Shop advice for a newbie

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Forum topic by WoodenRambo posted 155 days ago 764 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 664 days

155 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: shop question

My wife has just given me the go ahead to build a small wood shop in my back yard. I have no idea where to start. I want to try and keep it as small as possible(read cheap) while still maintaining a convenient layout. (I sound like my clients now God help me) Any tips from some of you more experience guys who have built a shop before? Any mistakes you guys have made that I can learn from?

Thanks in advance.

25 replies so far

View knotscott's profile (online now)


5425 posts in 2008 days

#1 posted 155 days ago

You’ll never regret having more space….decide how much space you need, double it, then add 10% more.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Marcus's profile


1044 posts in 652 days

#2 posted 155 days ago

Outlets outlets outlets…you can never have too many. You may want to consider putting them in the ceiling as well…makes life way easier not tripping over cords.

View Rob's profile


280 posts in 1703 days

#3 posted 155 days ago

Lucky dog!

If it were me, I’d probably spend a day or more looking at as many pictures and sketchup drawings as possible, clipping my favorites to Evernote. Some people share the models for their entire workshops. If possible, I’d ask what the owners have changed since the pictures were taken, and what else they’d like to change. Then I’d find a few of the smallest ones that make me drool and set my sights on one or two designs a couple sizes larger.

For now, I’m stuck trying to figure out how I’ll fit a shop into a 1-car garage.

View Ripthorn's profile


747 posts in 1617 days

#4 posted 155 days ago

Having an idea of the type of work you will do and the tools you will use will greatly help. And don’t forget that your interests will likely expand in the future. You may think you have no desire for turning, scroll sawing, boat building, whatever, but when the bug bites, it can be near irresistable. I agree that biting the bullet to get more space is a very highly recommended thing. Adding more space is the one thing that is hardest later down the road. A lot harder than swapping a table saw, or adding in another bench.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Todd's profile


221 posts in 309 days

#5 posted 155 days ago

My shop is 16×24 and I wouldn’t go any less. Even then all my tools are on mobile carts because there really is not enough room for dedicated workstations. I’m not complaining however! I’m very blessed with the shop I have.

+1 on the outlets. Here is my shop. I tried to list things that were important to me in the description.

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

View rickf16's profile


376 posts in 2214 days

#6 posted 155 days ago

Knotscott advice is dead on!!! When I started on my shop, I had the floor laid out, 10X12. The wife came out, looked at it and said
“You need to go four more feet that way” Would have been 10X16 “Naw”, I said. “Trying to save a little money.” Wrong answer! I have a great table saw, but I cannot even cut a full sheet of plywood. No room! Plan for new and better tools in your wwodworking future…especially if your wife has given you the go ahead, like mine did!

-- Rick

View a1Jim's profile


112015 posts in 2210 days

#7 posted 155 days ago

Lets work backwards what’s your budget?

-- Custom furniture

View WoodenRambo's profile


18 posts in 664 days

#8 posted 155 days ago

I have no idea, I won’t be building anything soon. I am trying to get a feeling for what I want so I can get a budget number that we can work towards/with. The space in my back yard lends itself to a 16 by 20 shop. I think that is where I am going to start then adjust as I get a feel for price.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5352 posts in 2218 days

#9 posted 155 days ago

16×20 is not too small I would take your time and work it all out on paper drawings or computer if you are able.I took nearly a year before buying a single brick.I eventually built the one I wanted then extended a few years later to add around fifty percent or more space.Mine has central heating and double glazing and it is my little paradise on earth.Have fun but do take your time.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View crank49's profile


3378 posts in 1603 days

#10 posted 155 days ago

I was just planning to build a 23’ x 23’, but due to site conditions, shallow bedrock, sloped site, tight money, I had to reduce it to 16’ x 24’ and turn it 90 degrees from the way I had planned it. But it’s under way and I’m happy with what I was able to work out. May have to sell the lathe or something and will have to move my mechanical stuff somewhere else, but this can work.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View Todd Sauer's profile

Todd Sauer

24 posts in 157 days

#11 posted 155 days ago

You can make a lot happen in 16’ x 20’....just make sure to plan ahead about it. I’d love to know what you come up with. I’m reorganizing my shop (garage) this summer, and need to make it wayyyyy more efficient. Outlets.

The snow needs to melt first. Whoops….we’re getting more tonight.

-- --Sauerkins; Duluth, MN

View DrDirt's profile


2409 posts in 2375 days

#12 posted 155 days ago

Put in a panel in the garage. Don’t tie into your house breaker bay.

I did a subpanel in the garage – so still just one meter, but inevitably, you will have a machine pop a breaker, and you don’t want to have to stop, and go into the basement of the house to reset it.

-- "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." Edison

View MT_Stringer's profile


1847 posts in 1863 days

#13 posted 155 days ago

Do you live in an area where there is a Home Owners Association? I am limited to 120 square feet (10×12) and that is what I built. It is just a storage shed…and full! :-(

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1253 posts in 581 days

#14 posted 155 days ago

+10 for more outlets, and put a 220 drop on each wall whether you need it or not, or at least size the wire so you can make it 220 later. My shop had 8’ ceilings. I had to reframe the ceiling 10’. 8’ drove me nuts, when it was finished I couldn’t even stand a sheet of plywood up without hitting the ceiling. I would never build a workspace without at least a 9’ ceiling

View patron's profile


13017 posts in 1973 days

#15 posted 155 days ago

maybe use this ‘shop planer’ from grizzly tools
you can see how the tools and work-flow happen
for the tools you think you will use
and the things you want to make

i would go higher than standard 8’ for a ceiling height
as making furniture or cabs are a real pain
if it is to low (with lights and fans too)

myself i’m building a 30’x40’x12’ high one

but would prefer this i saw in phoenix
it has a roll open roof
and lots of room for tools and wood storage
i like the idea of riding from tool to tool
in a golf cart

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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