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Forum topic by lumbercheerleader posted 03-22-2013 08:42 AM 1547 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 1890 days

03-22-2013 08:42 AM

Hello all :) Newbie here. (and I’m keeping my identity a BatMan-like secret, as my husband is actually on these forums. So shhhh….)

I’ve already spent time in the forums, and read all the posts that lie within. There’s some really great stuff in here on this subject. I’ve written down many of the recommendations for a shop layout, but there’s a lot of terms you all use that are going right over my head. I also tried the layout designer at that “grizzly” website (where you plan your workshop layout) but I had a complete “DUH” moment on that thing.

I designed a kitchen (and I’m designing/have designed stuff for the rest of the house), and my husband has been making the stuff I’ve been designing. It’s been terrific :) ) Now I want to surprise him with some nice plans for a woodworking shed. Currently, he works out of our 2-car garage (neither car has been parked in the garage for years now), but it would be nice to have his own space.

We have a giant back yard, which is pretty empty. We used to have a shed that some old neighbors put in a long time ago, but didn’t care for it. It was one of those pre-fab pieces of junk made of particleboard and it had turned into nothing more than a giant critter-nest. So it’s gone (I have NEVER in my life seen a wasp net that big). We’ve been talking about putting something in it’s place that would hold the tractor (lawnmower), all his woodworking equipment, and maybe a spot for some gardening stuff and our firewood.

I’m currently trying to design it right now, but I’m running into obstacles that I can’t answer because I don’t do very much woodworking (and what I HAVE done is…well…)

My husband likes to make pretty much anything. Lately, it’s been a lot of cabinets and basic furniture. He has a collapsible table saw, drill press, all kinds of power hand tools, miter saw, and a shop-vac. LOTS of scrap wood :) and your typical screws, nails, etc (without a lot of organization). I think eventually he’d like to get a bandsaw (his dad gave him a really old one that he can’t get to work without shorting out the entire house when you turn it off), a scroll saw and maybe some sort of planer and belt sander, but we aren’t there yet. He uses the table saw and miter saw the most, I’d say.

We also currently have a propane tank hooked up to the garage to keep it warm in the winter when he wants to work, but the garage is HUGE (25’x25’ by 2 stories – most of the heat just goes up to the ceiling) that we were talking about just moving to the shed when it’s built. (If I have my way, it will be soon, because I think it would be a project that would make HIM happy for once :) )

I’ve read on these forums that one of the BIG things you all seem to like is a dust collection system. But where is the dust collected to? And how much space do you think would be required for this workhop? I’m also trying to find ideas for storage – something that can multi-task or is modular (with wheels, of course) so we can maximize the space.

My beginning sketches have a building that’s about 20’ x 15’ (some space is taken up by the lawn/garden stuff and firewood – which leaves about 15’x15’ for his workshop). How high for ceilings? I have 8’ planned now – but it’s a cape-cod-style roof, so lots of headroom in the middle. I figured popping in a couple of ceiling fans would keep the heat pushed down towards the floor in the winter, and keep things cool in the summer – especially since the shed will go in a pretty sunny portion of our yard (northwest corner, which he’d be facing south east – full sun in the afternoons. Maybe it would be better to put it on the opposite side in the shade, and leave the sunny spot for the garden… hmm…)

This is totally starting from scratch, so any suggestions, or “I wish I had…” type stuff would be awesome. Should I go bigger than 15’x15’? We have the room, but it would probably have to get narrow and long, rather than square. Would a “barn style” ceiling be better?

Like I said, anything you could share with me would be great :)

27 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2512 days

#1 posted 03-22-2013 11:29 AM

There are building construction experts on this site, I’m not one of them, but I do know this. He is used to all that room, 25’ by 25’ is a big shop, especially for one person and two stories to boot. He’s probably never had to worry about standing a ten foot board on end, ever.
The other thing is he is most likely working on flat concrete. Any building you put up could technically be a pressure treated wooden floor on pressure treated beams, (most sheds, good and bad, are made this way), but concrete is much better in the long run. There may be restrictions on a permanent building in your area, check codes before committing to a big expense.
The last thing is proximity to power, a fair amount of it, considering the tools he wants. Although technically he would only turn on one tool at a time, add lights, maybe fans, dust collection equipment going on when a tool starts, a radio, refridgerator in the corner, coffee pot maybe, and it begins to add up. Most people put in at least 60 amp services when adding an outside shop, and that is the bare minimum. Nothing more dissapointing than running into a power shortage a year after the shed is up.
Lastly is wood storage. It’s big, takes up a lot of room, has to be available by species or color or something, and that means some kind of racks.
Just a few things to consider.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3429 days

#2 posted 03-22-2013 11:38 AM

I would recommend a pressure treated sturdy floor instead of concrete. It does need reinforcement for the weight of the machines but wood is easier on the feet and legs. Just my 0.02 cents.
I too defer to the builders on the site.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4985 posts in 2490 days

#3 posted 03-22-2013 11:41 AM

I had 9’ ceilings in my last shop, and now I have 8’. I’d love to go back to the taller ceilings. One thing you asked about as DC, and that’s one reason I’d like the taller ceilings. My duct work is 6”, and it’s all on the ceiling making things a little tight. (BTW, the dust is collected into a “catch can/dust bin/lower bag” depending on the DC). If you garden, putting a small spot to start plants etc. is really neat (did that on my last shop). Tennessee mentioned the electric…be sure to consider that, as well as a line from the LP tank for heat. As for size, I would bet every one of us who respond will say go as big as you can, and that would be my suggestion. But one thing is sure, it’s very hard to downsize, so if he’s used to 25’ square, the 15×15 is likely to fell, well, cramped. BTW, good luck with your endeavor.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View JoeinGa's profile (online now)


7736 posts in 2004 days

#4 posted 03-22-2013 12:39 PM

Go as BIG as you can possibly afford when you’re ready to pull the switch. You can NEVER have “too much” room, because if you’re like a lot of folks, that building will also start to become a “storage area” for things seldom used (like Christmas decorations for example)

Check local building codes. Your city/town/county should have a building inspector and he might become a valuable resource when making decisions on things like building size and height, electrical wiring, and things like roof pitch if you live in a heavy snow area.

Good luck with your project, and if your hubby already reads here, he’s gonna figure out pretty soon what his birthday present is gonna be :-)

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

View johnstoneb's profile


2914 posts in 2170 days

#5 posted 03-22-2013 01:00 PM

I am building a 16’x24’ shop as we speak and moving out of a 25’x30’ two car garage. The shop will have an 8’ roll up door. It will be for woodworking only there will be no vehicle in it unless they are delivering lumber.
Do not plan on any type of vehicle storage in the woodworking shop put a separate roofed area onto the building for mower, yard equipment storage. As Joe says above if you start using the main shop building for storage it will become storage.
Put at least 8’6” ceilings in 10’ would be better if possible pour a small addition on the building to put the dust collector and and air compressor (gets the noise outside the shop).
I would put the building on a concrete slab It will last a life time and withstand the weight and movement of tools much better than wood. I use rubber interlocking pads at tools I stand at for long period of time for comfort.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3758 days

#6 posted 03-22-2013 01:08 PM

First go to your local building department. Take a dimensioned sketch of your lot showing the location of your house and your proposed building site. They can assist you up front with all the building codes and set-back requirements. This visit will most likely be very helpful in determining the maxium building footprint and height. You most likely will need a building permit for any structure over 200 sq ft.

My “Workshop in the Woods” is 24’x28’ with a gambrel roof (barn type). This gives me a 12’x28’ loft for wood storage. The lower area is insulated and heated. I find this perfectly adequate for a one person shop. Be sure to have plenty of windows. Give serious thought to a double door entry (80”x60”) rather than the typical overhead garage door. I made this decision because I wanted a workshop – not a garage. This was a good move as it adds more wall space, eliminates the awkward overhead door mechanism, and seals much better against the weather.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View lumbercheerleader's profile


6 posts in 1890 days

#7 posted 03-22-2013 02:15 PM

Thank you all so much! I really appreciate it :)

I should have mentioned that the “building codes” thing is taken care of – I’ve already done my research on that point (I learned from doing it with the kitchen, since we ripped out everything to the studs – including electrical – so I’m familiar with the building codes at this point :) I’ve pretty much been the “general contractor” in everything we’ve done s far, so I’ve got that stuff under my belt pretty well) I REALLY appreciate the points about how much electrical to put in there – I hadn’t even thought of that. We already know we can access the electrical just fine, but Id never even thought about how much to put in there (do you think he’d need any 220’s? He doesn’t have anything that uses them – yet – but should I have a few put in just for future possibilities?)

And this is definitely going to be 100% workshop for him, and nothing else. If I put any gardening stuff in there, it’ll be a small attachment on the outside of the building – not inside of it. It’s all for him alone.

As for the concrete, the plan was to do a gravel bed, and then build the floor with 4×4’s or 4×6’s on top of that. That seems to be the standard around here for sheds. I do know our garage is poured concrete, and my husband complains that his back hurts a lot after he’s worked out there for a while.

As far as the size – he might be used to 25’x25’...but he’s a disorganized mess. So the actual square footage he’s used to working in is significantly less. Plus, the garage is also holding the tractor, bikes, old kid’s toys, christmas stuff, etc – so he’s definitely not using all that space. I’m thinking if we get some really good storage solutions in there, he could downsize a bit, no problem. In fact, if I plan it right, it’ll probably feel like more space to him.

Again, thanks so much for the tips! I REALLY appreciate it :)

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2920 days

#8 posted 03-22-2013 02:36 PM

A dust collector collects dust from the machines, pipes it using 4-6” ducts to the DC. The DC has a fan, and it separates the inlet stream to two paths – chips and heavy dust drop down to some kind of collection bag or bin, and the remaining fine dust goes up through a filter. The exhaust of the filter normally just exits back into the work space. It’s better if it doesn’t (exhaust outside), but that usually isn’t practical because that means you are piping a great deal of expensively heated (or cooled) air outside. So the filtered air usually is just exhausted back into the work room. That means you need a really good filter (.5 micron particle catching).

DCs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Bigger is better, and although bigger here really means how many cubic feet per minute the fan sucks out of the machines, the more CFM, the bigger the motor and fan to pull all that CFM. To separate the inlet stream, there is some kind of thing that generates a vortex which does the separation. The really good DCs use a cyclone, which is pretty tall. Less expensive DCs have a ring with a sloped ramp that creates a spiral airstream. Sometimes we improve the separation by adding on various gizmos.

We often also have ceiling mounted air cleaners to pick up dust that doesn’t get collected by our DCs.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3282 days

#9 posted 03-22-2013 02:42 PM


Welcome to LJ’s.

Lots of good advice so far. My woodworking shops have ranged from a 20’x20’ garage with 8ft. ceilings to 75’x100’ shop with 20ft ceilings and a number of shops sizes in between. I currently have a 25’x28’ two story shop with 9ft. ceilings down stairs and 7 1/2’ ceilings upstairs.

1. Electrical source and how much you can supply to the new shop.

2. I learned to work OK in every shop I ever had, but to me some things where harder to deal with(or without) then others.

3. Ceiling height; an 8ft ceiling can be a real pain. Lights, dust collection and ceiling fans will always be a problem. I don’t know how many times I stuck the end of a board in a ceiling fan or hit a light ficture when working with 8 ft. ceilings, 9ft. ceilings are better, 10ft. even better.

4. Lighting; Natural lighting (windows) is great, but some are afraid of the security issues with having windows in a shop, but a few bars can solve that problem if you think it would be an issure. Plan for good lights.

5. 15ft. x 15ft. would probably be doable right now for your husband, but that will not allow much working (floor) space once you put equipment, work benches and storage cabinets, etc. If or when he up grades to a stationary table saw, plus a band saw, he will be using up a lot of the workable spa

6. If your husband likes to woodwork year round, then consider not only heat but also insulating the shop.

7. I like the idea of a small addition to either the side or back of the shop for a compressor and dust
collector. That could also take care of the firewood storage.

8. Wood storage can be a problem and take up a lot of space, but that depends on how much wood he likes to keep on hand at any given time and if he ever, ever throws anything away or does he keep every little scrap like must of us do? LOL.

9. Sounds like a pretty luck guy and I’m sure he’s going to catch wind of this before long… then you will be able to discuss some of his wishes and concerns.

Good luck and keep us posted.


-- John @

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29224 posts in 2335 days

#10 posted 03-22-2013 03:11 PM

Design it big and double that. Never have enough space or clamps.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2284 days

#11 posted 03-22-2013 03:15 PM

I wish my wife was half as interested in what I do as you are with your husband. I don’t even tell here anymore when I make something because the glaze over look she gets. He’s a lucky man to have your support.
I sure wish I did.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3574 days

#12 posted 03-22-2013 03:16 PM

Welcome to Ljs
A couple observations , If I read things correctly you are building a shed as a surprise for your husband?
I know you have already designed a kitchen but unless your a woodworker designing a wood shop is totally different.
assuming your the cook in the house your kitchen is your work space and a shop is your husbands two different activities . If your husband is going to making cabinets on a regular basis he will need much more space than a 15’X15’ shed. Can cabinet making be done in that amount of space? Yes but it is much more difficult. I would suggest that you forget the surprise aspect of this project so you can find out what will really work for him. The second suggestion I would have is to build a shed to store all of the clutter in your garage and spend your funds to upgrade the garage with better electrical outlets,insulation and dust collection. Taking this approach will cost far less because you won’t need as big or as elaborate storage for lawn mowers etc as you would for a shop. With the funds you save you can buy more woodworking equipment.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2284 days

#13 posted 03-22-2013 03:21 PM

Here is my two cents. You obviously can’t complete this and surprise him with it seeing it’s in the back yard, so why not involve him in this process. Woodworkers are a picky bunch and I’m sure your hubby is no exception. I’m sure it would mean much more to him to be involved in the design, that way he can make it his own.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3082 days

#14 posted 03-22-2013 03:27 PM

As others have stated, make it as big as you can. 220 circuits may be necessary if your husband likes bigger
tools. Has he ever mentioned wanting a cabinet saw, a Unisaw or anything similar? It is hard to state what
another woodworker would like. A properly built wooden floor can support a lot of weight, my favorite shop
had a floor made of 4” X 12” planks, but that was overkill and many years ago. The bigger dust collectors
are 220 volt, but once again what does your husband need/want? Plenty of windows would be a requirement for me, but you would want them placed correctly, not looking at a wood fence. You can not list your location for obvious reasons, but if you have extreme heat or cold, a 6” wall with good insulation will pay for itself in the long run, as well as making it easier to use the shop. I would recomment a 10’ ceiling
with good insulation. If you require a steep pitched roof for snow, you could put in stronger ceiling joists
and have a loft storage area. You stated that your husband has completed a kitchen you designed, but did not state if he built the cabinets, or if he put a finish on them. Those two facts would change the whole layout of a shop. Sounds like the two of you have a good partnership, and wish you luck and happiness.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View lumbercheerleader's profile


6 posts in 1890 days

#15 posted 03-22-2013 04:22 PM

Thanks all! :)

Haha – I’m not building it as a surprise. (Actually, that WOULD be a surprise. And probably not a good one!) I’m just drawing up plans as a surprise. He’s been talking for years about building himself a nice workspace so he can get out of the garage (and I think he’s been mentioning it to me over and over because I’ve proven myself many a time to be a good planner. The kitchen’s not the only thing I’ve planned, it’s just the biggest thing I’ve planned) So I’m trying to work up some usable plans that we can eventually take to the building inspector’s office here to obtain our permits. But I’d definitely want him to give his input on things first, that’s for sure!

Insulation is a definite must. I’ll just say I live where we get a LOT of snow. But at the same time, the summers are brutal with the heat. So there’s no question on whether or not it will be insulated :)

>>Never have enough space or clamps.

HA! if it weren’t for your profile picture, I’d wonder if YOU were my husband LOL He says that ALL THE TIME.

>>You stated that your husband has completed a kitchen you designed, but did not state if he built the cabinets, or if he put a finish on them.

Yes, he built them from scratch. FInish – no. He hates to paint (and I love to), so they’ve just been painted. We’re getting ready to put in the flooring here in the next few weeks – but he has to move some ductwork in the basement first.

>>but that depends on how much wood he likes to keep on hand at any given time and if he ever, ever throws anything away or does he keep every little scrap like must of us do?

Yes. Every little bitty scrap. (Honestly, it drives me crazy. but I think that’s because I grew up with a family member that should be on “Hoarders”)

A few of you have mentioned windows and sliding doors (instead of garage doors) – absolutely. I grew up on a farm, so I’ve been thinking of “barn doors” all the way – I remember how nice those were growing up and I think they’d do well on this project.

You all are terrific – thank you so much for this input! It’s such a HUGE help.

I’ll tell you now that we won’t be building the shed this year – we already have a pretty big project that will be taking up our summer (another woodworking thing that I designed LOL), but if you all care to see my initial mockup, I’ll be happy to come back and post it here for you – maybe it’ll help someone else in the future :) I see a lot of you use Google Sketch-Up. I just started using it a few months ago, and it’s a LOT better than using the pen-and-paper that I’ve been relying on (and more accurate!)

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