Brand new workshop - limited space

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by fladdy posted 10-14-2011 08:08 PM 1547 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View fladdy's profile


93 posts in 3008 days

10-14-2011 08:08 PM

I’m sure this has been posted before and, well, I’m too lazy right now to look for it (work on a Friday afternoon). My wife and I just bought a house and I have not been told that I can’t build a new workshop. So basically the ok. What size would you build other than extremely large? What are some tips, features, and needed features of a new shop? I would appreciate any tips that you may have. I’m guessing I’ll be allowed to build a 20×20 shop. I’m hoping to heat it for the winter as well.

-- Fladdy

5 replies so far

View Scorpion's profile


5 posts in 2511 days

#1 posted 10-14-2011 10:32 PM

I think I would design my shop around it’s intended primary (and secondary) use(s). Where to put doors (as well as door opening size) in conjunction with where material storage, shop storage, and equipment needs to be would be my primary concern. Having to figure all of that out after building the structure usually ends up to be a pain.

Personally, I always start with constraints when you consider your layout. Material storage can kill you if you don’t consider it up front. In-feed and out-feed considerations for your equipment are important. Electrical needs should also be considered for both stationary, mobile, and hand tools to prevent having excessive drop-cords all over the place later on. I’d draw a shop layout and consider your present needs as well as your long-term needs. When it comes to your structure, doing it right the first time is more important than getting it done quickly (the ability to do both is a gift if you ask me).

Given your plans, you may not want a 20×20. You may lean towards a 15×25 (or some other variation). Keep in mind the need to swing large sheet goods and lumber into your equation.

If it were me, I’d draw it out on paper. Walk into an existing garage and tape it out on the floor and attempt to picture your needs based on where you’d want things to be. In my experiences, it takes as much practice laying out a shop as it does building something in the shop. The only way you can handle the future need for change is by doing things in a flexible way. Run your electrical in conduit on the surface of the wall instead of inside of it. Doing so will allow you to add an outlet if you need to by only pulling new wires or adding new conduit. In-wall wiring keeps the shop less flexible down the road. Window and door openings take up wall space so you may choose to keep them on a single wall.

It’s wood working so don’t forget to think about ventilation. More than once you’re gonna want to clear the air and having no ability to create a cross-draft would stink.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2978 days

#2 posted 10-15-2011 05:50 PM

I just been through this situation myself and after budget considerations, I went with the 12’ x 30’ shed style. The first thing I did was to decide on how much space I needed. Since I was downsizing from a shop that the work area was 20’ x 20’ I needed to come close to that amount of space. My choice was a 12’ x 30’ as it was the closest to the last shop with only a 40 sq. ft. difference in size. Having a 10’ x 12’ shed for lumber storage and to house the 60 gal. air compressor covered the storage area of the last shop. This also made up the difference for the 40 sq. ft. loss. You can see my shop pics and see what kind of space this allowed me. The only drawbacks I have had so far are low ceilings (8’) and not able to break down sheet goods in the shop. If I was to do anything different the only change I would make would be to went with a Gambrel style roof to give me more storage and a extra room for a office.
If a 20’ x 20’ will give you the work space and storage that you need all in one building. Consider rectangular over square. It will make it easier to configure things for space efficiency.
Just my experience with the 2 sizes of shops.

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

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#3 posted 10-15-2011 06:06 PM

If you can afford a larger size I would consider it at least 24×24 that way if your ever sell it can be used as a garage for some one who does not need a shop. The other couple things I would incorporate into your shop is a ceiling height of at least 12’
it makes it much easier to move and store material. One other thing is I would provide for dust collection in the floor so your not stepping of a hose all the time. I made my floor so I could run dust collection,air and electrical in the floor

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View helluvawreck's profile


31030 posts in 2861 days

#4 posted 10-15-2011 07:44 PM

I’m with Jim, but I’d go with 25×25. If you can’t afford it and you design one that will be 20×20 I would build it with 9 or 10 foot ceilings and design one with a shed type roof that could be added later on one side. The extra height will help you obviously and will make it easier to add the shed roof extension shed a few years down the road. If you could afford 20 wide and 25 foot deep and add the 10 ft shed of to the side in a few years you would end up with a 25×30 shop with part of it having 9 or 10 ft head room in part of it and that size makes a pretty good shop. Good luck building it. I know that you will be excited.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View fladdy's profile


93 posts in 3008 days

#5 posted 10-18-2011 08:53 PM

I like the idea of more rectangular than square. My new place is in the city and with a limited yard. Either way I build, I’m going to have some excavating to do. I still need to check with the city about limits on sizes and such. I’m thinking a 15×25 might work out well.

Thank you for the tips, especially about material storage and laying it out in a garage.

-- Fladdy

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