Advise on building new shop space

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Forum topic by tresselk posted 01-22-2014 11:01 PM 1813 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View tresselk's profile


28 posts in 3769 days

01-22-2014 11:01 PM

I will be moving soon and hope to build a new house with integrated shop into it. Any and all suggestions or suggested resources would be greatly appreciated.
Right now I have a rather nice shop, but it is detached and I find myself not using it the winter as much as I would like because of the extreme cold and windy North Dakota that I live in.
On of my biggest concerns for a shop in a house is sound proofing. One wall is shared with the great room wall and there is a bedroom above. Another big thing will be dust collection. I have nothing now, and really think it would be a good upgrade. Any suggestions on brand or how to figure layout?
Also, if anyone nows of any good resources for layout in general, that would be great.
Thanks for any input.

24 replies so far

View rhybeka's profile


3985 posts in 3121 days

#1 posted 01-22-2014 11:31 PM

Hi Tress! There are a lot of resources for shop building/layout. One that I made a go to was Popular woodworking’s book Ultimate Workshop Solutions. it was a good book for me, and available through the library to boot!

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 2476 days

#2 posted 01-22-2014 11:33 PM

I am going to watch your post because I am considering a shop build and weighing the pros and cons of attached vs separate myself. As you noted the sound proofing is a major concern if you share the living space with anyone. I also feel that wood dust and vapor fumes from finishes might become a living space issue even with great controls. Then there is the tax man, outbuildings are taxed at a lower rate then attached additions.
Still I wonder if when they handle my estate the property would not realize a better value if the shop space I want can be converted into living space.

You might want to check out I have seen that mentioned here don’t really know if that is what you are looking for.

View Todd's profile


398 posts in 1676 days

#3 posted 01-22-2014 11:33 PM

Is there a particular reason you want it integrated other than you dont want to walk to it during the cold and snow? Mine is detached and is heated and cooled. I prefer it detached because of 1) sound, and 2) I could use a wall covering besides drywall. I used OSB. Here is my shop:

It is 16×24 but I would have preferred larger; however, I would have infinged on my septic lines. I’m really not complaining though. :) I designed everything, had the structure built and did everything else myself so I only have myself to blame.

Make sure you have load calculations done for your tools to ensure you correctly size the electrical service to your house. Make sure you plan for any 240V tools as well potential 240V heat/air. I used a through the wall unit for heat/air. PTAC unit is an option as well.

Dust Collection
A must. I had planned on running DC lines in my shop but I just move the hose from machine to machine. Works fine for my shop but it would be nice not to have to do that. I have a HF DC that I reconfigured with a Wynn filter. Love it!

Plan for plenty of storage. Hardware, tools, finishing products, etc. I built my own cabinets. You don’t have to build anything fancy and I decided to use paint grade materials and paint them.

Tool Mobility
I have ALL my tools and benches mobile. It makes cleaning and rearranging a lot easier. I built most of the mobile tool carts myself and included drawers for storage in each.

I used industrial lighting calculations to determine the type and number of fixtures I needed. It worked perfectly. I painted my walls white for better light distribution.

I used OSB painted with oil-based Kilz. LOVE IT! Can almost mount anything anywhere. If you go with an attached workshop you’ll likely have to use drywall to provide a firebreak.

My floor is cement. I chose to coat it with battleship gray colored epoxy. It makes it easy to find things when I drop them and looks neater also.

I hope these observations help!


-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

View Picklehead's profile


1041 posts in 1929 days

#4 posted 01-23-2014 01:29 AM


Put the bottom of your outlets at least 50 inches from floor, so if you lean a 4×8 sheet up against the wall the aren’t blocked. Also, I had the electrician put in boxes that hold four outlets, the ones on the left side of each box are on one breaker and the ones on the right are on a different breaker. That way you can run a task light, shop vac, dust collector etc, and a tool at any station without overloading a breaker.

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29233 posts in 2338 days

#5 posted 01-23-2014 01:39 AM

I understand North Dakota weather. I live in South Dakota and it is bad here, you have it worse. Any shop layout is very personal. You have to be comfortable in it. Design it for easiest workflow around the tools you use the most.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

553 posts in 2998 days

#6 posted 01-23-2014 01:57 AM

Nice writeup Todd.


View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 1896 days

#7 posted 01-23-2014 02:03 AM

A couple of things you might consider are an airlock between the shop and the living space and building a proper sound proofing wall. The air lock can be a short hallway with a door at each end to act as a dust and sound barrier between the two spaces, solid core birch doors are both inexpensive and effective for this. To isolate the whine of machinery you will require a real soundproof wall. Many people think using sound batting in a typically framed wall will do the job but it will only muffle the noise. I have built recording studios and learned the best way short of a concrete wall to eliminate noise is to actually frame two walls of 2×4’s with a space between them and insulate the wall on the living quarters side with regular insulation and the shop side with sound batting. A single wall with sound batting will still transfer through the studs, remember sound is vibrations and it will be transmitted by the wood if they are not isolated from the source. A gap between the two walls of 1/2”-1’ is all that’s needed. Another method that is nearly as effective is to cover the shop side of the wall with a couple of layers of celotex, the dense black board that’s sometimes substituted for plywood sheathing in budget construction. You can then attach metal hat channel (go to a real drywall supply house not a box store and they can fix you up) through the double layer of celotex, be sure and screw it to the studs. Your finished surface on the shop side should be 5/8’ fire code drywall. Insulate the wall as you would any exterior wall. The added mass is a good sound dampener. This is how I used to soundproof home theaters for my wealthier clients when doing residential construction, it works quite well and is a bit cheaper than the double wall construction with sound batting.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2971 days

#8 posted 01-23-2014 02:23 AM

Don’t know if my advice will have any value to you, but I too am building a new shop space. But I just sold my farm and home where my shop was in a “walk out” basement. From a temperature control and “braving the elements” point of view it was a nice space. One end was a two car garage where I could do my nasty jobs like finishing or planning, or miter sawing. Also had a welder out there which I would do just outside the garage doors in the driveway.

Had a main room that was about 22 ft by 26 ft with my table saw, band saw, drill press, work bench, lathe, jointer and hand tools storage.

Then there was a room about 12’ x 12’ that could be made into a bedroom, It had a bath and closet, but I used it as an office.

I liked these spaces, but there were two main problems with the arrangement. Noise and Smells that would permeate the upstairs living space. Now I am about 80% deaf and also have a very poor sense of smell, but my significant other, Emily, had plenty for both of us. Even something as simple as ripping a piece of SYP on the table saw would initiate an inquiry into what was that smell. Can’t I do that outside?

So, I just built a new shop building about 45 ft behind our soon to be new to us house. It is 16 ft x 24 ft with a gambrel roof designed for attic storage. When I get done with it I will have it heated and cooled and insulated.

I will have to consolidate and probably sell off some of my equipment because I’m going from a 570 sq. ft. main shop with a 144 sq. ft. office and partial use of a 660 sq. ft. garage to a 384 sq. ft. shop; but this is the reality of downsizing. At least I was able to get a 9 ft ceiling and a wood floor which will be nice.

Best of luck in your move to integrated shop/house space. Just pay close attention to exhaust air flow, makeup air and if you can, isolated wall faces with Rock Wool insulation between to contain noise.

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2675 days

#9 posted 01-23-2014 03:28 AM

Grizzly has a layout page where you can place tools and make some decisions. You might find some of this useful. It is free to use.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2961 days

#10 posted 01-23-2014 11:21 AM

I think you have just committed to posting pictures when the shop is done.

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 2831 days

#11 posted 01-23-2014 11:46 AM

Another thing to consider is insurance cost. I’m not sure if there is a difference, but probably an attached shop would be more than detached.
Anyone have an expert’s take on this? Any insurance agents out there?

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 1940 days

#12 posted 01-23-2014 01:07 PM

My shop is detached by 6 feet. I looked into this before I built. Lowers tax and insurace with a 2 hour rated fire wall.

Another thing is no continuos roof line.

House is ICF, shop is 2×6 stick framed.

I live north of you and the 20 steps is no big deal.

Lots of south windows for good light and winter solar gain. Have a washroom and utility sink. 10 ft ceilings. 8 ft single garage door. ( No stinking car has ever driven in).

In floor heat. I am thinking of running some under floor dust collection. I did allow for it in the design process.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1752 days

#13 posted 01-23-2014 01:39 PM

If you will be integrating dust collection, be sure to allow the filtered air to stay indoors in the winter. No need to heat more air than necessary! As you sit there in ND this AM and the temp outside is hovering around -20 I’m sure this is as much of a no-brainer over there as it is here in Minnesota.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View Picklehead's profile


1041 posts in 1929 days

#14 posted 01-23-2014 01:40 PM

Lakelover mentions 10 foot ceilings. I have 9 footers. More than 8 is great for moving, flipping stuff. Also consider a few in-ceiling outlets for air cleaner or cord drop to center of workshop (no cords on floor)

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Todd's profile


398 posts in 1676 days

#15 posted 01-23-2014 06:23 PM

Good point on the ceilings Pickle. Mine are 8 foot and I occasionally bump them moving a long board around. Good thing they are OSB!

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

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