Greenfield Workshop - Your input please

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Forum topic by EricTy posted 12-03-2012 02:46 PM 1458 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 2220 days

12-03-2012 02:46 PM

Good Morning everyone.

I have a chance to create a Greenfield Workshop. I was hoping to get some good input into the cute little (and sometimes big) stuff that makes a good workshop great.

I’ve been working in my basement which is 20’ x 20’ with poles, shelving offset from walls and other obstacles that makes tripping over stuff so incredibly fun.

I understand material flow and how jointers and planers should be near the wood storage, table saw is centered, workbench is in a corner to give two wall storage, etc.

I’m thinking 9’ or 10’ ceilings to be able to do large pieces on end in the router table.

I would like a number of skylights to bring in natural light.

I’ll put in pneumatic lines so I have that available.

No hopper as this will be located in the backyard far enough away that tying it into drain source will be a bitch.

Heat will probably be either electric or wood burning stove.

I guess my first question is what general size should I target? I’ve got a layout started in Grizzly Workshop Planner that is 24’x32’. Boy that looks big.

I’m hoping to get an outpouring of ideas and more specifically the mistakes you’ve made and what you would do differently as well as the great decisions you’ve made.

Thanks in advance for everyone’s input.

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

13 replies so far

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3432 days

#1 posted 12-03-2012 03:00 PM

While 24×32 does look big on paper it will very quickly become very cramped. I would suggest laying it out in real time where it is to be built. Drive some stakes in the ground at the corners to visualize the overall size. I think you will see its not as big as you think. Ceiling height, I would go no less than 9’, 10’ would be better. But remember that extra volume that will have to be cooled or heated and will cost more to do so. It will also have a major affect on your lighting choices. I would go with 10’ ceilings and add some small windows up high on the wall on the south facing side. It will help with natural lighting and also solar heating.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2939 days

#2 posted 12-03-2012 03:48 PM

A lot depends on the volume of work you will be producing. The single biggest thing for me would be a dedicated finishing area. You just lose so much time not being able to make sawdust while you are waiting for a finish to dry or prepping for a finish.
Also what kind of work will you be producing – 32’ with a bench at one end will leave it cramped for instance if you are planing down stair strings all the the time.

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2227 days

#3 posted 12-03-2012 04:33 PM

It really depends on your work style. Do you use mostly hand tools or heavy machinery? Do you buy rough cut lumber or S4S? Do you like to buy large quantities of lumber to store or do you buy what you need for each project? Etc, etc?

I used Setting Up Shop and found it to be quite helpful. HTH

-- Art

View Les 's profile


201 posts in 2660 days

#4 posted 12-05-2012 01:28 PM

I did a green field shop several years ago and you are going the right direction. Build it as big as you can afford, mine is 30 by 36 and is to small already. Ceiling height is 10’ feet plus. Extend your foundation above floor level 1 to 2 feet so you can stay with 8 0r 9 foot studs.

Like Renner said the finish room is a must, I don’t have one and really wish I did. I suggest you check out Other LJ’s shops they have posted. It will give you a lot of ideas.

Radiant hot water heat in the floor is the way to go as far as I am concerned, It is safe and doesn’t take up any space.

Use 6” walls and insulate well, I can heat mine with continuous hot water heater mounted on the wall. It uses only 4500 watts and is about 12” long by 6” wide.

A bath room with a deep utility sink is the other must. I ran a 1” water line from the house for supply and a 2” PVC force sewer main back to the septic system. Install a small lift station for the waste in the floor of the shop and it will pump to the septic.

Lots of help here on the forum, we can spend your money faster than you can. LOL

-- Stay busy....Stay young

View Don W's profile

Don W

18686 posts in 2537 days

#5 posted 12-05-2012 01:40 PM

I built a 24 x 40 shop a couple years ago. My intent was a 24×20 and 2 car bays. I’ve completely taken over one bay already, so I’m glad I also added a car port in the initial design.

I originally wanted 24×48, but the property just wouldn’t support it where I wanted it.

I just put a wood stove in a few weeks ago, that was originally planned, just didn’t get to it till now.

I used plywood interior. I like it so much better than sheetrock. I’ve needed to change my wiring a few times, and the plywood can be unscrewed and outlets added.

I did 10’ ceilings. I’ve got a bunch of 2’ step stools scattered about to reach some ceiling storage.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1977 days

#6 posted 12-05-2012 02:14 PM

I built a 30” X 40” workshop and when I first stepped into the empty shop it looked big as a gymnasium! Now 7 years later I wish I had made it 40’X50’ .... back then I could have ordered the bigger building for not too much more but I figured I’d never need that much space.
Go with as big as your land and money will allow. It’ll look HUGE at first, but you’ll be surprised at how fast you fill it :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View EricTy's profile


62 posts in 2220 days

#7 posted 12-05-2012 03:03 PM

Very good comments! Thanks to all.

This would mainly be for personal hobby use unless something were to grow out of it. I don’t see myself with a business unless it is a side, cash only thing.

The house has city water and sewer so tying it back to the house would be an absolute nightmare given the way the house sits and the sewer ties in. I think I’ll go without the hopper for now. I live near a flood zone so I’ll have to elevate the shop anyway. This will give me access via crawl space to put a hopper in if I ever decide to go that route.

As for local zoning laws, I need a 15’ setback but the backyard is about (if memory serves) 80’ wide or so. I’ll also need to combine part of this structure with a storage shed for tillers, garden tools, etc. This gives maybe 30’ wide for the shop itself.

I like the idea of the plywood walls but I don’t know if that will pass inspection. I thought wall coverings had to be of flame retardant material? I don’t know if this applies to out buildings…

I even thought to make it standard loading dock height but that means a pretty high foundation. I think keeping it lower – albeit elevated a couple feet – will work just as well.

Here’s the layout so far. Wood storage on the left wall. Two caster carts to collect the wood off the jointer and planer. Back wall would be a long bench with compound mitre saw and radial arm saw (neither shown but assumed) with other pieces around the perimeter. Elevated windows along the back wall (southeast direction) will let in plenty of light but be high enough to keep prying eyes away.

How would I feed power to the table saw being it is in the middle of the room? Cords across the floor or outlets in the floor? I like to keep things flexible if possible. I imagine I’ll need some support columns here and there unless I use engineered beams that can span a mighty width.

Since it’ll be elevated, I’ll use a subfloor and then oak flooring for the shop itself. No concrete pad.

Ah, so many decisions and so little time…

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2227 days

#8 posted 12-05-2012 03:29 PM

I put outlets in the ceiling and dropped the cords. The actual plugs were twist lock so the weight of the cord isn’t an issue. FWIW

-- Art

View Don W's profile

Don W

18686 posts in 2537 days

#9 posted 12-05-2012 06:28 PM

My tablesaw is closer to the back wall than yours, so I just ran the cord along the floor to a wall outlet. For everything else I did like Art and put outlets in the ceiling. If you will have a framed floor, you could run them under that as well.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2155 days

#10 posted 12-06-2012 04:21 AM

Defiantly consider what you want to do about dust collection. If I was building from scratch, I would run it under a sub-floor. My piping looks so ugly and having it under a sub-floor eliminates all the rising and falling from the ceiling or wall. Also, Install some flush mounted floor outlets in spots where you think your gonna want tools not against a wall. In your case, looks like you’ll want them for your jointer, planer and table saw. Since you are planing on wood plank flooring, That makes your dust collection easy to work with. If you use concrete, it is very hard to make any changes. In the few large shops I’ve been in, posts make for a great excuse to put a drill press and or a bandsaw in the middle of the room, which opens up wall space. Also, OUTLETS EVERYWHERE!

Good Luck with your shop build!

View Boxguy's profile


2619 posts in 2237 days

#11 posted 12-06-2012 04:45 AM

Eric, put in a normal 3-0 door and another garage door for projects and materials. You can put tools on rollers in front of the garage door when you don’t need it and you will love having it in the summer. I would go with 30×50 and 14 foot ceilings. Then you can do this.

Put your tools along the wall under the windows and you still have space for sunlight and heat and this…

for storage. You won’t go to your shop if you feel like you are in a dungeon or a jail. Bring in the light and the air!

You can still put in plastic coils under a wooden floor. Leave gaps in the tubing for dust connections. It is the only way to go for active heat in a shop.

I find that passive solar heat works reasonably well for my shop in southern Indiana. (February not so much. Generally too overcast.) It takes a south-facing window, a little research, and a little math. At my latitude, a 20 inch overhang and a 6 foot window with the top of the window set at the bottom of the overhang gives good results. The sun is shielded in summer and shines in during the winter. With the mass of steel tools and concrete floors to retain heat at night and on cloudy days, and super-insulated walls and ceilings my shop does well. It stays around 55 to 60 degrees. This picture shows the sun’s angle in early September. The light shines in at a sharper angle in December and January. Part of the reason I built a shop with 14 foot ceilings is that I have wall space for tools and security and space above that for windows. These windows and 6 more like them are patio doors that were returned to the lumber yard as defective, and I bought them for $10 each. Great light, great heat, great buy. (For lower cielings set the windows in at 90 degrees from this installation.)

My experience is that heat exchangers for hot or cold do not mix well with sawdust. If you are going to heat a shop…run coils under your plank floor and insulate under the floor. Run a small water heater to warm the water in the hose and thus the floor, and use a circulating pump on a thermostat or timer. That works. All that said…I do heat my finish room separate from the shop to about 61 degrees…no dust there.

Use your elevated floor to your advantage. Put a big dust sucker under there. Build a simple, metal lean-to roof on the back for your mechanical storage. You don’t need walls. Things are easy to get to, it is cheap to build, and there will not be fumes.

-- Big Al in IN

View EricTy's profile


62 posts in 2220 days

#12 posted 12-07-2012 10:38 PM

Here’s the shop updated based on some of the feedback. I’m at 1500 ft2 and one portion of it (bottom right) will be an integrated shed. I’ll put the dust collection, dust separator and air compressor in there to isolate the noise. I’ll run the dust collection underneath in the crawl space and put ports in the floor at various, strategic locations.

I’m in NJ just outside of Phila so I don’t get good, cheap lumber. In Ohio you can get prefinished maple plywood for $80 per sheet. I’ve had it quoted at two places locally and both were $120 per sheet. My point? Ship the good stuff in in bulk and store it. I pushed my storage rack to 4’ deep for the plywood.

I added a garage style door near the storage rack and this is where the bulk of entry/exit will happen. I show double doors for the shed area and man door for general entry/exit.

Based on multiple feedback, I added a finishing room (about 16’ x 15’) I imagine I’ll need a filter for incoming air and a filter for outgoing air.

The jointer and planer are back to back and the router table nearby. All three have their flow going N to S in the pic. Same with the table saw. The back wall is still a long bench with compound mitre saw and radial arm saw nearby each other in the middle to give support for long pieces to each side. I show the drill press at the end so the work can be supported by the bench.

You mention a metal lean-to roof for mechanical storage. What king of mechanical things are you thinking?

Also on the “top” side of the building there are large Mulberry trees that will block much of the light. What is Mulberry wood like to work with? Anything good? I like the berries…

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

View Boxguy's profile


2619 posts in 2237 days

#13 posted 12-08-2012 04:44 AM

Mechanicals can range for lawn mowers and outside tools to dust collectors, sawhorses, firewood. Gas operated machinery does not belong in a wood shop. I am thinking of a simple metal roof attached to the back of the building say 8 feet high at the lower edge with the higher edge attached to the building itself. Run 4 posts with a beam along them parallel to the building say 12 feet away from the back wall. nail a cleat to the back of the building and attach the high side of the roof. Add appropriate flashing. All it will do is shed the water, but that is enough for most machinery. Add some gravel for a “floor” and you are done. Add end walls if you must to keep weather out. Keep this simple and cheap.

In your finish room I would vent it to the outside and heat and cool the room (with its own small unit) just when you need it. Used units from motels are a possibility. These fit through the wall. In the winter you will need to heat this room for a day or two at about 60 degrees or better so the finish will dry. In a room that small you are going to need ventilation or the fumes will not be good for you. A ceiling fan will also help. Put this room where you can get sunlight and ventilation when you need it. An outside door for this room is a simple vent and allows you to take smaller projects outside to dry. In a room this small you may not need a large door since you couldn’t fit a large project into the finish room and have much room to work. Sunlight really helps you spot runs much better than any artificial light.

I think Blackie has been using a lot of mulberry in his bandsaw work. You might check his site and ask him about the wood. It broke my heart, but I cut down some trees to build my home and shop. Remember too a tree with no leaves gives little shade in the months you don’t need the heat.

I really can’t read the dimensions on your diagram. It would also help if I had some idea of ceiling height, and elevations of the drop from front to back.

-- Big Al in IN

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