Workshop Planning #1: What a Mess

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Blog entry by joshtp posted 12-29-2016 02:05 AM 1125 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Workshop Planning series Part 2: Planning a subpanel installation »

I just got a Dewalt DW735X planer, which is the nicest and most expensive tool in my shop if you can consider a disaster of a garage a shop:

I’d like to start properly planning my workshop so I can be more productive and less frustrated.

The Space
My space to work with is a 2-car attached garage, with a 16 ft sectional garage door, one back window, one side door to the house and one exterior side door. The garage is 22 ft wide by 25 ft deep. The garage door is insulated along with the walls and ceiling. The attic has some plywood laid down which currently stores some seasonal items, but I could fit a lot more up there, especially the camping items stored in the garage right now. Adding a pull down ladder would make storage easier and allow larger items to fit.

I can use most of the garage as a workshop, but need to provide for 2 adult bikes, 4 kids bikes, double jogging stroller, lawnmower, two kid workbenches, and miscellaneous other kids stuff.

The Tools

Current stationary/benchtop tools and planned upgrades include:

  • Dewalt DW745 Jobsite Table saw
    • plan to upgrade to hybrid or cabinet style saw in next few months
  • Craftsman 10” Bandsaw
    • plan to upgrade to 14” when deal pops up in next year
  • Harbor Freight 8” drill press
    • plan to upgrade to larger model when deal pops up in next few years
  • Harbor Freight 2HP dust collector
    • no plan to upgrade other than perhaps improve filtering
  • Harbor Freight 10” Compound miter saw
    • plan to upgrade when killer deal pops up in next few years
  • Bosch RA1181 router table
    • plan to build router table either in TS extension or rolling cabinet or table
  • Dewalt DW735X thickness planer
    • just got this, still in box
  • Campbell Hausfeld FP209599AV 2-Gallon 110 psi air compressor
    • considering upgrade to larger model to allow use of air tools

Tools I hope to get in the next year or so:

  • Scroll saw
  • Benchtop belt/disc sander
  • Bench grinder
Tools I hope to get in the next five years when an awesome deal hits:
  • Jointer
  • Lathe

Planning Strategy

Without a doubt I need to have many of my tools on mobile bases. I plan to gather a list of links to other plans on LJ and other sites with good ideas. One I really like so far is the Roll-Away Workshop from Fine Woodworking. I’d like to build something that’s attractive, but would like to keep costs down, so I’m not sure if Baltic birch for everything is what I’ll go for.

I’ve taken measurements of the garage, including locations of doors and the window, as well as tool footprints, and have started a sketch on graph paper with cutouts for the tools. I plan to also draw something up in SketchUp or with Grizzly’s tool.

Related Upgrades

Currently there are only two receptacles in the garage, both in one corner, thankfully on a 20A circuit but unfortunately it’s shared with several other receptacles around the house. I plan to add a 60A or 100A subpanel in the coming months and running receptacles all around the garage walls and ceiling.

With the dust collector I also need to plan where to place pipes and hoses.


I know this is pretty wide open right now, but I’d gladly take any pointers. I wouldn’t be surprised for example if someone has already collected links to all the 2-car garage mobile workshop plans/layouts that are on LJ and other sites. Thank you, and I’ll post here again when I have some kind of layout put together.

8 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


6032 posts in 3413 days

#1 posted 12-29-2016 03:57 PM

I recently set up my garage workshop with a “tool island” layout. The tablesaw, drill press, oscillating spindle sander and jointer are all grouped together in the middle of the space. The sander and DP are back-to-back in the middle of the grouping, with the TS on one side and the jointer on the other. This has been great, because none of the tools interfere with each other. Yes they all have mobile bases, but it’s even better if I don’t have to move them.

Really consider the height of each tool, and place them where they won’t interfere with each other, even when working a long board.

This also helped with central D.C., because these four tools are all fed by a single 6” drop.

Good luck.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View EricTwice's profile


248 posts in 1133 days

#2 posted 12-29-2016 04:10 PM

Looks like everything is great. Mine is usually a mess. The ones I hate to see are the ones that are neat and clean and unused.

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3105 days

#3 posted 12-29-2016 05:11 PM

I work out of a two car garage. I have for many, many years. For me, I like to keep the space open to pull a vehicle in to change the oil, rotate tires or for the episodic hail storm. So that meant getting rid of work benches. I use a Huskey portable work table, a Rockwell Jawhorse with a MDF top, and some Workmate style surfaces. All of these fold up for easy storage.

Then I made sure all my major, stationary tool are on mobile bases. I put them on the periphery of the shop.

Also, many wood workers are horders, haha. I constantly fight the urge to overfill my shop. In fact I only have one router!

I also insulated my garage door. That helps for both temperature control as well as sound reduction if your neighbors are close.

Here are some photos that I literally just went out and took. No big shop cleaning, this is just how my shop is on most days. When I am working on a project, I wheel the tools out in position and get to work. Everything goes back to baseline pretty quickly after I am done.

Best of luck to you, and I hope my shop can give you some ideas.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3105 days

#4 posted 12-29-2016 05:13 PM

Here is my insulated garage door and note how I store my clamps.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3105 days

#5 posted 12-29-2016 05:49 PM

Clamp storage using gladiator

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3105 days

#6 posted 12-29-2016 05:51 PM

This was an old workbench I modified. It’s now mobile, holds two tools on its top and great storage underneath.

View EarlS's profile


3405 posts in 2948 days

#7 posted 12-29-2016 06:44 PM

I agree with Ribs – if you need to use the garage as, well, a garage, you should seriously consider getting mobile bases for you equipment. Use as much of the walls and ceiling if it is high enough to store things that can be moved into place when doing wood working and moved back into their storage spot when not in uses. Having plenty of open room around when you are working eliminates the threat of banging into something and damaging costly power tools and equipment or wood projects. I’m in the clean, neat, and tidy shop camp.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View joshtp's profile


35 posts in 1478 days

#8 posted 12-30-2016 01:06 AM

Thanks for the pics and advice. Mobile bases are a must, and I need to think hard about how to use the walls and ceilings. I hope to get a sketch done up this weekend.

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