Workshop in a 10'x20' garage. Need feedback!

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Forum topic by MSquared posted 10-22-2018 01:26 PM 1510 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1159 posts in 1129 days

10-22-2018 01:26 PM

Hey Folks! New here, but been reading the forums and blogs for a while. I Consider myself a novice woodworker. I am finally going to set up what I want to be a functional workshop in a small space. It does have what I’d call a small loft/attic above. Home improvement is at the top of the list right now along with some fun projects. It’s an attached garage (only garage door access at the moment). There will be a lot of questions to follow. For now, the workbench. I have been debating whether an 8’ or 6’ bench would be more practical. Also, would a roll-around be better? I am accustomed to a fixed bench along a wall. As a space saver, I plan on building a flip-top stand for my Miter Saw and Drill Press. (saw a great idea for exactly that combo here!). I have what I believe to be a fair compliment of power tools: Ryobi portable TS, Craftsman 10’ BS, 2 Routers (Craftsman & PC) with a basic table, Jig saws, PC Plate joiner, Kreg PH kit, CS’s, several Belt and RO Sanders, a small compliment of hand tools, Clamps in several sizes, Drills/Drivers and let’s just say a good amount of useful ‘Stuff’. More to come, obviously as the need arises. I don’t want to get too wordy, I think you get the drift. I want to up my game and have the space to do it in. I also need to house my mechanics tools, a small welding rig and assorted yard tools/machines (A shed/shelter will be built the road for those). Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

14 replies so far

View MJClark's profile


38 posts in 1099 days

#1 posted 10-22-2018 01:33 PM

A while back Ask This Old House did a set up a bit simpler than yours:

Storage is going to be key for you. Personally, I picked up a bunch of base cabinets from the local re-store and I used those as the base of my work bench with pull out baskets for tools. I also used L-bracket hangers on the wall for additional lumber storage.

The biggest question is do you intend to have it so you can put a car in there if needed, or is it a dedicated woodshop?

View JayT's profile


6430 posts in 3426 days

#2 posted 10-22-2018 01:44 PM

For now, the workbench. I have been debating whether an 8 or 6 bench would be more practical. Also, would a roll-around be better? I am accustomed to a fixed bench along a wall.

- MSquared

For the bench, you need it to be stable, so my preference is in a fixed location. If you do decide to go roll around, use something like the Rockler workbench casters, not just locking casters.

Size wise, look at what kind of projects you are doing. If a lot of large solid wood furniture pieces, then the 8’ is probably the way to go. For anything and everything else, 6’ is plenty. A well designed 6’ bench can still hold longer pieces—I’ve planed 8’ pieces on my 6’ bench, it just takes a bit of fiddling and more moving stuff around and cutting plywood on a 6’ bench isn’t an issue at all.

Also, have you tried using the Grizzly Workshop Planner? It’s a good tool to help envision layout choices in the space and virtually rearrange until you have a good flow.

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

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8881 posts in 1927 days

#3 posted 10-22-2018 02:03 PM


-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

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5 posts in 3614 days

#4 posted 10-22-2018 03:49 PM

Hey Marty,

My “shop” is in our detached garage at the bottom of the garden and my wife sometimes parks her car in there. The best option I have found for a decent sized work bench is an old door with an A frame support at each end. The door is super level, easy to store, easy to assemble.


-- Chris - "According to my calculations the problem doesn’t exist."

View MSquared's profile


1159 posts in 1129 days

#5 posted 10-23-2018 03:34 AM

As expected, the LJ community does not disappoint! Thanks to all! MJ; Yes, storage is critical! Also taking power hand tools out of their cases and keeping them easily accessible. To paraphrase Adam Savage, ‘Drawers (and cases) are where tools go to die’. Of course there are some exceptions. I was thinking a good size shelf space under the bench is key. I too, have long boards up on the wall and have just constructed a roll around cart for sheet goods and boards of various lengths, widths and species. Actually based on an idea I found here! The garage will not house a car! My ‘boss’ agrees. GR8; YES WHEELS! Jay, Thanks for the heads up on the Grizzly Planner and as far as casters go, I’ve been pondering heavy duty of course, but with plunge-type door stops added. I believe they’re a Trimco item. Gotta ask my stagehand buddies. 6’ looks more feasible At the moment, I’m on the fence as to rolling or fixed. I suppose build it as fixed first and see what transpires.

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1705 days

#6 posted 10-23-2018 03:48 AM

I have a 10’x20’ garage workshop as well, and I have to park the car in the garage during heavy snow, which is a lot up here. I am forced to use two work benches, neither is large, but together they get the job done. However, I’m limited in that I can’t do any really large glueups on the benches, and that’s where I end up using the floor.

Along with having everything you can on wheels, I also have a lot of shelves put in, sometimes going up is the only way. Speaking of going up. I have a buddy that has more equipment, and he uses pulleys to suspend some of the smaller tools such as a jointer and planer.

View MSquared's profile


1159 posts in 1129 days

#7 posted 10-23-2018 05:24 AM

Wheels, definitely. One challenge has be to get a lot of ‘stuff’ off the floor and up onto the walls. Up until now, the garage has been a catch-all for all manner of items. Shelving is a priority. For instance, I have a cubby unit that fits milk crates neatly into each of its 9 compartments, 18” deep. Crazy! That means I have neatly-fitting crates of ‘stuff’ I can’t see or easily grab. Oh, the mysteries that lurk within! So, that will be taken apart and recycled into shallower shelves to put up on the wall and store maybe 3 times as much vertically. And, I can see everything! If that old glue container is dried up or can of paint is petrified, I’ll know.
Assembly, glue up and clamping surface is a major concern. As for suspending anything from pulleys? Personally just doesn’t work for my situation.

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

View WoodenDreams's profile


1412 posts in 1126 days

#8 posted 10-23-2018 07:34 AM

The main area of my workshop is 14’x14’, center is the table saw and a 4’x4’ workbench, fixed location, that doubles as a outfeed table. Next room over has a 2’x8’ gluing and clamping table, with a 3’x5’ finishing table. This allow me to use my workshop instead of waiting for panels or chests in clamps, or staining & polying of a project. most of my finished pieces are 3’ long… Your work bench should be sized to fit what you plan on building. A fixed or movable workbench will probably be determined by your project needs or space. I agree with JayT, A shop plan on graph paper or workshop planner is a good idea. Maybe you want a couple small workbenches along the wall that fold down when not needed, for space, and a main workbench in center. We all have our special needs. If space is no object, a 4’x8’ workbench sure would be nice. Check out the Shops, get Ideas from others that have posted pictures. You just might want to incorporate some of the possibilities.

View MSquared's profile


1159 posts in 1129 days

#9 posted 10-23-2018 10:07 PM

Dreams, Nice shop! Very good bench/work surface ideas there. I appreciate your feedback. I have a lot to absorb. I want to make it as ‘right’ as I can to start with. I know it will evolve over time. And yes, a 4”x 8’ workbench would be great, alas… Keep the ideas coming folks! Thanks

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2898 posts in 4137 days

#10 posted 10-23-2018 10:50 PM

A LOT depends on what kind of woodworking you plan to do. I had a shop just like yours that suited me well but I only make small crafty items. Using plywood for larger projects in a shop this small is a real problem!

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View MSquared's profile


1159 posts in 1129 days

#11 posted 10-23-2018 10:56 PM

Hey Jim, I can cut 4×8 sheet goods… with the door open and a helping hand! I have to plan a strategy before and during projects. Also, I’m leaning toward a 6’ workbench with storage. Should suit my needs. Thanks

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

View ChefHDAN's profile


1816 posts in 4064 days

#12 posted 10-23-2018 11:05 PM

The problem with a folding workbench is that it’s generally horizontal long enough to collect just enough stuff to totally make it a PITA to move everything so you can fold the bench. I’ve got a slightly larger space, but also need to a car in sometimes and two when the weatherman says it might hail. I have one table (old butcher block) that is more of my shop desk than a bench, it serves a few purposes alongside the mitersaw, but generally I use other types of tables.

It’s a lengthy thread, but the Workmates of our dreams thread, has several good ideas for using them, (only the old ones from the 80’s, usually $20 on CL) in a variety of ways in the shop for various stands for tools, benches, and or roll around tables. The boon is that the table folds flat to less than 6” and you can hang it on the wall. similarly you can make a variety of tops with a 2×4 cleat on the bottom that clamps in, I have 2 36” square tops, and my DW735 planer is also rigged with a base and cleat, & rolling dolly, rather than a fixed stand. They will also work for an outfeed table at the TS Also for bigger projects I got a salvage hollowcore door that I use across 2 workmates for a bigger assembly table.

Lastly avoid the temptation to put up peg board, and hang all of your tools there, I recently cleared my pegboard and put 90% of my assorted hand tools into a double stack 40” tool chest from HD, I got back SO MUCH wall space I was able to hang my clamps and larger items that would not fit the chest. I know there are mixed opinions for drawers but when I’m working a project I use one of the workmates with the bottom legs folded on a furniture dolly as a roll around table to keep things at hand, and then put them away when finished.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1705 days

#13 posted 10-23-2018 11:22 PM

Just took a few photos of how I’ve laid out my garage. Still could use a bigger shop.:(

I just realized I need more clamps. :(

View MSquared's profile


1159 posts in 1129 days

#14 posted 10-24-2018 02:36 AM

Dan, Great minds think alike! I have two Workmates. One my bro-in law gave me when he moved to Texas and one I found curbside. Both in great condition. I can see why some folks don’t like them, for the reasons you mentioned, but more than likely they have enough room for other solutions. I have perused the thread you mentioned and am planning to make a ‘stepped’ adjustable base top for different applications. TS outfeed, bench height, etc., and whatever need arises. I like what you’ve done with yours (wheels) and will unabashedly steal your ideas and those of others! Pegboard has it’s place as do cleats as do tool chests. Nothing is absolute. Funny, I treat my mechanics tool chest as you do your woodworking tool chest. Tools come out and go right back when done. As time goes on, no doubt I’ll wind up having one for my woodworking tools. Thanks much for your feedback! Nice shop, nice work! Lumbering, hang in there man! It’ll come together, can never have too many clamps!

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

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