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New Shop Adviced Please

by rodb
posted 02-02-2009 06:29 PM

25 replies so far

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 4276 days

#1 posted 02-02-2009 06:49 PM

A few questions… you say 2 storey, is that two floors, if so will it be used as a garage or just a work shop and what level will the shop be on. What large (non-mobile) tools do you have and what bench top. With 750 sq ft I don’t really see room for a wash room and kitchen. If in fact you are talking about 1500sq.ft. then there are possibilities.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View odie's profile


1691 posts in 4402 days

#2 posted 02-02-2009 07:10 PM

I have been toying with exactly the same thing. I live in a very cold area too. I was going to use trusses with R38 insulation and a twelve foot ceiling upstairs. Six inch walls with R19 and R38 under the floor. With that high ceiling you have room for wood storage up high out of the way. The only thing I would add is a dust free paint room. My garage is attached so I don’t need a bathroom.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3965 days

#3 posted 02-02-2009 07:29 PM

Hi to all
I say two story the first is the garage.
The long tools I use are a scroll saw a drill press which I hope to replace soon and table saw.
Most of the tools I use are hand tools since I am primarily a wood carver.
By kitchen I mean a counter top with a sink. Maybe a small fridge for Beer, i mean pop.

Odie I like the idea of the trusses with R38. I also loke the idea of the dust free paint room. Any idea on how to keep it dust free? Also since I carve a lot with a dremel I am thinking about a room to just do that, because it is very dusty. Any Ideas about that?

Thanks everyone

-- R

View Pie's profile


187 posts in 3968 days

#4 posted 02-02-2009 07:32 PM

I am putting my shop back together after taking everything out. My shop was just a place to store tools and repair stuff around the house. My shop does have an upstairs and downstairs and the shop measures about 15’ x 12’. This winter I froze making a christmas present and was very frustrated because:

1. No organization.
2. No dust collection.
3. No Heat
4. 1 electrical outlet
5. Very poor lighting.
6. No workbench.

So I emptied everything and started from scratch. I now have more electrical outlets. insulated walls. mobile workbench, I moved my air compressor upstairs with the hose reel bolted to the ceiling downstairs with a switch to turn it off/on. Upstairs will be used for storage, big tools, wood storage etc. I am almost done with my dust collection system.

So I would recommend:

1. Stay warm or cool depending on season.
2. Mobility sure helps.
3. Dust collection (I built my own cyclone DC from reading different websites and it works great. Basically it is a 20 gall trashcan with a Shop vac and it does a very nice job. I have an old electric leaf blower/mulcher that might get converted into a air circulator/filter for all the fine dust)
4. Good lighting.
5. Organization

I guess what I am getting at is to make your shop comfortable. Not sure if this helps but just thought I would share what I amgoing through doing exactly what you are doing.

Here is the link to making the Dust Collector (read the forum and if I can help just ask)

-- Pie

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3965 days

#5 posted 02-02-2009 07:38 PM

You know Pie, you make a lot of sense.
I will take all of your recommendations to heart. Experience is a great teacher.
Lets face it working in the cold just sucks. I worked on my current project until I couldn’t feel my fingers any more.
Thanks for the advice, I will use it.

-- R

View SteveB's profile


57 posts in 4620 days

#6 posted 02-02-2009 07:51 PM

If I could only add one thing, it would be a utility sink.

-- Steve B - New Life Home Improvement

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4448 days

#7 posted 02-02-2009 08:06 PM

Suggestion – Make your work bench the same height as your table saw so you can use it as an out-feed or side table. Made mine that way my saw is on a mobile base and it works out great.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3965 days

#8 posted 02-02-2009 08:12 PM

I just had another thought, two actually.
Any help anyone can give me with bench design, against the wall, centre of the room, how wide, how long.
open bottoms for storage, or doors, drawers???

Also dust collection systems, I have seen several mounted over head and some actually built into the floor. Any advice?

Questions questions, I’m asking so I don’t do it wrong. I want to get it right the first time.

-- R

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3965 days

#9 posted 02-02-2009 08:14 PM

SteveB and John Gray, great ideas. Everyone here is very helpful.

-- R

View Pie's profile


187 posts in 3968 days

#10 posted 02-03-2009 04:07 PM

I can email you plans for a workbench I made that is made from 2×4 ’s, 2×6’ and either a solid wood 30”x80” door or 2 layers of 3/4” MDF or plywood. FIrst you build the functioning bench and you can easily add on drawers, vise, electrical outlet strip when you want to. Pictures, instruction, material list and cutting layout included. Let me know.
I would definitely make it mobile, so you can move it where you want to.
I am gonna make mine as John Gray suggested (same height as table saw) but I have to make a cabinet for my table saw and add wheels to get the height right.

Dust collection – not sure if I would put mine IN the floor in case something gets lodged inside of it. I would do overhead and clear if not too $$$. I am just gonna use 2” PVC with Y’s for dust ports (to minimize air restriction) not T’s .

-- Pie

View Moron's profile


5043 posts in 4456 days

#11 posted 02-03-2009 04:34 PM

Before you do anything do alot of research on the building code and how the municipality interprets the code becuase just becuase you follow the Onytario building code does not mean that the municipality cant exceed it. Also look into hieght restrictions and insurance. I tried to build a garage, two story, rural and wound up having to cough out 800 bucks for a variance which was declined so I had to get around it by building an “agricultural” building which, when using the “code” meant that all costs grew exponentially.

Having a garage attached to the house where its primary use is woodworking also affects your insurance and yes you can “distort the truth” on your application but this backfires big time should you have to make a claim.

As for the layout of a shop. make it mobile and dont hardwire a thing. I used metal conduit for thew wiring,mounted to the outside of the plywood walls (drywall starts to stink if its not heated and looks like poop in no time from shop abuse) and have no regrets because we all know that what works for a layout today will not work for a layout tomorrow. I made all my tools, “plug ins” including the 3 phase toys and albeit the cost was higher at the time… sure saved a lot of $$$$$$$ as time went on because I didnt have to re-wire a thing.

Despite the fact that the economy has crapped and the cost of a barrell of oil is now 40 bucks….....that will change and heat will once again cost you, your second born child, so insulate it well, vapour proof it. I like the green insulation, same R factor as the pink but unlike the pink it doesnt loose its R value should it get wet. If you can afford it, the radiant heated concrete floor is as effecient and cost effective as it gets andits also “safe”.

Windows are a double edged sword. Pros are more natural light, maybe even a bit of Vitamin D, perhaps a nice view of the garden or landscape outside. Cons are…...........they are expensive, they invite folks to see whats inside,they make it easier to get inside, sky lights are prone to leaking, and they wont save you a dime in heat or airconditioning unless you spend a fortune with some kind of passive heat collector. I ran out of money when it came time to buy windows so I made my own with argon gas filled panels and I made them half the size they called for (not enough money) and right now I regret it because the view, the light would be outstanding and to hell with the extra heat costs, not to mention the summer breezes I could catch.

I live in the snow belt too, an hour north of Toronto. Over six feet of the crap and counting and its only Feb 3.’s a lifestyle!

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4757 days

#12 posted 02-03-2009 04:47 PM

Just a couple of thoughts…First, I have found (and I’m sure a lot of guys will not agree) that having a bench on a stout of locking casters instead of rigidly set is very useful, especially where space is an issue. I love the ability to roll it for best light, clearances, and even a an outfeed table. That doesn’t mean you can’t also have a wall mount bench, too.
Also, I definitely recommend a bathroom & kitchen set up and sleeping area in case your wife tosses you out for spending too much time there…you might as well be comfortable. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View ryanlipski's profile


13 posts in 3967 days

#13 posted 02-03-2009 05:28 PM

How do you plan on getting big projects in / out?

I have seen a 2 story garage where the shop was above – similar to what I believe your setup is going to be. The guy installed a “trap door” of sorts with a winch to raise things up into the shop / lower things out of the shop. It was a really sweet setup.

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4324 days

#14 posted 02-03-2009 05:34 PM

In ‘07 I built my “Workshop in the Woods” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where there is a cold winter climate and codes that call for trusses that can withstand 70 lb per sq ft snow load.

I selected a 24’x28’ garage package from Menards with a gambrel roof. This gives me a 12’x28’ second story for wood drying and storage. The first floor is insulated to code. I put OSB on the walls and ceiling and painted the interior with semi-gloss white paint. Lighting is a mixture of Electronic balast fluorescent and standard incandescent fixtures. Heat is provided by a 35,000 BTU Reznor propane heater with the separated combustion feature. I have pictures and description on my home page.

When the slab was poured I had plumbing “roughed in”. However my wife objects. She says that If I have plumbing out there she will never see me.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 4050 days

#15 posted 02-03-2009 05:42 PM

I too vote for mobility on your work tables, even if you keep them stored up against the walls, its always nice to be able to move them when needed, either for cleaning, or using them. At lease one of your work tables should be built shorter for use as an assembly table, say 30” – 32” tall. I put a set of drawers on all my tables, you can never have enough storage space. All my tables also have a shelf near the bottom too, to store parts and keep tools out of the way while working.

Dust free paint room – key here is GOOD weather stripping around the door and have a fire extinguisher mounted within easy reach also! Install good air filters also that you can change out as needed.

Right now I’m researching a lift system / elevator so I can use my upstairs as my spray room and storage area, hate to waste that space.

Don’t forget PLENTY of lighting too, skylights and windows are great free lighting, but you’ll need some for night projects.

Keep us posted on things.

-- James

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3965 days

#16 posted 02-03-2009 06:36 PM

Thanks everyone.
I think great lighting is on everyones list. Not just good lighting but great. I have seen a lot of shops where it always seems to be a problem.
I guess my I really need to consider this alot.
I think I am going to have lots of windows, I don’t really know about the skylights any more I am hearing a lot of cons. Also lots of over head light and some directions lighting as well.
James was just posting about this very topic.

-- R

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4448 days

#17 posted 02-03-2009 07:47 PM

I believe sky lights are more energy efficient than windows, I’m sure some will disagree, and I wish I had one above my work bench.
I have my bench in the center of the shop it makes it more versatile when wanting to use it as an extension to my table saw and you can get to it from both sides. My 2 cents.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View noknot's profile


548 posts in 4004 days

#18 posted 02-03-2009 07:48 PM

In my plans for my “SUPER SHOP” as my wife calls it it is the same setup as yours so I will put radiant flooring in the garage and the work shop area. with dog houses in the roof for extra light. since Im in a warmer climate I worry more about cooling int the summer when its 95 with 100% humidity. Not to say it still gets finger numbing cold. And for a finishing room there will be a 10×10 area where I will store all of my nuts and bolts that will be in the garage. with a exterior door and a vent to the out side. the radiant floor will keep the vent from taking all of the warm air out of the area. Have fun with it these guys give great advice.P.S. Adjustable spot lighting is a good idea as well.


View noknot's profile


548 posts in 4004 days

#19 posted 02-03-2009 07:51 PM

dog houses are dormers Sorry I used to build houses. trade term


View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3992 days

#20 posted 02-03-2009 10:57 PM

Rod, I have only one thing to say. Build it as big as the budget will allow. You may never get another chance. Make certain that you have enough of the conveniences there to last indefinitely; you never know when the need may arise.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View woodyoda's profile


117 posts in 4020 days

#21 posted 02-04-2009 12:24 AM

Instead of building up, is it possible to build a basement instead…...never gets to hot or too cold. With proper support, you could part a car on it, put in radiant flooring…..etc.
Of course you have to have the right property to do that. You could put a water heating system on your roof for the radiant heating, get tax credits( at least in our state) Heat virtually free.
There’s allot of ways to go….......good luck…...............yoda

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3065 posts in 4000 days

#22 posted 02-04-2009 01:16 AM

I have a structure like this and I’ve been turning the top floor into a shop all winter. I completely insulated the ceiling, walls and floor. I had cheap windows that were already there so I made some wooden frames and coated them with that heat stretch plastic and mounted them inside. I completely sheetrocked and put in lots of lights.

For lighting this is what I did. I bought those large 2’x4’ light fixtures that are used to be inserted into hung ceilings. They are about $38-$42 at home depot or lowes. But they hold 4 bulbs and with the plastic diffuser they throw some nice light. I mounted them on the ceiling and covered the sides with 3/4” finished plywood.

I installed a procom propane heater, 28,000 btu’s. It is non-vented and hangs on the wall. Simple installation and I work in my shirtsleeves at -20F. It costs about $150 from northern tools and comes as an lp model too. Of course having the gas guy hook it up isn’t cheap. Non-vented is okay. I’m not sleeping there and the pilot light is always on. So it’s a matter of turning it up when I go to the shop. Sometimes I’ll give it a half hour to get toasty then go back out. I’ll use about $150 in gas this winter but I’m out there a lot. A neighbor gave me a large air conditioner so that’s located in the window right above the heater.

Electricity. You’ll probably have 20 amp breakers. Put lots of plugs but be careful. If you have four 15 amp motors on one breaker you’ll be okay as you only use one shop tool at a time but don’t have your dust collector on that line as you’ll run that along with a power tool. Usually okay until your table saw hits some tough thick lumber. Then the current both devices draw can exceed the 20 amps. And you’ll get frustrated with a circuit being broken over and over.

Something else I did too. I divided the shop in half. One half is where all the power tools are. The other half has more benches with draws, cabinets, my drafting table, workbench, computer, radio, coffee pot etc. Doing this keeps the tools and dust collector in one area together. I have a homemade air filter between the two halves. The filter seems to catch the dust before it gets over to the clean half. So, the sawdust and dust stay pretty much with the dust makers.

And don’t forget the lock for theft protection and to keep the youngsters out. After all, we want them to start their woodworking hobby at some point with all of their fingers.

My area is 25×25 feet it’s enough but I don’t have much room for wood especially plywood. So think about that when you’re designing.

Good luck!

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3965 days

#23 posted 02-04-2009 02:07 AM

Thanks guys
All really good advice.
Daniel thanks for the mention on the electrical. Liek you I would liek to try and keep one side clean or as clean as possible. I haven’t really decided on a heat source yet. There have been many great ideas presented here. I am definitely going to take them all to heart.
Dusty2 great advicde about building it as big as teh budget will allow, i probably will never get a chance to redo this. Most of us are lucky if we get to do it once.
Thanks to all

-- R

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 4025 days

#24 posted 02-04-2009 07:50 AM

Sandor Nagyszalanczy has a good book, “Setting Up Shop” It might be a good option for you and give you some ideas and things to consider that arent mentioned here. I have a copy and thumb through it quite frequently.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their [email protected]

View LesB's profile


2238 posts in 4005 days

#25 posted 02-04-2009 09:07 AM

I think you could build a new shop every 5 years and you would still have some things you would change so don’t expect to get it perfect. Think about designing in as much flexibility for how you will use the space as you can.

Comments about building codes. I found out that labeling a side room as a “spray” or finishing room on the plans set off alarms with the building deptartment and they started wanting fire sprinklers and spark proof exhaust fans. It quickly became a sports equipment room (-: I also found out when you reach a certain size it suddenly became a “commercial” structure in the eyes of the building department and I would need features added for the disabled. Talk to a knowledgable architect or discuss your “sketches” with the plan reviewers at the building department to avoid suprises.
Design in a good dust collection system; again one that is flexible.
Getting large tools, materials, and finished works in and out of the second floor needs to be considered. My lathe weight 750 pounds. Even the dissembled parts are too heavy to carry up stairs. Maybe an a large door or window at one end and extended beam with a block tackle hoist (like an old hay barn). Or the floor hatch with hoist of some kind.
One thing I overlooked in my shop was not enough 220v power outlets spread around the shop. Make sure you electrical box has room for some expansion if necessary. What about future maintenance such as exterior painting, gutter cleaning. Try to make them easy.
I have three skylights with no problem. My roof is metal panels and the skylights have 18” stainless steel flashing around them (the seams are soldered). I will be long gone before they ever leak. If you go for skylights. How will you clean them if the roof is high and steep? Think about sky lights that open for ventilation; I wish I had.

I also designed my shop with the possibility that future owners might need to convert it to an inlaw unit so it has a full bath which also comes in handy when friends with RVs visit. They usually prefer to use the bath and shower in the shop rather then come in the house. I also set up full RV connections (water, electrical, sewer) at the shop for their convenience; and my own when I’m getting my RV ready for a trip or returning and need to service it.
Good luck and have fun.

-- Les B, Oregon

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