A basement wood working space

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Forum topic by jonlan posted 12-21-2015 07:07 PM 2076 views 3 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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72 posts in 1944 days

12-21-2015 07:07 PM

Hi all – Long time reader, first time poster. Im looking for some advice on building a basement shop. Here’s my story…

My wife told me a few months ago that I needed to get a hobby. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, so I thought wood working would be fun. I start by buying some basic tools, and as I enjoyed it more and more, I bought more and more tools. So I have most of the necessitates now, but they’re all out in the garage. I live in MN so working out there during the winter is awful. Also – Im worried about moisture starting to get on some of the tools and having them starting to pit or rust. On top of that, every time I do any serious work the garage gets covered with that fine layer of dust that is impossible to clean up.

So – as of today, my wife suggested that I pick a space in the basement and make it my wood shop. Im excited! Not only will it be nice to have a dedicated space, but I’ll be able to work there year round!

So here are my questions that Im hoping to get feedback on.

-My basement is unfinished so I’ll be framing in an area to do this in. Besides dry wall, has anyone had any success with sound deadening insulation? Most of my free time is when the kids go to bed so I’d like to be able to work down there without waking them up.

-Dust collection is a must. I plan on getting a dust filter system to hang from the ceiling (The Jet unit gets good reviews) but havent quite made up my mind on dust collection. I have some big tools that I’d like to hook up to it (miter saw, table saw, planer, etc). After seeing a dust deputy and a shop vac Im pretty sold on that solution because of limited cost and size (Size is still a priority because the space isnt massive). I’d like to build an integrated vacuum solution that has ports at different locations in the room to hook up different tools. Anyone have any input on how they did this with a shopvac/dust deputy? I’ve seen some cool designs where people put in raised floors and ran the vac lines underneath but that seems like it might be a bit much.

So those are my two primary concerns right now. Sound and dust. The room will eventually walk out into a finished basement when we get around to that so I want to make sure that dust and sound arent an issue. Any other big hitters Im not thinking about? Any other tips for building a shop in the basement?

I’d appreciate any feedback you might have!

44 replies so far

View sawdustjunkie's profile


412 posts in 2774 days

#1 posted 12-21-2015 07:18 PM

You should let everyone know what the size of the room will be along with the height you have to work with. That way you will get some great advise from these folks!

-- Steve: Franklin, WI

View jonlan's profile


72 posts in 1944 days

#2 posted 12-21-2015 07:21 PM

Sorry! The space is about 11 foot by 12 foot with 9 foot ceilings. This is unfinished so I’ll need to account for walls and studs.

View HokieKen's profile (online now)


17326 posts in 2196 days

#3 posted 12-21-2015 07:33 PM

My shop is in the garage, which is 1/2 of the basement. Drywall with fiberglass insulation does pretty good for sound dampening. Of course our bedrooms are 2 floors up instead of right overhead. If kids were trying to sleep right above the garage, I might have to put some effort into it.

I would also advise against a raised floor unless your concrete is in really bad shape. A solid floor reduces vibration which also reduces noise.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View BasementShop's profile


69 posts in 2357 days

#4 posted 12-21-2015 07:33 PM

Welcome to the basement!

I insulated inside walls for sound deadening. I’m anxious if others provide a better answer. I just used the regular fiberglass insulation for the typical 2×4 wall.

Remember to run your power where you will need it. No one wants to be tripping over extension cords strung across the floor.

I didn’t finish the walls of my shop and so I have a piece of trim around the top of my work bench to keep from loosing things into the wall. It was a nice theory but I wish I had put up something to stop stuff from being lost into the wall space.

Give your sweeping a little forethought. I have some storage placed in such a way that I can’t get a push broom into some spots. It’s a bit of a pain to have both a kitchen broom and a push broom (I also keep a bench brush) at the ready because of where things got placed.

I wish I’d been a bit more thoughtful about light placement as well. I hung shop lights down from the floor joists above and that gives light enough to see but not enough task lighting for working on the bench. I end up using a secondary light for task lighting and that’s a pain. Think about where your shadow will fall from the lights when you are standing at your tool or bench.

I used the few spaces between floor joists that didn’t contain ducting for storage. I had to put some ‘covers’ over wiring and plumbing so that I didn’t damage them. I know some people use the space between studs as well, but if you insulate, that won’t be a solution for you. I don’t operate my shop when anyone sleeps so I haven’t insulated the ceiling of my shop. You may have to do that if you are directly underneath someone’s bedroom.

I have thought numerous times about using the between the studs spaces with cabinets that slide between studs. Maybe one day I will. (I framed a 2×4 wall inside of the outer wall. This allowed me space to insulate between the basement concrete wall and the 2×4 wall. The space between studs could be used on those walls because my sound insulation is on the inner walls between my shop and the living space.)

I use a shopvac with a separator in my shop. I also sweep often and have to vacuum the stairs frequently. I hope your system saves you from some of that repetitive non-productive effort.

Good luck!


View AZWoody's profile


1478 posts in 2281 days

#5 posted 12-21-2015 07:41 PM

One thing about sound dampening is that even with insulation, the sound is actually transmitted through the studs.
Sound is passed through vibration so the best way is to isolate the studs from the drywall. Using an adhesive to put up the drywall will do a lot to help sound dampening.

Some people, when making studios will actually lay a large bead of silicon over the studs, let it dry, then put up the drywall. Then, even a second layer of drywall is used.

As for dust collection, it’s going to be tough to not have fine dust settling over the shop and even leaking into the house. Seriously think what you can really afford for that and get as big as possible. It is loud though, so you might want an isolation closet for it.

View JayT's profile


6419 posts in 3268 days

#6 posted 12-21-2015 07:49 PM

One thing about sound dampening is that even with insulation, the sound is actually transmitted through the studs.

- AZWoody


I’ve never heard of the silicone trick, but can see how it could work well. Any time I’ve seen someone do drywall for sound isolation, they use drywall isolation furring strips and rock wool insulation (it absorbs sound a bit better than fiberglass)

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View sawdustjunkie's profile


412 posts in 2774 days

#7 posted 12-21-2015 08:02 PM

Make sure you make your doorway extra wide, so you can get stuff in and out!
11×12 sounds great till you start filling it up with tools. I am using my 2 & 1/2 car garage and wish I had more space. I haven’t had a car in there for over 5 years. I keep my bike in there during the summer and have to put in the driveway so I have more room to work.

-- Steve: Franklin, WI

View levan's profile


472 posts in 4037 days

#8 posted 12-21-2015 08:45 PM

If anyway possible I think I would try to work things out in the garage, or a shed. Dust collection, air cleaner, heat, AC. Being in the basement with a finished area right beside it, I think the tracked dust will be nasty. Keeping the fine dust out of rest of the house and HVAC can be a real challenge.
Best wishes

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View chrisstef's profile


18129 posts in 4063 days

#9 posted 12-21-2015 08:58 PM

Basement shop here …. 3 year old at home too.

Keep a spare pair of shop shoes and a mat at the top of the stairs.

As to noise, its just gonna be noisy without going through a major hassle of drywalling a ceiling. The way ive been doing things relies on planning. Ill make my cuts, do my jointing, planning, and all my noisy work on the weekends or when everyone is awake. During the time when everyone else is sleeping I use a lot of hand tools and ill do all my prep for noisy work. Ill have my gear all set up and ready to go, fences dialed in, etc so my “noisy time” isn’t soaked up by doing all that.

From time to time ill get stuck and really wish I could fire up my gear but with good planning and some hand tools the noise issue wont set you back too much.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Bobby57's profile


14 posts in 1944 days

#10 posted 12-21-2015 09:01 PM

My advice is if possible build your workshop with access to your driveway or somewhere outside. All my big tools are on wheels that lock and on a nice day I just wheel what I want to use outside. Clean up is then just the leaf blower.

-- Bob, Carmel, NY

View splatman's profile


585 posts in 2456 days

#11 posted 12-21-2015 09:46 PM

This may be the soundproof solution.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3354 days

#12 posted 12-21-2015 10:24 PM

Is insulating and heating the garage out of the question?

View Matt's profile


163 posts in 2008 days

#13 posted 12-21-2015 10:31 PM

I also do the basement shop thing and will echo many of the comments already left here.
Dust collection is a royal pain, I’d seriously look in to a fullsize (4” hose) dust collector if you’re ever going to be working with jointer or planer. I have a modified harbor freight DC (similar to the Wynn 35A filter) that I move the hose from machine to machine for each operation. I’ll be adding a Thein Baffle/separator and changing the orientation of the fan/motor mount to avoid having to change the plastic bags as often as I have been in the very near future. There a ton of good threads and examples on this site for these mods and the HF DC. That being said, the HF dust collection doesn’t get ALL the dust and at the end of a long planing and or jointing session or if making a ton of chop saw cuts, I used to look up and see the particles suspended in the air and found myself with the occasional cough as well. I ended up purchasing a ceiling mount air cleaner (Powertech AF4000) and that made an exceptional difference in air quality, both while making dust and afterwards with the reducing the amount of residual dust that gets on everything. Chrisstef also noted on another item in the dust control toolbox is pair of Crocs. Yup, those hideous shoes that are something you don’t want to be seen in public wearing (unless you’re in a hospital). I slip them on and and off when I go in my woodshop and that has reduced if not eliminated the need to vacuum our floors cause of sawdust. (Dog hair is back to being the primary reason to vacuum every other day.) The other item I do is I have a pair of shorts and a tee shirt that I “try” to wear when working there so as not to track dust stuck on my clothing. I do try and keep this separate from normal laundry, that I’ll at least blow out with the air compressor before washing the clothing

Noise – Chrisstef also noted what I do, if I need to be quiet or work after “hours”. However I don’t have the same restrictions that you have noted with free time and disturbing children sleeping. I’m usually working while my wife is home, but there isn’t a good way to mask the noise without massive improvements to the house would have no ROI so she’ll either go outside to play with the dog or just turn up the volume on the TV, she doesn’t seem to mind it much (according to her).

Bob noted to put everything on wheels so you can work outside, that for me was what I was doing initially out of my garage, however I found that having to “set up” and “take down” my woodshop every time really limited my desire to play with wood since it would add 15-20 min to each side of the “session”. I will say that I do miss the natural light of the single car garage/driveway and the fresh air, but not having to “set up” and “take down” the big tools every time is a huge positive for me. I find I’ll go and play down there for at least 20 min almost daily, sometimes 3-4 hours when time permits, which has made projects go much faster and less effort, as well as starting where you left off is also much easier.

Last thoughts – Since you’re going to be building out a space specifically for this hobby – I encourage you to really plan ahead with the bigger purchases. My hobby started with a Dust Right separator that I don’t use anymore, I wish I had purchased a different miter saw (non-sliding because it takes up depth), I’ve replaced my 10 month old portable tablesaw (because it failed cutting 12/4 poplar) with a Sawstop PCS. (Want to buy a repaired Ridgid 4510?) and have had to make changes to process, shop layout, etc and the miter saw for example is taking up valuable space that a non sliding saw wouldn’t.

Congrats on getting wife buyin – have fun building out your shop!


-- My "projects" always look better when your glasses are broken.

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 4042 days

#14 posted 12-21-2015 11:02 PM

I’ll just speak to noise right now. Here is how I used to start with designing a studio:

- Assume we are starting with a box-shaped room, roughly rectangular with hard walls like concrete or cinder block.
- When framing, do not attach the studs to the house walls or the floor joists above; build a box inside a box.
- 2×4’s are fine, and with a box in a box you don’t need RC channel, silicon, special adhesives, or what have you
- If you want to maximize the sound isolation, use 2 layers of drywall with non-overlapping seams (stagger the seams between the layers.
- Seal off any air leaks if possible. The two rules of sound isolation are that you need mass and air-tightness. Absorption in the walls is a very minimal effect compared to having lots of mass and keeping the room air tight.
- If your furnace/AC ducts run through the basement, try to orient the room so that as few of them run overhead as possible. Once sound gets into the ducting, it’s game over.
- If you have cash to burn, getting some dead sheet to put between layers of drywall up the sound isolation factor by a lot, but only if you are following all other principles of good design.

I work in acoustics for a living and have done a good bit of architectural acoustics in my time. If it were me doing it, I would do the box in a box with 2 layers of drywall, and air tight and call it good. Minimal extra cost and effort relative to other approaches. It’s what we call the 80% solution which is you get 80% of the maximum effect at 10% of the cost/effort. Good luck.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View hairy's profile


3269 posts in 4589 days

#15 posted 12-21-2015 11:31 PM

I use garage and basement. Most of the big loud, dusty tools in the garage, I only use them in the daytime. Nothing loud in the basement after 8 P.M. I use 2 air cleaners,and keep the shop clean as I go. Sawdust and chips on the floor is a trip hazard, sawdust gets kicked up into the air.

I didn’t build internal walls, too restricting for me. We don’t have a dust problem in the house from my workshop in the basement, but it does take effort.

-- You can lead a horse to water, but you can't tie his shoes. Blaze Foley

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