Recommended Shop Size and Woodworking Classes

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Forum topic by TMDWoodworker posted 07-29-2020 09:42 PM 522 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 93 days

07-29-2020 09:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shop size woodworking class

Hello, I’m new to the forum and looking for advice on a couple of topics. I’ve always enjoyed woodworking but never got heavy into the hobby until the last couple of years. I was career military so moving around a lot was not conducive to setting up a real shop. I’m getting close to retirement now and in the process of planning to build a shop. Is there an “ideal” size for a shop? Ive been doing small projects but would like to also take advantage of the planning time by taking some classes. Do you guys have any recommendations on classes in the Baltimore to Philadelphia corridor?

-- Regards, Tony

22 replies so far

View DaveM123's profile


60 posts in 103 days

#1 posted 07-29-2020 09:48 PM

If you have a Woodcraft store nearby they are usually offering classes of one sort or another. As for shop size… mine is roughly 18×24 and I wish it was bigger. If you are accommodating a table/cabinet saw, router table, drill press, jointer, planer, workbench etc. room for your jigs, supplies and hand tools it will fill up quickly. I’d go as big as you can afford.

-- Dave

View Madmark2's profile


1472 posts in 1398 days

#2 posted 07-29-2020 09:54 PM

The correct shop size is up to you and what you do. The number and placement of tools depends on the workflow based on what you do. Some of us use all power shops. Others are all hand and the vast majority are a mix of both. Some have massive carving benches others have no bench.

You can do a lot in 1/2 of a two car garage. My shop is 16’ x 8’ and stuffed to the gills but I can build kitchen base cabinets in it. Conversely some chip carvers only need a comfortable seat, a good light, and a good sharp knife. Yet others fill 40’ x 60’ pole barns.

Buy as you need. Expand as you need. Build what you like. You’ll soon grow the right sized shop for you!

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View GrantA's profile


2696 posts in 2217 days

#3 posted 07-29-2020 10:00 PM

Welcome to the dark side! Ideally I’d have about a 100×200ft shop with a loft for tool storage hahaha
I started with a 12×20 storage building for a shop, built a lot in there, you learn to adapt. Now I have a 20×24 and I’m moving into a 60×80, just roll with the punches! For a home shop my 20×24 has been great though. 40×24 would have been even better though ;-p

View TMDWoodworker's profile


6 posts in 93 days

#4 posted 07-29-2020 10:17 PM

Somethig to think about..thanks for the responses.

-- Regards, Tony

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2519 posts in 972 days

#5 posted 07-29-2020 10:50 PM

first of all, thank you and your family for your service to our country !!

40×36’ with 10’ ceiling.
lots and lots of windows
10’ to 14’ wide garage doors on each side.
restroom – deep sink – hot water
purchase major tools as you need them – not on impulse.
small isolated room for an office with a fireplace.
and that is just the beginning.


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View sansoo22's profile


1027 posts in 464 days

#6 posted 07-29-2020 11:08 PM

22×22 garage shop with 9.5’ ceilings for me. If I could change one thing it would be the big 18’ door. I like to open it on nice days but I don’t always want the leaves and junk that blow in across the whole thing. If I make any change it will be switching to 2 smaller insulated overhead doors.

I have a restroom with a small sink/vanity that will be getting swapped for a big deep stainless sink. And once we get the house electrical upgraded the washer and dryer are going to live in the basement. The area they are in now will become my hand tool nook.

I really wish I had the separate office space with a fireplace or wood burning stove like John has. I could see myself enjoying quite a few evenings in it. There is room on the property for a big 24×32’ shop so someday maybe I will get my wish.

View JohnDi's profile


82 posts in 2243 days

#7 posted 07-30-2020 12:32 AM

For a school, I would highly recommend Chuck Bender’s Acanthus workshop.
He’s in the pocono’s, really good teacher and a nice guy.

View farmfromkansas's profile


210 posts in 424 days

#8 posted 07-30-2020 12:34 AM

My building is 26×66, and it is a little tight. Need to build a storage building. Wish I had built it 36’ wide. 40 even better.

View surrywood's profile


31 posts in 1085 days

#9 posted 07-31-2020 11:43 AM

Hey Tony, welcome to the forum. I have been here a few years and learned more than a little from the great folks around here. I was in a very similar situation to yours then: always interested, did some things, but really got serious a few years back, but I am still a half a dozen years from hoping to retire (non-military). My current shop is 22×24, basically a 2-car garage converted to a wood shop, with a 22×14 lean-to on the back for yard tool and large wood storage. It has two man doors, one on the side and another on the back to access the lean-to as well as two 9ft roll-ups in the front. It was there when we bought the house last year. I drool over the size of some of the members’ shops here but I can’t afford to go that big. I agree with every previous post and the reasons for them (would love to have a fireplace and office like John Smith), but I make do with what I have, mostly it seems to be about tool placement and workflow. I can build just about anything in there I want without any shifting. I do have a rolling clamp rack that moves around when I need it to for accessibility and opening up a space I need. A couple of thoughts on the shop would be to ensure you have a sub-panel with a minimum or 50-60amps (depending on how big you want to go with your power tools, you may need more). A toilet and sink would be nice, I have neither, but I keep containers of water out there for those needs and go into the house for the restroom needs (it is only 36 feet to the house). If you are in the Baltimore/Philly area then I am pretty close (Surry, VA), and HVAC is one thing that I am definitely getting done next year. Having worked in there so far two summers and one winter, for me the humidity is tough, I can do portable heat and get by in the winter, maybe a wood stove is in the plan.

For schools and classes, ditto to the Woodcraft classes if you have one close by, I have taken a couple in the past, and they were of good value for what I was doing (hand tool usage and techniques). In VA, just outside of Charlottesville, there is a guy, Joshua Farnsworth, who holds hand tool woodworking classes of all types, the name of his outfit is Wood and Shop. He is on the web. He has some pretty darn impressive instructors that teach his classes and he teaches some as well. There is also Chris Swarz and crew out in Kentucky but their classes fill up like 14 seconds after they become available. Yes these are hand tool offerings, but that is my leaning because I can do the power tools already, have for a long time. Good luck, it is a hobby/side gig that is extremely satisfying to me personally and I think you will benefit greatly from the knowledge and experience that can be found on this forum, they cover everything.

View TMDWoodworker's profile


6 posts in 93 days

#10 posted 07-31-2020 11:55 AM

Thanks for all the great responses. Lots of information to digest!

-- Regards, Tony

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3397 posts in 4247 days

#11 posted 07-31-2020 12:41 PM

My shop is 24×24. Most of the time it’s just fine. Then, I make a large platform bed and it’s way too small. I make fishing lures. I could do it easily in a 10 ft room. Sometimes I need a 50 ft room. So, depends on what you want to do. How many large power tools you’ll be planning on, a variety of factors.

I can tell you that It’s sort of like buying tiles for a floor. You should purchase 10% more than you’ll need, but often you find that 20% is more the number. The shop will grow, you can count on it. Figure out the maximum ‘stuff’ you’ll be putting in it over time. Or try to imagine and estimate it anyway. Then figure that you’ll end up with much more in the end.

BTW: I know you probably hear it a lot, and it’s become almost a cliche statement as it’s used so much, but seriously, “Thank you for the service you did for us and your country”. You guys deserve everything they’re doing for you and expecially the stuff they’re not.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View pottz's profile


10423 posts in 1794 days

#12 posted 07-31-2020 03:27 PM

once you decide on a size you think is good enough add 50% more if you can afford it and have the room because you will out grow it.welcome to lumber jocks and thank you for your service.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View AndyJ1s's profile


363 posts in 565 days

#13 posted 07-31-2020 05:55 PM

My shop is a two car garage which must also house the SUV at night, and assorted lawn care equipment.

All machines but my lathe are on mobile bases, as are both workbenches. All but the lathe and the drill press are “parked” in the right hand side, like buses in a bus barn, and rolled out into the left half (vacated by the SUV) to “work” as needed.

My dust collector is also mobile, with a 20’ cord and a 10’ flex hose to hook up to the machine in use.

One of the workbenches can be used without rolling it out (or backing out the SUV).

My table saw does double duty with a router table extension, as does my 16” combo jointer/planer.

The lathe and drlll press are on a raised concrete strip on the far left, along with the door into the house, and some shelves. The drill press is on a mobile base because it is in front of the door to the hot water heater closet, and to roll it out to use on long work pieces.

Do I wish I had more room? Absolutely! But it works well enough for me.

-- Andy - Arlington TX

View 23tony's profile


45 posts in 979 days

#14 posted 07-31-2020 05:59 PM

My experience so far leads me to exactly one answer when it comes to shop size: Bigger.

View therealSteveN's profile


5972 posts in 1384 days

#15 posted 08-02-2020 05:04 AM

I’m in 32×48 with 12’ walls. I would suggest keeping height of wall in mind if building, or if buying a place. It’s tough to flip a length of wood in a dungeon height shop, well maybe you can, but knocking lights off the ceiling is doable.

The advice to buy tools as needed is spot on, let the work you are doing drive your buying.

Lots of lights BTW, not as targets to try to knock down, but to give plenty of illumination.

-- Think safe, be safe

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