ideas for new shop

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Forum topic by ajshobby posted 02-28-2017 03:01 AM 1065 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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103 posts in 3390 days

02-28-2017 03:01 AM

I’ve had a basement shop for my woodworking hobby for the last 8 years witch has been a sub 400sq ft space. Wifey finally has given me the go to build a new larger garage so i can move my hobby outside and gain a decent size shop. The building is going to be approximately 26×50 gabled ends with engineered trusses for attic storage and 10’ ceilings. I will be taking up the first 24’ to be able to park the vehicles and toys then the remaining 20ish will be for shop. Id like to go bigger thank 26×20 but this is the max the city will allow for our property. I am going to just hire a contractor to frame up the building and do the concrete work. After that the finishing is all on me.

Currently i am planning on a 100 amp panel to the shop area. I am not doing any floor outlets but i will have ceiling drops for main power tools. I’m gonna spray foam the insulation, sheet the structure with 1/2” thick chip board and paint everything white. Since the wood shop end of the building is north facing and heavy tree coverage i am going skimp on windows and go with higher quality lighting (LED preferred). I will put one larger window on the east facing wall to allow for some natural light over my bench (and so i can watch the sun rise). For the main shop door I’m leaning now towards a french style dual door that fully opens to get better insulation value and allows me to move larger items. For heat i am going with a mini split (air source heat pump) system and going to heat and cool the wood shop and have a separate head to keep the garage at 50 during the winter. I will be putting in slop sink in the garage area as well as a mop sink. not sure if i will add a 1/2 bath or not. I’m not worried about tool layout and I currently have plenty of lumber storage in my garden shed. I will have plenty of room on the north wall to add a small covered lean too for compressor and dust collector.

So for those of you who have built your dream shops what haven’t i considered / overlooked and is there anything i should pay closer attention too on the initial build of the shell? this is going to be it for the next 25 years and its easier for me to sneak it in now than try to add to it later.

thanks for reading through my ramblings and giving input.

AJ in Mpls

14 replies so far

View TungOil's profile


1383 posts in 1577 days

#1 posted 02-28-2017 03:14 AM

sounds like you have most everything covered. You might reconsider the windows- north exposure is wonderful diffuse light.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4843 days

#2 posted 02-28-2017 03:26 AM

I like everything you have in your plans, including painting the walls and ceiling white. You might give a little more thought to windows and natural light. This is more important than wall space. All lighting today comes with a color rendering index label (CRI). Choose lighting with ratings as close to 100 as possible. This is where so many fluorescent bulbs fall short.

In my ‘Workshop in the Woods’ I placed the 240 and 120 volt recepticles 45 inches high off the floor, above cabinet and work bench height.

I also selected 60”x79” double doors rather than the typical garage door. After all, we’re building a workshop for us, not a garage for some future owner.

Best wishes and congratulations on your decision to build a workshop.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 2002 days

#3 posted 02-28-2017 03:40 AM


Your dual purpose garage shop sounds well thought out. If you change nothing, I am sure it will work well.

Some things to consider are…

1. Add a toilet. The added cost of the toilet would probably be minimal since you are aleady adding drains and water. The convenience and the ability to contain the dust could be appreciated later on.
2. Additional natural light could be provided by installing some skylights. However, these would add to your costs.
3. Closed cell spray foam is first class insulation, but can be expensive. If the budget is tight, fiber glass insulation would be a good alternative.
4. Even though your plan is to maintain a shop temperature of 50 degrees, having a system that can heat the shop to at least 60 degrees could be appreciated. Some of the chemicals used in woodworking perform better at higher temperatures. These include glues and some finishes. If a computerized thermostat is incorporated, the temperature can be set to meet your needs while saving some money on heating bills.
5. I am unclear about the layout. It may be handy to have your French style doors opening to the outside as well as a generously sized door opening into the garage.
6. Taking some time to plan lighting placement would be appreciated later on should you elect to install a centrally piped dust collection system. In the garage, the best option for running central dust collection piping is often ceiling mounted piping.
7. While I suspect a 100 amp subpanel may be adequate, the added cost of running cable that will support 150 amp or even 200 amp service could be relatively small compared to re-wiring should you need the extra capacity down the road.
8. An unnecessary luxury would be an epoxy coated floor polished smooth.

View ajshobby's profile


103 posts in 3390 days

#4 posted 02-28-2017 04:04 AM

1. the half bath/toilet is more about if i want to give up the floor space. when i go to do the plumbing I’m gonna lay it out and will probably rough in for future no matter what.
2. Ill revisit the idea of more windows with my contractor.
3. My brother bought the equipment to do spray in foam so cost is low on my end. im in Minnesota so i learned young not to cheep on insulation or windows.
4. shop will be maintained at 68 Heated winter and air conditioned in the summer. The garage portion will be at 50 in the winter and ignored during the summer.
5. there will be 2 sets of french doors. one to the garage area and one leading directly outside from the shop area to a poured then stamped/dyed patio area surrounding a fire pit that will be off the shop. Yes the wife is getting a few things as well. Project is turning into a complete overhaul of the back yard.
6. an electrician coworker is doing my wiring and lighting for me. Dust collection will be run through the attic space and dropped to the tools. I’m trying to design so i can move all equipment to one wall and have an open space for when we entertain.
7. doing larger wiring and 2 panels. 100amp in the shop and an additional 60 amp sub panel in the garage. This is what my electrician recommended.
8. i was actually thinking of going with a hardwood floor for the shop area.

really appreciate the thoughts


View TheDane's profile


5962 posts in 4745 days

#5 posted 02-28-2017 04:12 AM

What mini-split are you envisioning?

I live near Green Bay, Wisconsin and installed one last year (for cooling & de-humidification) that doesn’t heat very well when the outdoor temp is below 30-degrees.

My shop has gas heat, so it is no big deal for me, but could be an issue for you in Minnesota … your winters aren’t much different than mine.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4450 days

#6 posted 02-28-2017 04:46 AM

Everything sounds good, but your math is a little off. 26X50 -26X24 =26×26 not 20ish. LOL

View jimintx's profile


934 posts in 2667 days

#7 posted 02-28-2017 06:01 AM

Your starting plan seems about right to me, and congrats on getting to this point. From my own experiences, I know it is exciting, and a major undertaking that you will think will never end.

My shop is smaller, at about 21×22. Here are some quick reaction thoughts:

What I really would like to have is a 1/2 bath, and I really can’t add one, all things considered.

I’d at least look at T1-11 siding panels to cover some of the interior walls. I personally like the look of the vertical grooves, painted white, or left natural. My walls are about half white and half natural, light-colored, wood.

I do have a regular kitchen size refrigerator/freezer in there, which is great for me. Works well with my sideline hobby of grilling and cooking on the patio outside the shop.

Outside my shop is a large patio type area of pavers and flagstones. It is very very nice to have that area to take some work outside the shop. Some of that area is covered, so out of the rain. It is a super nice feature of my arrangement.

I added two windows and a back door with glass windows. I replaced the original solid door with one that has glass windows. I wish for more windows in the shop.

I also have a large flat panel tv mounted on a wall, and wouldn’t be without it.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View unclearthur's profile


383 posts in 2870 days

#8 posted 02-28-2017 08:26 AM

I’d suggest adding as many windows as the building code allows. Its not about efficiency or even lighting per se, its about having a nice space to spend time in. Having moved from a windowless basement garage shop to a shop with several windows – its a way better feeling. Its like in an office building – the execs get the offices with windows and the peons get the internal offices. Be an exec!

Other suggestion – lots and lots of lights. As you get older and your eyes weaken you will appreciate it. And a bright space is just happier than a darker space. Probably safer too.

Floors – hardwood sounds fantastic; a cheap alternative I did is just laying 1/2” plywood over a subfloor and finish with poly. Its warm, soft underfoot, cheap and, in my opinion, looks good in a shop. And you don’t have to worry about it; if a panel gets damaged, just replace it for $20 in minutes.

Good luck with the new place.

View John's profile


246 posts in 2664 days

#9 posted 02-28-2017 10:04 AM

+1 on more windows. You’ll regret not putting them in. You could have your contractor frame the openings but sheet over them with the exterior sheeting so it would be fairly easy to add them later if your concerned about cost now.
+1 on T1-11 siding on the interior. Looks much better than OSB.
Just my two cents….

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View Robert's profile


4556 posts in 2563 days

#10 posted 02-28-2017 03:31 PM

I think 1000sf is a nice space.

+1 on the 1/2 bath. I wish I had one rather than walk 200 feet to the house!!

I would put outlets every 4-6 feet low and high.

Split up your lighting system into 2 circuits. 3 way switches might be a consideration, too.

I used OSB on my interior walls. I painted & it doesn’t look bad at all.

Good idea on framing for windows for later use if desired.

Depending on your climate, you might consider a climate controlled room where you keep your workbench and hand tools and store wood when building a project. Mine is 14X16 and plenty big enough.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Redoak49's profile


5243 posts in 3071 days

#11 posted 02-28-2017 03:40 PM

I am always torn about Windows. They are great to have but I have concerns about security. With windows, people can see inside and what tools you have. Garage windows are an entry point for thieves.

I would plan on some type of security. My shop and garage is on the opposite end of my house from the bedroom. If someone broke in at night, I would not hear it. We put in motion detectors and heat alarms.

You might also consider what other utilities you want such as internet, cable, or phone. It is so easy to put in while you are building. We ran Ethernet cable to the shop and garage and then a wireless router.

View jimintx's profile


934 posts in 2667 days

#12 posted 02-28-2017 03:57 PM

The misc utilities planning is worthwhile. And at least consider some main ” trunklines” for compressed air and dust collection as you plan.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4843 days

#13 posted 03-08-2017 01:47 PM


When I built the “Workshop in the Woods” back in ‘07 I roughed in drain plumbing. The shop is 100 yards from the house which was pretty inconvenient when nature called. A few years later I added a driven point well and a small septic system. The half bath was enclosed in a 5’x5’ space – only 25 sq. ft. – just enough without taking up a lot of shop space. This was a really great addition to the shop. I’ll also recommend a laundry tub rather than the typical sink.

A side benefit; The availability of water makes it possible to have a coffee pot going for those breaks and when guests visit. You can set the coffee maker on top of your small fridge full of diet coke. Enjoy!

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View ajshobby's profile


103 posts in 3390 days

#14 posted 03-08-2017 03:00 PM

Well as I delved further into the shop my wife did a little shopping and found a different house that will work instead of building. So I am still going to have a basement shop but I will be going to a 950 sq ft basement, private 3/4 bath, laundry tub, 2 stall detached garage, extra 12×25 storage shed and the wife gets the upper 2 floors. The best part about it is we got it a bit cheaper than what the realiter is expecting we will sell this house for. Now I just have to upgrade electrical and move instead of building. Should be an overall win except I won’t be getting my 10ft ceilings. I’ll just have to make due with 8ft.

AJ in mpls.

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