Upstairs Shop Concerns

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Forum topic by projekt6 posted 05-02-2013 08:18 AM 2080 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1847 days

05-02-2013 08:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve been toying with the idea of a 12’x14’ Tuffshed set up in my back yard as a shop, but the $6000 price tag has made me think long and hard about that.

So, I have started thinking about alternatives. I could build a shed, but will still be limited to <200sqft>d be cleaning after every use, installing a dust collector, and running exhausting box fans in the two large windows in the room, as well as having a fire extinguisher on hand.

NOTE: NO finishing will be done in the shop. That will happen in my garage and proper precautions will be taken out there for that.

Can anyone push me one way or the other by giving me a cautionary tale, or some helpful advice? Suggestions, comments, and ideas are very, VERY appreciated.

If any further information is needed, please ask.

-New-ish woodworker

10 replies so far

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3313 days

#1 posted 05-02-2013 11:12 AM

I think a big consideration should be the type of woodworking you want to do. Your needs will be different in a cabinet shop than in one where you’re committed to using just hand tools. Also, if you want to be out there year-round, your climate will need to be considered.

If it was me, I’d stick build simply because I’d enjoy the challenge. I’d probably buy the trusses (heavy snow load here) and buy corrugated steel for the roof. I’d segregate the DC in its own room/closet, vented to the outside. I don’t think I’d put it on a poured slab but, rather, on a crawlspace. I’d locate my mitre saw along one wall and have a door on the adjacent wall to the left and another one on the adjacent wall to the right so I could cut stock of infinite length on the MS.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2282 days

#2 posted 05-02-2013 12:01 PM

12×16 would still keep you under the 200 sq ft mark. Just sayin’...

As Mark said, this kinda depends what you plan on DOING in your shop, but know that whatever you plan, there will be times when your small shop is a limitation. My shop space right now is 16×18 and it can be a challenge handling larger pieces. My sliding miter saw is on one of those stands that folds up and stands against a wall. I put french doors on my shop so I could easily get stuff in and out. An overhead door would have had the tracks over my head and limited the height in that area. I wheel the sliding miter outside on the patio.

Passing boards through the planer was interesting. Again… planer on wheels. Open the french doors and pass a board from outside, through the planer and into the shop.

14” band saw… on wheels. Table saw also on wheels. Clamp rack on wheels. Jointer on wheels. You can do a lot in a small shop with a little planning and a willingness to rearrange things as needed based on whatever job you’re doing.

For reference….and I know this will vary depending on where you live…I’m building an 8×10 garden shed for my wife (which will gain me an additional 6×16 of shop space…yay!). The concrete pad was $825. Lumber, roofing materials, a 36” door and a couple of 24×36 windows, plus enough rough-sawn hemlock to board-and-batten the exterior, is going to run me about $1300. So I’ll be at about $2125 and will have to add in paint, nails, and probably some other smaller stuff I’ve forgotten. So let’s say I’m all in for $2500. About $31/sq ft. At 12×14 using that same cost/sq ft number you’d be at about $5000. That’s with a concrete floor and probably much better construction than a tough shed. If you go with a shed kit, AND if you want any heavy machinery in there (400 pound table saw, jointer, etc) you’ll have to reinforce the wood floor AND you’ll have to grub off any sod and lay a gravel base about 6 inches and compact it to set the shed on. (that’s about 4 and a half yards of stone or almost 6 tons of stone…just in case you need to wheelbarrow it)

Now… add in the electric … heheheh

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1865 days

#3 posted 05-02-2013 12:11 PM

I agree with both comments. The ground level dedicated space is far superior. Even if your intent is to build jewelry boxes, there will arise occasions where you need to manage larger stock and materials. There will be times when you need to transfer equipment to your truck. Pouring a concrete slab isn’t rocket science, but neither is it easy. If you can’t handle that, get someone to help. Be honest with yourself. No machismo necessary.

That said, I’m thinking that if you are considering an upstairs shop, you are pretty fit.

Is there a freight elevator in your house? ;-)

I think the biggest issue is this: 4’ x 8’. You will need to use this size stock at some point. It won’t be fun getting it upstairs to your shop. It is also more expensive to buy 4×4 precut stock. So you find yourself taking the table saw downstairs.

Also…. Build from collected materials. Especially the structure. Siding can be done this way as well. Board and batten can be simulated with various types of material. Paint her up pretty for the wife. Roofing should be a top consideration. Punny.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2509 days

#4 posted 05-02-2013 12:24 PM

Bigger is always better, build it as big as you possibly can, and as others have mentioned depending on what you plan on building, If you care too, take a look at my shop located on my profile, it’s a 12×16 and it will kind of give you an idea of what you are looking at, I had since added an 3’x 5’ external DC closet attached to the building with 4” duct ran through out the shop.

10 years ago I think I had invested right between 5 – 6 grand total package paint, shingles, insulation AC etc….

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View helluvawreck's profile


31056 posts in 2863 days

#5 posted 05-02-2013 01:42 PM

An up stairs shop will require a lot of hauling material and projects up and down stairs. This would be my first concern.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View HorizontalMike's profile


7756 posts in 2910 days

#6 posted 05-02-2013 02:16 PM

The first thing that popped into my mind was…

What about the floor loading capacity of this second floor shop?

Can this second story floor handle the increased load of 600lb TS here and a 500lb Jointer there, 400lb BS here, etc.? PLUS the weight of the wood… If new construction, then you could build to suit those needs, however if you are talking about and existing building with a second floor it might be more challenging.

FWIW, I built a 24×30 metal building on a slab for my shop and part-time garage. Plus factors include the I-Beam across the center that can easily use a chain hoist and 9-12ft ceiling. Don’t know if you have building code restrictions so strike this idea if it is a no-go in your situation.

And for me, ~10yr ago I spent about $12,000 total, buying the insulated ‘building kit’, hiring the slab work, assembling the building myself, an automatic 8×16ft garage door, and wiring myself (except for final hook-up to main box at house). For 720-sqft, that came in at less than $17/sqft. Quite the bargain…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View projekt6's profile


2 posts in 1847 days

#7 posted 05-02-2013 03:21 PM

Thanks all for the input. You’ve given me a few things to think about. I’ll try to address everything.

Mark – I plan to make odds and ends mostly. Whatever pops into my head for projects such as small display cases, small cabinets, shelving for walls, etc. I live in Las Vegas, so snow and rain aren’t nearly as much of an issue as the heat of summer is.

Charlie – My back yard is small (23’x45’) and a 12×16 would cost me about $700 more as well as take up space I intend on using for an above ground pool. Everything I can put on wheels will be on wheels. My Craftsman 113 series table saw is already on a mobile cabinet-style base as well as my Makita jointer/planer combo , and my router table will also be on wheels shortly. I’ve begun tallying up the costs of materials to build the shed so far and I’m sure I can do it for well under the $6000 for a Tuff Shed.

Buckethead – If I do build a shed in the yard, I won’t be putting it on a concrete base as it will be added to my property tax. Instead, I’ll use compacted washed concrete sand, which when compacted and sprayed down with water, it becomes hard like concrete. No freight elevator ;). I’ve already considered the 4’x8’ dilemma and have decided on making my own track saw to take care of large sheet goods in my garage, then transporting the smaller pieces upstairs. No wife to worry about, but I have a homeowners association which is far worse and will cause me to use the same color scheme which isn’t a problem.

Horizontal Mike – GREAT question to start. I had not considered that. While my table saw doesn’t weigh nearly 600lb, etc., they do weigh somethingand I’m not sure what the weight limit may be. It’s an existing house and like I said in my first post, it was meant to be a second master bedroom.

Again, thank you all and it looks like I’ve got a lot of thinking to do. If you have any further suggestions, I’d love to hear them, so keep ‘em rolling. I’ll keep you posted :).

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2282 days

#8 posted 05-02-2013 04:03 PM

Check on that concrete adding to your property tax. I thought that as well, but when I CALLED, they said, “Oh everyone thinks it will add to their taxes. It doesn’t add anything UNLESS the building is big enough to park a car in AND has a garage door.”

So my 16×24 shop went on a pad, as will my wife’s 8×10 garden shed.

If you’re still going with stone, here’s a few tips:
Gravel (like #2 crushed stone for driveways) does not compact very well at all. Great for drainage. Lousy for compaction.
Crusher Run (which is cheaper) has gravel and small stuff right down to powder size and compacts EXTREMELY well. Doesn’t drain as well as gravel but you can compact crusher run tight enough to lay pavers on, OR… compact the hell out of it and then pour some post-set on it and tamp that in so you’re flat and level again and then lightly spray it several times. It will “tighten up” the top surface and you’ll get less crumbling.

The problem with a granular surface, no matter how hard you compact it, is that the small wheels on your equipment will eventually crumble it.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1865 days

#9 posted 05-03-2013 12:28 AM

HOA… You said a mouthful there.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2967 days

#10 posted 05-03-2013 02:16 AM

Don’t know what type floor you have in that “upstairs master bedroom/shop” but carpet would obviously have to come out. You might be able to increase the load bearing capacity by overlaying a 3/4” plywood work floor.

Shed option, I’d build my own. Consider trying to have at least 16’ in one direction for machine work on 8 ft material. 8 ft infeed and 8 ft outfeed. A big door is a big help as well. $25 per sq. ft. is possible.

One of my sons used to live in North Vagas. His yard was about the size you described. Do you have a concrete wall all around the yard as well, and rocks instead of grass? You will definately need insulation, as high of a ceiling as you can afford, and a covered area outside would be well worth the cost as well.

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