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Thread: Workshop Design

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    Workshop Design

    Hi all! Im slowly starting to plan my garage workshop but am pretty confused about where to start. To give a bit of background, Im setting up in a 2 car attached garage (my wife has graciously conceded nearly the entire space for use as my workshop with the promise of projects completed to come ). I have pretty much a blank slate at this point and am simply looking for either a good comprehensive thread or threads for how someone has approached shop setup in the past in this type of space or any friendly advice as to where you might start if you were in my position. I fully realize that more than likely my shop will evolve over time to what my interests develop into (right now it looks like furniture and built ins for the near future) but Id simply like advice on how to approach it or simply what has worked for you with respect to tool placement, electrical, etc. As far as tools are concerned, I recently purchased my pride and joy after saving for two years: 3HP SS PCS (36"). I also have a Dewalt DW735 planer and a dedicated Kreg router table. Aside from that, I will continue to acquire more tools nd start setting up. I'm thinking that a nice solid workbench and an outfeed table for the saw will be my first projects. I do not have anything in the way of DC yet and believe that it will be the next thing on my list for a purchase (c'mon Craigslist!). Either way, Im open to any and all advice regarding starting from scratch and designing and putting together a functional shop. Thanks!!!

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    Re: Workshop Design

    Hi John, and welcome to NCWW. There are many threads here on shop organization, but I'll share my approach to add to the pile since I have such a similar two-door, attached "woodshop" like yours. The space is 22'-4" deep by 21'-7" wide with an additional 6'-4" deep by 11'-3" wide additional niche out the back that also contains the water heater.

    1. My original shop design concept was for everything to fold up and roll back into the niche to maintain two full car parking spaces. Although this rarely happens (okay, nearly never), it helped me to think about making each station efficient from the beginning. For example, my contractor table saw's rear outfeed table folds down to add only 1" additional clearance beyond the motor. And the large rolling cart I made to hold table saw blades, throat inserts, miter gauges, calipers, hold downs, etc., fits perfectly under the saw's fence side. Compact stations leaves more working and access space. Rolling stations make them portable and flexible. Using a modular design for all of them helps make storage locations inter-changable.

    2. The second strategy I used was to shelve the walls. I am extremely blessed with a 12' high shop ceiling so I put shelves up most of these walls to hold regular household items as well as shop things. There is not much of a better feeling in the shop than to have the floors completely clear and free. I'm a big fan of plastic container boxes so I can organize anything loose, delicate, small, or fragile in stacked, labeled boxes and literally use a leaf blower to clean the place out occasionally in nice weather.

    3. The third strategy I used to organize is to develop a scaled drawing of the space and use scaled 2D outlines of each actual tool and station to test various schemes. Although I do space planning for a living with fancy CAD and 3D modeling software tools, it is very easy for anyone to use graph paper to draw scaled drawings of their space and their tools. (I recommend 1/2" = 1'-0" because it is large enough to figure smaller details if you want. Using 4 divisions per inch graph paper, each square then equals 6".) Now here's the real trick: Draw the tool in solid lines AND the working area for material moving through it in dashed lines. For example, a table saw, if you intend to push a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood through the saw, draw that length and width on both infeed and outfeed sides of the blade because that's the real area the table saw needs. The tool can't occupy the same space as another tool, BUT multiple tools can all share working space.

    4. My fourth strategy builds on the previous one. Once you realize how much actual space each tool needs, you might discover a logical flow as wood goes through your shop to both save space and avoid a lot of back and forth. For example, in my shop, I assume I am usually going start a project by buying rough cut, dried lumber in 10'-12' lengths. So I placed my miter/chop saw station on an 8' bench against one wall with an additional 4' of walk area at the garage door side. The wood literally comes in the door and can be cut down to storable/usable lengths. But even if I don't choose to cut it down when it gets home, the storage rack for this lumber is on the same wall, just beyond the miter saw. I can choose to cut or store, but all in the same aisle. Beneath the miter saw bench are four storage bays for rolling carts/stations. I keep my planer on one here so that the milling process can continue in the same aisle without swinging boards beyond.

    5. A fifth strategy involves dust collection. A dedicated collector with duct work down the middle means the shortest lengths and the highest vacuum pressure. (Although it might get in the way with lower ceilings.) I may some day work up to a full size collector, but for now, I use a powerful portable machine moved around to each station on demand. It sits in the middle so it is relatively stationary to reach most of my machines, and oriented similarly to the way the duct work will one day be.

    6. Finally, I like good lighting. It helps me to see and feel like I have more control over what I'm trying to do. My shop has windows along the 18' wide garage door facing east, a very high window on the south wall (6' sill) and a third high window on the west wall. They provide great natural sunlight whenever the sun is up. But I work a lot into the night and have put a 4-bulb florescent tube fixture in the niche and a square of four fixtures in the main area. One is actually a ceiling fan with four bright bulbs. I also put two bright bulbs in the garage door opener right in the middle. With finished drywall walls and ceiling, all painted white, the high space provides plenty of even light which is enjoyable to use for general woodworking as well as more refined tasks like sharpening and finishing.

    So I guess I'd advise that more strategic planning and a scaled drawing helps organize priorities. A shop layout will be pretty different depending on the woodworker's interest in flat work, turning, carving, delicate work, finishing, etc., so you have to decide how focused you want to be and then try to plan the shop around the work, and not the other way around.

    And of course, have fun!

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    Re: Workshop Design

    Some great info there Steve. My new shop and house build should start within the next month or so and I have thought about a lot of what you have said.

    Now to help John out some, here is what I am building. It will be a 26' x 36' workshop with a 10' ceiling on a crawl space. The crawl space design is being used to be easier on my back and it gives me easy access to running wires or ductwork from underneath. My shop will be heated/cooled using a mini-split system. It will also have a half bath for convenience. It will have a usable attic with a full staircase going up to it. I hope this helps you a little in your decision making process for your workshop.

    Red
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    Re: Workshop Design

    Congrats on gaining possession of the garage - that's the first big step. I'm sure you will get plenty of good advice from others. My thoughts - plenty of 110 and 220 outlets. Think about how you work and what makes sense in terms of machine placement. I like to keep the major pieces of equipment parked in a permanent spot. There are lots of other things that are used occasionally that can be moveable but when I want to use the TS, planer, jointer, etc - I juastwant to walk up, turn it on and work so they tend to find a permanent spot. The only thing I would say is guaranteed is that whatever you do will change - equipment gets added or you find your original ideas just are not as efficient as you would like. So give it a lot of thought but do not get paralyzed looking for the perfect solution - there will be a lot of iterations before you get close to that.

    Rick

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    Re: Workshop Design

    Fantastic feedback!!! Thank you for the detailed description of your workshop design experiences and the advice Steve. I very appreciate the time that you took to capture all of that in writing. It sounds like the first step will be to draft a scale drawing to best decide how I want to organize. I particularly liked the work flow that you described with respect to the miter saw, planer, and lumber storage considerations. And I absolutely plan on installing as many shelves as possible!

    Sounds like you're going to have a terrific shop when all is said and done Red! Im anxious to see pictures when its through. thanks for the description of what you've planned. My garage is currently not insulated so if you can lend any more advice about heating and cooling with a minisplit system Id greatly appreciate it. The sheet rock is up so I wonder if it is still in my best interest to insulate the exterior walls and room (the space of the garage has en empty area between the ceiling of the garage and the roof, currently inaccessible but I plan on rectifying that as part of the upgrade to workshop.)

    Rick - Thanks too for the sound advice. Ive currently got everything on casters (TS is on the industrial base) so I can move things around if needed. I do like the idea of simply being able to walk up to tat equipment and being able to turn it on and use it so its certainly a consideration. In addition to 5 110 outlets I've got two dedicated 220 outlets in the garage but am beginning to wonder if I should have more... As the design comes along I think Ill be able to answer that question easily.

    Thanks again!!!!

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    Re: Workshop Design

    John, I work out of my garage and any insulation that you can add - will greatly increase your comfort level in the future and will also contribute to a lower power bill when using the mini-split.
    I like making things. I have a wood shop at home. I am a terrible carpenter but I love doing it. Raymond - Charlotte, NC

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    Re: Workshop Design


    I'm in my second shop. I use half of a two car garage and pride myself on the efficiency of the setup. a couple of principles i developed and would apply to even a larger space:
    --if you can have an outfeed table and a workbench, great, if not, make the workbench function as the outfeed table. i cut off the legs of my workbench to sit below the level of my table saw (hard to see but table saw is closest to garage door)
    --i go long periods of time not using my router table so i spent the money and put a lift into table saw wing
    --jointer needs to have long alley way and be comfortable to use
    --planer also needs long alley way but can go on some rolling cart to get out of way (you can see my yellow dewalt hiding)
    --have the most fun tools out with easy access (bandsaw front and center)
    --drill press is on wheels not pictured
    --lathe in corner to the right not pictured (i'm not a passionate turner so i dedicate a small space for that)
    --Go up with the dust collection....i use a 2X4 cantilevered to provide overhead access even with a garage door being in the way
    --go up with storage if you can, this garage has 13 foot ceilings. i have palate racking shelves at 7 feet and 10 feet. i have probably 500 board feet drying / storing.
    --ignore neighbors who think you are crazy
    --build the wife purple cabinet if she wants one
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    Re: Workshop Design

    Get a copy of the Workshop Book by Scott Landis. He'll show you many, many shops and give you lots of ideas.

    Roy G

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    Re: Workshop Design

    I went overboard and built a model of my future shop (which I'll probably never build). Even the machines too. This is way too much trouble for what it's worth. It is however a cute toy. My real solution is to draw a layout of the shop space to scale (1/2 in. = 1 ft is good) and then the machines you hope to put in it cut out of light cardboard (I used a file folder) then you start looking at possibilities by moving the cutouts and see what works out. Don't forget to allow space for YOU. The normal clearance is 3 ft. +-.For your enjoyment I have included photos of the model.



    Pop

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    Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that did not.
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    Re: Workshop Design

    Quote Originally Posted by Pop Golden View Post
    I went overboard and built a model of my future shop (which I'll probably never build). Even the machines too. This is way too much trouble for what it's worth. It is however a cute toy.
    Pop, you had way too much time on your hands but, those scale models are very impressive! I am floored.
    I like making things. I have a wood shop at home. I am a terrible carpenter but I love doing it. Raymond - Charlotte, NC

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    Re: Workshop Design

    My best investment in my 1 car garage shop was a mini-split HVAC system. I was out there when it was below freezing this winter, and can be out there when it hits 100 degrees this summer. Going to make it much more comfortable to use the Hammer Jointer/Planer I'm gonna win on Saturday


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    Re: Workshop Design

    Just ordered a copy of Scott Landis' book off of Amazon- thanks Roy!

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    Re: Workshop Design

    This may belong under a new thread but since they were mentioned in this one Ill take the risk and ask for forgiveness afterwards if needed .

    Several of you have mentioned mini-split HVAC systems for a garage workshop, something I'm keenly interested in both for comfort and to help combat rust formation on cast iron during the summer in particular. Is there a specific system that you would recommend based on your own experience? Are there any that I should avoid? The space I'm conditioning is a two gar garage (finished) with 12' ceilings.

    John

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    Re: Workshop Design

    You need to find a brand name you trust (I had a mitsubishi) and have it sized for your square footage. Insulation will also be your friend. They work great and don't cost much to run.

    Red
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    Re: Workshop Design

    Curious why no one really talks much at all about the TTW Units for heat & air in shops ? TTW (thru the wall) units are the ones like in hotels rooms and I'm told by someone at our church that does HVAC for a living that they are the best bang for your buck in shops like what we're talking about. They are supposedly more efficient than min-splits are supposedly longer lasting/more reliable and are a third of the cost I'm told

    Worth looking into... I know I'll seriously consider it in my next shop

    Do not skimp on insulation for sure and put it in the ceiling if at all possible; my 14x24 shop uses a small quiet oscillating space heater for 30min to heat up to comfort on the coldest of days and in the summer you could actually work without AC but its cold in the summer just using the smallest window unit you can buy; it'll also help in mitigating moisture build up and rusting you equipment to a certain extent plus easier to condition your wood and for finishing work on project (faster cure times); so make sure insulation is an A1 priority and 2nd on the list should be dust collection; I'd recommend installing a dedicated dust collection system bigger than you need right now and do this before using tools and you will not regret it at all; I wish that would've been first on my list instead of 8 yrs after the fact

    best of luck, have fun with the process & journey !

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