• Advertise with us
Blog entry by a1Jim posted 02-04-2020 03:57 PM 760 reads 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi Friends
I’ve been asked a number of times what I think are the best details that can be built into a new shop, the following is based on what I feel would be most idea shop “not the least expensive”. Of course some of these details I’ve found by building my own and other shops as a 30+ year contractor and pro woodshop owner. So be that as it may all of these ideas may differ from what others feel are ideal or their perfect shop this is solely my take on the subject. I know that all of these ideas and upgrades can not be incorporated in everyone’s new shop particularly those building on a limited budget but perhaps some of my suggestions will be of help for those building a shop even with limited budgets.
I’m sure we will have many other ideas from our members.

I feel that shops size, in general, should be based on what kind of work you plan on making, as an example, someone who plans on just doing wood carving or just turning bowls on the lathe may have need a much small shop than someone who wants to build sailboats would need a much larger and taller shop. For the person who wants to do woodworking as a business, they may require a larger shop for more machinery and better workflow for perhaps several people working at once where a general hobby woodworking will require far less than the professional will. All said and done the shop anyone builds is based on allowable building space, budget, the needs and wants of the woodworker that will be building. If asking about shop size in an online woodworking forum the advice is always “the bigger the better”.

The following Suggestions will include what I consider are the best options if the personal budget will allow.

I would suggest building your shop in such a manner that the build will meet local code if in the future a person decides to convert the space to residential space with

2×6 walls with the most insulation necessary for walls and ceilings for the area you live in. Concrete floors are usually the least expensive but wood floors are much less wear and tear on an individual’s body. It’s best to have front and rear exits for safety in case of fire. I would also, make sure to have a people door at the front of the shop or at least where you will enter and exit on a regular basis so that roll-up doors(another must-have) do not have to open a large door letting out a large amount of heat or air conditioning air out. If possible I think the best and most comfortable heating system for The shop is radiant floor heating. and ductless air conditioning.

Having as many windows as possible makes work much easier with natural light and airflow, if security is a concern you can have small inoperable windows at the highest point of the walls making break-ins all but impossible.

I feel it’s best to have a detached shop so as not to transfer noise and dust directly into a residence.

If you consider the fact that some boards will be stored standing on end have ceilings tall than that makes shop work much easier I have 14ft ceilings to accommodate 12ft tall material being stored on end if I had it to do over I would go 16ft that way I could have had a loft or catwalk all the way around the perimeter of the shop for storage.

I also, feel It’s best for shops to have their own separate electrical service, I would suggest having 110 outlets every 4ft and 220 outlets every 6ft around the perimeter of your shop, and having some outlets in the floor this allows for easy relocation of or installing new equipment over time. I’ve also found it very helpful to put chases in the floor to accommodate electric, dust collection and air supply If using wood floors I would ensure there will be a crawl space for the running of the same items. I also, think having separate little lean-to enclosers outside the perimeter walls to accommodate your dust collector and compressor units, this frees up floor space inside the shop and eliminates the need for fancy filtration systems for your dust collection unit(s)

I would suggest having plenty of lighting(LEDs) both for ceiling and task lighting for areas where more detail work will be done, plus outdoor lighting for easier access during evening hours and security.

Having a restroom is a necessity to avoid traveling in an out of the house and possibly tracking sawdust in your home. The possibility of using a laundry room type sink for clean up of water-based paint and personal use is a big plus.

It’s important to have front and rear exits for safety. If I had it to do over I would also make sure to have a people door at the front of the shop or at least where you will enter and exit on a regular basis.

I would also suggest having the best and most efficient dust collection unit the budget will allow.


20 comments so far

View oldrivers's profile


2467 posts in 2577 days

#1 posted 02-04-2020 04:40 PM

Good suggestions, thanks for sharing them.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View doubleDD's profile


10149 posts in 3054 days

#2 posted 02-04-2020 05:01 PM

All good ideas Jim. We can all learn from each other from our past experiences. I totally agree about getting a good dust collection set up. I think this is overlooked until the dust becomes a big problem. No harm adding a ceiling air filter too.
One thing I would add is painting your walls white where possible. This makes the shop much brighter than you think.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View BurlyBob's profile


8493 posts in 3276 days

#3 posted 02-04-2020 05:11 PM

Lots of suggestions here that I agree with. I put a bright yellow epoxy on my concrete garage floor. It did two things,
brighten up the shop and dramatically reduced the humidity.

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4587 days

#4 posted 02-04-2020 05:11 PM

Thanks, Youngatheartdrivers

Thanks, Dave, very good suggestions.


View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4587 days

#5 posted 02-04-2020 05:14 PM

View Andre's profile


4299 posts in 2816 days

#6 posted 02-04-2020 05:21 PM

I would score my shop about 6 out of 10, was actually built as a garage/storage but converted to workshop.
Building codes would not allow for the loft and cost/code cancelled the plumbing. Have 10’ walls and one 36” man door plus 8’ x 16’ overhead door(hindsight would of gone with 8’ x 10’) and of course never enough plugs!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View sansoo22's profile


1415 posts in 665 days

#7 posted 02-04-2020 05:21 PM

From my own recent experience turning a 2 car garage into a shop I think a dust collector should be part of the original budget. When you get more space most of us fill it with more tools because that’s why we wanted the space. It’s quite reasonable to think that the DC solution you have in your smaller space may not be up to task for a larger space with more tools and runs attached to it. If nothing else you need to run the math on your current setup if you plan to move it to a larger space to ensure its adequate.

My attached 2 car garage I’m using for a shop has a bathroom and its amazing. No more mysterious fingerprints on pieces because my hands are always clean.

I have plans for a detached shop in the future and your ideas will all be implemented if/when I get the chance to build it. I really like the idea of races in the floor for duct work and electrical. That’s just an awesome safety feature to preventing tripping hazards for yourself and especially any visitors that aren’t familiar with the space.

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4587 days

#8 posted 02-04-2020 05:27 PM

6 out of 10 sounds pretty good Andre,10ft walls are better than a lot of folks have.

Sansoo I actually have 4HF DC units but still could use a big upgrade in that department because all of my machines are not connected without running a hose to them when I run them


View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1102 posts in 2303 days

#9 posted 02-04-2020 05:33 PM

Your suggestions are great advice for all of us. A lot of natural light and detached shop was especially two of the best ideas.
Like Rodney Dangerfield said. “Stop that banging over there!”

-- James E McIntyre

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4587 days

#10 posted 02-04-2020 05:39 PM

Thanks, James we all have things that work best for use.


View DocSavage45's profile


9043 posts in 3853 days

#11 posted 02-04-2020 08:29 PM

Hey Jim so far looks like your preaching to the choir. LOL! 2×6 is ideal but you can add insulated board to both sides of the walls if your budget is limited to 2×4 construction with dry wall on interior.

In hindsight I should have built that 3 car garage instead of rehabbing a small animal barn on my property.

Had an ideal one man small efficient space which has shrunk with each machine upgrade. craftsman cast iron table saw to grizzly cabinet saw for example and lunchbox planer to 15 inch 2 20 grizzly surface planer.

Good to see ya posting!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4587 days

#12 posted 02-04-2020 09:29 PM

Hi Tom
I know what you mean about thinking you have enough space and then getting more equipment and finding it’s too tight.
I don’t have a post every day but still through in my 2 cents now and them.


View robscastle's profile


7745 posts in 3215 days

#13 posted 02-05-2020 12:22 AM

My Ideal workshop would sit on the driveway footprint, it would be blue in colour, and when you entered a huge building inside would be revealed.

Then when I needed to drive into my garage it would simply dissapear and transport away.

-- Regards Rob

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4587 days

#14 posted 02-05-2020 12:34 AM

Ha Ha that’s wild Rob.


View htl's profile


5358 posts in 2170 days

#15 posted 02-05-2020 03:58 AM

My biggest tip is don’t nail it down have most things on wheels so you can adjust your shop for different, types and sizes of projects.
I used to change my shop around quite a bit.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

showing 1 through 15 of 20 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics