storage racks for the benchtop tools. Every time I need a different power tool, I put it on the rolling cabinet, do my thing and replace with the next needed tool. It’s highly inefficient, but it’s the only way I can make it work currently. This design will have to follow me to my new small shop, so I think I can work out a good system there. Where I start getting concerned is now adding this new hybrid saw to the mix and the space needs around it.

I like crank’s advice on going long and narrow to give more room for sheet goods management on the TS, that’s advice that I will put into practice. I’ll also try to ensure that I put a set of double doors so that I can extend outside the shop on the infeed side to allow for a more “fixed” TS solution. My thought is to fix the TS in place but make every single other item on wheels. I think I’ll try to mock up a couple of designs – maybe a 10’x20’ and a 12’x16’ to see how they come out.

Keep the ideas coming! Thanks guys.

I had already decided that the DC and compressor would get booted outside in a lean-to or small enclosure and pipe it back in, similar to Jim’s design above. Seeing it on “paper” has confirmed that’s the way to go, thanks Jim!

-- If it ain't broke, take it apart and find out why

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3472 days

#6 posted 06-15-2011 02:36 AM

I am busy as a beaver compressing my 2 car garage workshop down because I need storage space as well… I would suggest taking a peek at the clamshell cabinet projects I have been working on... They shove an awful lot of storage into a small space…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3223 days

#7 posted 06-15-2011 03:23 AM

I would have to echo Crank’s suggestion and go with the 12×16. You’ll find the 10×20 will get cramped quick trying to turn around. Being that you have a considerable amount of bench top tools will help considerably in organizing the tight space. I have a 12×30 which was the smallest I could go with and I find it tight already and Thursday I will be getting my table saw out of storage and and breathing room I now have will be gone. If you can go with the barn style building with the 2 lofts for storage and to keep things like the air compressor and maybe the dust collector this will help. Also be sure to specify 8’ walls these will be 7’8” as opposed to the standard 6’8” walls.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2688 posts in 3162 days

#8 posted 06-15-2011 05:07 AM

I agree 12’ x 16’ would be better than my narrow shop.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View crappywoodworker's profile


16 posts in 2789 days

#9 posted 06-15-2011 06:37 AM

I use a double-car garage that MUST be able to hold 2 cars! I have the following items (many on wheels) and still have room for more to come:

Ridgid TS3612 table saw w/Router table built-in (on wheels)
Porter Cable band 14” band saw (on wheels)
Delta 6” Jointer (on wheels)
Delta 1-3/4 HP dust collector (on wheels)
Porter Cable 6” x 36” belt/disc sander (on wheels)
Miter saw bench w/shop-vac activated by I-Socket
Work bench for building greenland kayak paddles
Lumber storage on wall
Panel goods storage against wall

Still to come:
Floor stand drill press
13” planer
Ceiling mounted dust filter

Updated photos coming SOON!

-- John Davis, D.C./Balt

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics