need help planning a new shop

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Forum topic by tomakazi posted 01-02-2015 04:27 PM 1139 views 2 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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686 posts in 3252 days

01-02-2015 04:27 PM

I am planning to build a new shop this spring and i need some pointers. I’ve alway made whatever space i had available work for me. now starting from scratch I’m not sure where to start. so if you could tell me what you like and don’t like about your shops it would help a lot. it can be anything.

lumber or scrap storage?
windows and doors?

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

14 replies so far

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3724 days

#1 posted 01-02-2015 04:38 PM

Don’t mean to be smart but as for size- twice as big as you think you’ll need and tall ceilings.

For layout, there’s free computer software to help you plan that.

Once on the New Yankee Workshop, I heard them say that lumber storage OUTSIDE the heated shop is better.

Windows and doors- lots of natural light and a big garage door.

My shop is in the basement- so these are all things I wish I had.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1650 days

#2 posted 01-02-2015 04:57 PM

What are your options on the land for building size?

Will the building be single purpose for woodworking or serve other purposes such as car storage?

Do you want to run a business out of it?

What kinds of furniture will you be building and how much storage do you need at a time? If you are building kitchen’s to install you will need someplace to store the cabinets until you are done.

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3450 days

#3 posted 01-02-2015 04:58 PM

Hard to say what you will need in general. Best thing to do is look at the stationary tools you have or plan to get and the largest piece of lumber you will most likely run through that equipment on a regular basis and go from there. Along the same thoughts as Lew, no matter how big you build it, with some time (sooner rather then later) you will wish it was bigger. I learned in my father’s shop that was 20’x20’, he has a tablesaw, 12” pedistal planer, 2 benches, bandsaw, radial arm saw and 6”x36” belt sander. With the two of us it was pretty cramped but for one person it was quite nice. The shop I ran at Walter Reed was maybe 2 and a half times bigger and I still complained at times. Grizzly has (or had anyway) a shop planner app on their website with scale drawings of most of their tools, that could help you start. My advice though, make the ceilings over 8’, that way you can stand a sheet of plywood up if need be.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View jumbojack's profile


1674 posts in 2593 days

#4 posted 01-02-2015 05:01 PM

The footprint should be as large as you can make it. Bring in at least four circuits for electricity. Big roll up door with ramp. At least one man door. Think about dust collection, and environment systems NOW. You CAN have too many Windows, wall space is always a premium. Plan, plan plan your lighting.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1650 days

#5 posted 01-02-2015 05:19 PM

The footprint should be as large as you can make it. Bring in at least four circuits for electricity. Big roll up door with ramp. At least one man door. Think about dust collection, and environment systems NOW. You CAN have too many Windows, wall space is always a premium. Plan, plan plan your lighting.

- jumbojack

I think it is possible to make a shop to big. You end up spending more time keeping it clean and walking from one end to the other than actually working. Now if you have more than one person in the shop normally or you need lots of storage for projects in process more space is a good thing. For me personally anything much larger than a oversized 2 car garage (600-900 square feet) with ALL the space dedicated to the shop would be overkill but that’s based on the tools and methods that work best for me. I am obviously not doing CNC in that space for instance. Assuming a power machinery heavy shop I would avoid however building a shop with any one dimension under 16’ and ideally 20’ if possible. My experience is anything under 16’ get’s crowded when you add big machines in the middle of the floor and 20-25’ gives you more space to move around. Anything over about 25’ and you can start to look at more than one station in the center of the room. Think of of this way, a 6’ work bench, 2 4’ walkways, and 2 3’ spaces on the walls for cabinets or tools is 20’. Now you can compress this down a bit by cutting into the walkways or the wall space used by the tools but not to much without it starting to feel crowded.

And I agree on the too many windows thing. Wall space is a premium. You do want natural light but you don’t want huge banks of low windows. I think if I could build my dream shop I would look at windows that where 5’ off the floor or higher spaced out so I could put wall cabinets between them. That would let me get the light from them while still being able to put machines and storage under them.

View BurlyBob's profile


5426 posts in 2235 days

#6 posted 01-03-2015 12:47 AM

Look for a plan/kit/building that has no support post anywhere inside the building, go for clearspan. Lots of outlets, 50” off the floor. Also look into and epoxy floor coating in a light color. It’s makes clean up a breeze, prevents moisture thru the concrete floor and helps with lightening the room. Where your at your gonna want to think about insulation, heat and moisture. Another thing don’t forget to put in 2-4 220v outlets. I ran 100 amp service to my shop and occasionally wish I had more. Electrical service is/can be a big issue. Like everyone else has said many times, you never hear any wish they had built less or smaller.

View tomakazi's profile


686 posts in 3252 days

#7 posted 01-04-2015 02:29 AM

Thank you all for your help, I love the input. my shop will be just for woodworking. I build everything and anything, so I am planning on making it pretty big. I will do some paying work, but not full time (at least for now). I usually work by myself but I would like to teach a few people to build some things. hopefully my daughter will stay interested enough to work by my side. a separate shed for wood storage would be a good idea, thats where I get most of my clutter from. I am in California so heating isn’t too much of a problem, but I will insulate it. I was also think of setting it up for a car hoist, but only for resale purposes.

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2648 posts in 2891 days

#8 posted 01-04-2015 02:58 PM

Things I would include are: A toilet, outside closet for air compressor and one for dust collector. Every place you plan to install a duplex outlet put in a four-plex outlet instead, and put them high enough to be convenient to access. (above bench height)

-- Website is

View GT350's profile


362 posts in 1951 days

#9 posted 01-04-2015 04:43 PM

I may be doing this wrong but unless you are storing a lot of wood, I like it to acclimate to my shop for at least a few weeks before I start building anything with it. I have set up storage on the walls for my hardwood and a section is devoted to plywood also. I would build at least 9’ ceilings, and I have 700 sq. ft. With 200 of that a separate storage room that also has my air compressor so neither I nor the neighbors have to listen to it. I would put in lots of flourescent lighting, heat and cool it also. I am just a little tight on space and would think 900 sq. ft. Would be a great size. I agree with some of the comments about shops can be too large, keep in mind, the larger it is the more dust collection you need even if you don’t have to worry about heating or cooling.

View knotscott's profile


7984 posts in 3345 days

#10 posted 01-04-2015 05:14 PM

Grizzly’s website has a great shop planner that allows you to experiment with different arrangements to scale. Free and simple to use. Much easier than live trial and error.

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

View dozer57's profile


92 posts in 1469 days

#11 posted 01-04-2015 10:53 PM

salt shed style roof with windows facing south, over head light that is free.This style roof on 8 ft side walls will get you plenty of working height in the center of room. No windows on the north side, use this wall for cabinets and benchs. separate room for dust collector and air comp. Electrical 100 amps min.,200 is best. No over head door just a 6 ft double swing door. Dust collection ports in the floor down the center of room. electrical also would be nice. Water and a/c. this is what I would do if I did a new shop.

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2226 days

#12 posted 01-05-2015 02:08 AM

I would start by reading this book. Then design the shop using the Grizzly planner as mentioned. I like outlets in the ceiling for tool “islands”. If you decide to use fluorescent tubes, keep the outside ones about 3’ from the walls so you aren’t working in your shadow. DAMHIKT Run a line for compressed air to your work bench and anyplace else you might want it. Try to locate your dust collector to minimize any potential long runs to the tools, especially the major chip producers. Consider a separate room for finishing especially if you spray. It doesn’t have to be explosion proof if you use water borne products. Outlets on alternating circuits every 4’ and 50” above the floor as already mentioned. White paint to increase light. Plywood/OSB walls for hanging tools, cabinets, jigs.

-- Art

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2940 days

#13 posted 01-05-2015 03:57 AM

I started a new shop on Jan 08,2014. Got the shell built, painted, roofed, and trimmed in about 10 days.
Still working on it, but at a snails pace due to loss of my job, spending 3 months finding another job, limited money, etc.
I planned a 24×24, but wound up with a 16×24. I adjusted the layout and this will work fine.

Had wanted a stand up attic/loft (barn style roof), but have a 4 ft storage loft. Since I had 9 ft ceiling height I decided to modify the trusses and dropped the rear 8 ft of the loft to provide a 7’-10” ceiling in the back 8 ft of the shop, and put in a stair to an area in the attic with 6 ft ceiling. Making that space an office. Working really well.

Putting a toilet and sink under the stair and an air conditioner in the wall in the back corner where the stair has a landing. These were otherwise un-usable spaces so I made use of them..

Designing and building a little wood stove to install in front of the stair. Got the design idea from stoves used on boats. Look up Salamander Stoves if interested.

The back right hand part of the lowered ceiling area will be a small counter and fridge and my lathe work station.

The rest of the shop is 16×16 with the full 9 ft ceiling. Table saw is in the middle of the shop. Work bench is between the table saw and the doors. I have two 4’ x 8’ doors that swing to the outside and a 3’ x 7’ man door.

Along the 24 ft right hand wall will be my band saw, jointer, planer, miter saw, disk sander, and drill press. the planer and jointer store against the wall and under the stock support for the miter saw. They will be rolled out for use.

Along the left hand wall is clamp storage, then a 12 ft long floor and wall cabinet I salvaged from the house remodel. These will be storage for hardware and tools. This is the area I’m working on right now, insulating the wall and then covering with 7/16 OSB sheathing.

Past the cabinets is a space for my dust collector and then the stair landing in the back left hand corner.

I ran a 90 amp 240 Volt electric service and water and drain lines to the shop this summer and got the air conditioner installed.

This spring, if I survive taxes, I will add a 12 ft wide x 20 ft long shed roof to the east side of the shop where I will install my metal working gear. That will be a forge, press, welder, torch, and sheet metal brake.

Hope this gave you some ideas.

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1028 posts in 1544 days

#14 posted 01-05-2015 04:09 AM

I think this is a good design for a shop,But I would have a dock outside that would be ground level inside.that way you can put lumber and machines out of the pick-up,and load furniture in the truck.

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