Alright LJs, I need to start a garage vs. basement shop debate.

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Forum topic by CantBurn posted 01-17-2011 08:32 AM 5119 views 0 times favorited 48 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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69 posts in 3790 days

01-17-2011 08:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: shop basement garage

To start, I live in Woodstock, Illinois. I have a two car garage and a full, unfinished basement. I have done some projects, but haven’t established my “home” for my shop. I need some help with narrowing down which one should be the better choice. If you can, add any missed points, or enhance any that are already said. So, my basic comparison as of today.

Weather: As noted, northern Illinois, edge: basement

Size: Full, unfinished basement (all mine), wife would still like half of the garage, edge: basement

Garage door: transport large pieces of projects or lumber, edge: garage

Dust: Obviously both need a DC, but open the big door, fresh air, edge: garage

Now run with it, make me proud. Thanks for any help:

-- Chris-Woodstock, Illinois

48 replies so far

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4196 days

#1 posted 01-17-2011 09:08 AM

Not so much on the fresh air thing with a garage, unless that garage has windows, or a back door to allow flow through ventilation, you would be amazed how poor ventilation in a garage can be…

I wish I had a basement for my shop honestly. I love my garage shop, mostly because a basement here this close to sea level would be an indoor swimming pool… But I must admit, the wife won’t try parking her car in a basement workshop will she?

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3844 days

#2 posted 01-17-2011 09:31 AM

Unless you plan on heating the garage I would go with the basement. Not only that but the garage will also get very hot in the summer and then you gotta deal with working in the heat…

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4006 days

#3 posted 01-17-2011 10:14 AM

If you don’t have to share the basement with the wife by all means go with it. No really I could never see myself in a basement shop. I enjoy the outdoors and the fresh air way to much and I don’t like being under ground until it is time. I like to pull my tools outside to work on projects. I like not having to have lights on all the time and using the natural light. I like to go back and forth between yard work and building projects. I work on cars, projects, gardening, smoking meat, and BBQing. I have a fridge, TV, coffee maker, couch, lounge chair, what else do you need, well I could use a Nuker. Well anyways, I could and would never give up the garage.

View CantBurn's profile


69 posts in 3790 days

#4 posted 01-17-2011 10:21 AM

Ha, all good points. See, it only took the replies to find a difference of opinion. Am I possibly over-thinking the potential issue of moving large pieces in and out of the basement?

-- Chris-Woodstock, Illinois

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3935 days

#5 posted 01-17-2011 11:21 AM

Well, maybe I’m a little jaded in my recomendation because my garage is in my basement, but I have had my shop in my garage for 30 years and I’m in the process of building my woodshop in my basement. I hate working in the cold and heat, but mainly it’s the humidity issue. In the past I have just done all my work in the garage, but that work was mostly NOT wood working. And, I’ll still do my welding and metal working and mechanical projects in the garage along with painting so I can get the fumes out easier. But, I want my woodshop in the basement where it’s airconditioned and dehumidified. As far as getting big projects in and out I just have to install a double door between the basement and the garage and then I can just roll stuff right through the garage to the outside. If I didn’t have this situation, I still think I would want my shop in the basement as long as I could come up with a way to get projects in and out. Fume and odor control is more of an issue than you might think, and needs to be dealt with, but that can be done.

I’m in south central Tennessee, by the way. Very hot and humid in the summer, 12” snow on the ground right now and cold.

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3961 days

#6 posted 01-17-2011 01:50 PM

I tried once having a workshop in my basement. I had a walk in basement, I built a partition wall to keep the two areas separated. I put heavy plastic on ceilings and walls to keep the dust contained. I also had a dust collection system . Every time I stained or painted something the odor would carry upstairs ! Dust was also dragged upstairs at times. I would never try that again ! I prefer my small shop away from house. Easier to carry material into shop and easier to carry projects OUT after they are completed. A lot of times I am working just outside the door (I like being outside).

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 4037 days

#7 posted 01-17-2011 02:14 PM

That heat thing is a real problem for the garage/detached shop. I use my garage and it works pretty well. My garage has an attic fan in it, so air circulation is awesome when I run it. I also run it when I finish stuff in the garage to help control odors fromt the garage getting into the house.

I have used a space heater in the garage to help heat it. But, for the most part, from November to the end of February, the garage is mostly unused as a quality shop area. Ouch.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4079 days

#8 posted 01-17-2011 02:49 PM

okay a little dust from here :-)
you say she want half of the garage and your basement is all for you
why don´t you make it as a divided shop
as follow:
long boards cut in shorter length in the garage ….....easyer to move to basement later
and have most of the lumber store in there
consider to have second jointer/thicknessplaner in there too….just to roughsize it
consider to have a finishboot in there too ….no smell in the house :-)
the rest in the basement but then you have to deal with no noise when the other in the
fammely want´s to see television or sleep :-(
but then again no problem if you go the slippery road of handtools

good luck

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4039 days

#9 posted 01-17-2011 02:54 PM

Even with a good DC and an air filtration system, some dust will still go upstairs to the living quarters with a basement shop. That is not sufficient reason to not use the basement, but you should know that. I’ve moved from the garage to the basement and now I use my shop year round. When in the garage, the summer heat was almost as bad as the winter cold.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View clieb91's profile


4153 posts in 4899 days

#10 posted 01-17-2011 02:59 PM

Figured I would chime in here as well. I have a basement and it can be a bit of a hassle getting some larger pieces into the shop, but considering I have better control of the temp and humidity in the basement I would not trade it. If you have a walk out basement it is pretty easy. Since you have the option of th eentire basement I would certainly think about that, I only have a section.
This being said I do use a section of the garage for storage of sheet goods and some unmilled wood. I need to organize it a little better (as my wife is constantly reminding me). I keep a set of saw horses in there and a nice straightedge cutting trask so I can cut sheet goods down to size before bringing them into the shop. I also do most of my spray on finishes in the garage These are mostly on smaller items.

Good Luck with the decision and I look forward to the virtual tour once you are in place.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Xtreme90's profile


193 posts in 4157 days

#11 posted 01-17-2011 03:22 PM

I love my basement shop, warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Its also very easy to control my own climate in my shop. (humidity, temperature) I also have lots of access to electric. :) the houses main is nearby for lots and lots of juice (power). My 30×50 addition we are putting up this spring will give lots more room and some big windows to let some of mother natures pier light into the shop. :)

-- "I don't cut wood. I machine it!" G.M. The wood machinest

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ray vile

40 posts in 3657 days

#12 posted 01-17-2011 03:38 PM

My shop is in my basement right now, but I would love to have a detached shop area, everything goes in my shop goes down about 8 steps and into my back cellar area, everything that leaves goes up a flight of stairs into my kitchen and out the front door. almost all of my tools are portable only because of this. I have a 2hp dc but some dust still makes its way ustairs, and I have a seperate area in my basement for finishing but the fumes still make it upstairs also. So I would definitly go to the garage, there is electric heaters and window a/c units for comfort. and maybe you could take over her half a little bit at a time.

-- RV

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3925 days

#13 posted 01-17-2011 03:51 PM

Basement gets my vote. Better heat/cool control. I live in SE Tennessee. I have a garage/basement combo with central heat and AC. Overhead door allows for large pieces and lumber.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3948 days

#14 posted 01-17-2011 04:36 PM

While both have their advantages and disadvantages, in your case I would be inclined to use the basement for a dedicated workshop. Being that that basement isn’t considered a shared space it allows you to set things up without having to move things around as in a shared space. The garage could have an assembly area for those large projects that would need more room for assembly without having to move things around every time for the wife to use the garage.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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jim C

1472 posts in 4063 days

#15 posted 01-17-2011 04:38 PM

Great subject matter.
I love having my shop in the garage. Ease of materials in and out, lot’s of windows, plenty of cross circulation, as I have a back door to the garage also. No dust in the house. No vapors in the house. No jockeying finished projects up the stairs, nicking them and the walls to boot.
My solution for the cold:
I quit woodworking Nov.1st to May 1st and hide in FL. (Great to be retired) We do come back for the Christmas holidays, and if I want to do something, I have a furnace off the ceiling for occasional work, as the garage is not insulated.
Oh yea, all of my machines are on wheels, so I can position them for the project I’m working on, and still put 2 cars in there when needed. (See my shop)
I live in Libertyville, IL in the summer, so heat and humidity can be an issue.

There are plus’s and minus’s for both I guess.

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