Shop Remodel #1: The Beginning...

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Blog entry by rpete posted 01-09-2019 07:27 AM 576 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shop Remodel series Part 2: Storage »

About 6 years ago my wife and I decided to move our family from Eastern Idaho to the big city of Seattle. Due to the difference in housing prices we made a significant downsize and my shop was one of the areas that was significantly reduced. I went from a four-car garage to a 10×10 area inside a 2-car garage that was packed with boxes from the move. Eventually we moved into our current house and I carved out a slightly larger area in our current garage. I’ve been operating in this space, getting by for the last 2 years. I’ve decided its time to upgrade the space and get to a point that I feel comfortable working in the space and I’m not having to move things around so much. My main goals with this shop remodel are:
1. Increase the size of the space in which I have to work. Storage has always been an issue for my family of six.. My current shop space is one bay of our 3-car garage and is shared with some floor to ceiling shelves holding camping gear, etc. This cuts down my usable area to around 12’x10’. Relocating these shelves would give me a space that’s about 18’x 10’. My plan is to relocate the shelve to a new overhead storage space.

Another space-related limitation is the number and type of tools I have for this small space. I have a Jet table saw with an Incra LS fence that takes up an enormous space. One of the biggest issues with this saw is the amount of space the fence requires. When extended, I need as much as 74” to the right of the saw blade. This has resulted in the need to move the saw depending on whether I’m doing rip cuts or cross cuts. My plan for this is to sell the Incra fence and replace it with a Shop Fox classic. While the Incra is amazingly accurate, it just takes up too much space. With the T-square Shop Fox, I can put the right side of my saw up against the wall and significantly reduce the need to move it for different types of cuts.
I also have a lathe, miter saw, bench grinder, scroll saw, drill press, and mortiser. If I want to use one of these tools, I have to clamp it to the folding table or a small cart I built. I’m constantly moving these tools around, trying to either store them or use them. I have some ideas for dual/triple purpose stands utilizing flip tops, etc. that will hopefully give these tools a more permanent home and make it easier to use them.
I am also needing more table/counter space. As I said above, I’m constantly clamping tools to the small amount of table space I currently have. I haven’t settled on a solution for this yet but am leaning towards an outfeed/assembly table or installing some cabinets along the back wall of my space.
Another space-saving project is going to be expanding my French cleat system to cover as much of the walls as possible.
2. Upgrade the electrical system. Currently I’m working on two circuits. One is a 120V, 20-amp circuit that serves the entire garage. This circuit has two outlets within reach of my space, one on the ceiling 12 feet above the floor, and one on the wall that is also powering internet service provider equipment. So, I have one outlet that’s 12 feet above me, and one that only has one plug available. I plugged an extension chord into the outlet in the ceiling to bring it within reach and plugged a surge protector into the outlet on the wall. I also have a 220 outlet I installed when I moved in for my table saw.

Part of the electrical system is the lighting. I have one light socket in the garage bay where my shop is, so I have relied on a couple single bulb shop lights. This is inadequate and I’m constantly trying to move them around to where I am working to put the light where it is needed.
My plan for the electrical system is to add two more 120V, 20-amp circuits: one dedicated to a future dust collector, and one that services several more outlets located in convenient spots along the walls.
3. Dust collection. The thing about a garage shop is that when the dust starts flying, it flies everywhere. We store a lot of our stuff in the garage including our camping gear, food storage, bicycles, etc. If I have a big project I’m working on dust migrates to every corner of the garage and covers everything. I have a shop vac with garbage can cyclone. It’ll keep up with my planer and jointer most of the time, but it hardly does anything for the table saw. It also contributes to the problem of constantly moving things around since to use it with various tools, I have to wheel it to various places to hook up the hose. My goal is to get a real dust collector and plumb the shop for dust collection. I’ve been looking at the Harbor Freight 2HP DC and think I will go for it. I’ve also been considering venting to the outside but am concerned about the negative pressure that would create. I would need to open one of the garage doors while it was running which would suck in the cold air. I think I’ve settled on using the HF DC with a canister filter instead.

I also have an air cleaner consisting of a box fan with a furnace filter taped to it. This actually does a decent job and I’m probably going to keep the same concept, just dress it up a bit.
4. Heat. This is my last priority as it really doesn’t get cold enough in Western Washington to keep me out of the shop in the winter. However, it would be nice to have something to take the edge off.
So that’s my plan. I’m not sure how long it’ll take – depends on how long the money lasts. I thought some of you might be interested in what I’m doing as I’m sure there are a lot of small shops out there.

5 comments so far

View FreddieMac's profile


147 posts in 825 days

#1 posted 01-09-2019 07:38 PM

Wow, having started a redesign on my shop, it is a lot of work but worth it. Good luck.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16179 posts in 3096 days

#2 posted 01-09-2019 08:02 PM

Wow, that table saw setup is a monster.

I only have two power tools in my main shop area: RAS and alien head planer. The TS, BS, Jointer, drill press and lunch box thickness planer, and mortiser live in the garage area and get pulled out / used only when needed.

So if you had ‘occasional use’ stationary tools, those could get wheels and go next to the cars as a workaround?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View NormG's profile


6441 posts in 3481 days

#3 posted 01-14-2019 12:23 AM


-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View TraylorPark's profile


213 posts in 2076 days

#4 posted 01-14-2019 12:52 PM

I don’t know that I would be too concerned with the negative pressure caused by venting the DC to the outside. I have mine set up that way and unless your garage is super air tight it will most likely be a non issue. I’m setup in a closed off section of my barn, 20×20, with some air gaps around the door and I have yet to notice any problems with the DC removing too much of the conditioned air within the shop. I only run the DC when a machine is on, but even with I’m prepping stock on the planner and run it for about an hour straight I don’t notice any significant drop in the temp inside. I will caution that without and really good separator you will have dust and chips being blown outside, but again I’m in a barn at the back of my property so I’m not concerned with that. The biggest advantage of venting outside is the increase in suction due to the lack of back pressure on the DC. It was night and day difference on the suction power when I vented outside.

-- --Zach

View rpete's profile


54 posts in 3493 days

#5 posted 01-15-2019 01:57 AM

@TrailerPark: How do you heat your space? The main concern I have with venting to the outside is that I have my gas furnace and water heater in the garage as well. I’ve read a couple posts that warn about negative pressure and the potential for sucking carbon monoxide back down the furnace vents. I’m a hobbyist with a full time job so it’s not like I’m going to be running the DC 8 hours a day. Maybe I’ll setup a test when I buy the DC. Vent it out one of the doors and see what happens…

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