16ftx12ft detached Workshops

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Forum topic by Roccolino posted 08-20-2018 01:45 AM 2317 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 1218 days

08-20-2018 01:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: 12x16 12ftx16ft small workshop layout lessons learned 16x12 16ftx12ft

Hello friends,
I am looking for all of the folks with shops around 12×16 to share your lessons learned, experiences, layouts, etc. What kind of flooring did you use? Did you insulate? Drywall or plywood? Humidity, a/c, heat? Did you run power? Whatever else you all want to discuss on the trials and tribulations of a shed workshop. I am building a 12×16 shed to be my workshop, and would love to avoid pitfalls.

16 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1821 posts in 4145 days

#1 posted 08-20-2018 03:03 AM

Then build a 24 X 16 or even a 24 X 32… You can’t go too big…

> GRIN <


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View TravisH's profile


783 posts in 3221 days

#2 posted 08-20-2018 03:56 AM

I have a 12×16 shop. The shop was detached and built by prior owner. A lot of the things I don’t like about it are due to their decisions but have made due.

The shop is not climate controlled and they built it on 4×4 footer with the floor joists in direct contact with the ground. I cut some shoveled most of the floor out used joist hangers and got the joists a few inches off the ground and used 3/4 treated lumber for the floor. That was 16 years ago and still don’t have any issues. I pulled the chip board off the walls and insulated and that made a huge difference. I added one gable vent as without it just didn’t breathe enough. So I figure I have about one of the worst set ups in regards to staring out with a foundation but have had no issues with rust/mold/etc… Yes I have to clean/wax/oil to reduce rust but really about every few years.

I heat in the winter with a kerosene heater and it will warm the shop into the 80’s even with outdoor temps in single digits but I just heat typically up into 40s. Summer I just use a fan to create a breeze and no big deal but usually only dealing with upper 80s temps as the shop sits under a tree.

I simply don’t have enough power. I got rid of an outdoor receptacle on the house and just dropped romex in a 3/4 PVC and ran a trench out to the shop. No where enough and one of my biggest dislikes about the shop as you have to be careful with what you run in tandem. I can’t run a normal sized dust collector or shop vac with most of the tools. I end up running a small vac and dust deputy with the router table and 14 inch bandsaw and do a lot of sweeping. Bottom line make sure you run or have enough power. This is one of those things I will fix down the road.

Also just not much room in that size shop in gets small quick. You will need to decide on what needs to be mobile that can be tucked away into corners and what needs to be out. I can use my oscillating spindle sander, drill press, lathe, chop saw, table saw/router table, small band saw, and my workbench all accessible for walk up use. My larger bandsaw, joiner, and planer all get wheeled out for use. The table saw is positioned so larger boards can go out the door for cross cutting or ripping depending on how I rotate the table. Not ideal but definitely workable foot print.

View BurlyBob's profile


9404 posts in 3552 days

#3 posted 08-20-2018 04:36 AM

My biggest headache is all my wall outlets. My good friend, the electrician, told to put the boxes with the top at 48” off the floor. Since then I’ve told him more than once I ought to kick his butt up between his hair so he has to part it to take a dump!!! The problem is if you lean a sheet of plywood up against the wall you cover the outlet.
I’ve got 2-3 outlets I can’t use because of storing sheet stock.

My advice. Lots of outlets, lots of light, and lots of insulation, If you do a concrete floor, put a light colored epoxy finish on it. It will reduce humidity and the light color will help dramatically. I have never regretted the money I spent. In you neck of the woods you might need a dehumidifier. My climate is somewhat drier. For me I heat my garage with plug in heaters. I’ve got 3 milk house heaters and a 220 radiant heater. After I get the shop warmed up I will shut them down as needed. I have a concrete floor and in the real serious part of winter mid January to the end of February there’s just no way to get the shop warm. Once that concrete gets cold, below zero,
I’m screwed. That’s when I go ice fishing or do some reloading in the Man Cave.

View Woodmaster1's profile


1860 posts in 3873 days

#4 posted 08-20-2018 09:01 AM

My floor is concrete and I have plumbing. I also installed a separate 200 amp service with the plugs at 4’. The 200 amp service might be overkill but the difference between a 100amp to 200amp wasn’t great enough to not put in the 200amp. I did the electrical myself with the help of inlaw who is an electrician. His advice was nice to have. Heat is a 50000 btu gas garage furnace I heat the shop to 68 degrees 24/7 all winter and the cost for natural gas is around $120 dollars extra a year. No AC just fans.

View Fresch's profile


520 posts in 3207 days

#5 posted 08-20-2018 11:54 AM

Mine is 12×16 wish I had a gambrel roof. 60amp 240v, pt floor, insulated, chipboard walls ceiling, French cleats, sheet goods on a hinged role out, wifi router (hard wired), stereo, lights, paddle fan, heated by milk heater. I used 2 pieces of glass from an old sliding door turned side ways on the south facing wall(took up a lot of space) but plenty of natural light. Vented ridge and soffit. Split 8’ wide door with 3’ overhung roof above. Keeps the rain/ snow from coming under the doors. 8’ ramp at doors. You might rough an AC opening and drop power.
For a one man shop, having many power openings to plug into helps; my D.C., planer, shopsmith, compressor, wifi/stereo, heater, lights, drill press(shopsmith) bolted to wall, are all on homeruns with 4 additional homeruns split across the walls for hand tools.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2905 posts in 4208 days

#6 posted 08-20-2018 01:25 PM

My shop is 13×21 and is insulated, and has two window air conditioners. Concrete floor with tongue and groove plywood laid over it.(great floor) I arranged all my equipment along the outside walls so that I can have my 6” dust collection duct at floor level along the walls. Dust collector itself, is in an adjacent shed. Walls are painted masonite paneling.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View Chad_B's profile


57 posts in 1686 days

#7 posted 08-20-2018 03:08 PM

I have a 12×16 and it is WAY WAY WAY WAY to small!!! I hate it actually!

I would go with 24×36 at least. I just built a lean to off the right side for lumber storage and am not happy about keeping my wood outside. It is covered but with a heavy rain, it gets wet.

The shed (shop) was there when we bought the house and I havent had time to build a new one. I insulated the walls, ran a separate 200 amp service out to it and installed a bunch of outlets. all that made it tolerable for now.

My biggest complaint about the size is, you can only work on one thing at a time and there is nowhere to do finish work. I dont have enough space for a dustcollector so I use a shop vac and its a PITA.

View JCamp's profile


1465 posts in 1837 days

#8 posted 08-20-2018 05:06 PM

I’m going against most here…. build what you can afford. If a 12×16 is that then do it. If it is 50×100 then do that LOL. Regardless, on my list would be tall ceilings (maybe 10ft wall height) with some storage along the walls about 8ft high. couple windows for natural light and air flow (maybe a box fan to blow air in or out). A set of double doors so that equipment and such can be wheeled outside. Id also recommend some sort of covered area over the double doors outside and a nice big lean-to to allow storage of lumber and such.
Good luck

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View BilltheDiver's profile


262 posts in 4172 days

#9 posted 08-20-2018 06:54 PM

My shop is an old 1 car garage giving me about 12 by 17 feet of workspace. The original floor was thin concrete which cracked in many places. I applied a termite treatment on it and framed out a 2X6 grid over which I laid a plywood floor. I also famed out a ceiling and drywalled it, and included R30 insulation. I also built lumber storage hung from the ceiling. About 1/2 of the walls are insulated and drywalled with the rest coming at a later date. I have a single window a/c. On the rare occasion I need heat, I pug in a pair of 5K shop lights which warm it up pretty well. Lots of plugs and also 220. I like big tools, so my 15 inch planer and 8 inch joiner are each serviced by a 220v extension cord. Everything but my radial arm saw and drill press is on wheels so I can move things around. Due to my enjoyment of large tools and a pretty good collection of power equipment, it does get very cramped, but I’d rather be cramped than sacrifice my tools. The garage doors open into the alley which helps with finishing jobs & if the cleaning over runs the dust collector I can clear it out with a leaf blower. I intend to add a small section so I can move the dust collector and possibly my 60 gallon compressor outside.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View clin's profile


1128 posts in 2282 days

#10 posted 08-20-2018 09:11 PM

I’d make it bigger if possible. My shop is 26’ x 12’ (single garage bay). And it is pretty tight.

I’d think in terms of an out-building rather than a shed. Build it properly to code, even if that’s not required for some reason. It will cost a little more, but 2×4’s, plywood, and shingles aren’t cheaper just because they are used on a shed.

Insulate it well. Just like you would your house. It’s not very expensive to do it right, but will be much less expensive to heat and cool later. And will be much more comfortable if you don’t actively heat and cool it.

I use a mini-split to heat and cool my shop. It is so efficient I didn’t see any change in my bill.

Put in an electrical sub-panel. A single 120 V circuit would be marginal. At a minimum you’ll have lights, a machine (table saw) and at least some form of dust collection, even if just a shop vac.

Put in more electrical outlets than you think you could ever need. It is just so easy to do while the walls are open. You’ll only use a fraction of them most of the time. But, it’s nice to not worry that the cabinet, you’d like against a certain wall, will cover the only outlet on that wall.

I put electrical outlets high and low. High to be above the workbench, low to be below any workbench. As mentioned, setting the high ones above 4 feet keeps from covering them with sheet goods. I have my outlets spaced roughly every 4 feet along the wall.

Some 240 V, even if you don’t have a need now. You may want a larger machine like a 3 HP table saw. Think of where you’d put a big dust collector, even if you don’t have immediate plans for one. Run 240 V to that area.

Put a few outlets in the ceiling. A room filter is something you may want some day, and who knows what else.

Water and a sink can be a handy thing to have in a shop. I got lucky with my garage conversion and was able to tap into the plumbing on an existing wall. Very glad I did.

I like lots of light. This is more important the older you get. It’s usually straight forward to chain more fixtures together as you need them. But just keep it in mind that if you are a young, you will want and need MUCH more light when you get older.

Money is an issue for most of us, so I can understand that building the $100 K dream shop is not likely in the cards. But, I’d still build the basic structure as soundly as possible. That way you can improve on it as the years go by.

-- Clin

View Vicki's profile


1189 posts in 4630 days

#11 posted 08-21-2018 03:31 PM

I have a 12X18. Wish it were 16X24 or bigger. I insulated the walls and covered with OSB. Ceiling insulated and drywall over that. 8000BTU A/C. Started with a 6000, but thanks to global warming I had to get a bigger one. So my advice there is bigger is better if you are in a warm state. I’m in MD. Wax all tables to prevent rust. I use 2 1500watt elec heaters in the winter. I turn them on an hour or two before I go in the shop and it’s 60 when I go in. I have an air cleaner on the ceiling. Wish I had room for a dust collector. Still trying to understand the science of putting it outside the shop in it’s own little shed. That said….....include a way to have a dust collector in your plans and get an A/C big enough the first time.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View fivecodys's profile


1764 posts in 2922 days

#12 posted 08-21-2018 11:35 PM

For the last 25 years I have shared my shop with the wife’s car and the washer & dryer.

I wanted my own space so bad I could taste it.

I spent almost a year trying to design a 12×18 shop that could hold all of tools I have in the garage and that would fit into our little back yard (City Dweller).
Seeing everybody on here with their beautiful shops just fueled the fire even more.

I spent hours working with SketchUp to find the right combination of space.

(Note. the grid on the floor is 1’x1’ so I could see how much room I had to work with.)

I went out into the garage and marked off a 11’x17’ area with blue tape to approximate the available space in a 12’x18’ building. I moved all my benches, tools, wood, and anything else I wanted to have in the shop inside this blue rectangle.
It was here that I ‘saw the light’.

It was just not big enough.
There was no room to move around.

I was heart broken!.......
(I found out later the city would’t let me do it anyway do to an easement)

Eventually I got over it and decided to put that same drive into making the garage (24’x24’) a better place to work….
More efficient…....Better lighting, A decent dust collection system…..

I have really been enjoying it.

-- A bad day woodworking is still better than a good day working.

View Scott C.'s profile

Scott C.

162 posts in 3337 days

#13 posted 08-22-2018 01:30 AM

I’ve got a 12×22 basement shop, it’s pretty tight. I made a choice to make it work with more full size tools, cabinet saw, 8” jointer, 15” planer, 6’ bench, 4×5 out feed table, floor standing drill press, full size router table, and a drum sander sometime in the future. My biggest gripe is not having an assembly space, constantly shuffling the project around as I’m working on it.

-- measure twice, cut once, swear and start over.

View Underdog's profile


1779 posts in 3322 days

#14 posted 08-22-2018 01:44 AM

I have a 16×24 big box special. I cannot now remember if it was HD or Lowes.
It’s basically a low budget frame shed.
I poured the 16 piers, and now wish I’d spaced them 4’ apart instead of 8’. That would have made the foundation cost more, but I wouldn’t have the 4×4 sagging between piers. The floor joists are good, and I have a 5/8 PT ply as the floor, with 3/4 Red Oak T&G flooring on top of that. (I worked in a flooring plant and got 400 sq/ft of knotty, splitty short culls). Floor is good, just the foundation is a bit on the sketchy side.
The walls are just 8’ tall w 2×4 studs and exterior siding nailed on. No insulation, no vapor barrier. I still don’t know what to do about the vapor barrier/insulation situation- Georgia is quite humid in the summer, and I fight rust and mold/mildew all the time. Currently I’m continuously running two box fans to circulate air.
The roof is just shingles, and OSB nailed onto the 2×8 joists. Dont’ let anyone ever tell you that a splice in the ridge member is ok without trusses. It sags after several years, and I’m going to have to pull the walls in a bit, jack up the ridge pole, and nail in some partial trusses, even if it cuts down on head room

I’m always wishing for more space, but my biggest problem is organization. You always fill up the space no matter how big if you don’t organize your space.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Roccolino's profile


9 posts in 1218 days

#15 posted 08-22-2018 01:44 AM

Thanks everyone for your thoughts, I thoroughly enjoy reading and viewing how you deal with tight spots. As I am sure most can imagine, we cannot just go larger, but elimination of an option often drives innovation. The building is built to international building codes and locally permitted. It has a loft over one side (12×4) where I can store some lighter and infrequently used items. I plan on adding a covered deck area for additional work/finish space over and out the double door opening. I’d like to put dust and compressor in a small shed off of one side (I’ve never had either, so that upgrade can wait for now). I’ve got 2 Windows , 2 gable vents, and 2 small venting skylights. I’m in SC lowcountry, so it’s hot and humid. Other small shop folks, please join in. I’ve got a lot of work yet to do. Thanks again.

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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