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Forum topic by Bodine87 posted 10-15-2014 12:48 AM 1805 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 764 days

10-15-2014 12:48 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workshop space shop question

So, I am a beginner/hobby woodworker, currently doing rustic tables, headboards, and the like. I eventually want to be able to do a little more fine wood working like some cabinetry and what not. I also do all of my home repairs and upgrades b/c I refuse to pay someone I don’t know for shotty work. I am working out of a very small 2 car garage. My garage serves as my shop, wood storage, general storage, my wife’s random furniture painting project storage, bike storage, and lawn equipment storage. I don’t have the space I want and also don’t like when I open the door to the house and in flies a ton of sawdust. Currently I have an old craftsman table saw, a router, soon to build a router table extension on the table saw, a 4×8 workbench, a couple of storage shelf units, and the normal, drill, hand saws, circular saws, etc. I have tools for wood, general house repair, and a couple milk crates of auto repair. I would like to eventually get a drill press and band saw as well.

So, I’ve talked the wife into letting me build a shed out back to use as my shop. I have two choices, under 200 sq ft (no permit required) or over 200 sq ft (permits required). I was looking at 16’ x 12’ to stay under the mark, and 16’ x 16’ if I go over. I plan on having enough of a roof pitch to store some lumber in the rafters to save some space. I don’t have an enormous back yard as I live in an HOA controlled subdivision and I’m on just over a quarter of an acre so i don’t want something enormous that takes over the yard. Just enough to do what I want without a mess in the house. Anyhow what’s everyone’s thoughts and recommendations on this? Do I need bigger. Am I over thinking this one? Thanks in advance for everyone’s input, I really enjoy reading the wealth of knowledge and information available in these forums!!

-- Hobbyist Near Augusta, GA

37 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


6475 posts in 1574 days

#1 posted 10-15-2014 12:55 AM

Always go as big as you can afford. Even 16×16 isn’t very large. I’ve got a 16.25×18.75’ garage that I’m working in (with low ceilings) and it’s full. Granted, I also keep bicycles and a motorcycle in there, but it’s about as full as it can be. I’d like a 24×24’ shop, myself.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Tugboater78's profile


2432 posts in 1616 days

#2 posted 10-15-2014 01:09 AM

Im basically doing the same as you out of a 10×20 shop. Though couple months back I bought a 12×16 from the amish/mennonites and had them back it up to my carport. Trying to seperate tools and benches between the two.

Like jmartel said, as big as you can build. Maybe plan for possible additions in future. Any size you go with will eventually be too small, its just the way it seems to work.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 1710 days

#3 posted 10-15-2014 01:26 AM

not sure what it’s like where you are but…

I built 16×24 and needed a permit.
The permit cost me $65

In the overall scheme of things that was a drop in the proverbial bucket.

View Woodmaster1's profile


732 posts in 2011 days

#4 posted 10-15-2014 02:16 AM

My shop is 30’ x 33’. I could only build a 1000 sq. ft. By permit. Any size shop will do as it will never be big enough.

View B4B's profile


126 posts in 782 days

#5 posted 10-15-2014 04:33 AM

The best recommendation I have seen is to get some graph paper, and make cutouts for the equipment you have, or want to have, and figure out how big you need for that equipment, workbenches, and whatever else is going to be stored in there.

Keep in mind clearances for cutting, if you want to rip 8’ long stock, you’ll need about 7 feet behind and in front of a table saw. for croscutting, you’ll need about 6’ for that same 8’ long stock. Clearances for a planer and jointer are going to be similar. If you can, overlap in-feed and out-feed space for different tools, make your outfeed table for the table saw multi-purpose, it could be used as an assembly table, workbench, and for storage.

Some common shop equipment that you didn’t list that some people (or want to) have are a planer, jointer (for squaring up rough lumber), bandsaw, and a drill press, and dust collection and air filter. A compound miter saw can also come in handy. Depending on what kind of projects you are working on, you may need or want other power tools (stationary or hand) that are suited for those projects.

You can use mobile bases and wheels to take advantage of a smaller shop, but this may not be convenient.

You can build a dream shop to keep everything stationary, but that may be cost or space prohibitive. You could do something in the middle where some tools and your bench are mobile while others are stationary and have a footprint somewhere in the middle of large and small.

A large door opening (overhang, barn, or hinged) that opens to a covered patio could allow you to spill out into the yard on a nice day. A well placed window, door, or wall slot could allow you to work longer stock than the footprint would otherwise allow. Putting dust collection and compressor in a covered “annex” on the outside of your building would save some floor space and reduce noise in the shop, but may annoy anyone nearby.

Also, you’ll want power out there, insulation, cooling, and probably heating if you plan to be out there year round.

Take a look at this: for the projects that are completed in this shop, the author was able to work in a relatively small space.

This is a good tutorial on what this guy did:

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

View Andre's profile


993 posts in 1230 days

#6 posted 10-15-2014 05:10 AM

I have just under a 1/4 acre and put up a 24’ by 24’ shop, could use a few more feet. No matter what size it will never be big enough!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View wseand's profile


2754 posts in 2466 days

#7 posted 10-15-2014 05:38 AM

If you can make it happen I would do the 16×16, I wouldn’t go any smaller, if you can I would go a bit bigger. I would think you would be disappointed with a 12×16.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

View pauljuilleret's profile


71 posts in 1077 days

#8 posted 10-15-2014 09:43 AM

as you say you live in a hoa controlled area the first thing I would do is go and talk to them it would be a shame to go through all that work and expense only to have them shut you down hoa’s can be a like an inflamed hemroid to deal with so make sure you have no issues with them first. good luck and wish you the best with your shop project.

View RRBOU's profile


136 posts in 1716 days

#9 posted 10-15-2014 11:15 AM

I have a 12’ x 16’ shop and it is WAY TOO SMALL I can not imagine building a lot of cabinets in this small of a space. When I want to do anything of size I have to place most of the tools on the carport. I am going to add another 14’ x 20’ off the side in a T formation to try to get some room.

-- If guns cause crime all of mine are defective Randy

View Bodine87's profile


13 posts in 764 days

#10 posted 10-15-2014 04:26 PM

Wow, a lot of info for in such a short period of time! I love this place! I will agree with everyone that I could build a second house, and that would get too small!! Always does happen that way. I will most certainly try my best a drawing it all out ahead of time but sometimes you get in there and it just doesn’t feel right and changes will need to be made on the fly. As for the HOA, they aren’t horrible as long as I follow their rules. Has to be same as the house (hardi board siding, stone facade around bottom, same color). I do have to submit plans and drawings to them before building. That shouldn’t be too bad. B4B, thanks for the great info. I have seen that smart shop one before and that’s what I’m going for. Small but smartly used space! Mobile bases will be a must have. As for tools, planer and jointers are on the list of wants, but they will only come for the right price off of craigslist if I can find them. They are a little pricey for the single, yet important, task they can do. For now a good jig on the table saw and router table will have to do. Dust collection will probably come in the form of a shop vac for now. Fine dust collection will be a large shop fan, blowing out either a roll up door or barn door style, double out-swing doors. As for insulation and what not. I will leave it as bare studs for now. I’m in Georgia, so the winters aren’t terrible and a good jacket will do for the cold. As for the summer a fan will have to do for now. I can always insulate later if the need arises. I think I will definitely stay away from the 16×12, but don’t think I want to go over 20×20 for the yard size. As for the permit, the cost of the permit is not what concerns me. It’s the cost of the multiple inspections. Those can add up. I appreciate everyone’s feed back and will keep this updated as I get more towards build time. I’d like to have it done before next summer. We shall see!

-- Hobbyist Near Augusta, GA

View patron's profile


13524 posts in 2765 days

#11 posted 10-15-2014 04:35 PM

try this ‘shop planer’ from grizzly
you can get an idea of tool sizes
and move then around in different ways
and change shop sizes too

welcome to LJ’s

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

View Gentile's profile (online now)


246 posts in 1243 days

#12 posted 10-15-2014 04:40 PM

My last shop (garage) was 12’x32’.
It was a pain to work in, low ceiling to boot.
My current one is more of a square shape.
It works out much better for machine placement and the ability to rip sheets of plywood and long boards…

-- "I cut it twice and it's still too short"

View Richard's profile


1872 posts in 2114 days

#13 posted 10-15-2014 04:54 PM

You also might find that putting in insulation will cut down a lot on the noise factor that could cause issues with the neighbors. The less they hear the less thay have to complain to the HOA about.
And if the 20 X 20 will fit , go for it. Plus if you are going to go for open studs the Inspections should not be to bad as everything will be open and can be checked at pretty much the same time. Then go in later and add the insulation and wall covering and you should be able to get by without another inspection.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7735 posts in 1804 days

#14 posted 10-15-2014 05:32 PM

My shop is 16×20 but roughly half is lumber/misc storage. 16×10 is cramped unless you are doing small projects or just using hand tools.


View bondogaposis's profile


3972 posts in 1775 days

#15 posted 10-15-2014 08:23 PM

I have a 12×24 shop and it is very cramped. It is hard to build large things, especially in the winter, when I can’t spread outside. Plywood is a problem, I have to cut it up out side before I can bring it in. 16×12 would be tiny. You not only have to have room for the machine but room to swing lumber around and work space around each machine plus assembly space.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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