What type of building do I need for a good sized cabinet shop.

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Blog entry by Dustin posted 05-16-2010 11:54 PM 2587 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I need your help if your a cabinet maker. What size building should I have for a three man cabinet shop? We do traditional face frame cabinetry currently but our current shop is way too small to be very functional.

Also, should I build a steel or stick built building? What are the pro’s and con’s with each? Is there anywhere where I can get floor layouts? Maybe even building plans? Anything helps!


16 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4090 days

#1 posted 05-17-2010 01:04 AM

Please forgive my frankness but if you can not determine the size shop you need or the equipment layout I think you need to gain some more experience in cabinet making. This is not meant to give you a hard time just my honest thoughts on the subject.

View chrisl's profile


17 posts in 4233 days

#2 posted 05-17-2010 01:44 AM

I built my one-man 16×24 two floor barn using plans from Dano there is quite helpful.

-- Chris L from Beatrice, NE

View Dustin's profile


392 posts in 3962 days

#3 posted 05-17-2010 03:12 AM

It’s ok a1Jim

View Dustin's profile


392 posts in 3962 days

#4 posted 05-17-2010 03:15 AM

Thanks chrisl, that’s exactly what I was looking for. I really really appreciate your help!

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4090 days

#5 posted 05-17-2010 03:18 AM

I’m glad your an accomplished cabinet maker and perhaps my statement was not appropriate. I’m sorry my other comments upset you. Good luck in your shop ventures

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 4000 days

#6 posted 05-17-2010 03:21 AM

Dustin, I would not consider anything less than 24’ x 30’ with at least 9 ’ ceilings. Just looking at your present situation its hard to believe you get anyone else in your workshop right now. Keep in mind its going to be 3 people, all the equipment, supplies, materials and the finished cabinets you’ll be needing to house. My current space is 28’ x 68’ with 14’ ceilings, so it makes it pretty sweet I have had 4 people working in my space without getting in each others way. I store my materials at the back and move things towards the front as they get completed.

As for what type, the metal building will be the fastest to construct, and for the most part the best fire resistant construction. I’ve erected more than a few of these, the hardest part is the red iron, since you’ll need some type of forklift to raise them. The sheets aren’t too difficult to install.

Things you should consider before you invest in a new workshop are, location, accessibility ( deliveries, storage..), will you be wanting the whole shop air conditioned and/or heated? Make sure to include a lot of overhead doors, for access and ventilation.

Best advice I can give you when planning the new workshop is figure out how you “work” in your shop, the flow of materials into and out of the shop. Design it for the most efficient use of space, everyone is different in this regard, only you know what’s best for your productivity.

The other option you have is to find an old warehouse, or barn in your area. I lucked out, and found my place, it was a little farther out from Austin than I would have liked, but 3 years later I don’t regret the move, expect for not fixing the leaky roof first!

One other thing to consider is having it built, or building it yourself, you have to figure out bottom line, can you afford to take off from your cabinetmaking to build the new shop, or does it make more sense to have it built while you continue to build your business.

-- James

View Dustin's profile


392 posts in 3962 days

#7 posted 05-17-2010 03:53 AM

KnotWright, your awesome, I really appreciate that. I just started designing my next shop because business is good and what I have just isn’t working if you know what I mean.
I’m looking into getting bids for a steel building because it’s fast and probably safer. I was just curious if anyone knew which one was more expensive?

View mike85215's profile


127 posts in 3657 days

#8 posted 05-17-2010 04:09 AM

Dustin….I have no idea how much space you will need or whether steel or stick built is the answer for you. Just want to say you have succeeded in making me jealous and that is something that is not done very easily.
I took the time and went back and looked at your posts all I can say is WOW! Just under two years ago you were just beginning and now you NEED to expand your shop space.
I do not have a cabinet shop but a month ago took my first order for custom built furniture from a stranger…that is a great feeling and someday I hope to be in the position that you are in.
All I can say is a heartfelt and sincere congratulations keep up the good work!!

View CharlesNeil's profile


2496 posts in 4383 days

#9 posted 05-17-2010 04:25 PM

whatever size you arrive at.. triple it…

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4185 days

#10 posted 05-17-2010 04:28 PM

Its hard to say, but if you is building cabinets for a living you need a big space. Maybe like 400 to 1000 sq ft.

View Dustin's profile


392 posts in 3962 days

#11 posted 05-17-2010 05:38 PM

I think I have come to a conclusion of a 28×40 steel building and I figure that it will run me around 28k. This should be a nice step up for a small cabinet shop with three guys. I’ll probably take a lot of ideas from your shop James for the tool layout. Thanks everyone for your help!

Mike85215, thanks for the comment! I live and breath cabinet making! Looks like your on the right track, now it’s just a matter of time.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4827 days

#12 posted 05-17-2010 05:49 PM

Pay close attention to the electrical. The inspectors can be a little picky. No open outlets. Dust collectors that are switched on with the machinery. Spray booths. It really depends on your local inspectors. Put in a few extra 220 outlets. I wish I had added more storage….or at least would quit building the wrong size doors!

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4090 days

#13 posted 05-17-2010 06:00 PM

Dustin I just wanted to thank you for accepting my PM apologies for being a grump at the beginning of this post. You deserve help not and old grouch.
I think Rob (Socalwood) makes a point any one should think about during these times is a big investment wise during a uncertain economy.
Also James(knontwright) makes a lot of great points.
Some other things I might add is a shop (particularly a cabinet shop) you need isle large enough to move large cabinets around and a layout the allows for a good work flow as an example putting your sheet good storage close enough to your table saw to be able to pull it out and be a few steps away from your saw but not so close as to interfere with some one saw on that saw while you do it. Another factor is if there are codes that will prevent you from cabinet making were you intend to build plus codes regarding a spray booth(another expense to consider). I would also say to make sure the kind of power you want is available were you build many rural areas you my not be able to get 3 phase if you intend to use it. Also think about future machines and the space the may take up (such as a dovetail machine). I would also make sure there is plenty of power outlets and a large breaker box with spaces left over for future equipment. don’t for get about dust collection
I put my table saw dust collection in the floor so I didn’t have to keep stepping over it. Another big issue is office space so you can talk to customers without having every one turn off the equipment while communicating details of the job. I notice other post coming in while typing this so excuse any repeat ideas.
Here’s a link to a on line shop planner

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4436 days

#14 posted 05-18-2010 05:52 AM

About 40X60 sf make sure you are permitted to have an outdoor dust collection unit and a finish room and you are zoned for this type work. You will save a bundle if you can use your own land and construct a steel building

View Dustin's profile


392 posts in 3962 days

#15 posted 05-18-2010 07:21 AM

hey sandhill and Jim, thanks for the info, that site was very helpful. It sounds like zoning is going to be my biggest problem.

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