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My wife suggested I build a workshop

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Forum topic by OleCuss posted 01-05-2021 04:48 PM 846 views 0 times favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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OleCuss

42 posts in 432 days


01-05-2021 04:48 PM

Kinda long – might not be worth reading.

No guarantees it will ever happen and this is definitely in the beginning planning stages.

In our backyard we have a 12’x12’ concrete pad upon which sits a very under-utilized gazebo. So my wife actually suggested turning it into a workshop. And yes, I’d like to go much, much bigger but I’ll take what I can get. . .

I have almost no carpentry experience and I’m not exactly an expert woodworker either, but I do have the ability to learn a few things.

To give further context, I live in the Central Valley of California. That means hot summers and cool/chilly winters. Some nights during the winter we get down into the 20s and have actually gotten down into the teens at times. Snow is not an issue and we don’t get enough rain. Occasional hail but I’ve yet to see big stuff. Did most of my growing up in Northern Minnesota so I do know that we don’t get truly cold but a person can get cold depending on what they are doing and how they are doing it.

My initial concept for the workshop goes back to the fact that I’ve done quite a bit of amateur astronomy. It is not all that uncommon for an observatory to be built much like a shed and then put a frame on one end or the other so that you can roll the roof off.

Well, I looked into getting one built years ago and purchased a set of plans for a roll-off roof observatory which would be 11’6” square.

What could be better?!! You end up with the ability to roll the roof right off when the weather is nice and at that point fumes and dust can be reduced somewhat dramatically. Part of that could be done by building one or more fans into the end of the rolled-off roof which is closest to the shop so that it blows stuff right off the top of the shed.

I think, however, that there may be more problems than benefits. I’m not going to put in air conditioning for Summer use but I do want to have heat for winter-time and even when a roll-off roof is not rolled off you can have a lot of leaking of air around the intersection of walls and roof. I suspect the heating would be just too darned expensive even if insulation is used if there is much of an air leak. Heating is going to be important in the winter because when it is too cold you can have problems with gluing and curing/drying.

There are a whole lot of 12’x12’ shed plans and I could also get one made, delivered, etc. I suspect that is the better route to go.

Mostly I suspect I need warnings about what not to do and what I must include in order to have a functional woodworking shop.

Some of the things which I have been considering:
1. Yes, I want to get a cabinet or hybrid saw. SawStop is the direction I plan to go even if I have to get the Jobsite Pro.
2. Everything on casters. That will be especially important because the limited length of the shop will make even 6’ lumber a bit of a challenge if I can’t run things through the door. 8 foot lumber run through a thickness planer simply won’t work in a 12 foot shed unless I can position the planer so that the planed lumber can at least partially exit through the door.
3. Probably two doors. The wife will not accept an ugly shop and the thing will be fairly near an in-ground pool. So a nice looking door on the “front” which will be standard size and another bigger one on the side where it will not be particularly visible.
4. I’ll have to get electricity to the thing. That could prove to be a bit challenging and I’m going to have to get assistance with that because I am not a good enough electrician to where I’d trust myself to do what needs to be done. There’s also concrete in the way which may require some tunneling and such. I do not figure on putting 220V into the thing.
5. I’ll still probably put a fan in the thing to just blow dust and fumes right out of the shed if/when the weather allows and the need arises.
6. Air filter system should be possible.
7. Lots of lighting seems like a good idea. Harbor Freight sells 4 foot LED lights for cheap and I’ve had great luck with them in other settings.
8. I want to have rafters and such that I can put wood up into for storing and/or resting.
9. Lots of outlets. Some/many should be overhead as I think this should be safer for some purposes.
10. Probably at least 3 circuits of 20+ amps each. 15 amps for lighting and maybe a few other minor things. Each circuit should have its own associated color (outlet covers of different color) to make it easier to ensure you aren’t plugging two high-demand tools into the same circuit (20 amp table saw and a good dust collector system in the same circuit might not work out well).

Inside I figure using plywood and French cleats pretty much everywhere. I’ll obviously put some cabinetry in the shop as well.

Some and maybe most power tools will have to be benchtop, I think. But again, I may not be able to do that for the table saw. I also suspect it would be best to have the drill press and band saw big enough that they cannot be benchtop.

Well, that’s the current state of the planning. Guidance will be appreciated if given.

And again, this actually may not happen. It wouldn’t be a cheap build and the size won’t be all that great and that means I’ll have to be evaluating the feasibility as I look into it further.

Thank you


36 replies so far

View Woodmaster1's profile

Woodmaster1

1706 posts in 3643 days


#1 posted 01-05-2021 05:07 PM

My wife said I could build a workshop. Her only request was in the winter she gets one bay. I pushed the limit city code allows a 1000sqft outbuilding. I built a 990 sqft. garage with a 10/12 pitch and one bedroom apartment upstairs. I have bathroom in the shop that was a must. I glad she approved the plan because she would have been mad at the results.

View OleCuss's profile

OleCuss

42 posts in 432 days


#2 posted 01-05-2021 05:18 PM



My wife said I could build a workshop. Her only request was in the winter she gets one bay. I pushed the limit city code allows a 1000sqft outbuilding. I built a 990 sqft. garage with a 10/12 pitch and one bedroom apartment upstairs. I have bathroom in the shop that was a must. I glad she approved the plan because she would have been mad at the results.

- Woodmaster1

That sounds excellent!

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

1988 posts in 657 days


#3 posted 01-05-2021 05:20 PM

I am in a 10’ x 16’ and it is tight. If I need to make a long rip I need to roll the saw outside. I just upgraded to the SawStop Jobsite pro and think it will serve me well. I may even add a deck or patio to get a level surface that’s better than the lawn. Having two doors that you can line up with the infeed and out feed will be a huge help. I do think 12’ x 12’ is a no go at this point though. Picture the saw and a work bench in there and you won’t have much room left even if you go all hand tool. I would try to add as much as you can afford to give yourself a longer dimension one way anyway. This may also help get the electrical routed into a wall rather than exposed on an outside wall. I did lots of French cleats and often move shelf brackets around as it is a work in progress.

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Vicki

1162 posts in 4400 days


#4 posted 01-05-2021 05:50 PM

Congrats and best wishes! Nothing like finally having a shop. I would like to comment on the size though. I have 12X18 and am thankful, BUT I constantly have to move things back and forth to get to other things or cut long boards, etc. etc. etc. I’d love to have a dust collector and a 14” BS instead of my 10”. Just not enough room. I don’t know if you can add 6 or 8 ft. to that pad, but it would be well worth it. Or maybe a nice smooth area outside the biggest door to roll a tool out side to work and give more room inside.
Let us know how it works out!

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View OleCuss's profile

OleCuss

42 posts in 432 days


#5 posted 01-05-2021 06:05 PM

The suggestions are much appreciated.

I really don’t have the option of going bigger with the shed/shop. It’s just not going to fit with the location and the wife’s approval. It may be that I can put down some concrete on one side and be able to access the space without a structure on it, maybe.

View Dave Mills's profile

Dave Mills

70 posts in 455 days


#6 posted 01-05-2021 06:12 PM

Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into it. That said, is there any chance of the slab being extended a bit? Even another 4’ on one end (“honey, this is how we’re getting the electrical in without digging up the existing one” :) ) would be an enormous gain.

If it were me, and I had an electrician out pulling wires, I’d pull 240V. It’s just one more wire (says the non-electrician…)

View OleCuss's profile

OleCuss

42 posts in 432 days


#7 posted 01-05-2021 06:27 PM

I may be able to put some concrete in front of a side door but extending the concrete pad for purposes of putting in a bigger shed is just not going to happen.

The front and rear are close to the pool and to the fence respectively. No hope at all in those directions.

On one side I may be able to put in concrete but on the other side I’d run into a tree which my wife is not going to give up.

If one were to try to extend the shop to the side where I might be able to put concrete in front of a door? The look would not be good and a veto from the wife is guaranteed – and frankly I probably would veto it myself because of the look.

There’s really not a chance I’m going to get to build the shop itself to greater than 12’x12’. Not happening.

When I get to move out into the country? I’d certainly go much bigger. But the wife is not interested in moving to the country for years (at least) so I’m in the mode of taking what I can reasonably get, not what I want.

View HarveyM's profile

HarveyM

159 posts in 3078 days


#8 posted 01-05-2021 07:37 PM

My basement workshop is about 17’x12’. I use a Sawstop PCS with 36” rip fence in that space. The PCS has a smaller footprint than their contractor. For sheet goods I use a track saw. As for board length, many woodworkers I respect suggest cutting your stock to rough length before squaring it up, so you may well be working with long stock less than you think. Also if you put windows/doors on opposing (side?) walls you can run any lumber through them for long stock processing. I too would ask the electrician how much to run a 220V circuit. To him it’s just a heavier gauge wire, but getting them to come back later, that costs. Enjoy your planning!

-- Just a Duffer

View OleCuss's profile

OleCuss

42 posts in 432 days


#9 posted 01-05-2021 07:57 PM

Thank you.

I actually don’t think I’m going to be working with long boards very often. I do plan to do a bit of cabinetry but I do have the Accu-Cut which should handle any sheet goods I need to break down as you suggested.

And as you and others suggested, having doors and/or windows aligned would work for the occasional (probably rare) need to run something long.

I’m not likely to put in three doors but a front door, a side door, and a window are pretty likely. The key for the window would be to set it up so that the windowsill is not quite as high as the table saw and/or thickness planer and then set up a roller to keep from dragging the lumber across the windowsill.

I’m going to have to remember that.

I think that there is enough wisdom behind running 220V to the shed to make that worthwhile.

The PCS is probably a very good choice.

I’m learning, slowly. . .

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

2509 posts in 1644 days


#10 posted 01-05-2021 07:57 PM

#4 you’re going to have to pull wires anyway. There is no point in not running 220v. This also gives you more power tool choices. A 220v TS is a good thing.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View DrBreakIt's profile

DrBreakIt

59 posts in 4142 days


#11 posted 01-05-2021 08:19 PM

Here is my 2 cents. I started out in the Bay area with a 6×8 shed and a Shopsmith. Happily, I am now out of the bay area and in half of a two car garage with a cabinet Sawstop. (Although looking for a bigger one now.) Even with that, most of the time I roll my planer out in the driveway because of lack of room. So a concrete pad outside would be very helpful, with as small of a drop-off between the concrete floor and the outside pad. Especially if you have plans to roll the cabinet saw out. My sawstop is on wheels, but I have never moved it. I would consider 220V if you are pulling electric anyway. Also as you mentioned, think about cutting longer stock. If you are ripping a plywood sheet you will need at least 8’ in front and 8’ behind the blade. In addition, almost 4’ on at least one side of the blade for that 16’. Perhaps as mentioned you can position double doors and the saw so you can let the wood go out the door. One more thing you should think about, if you’re going to have a telescope in there as well is how you will keep the dust out of it.

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

1988 posts in 657 days


#12 posted 01-05-2021 08:21 PM

I think if you are that limited on space a Jobsite saw is what you need. Unless it is raining you can just wheel it outside. There is much hand tool work that doesn’t take up much space and I find it very rewarding. They made some fine furniture before jointers, power planers were around. Do the TS and a band saw and make a smaller footprint work bench and you will be ready for some fun.

View PBWilson1970's profile

PBWilson1970

197 posts in 449 days


#13 posted 01-05-2021 08:24 PM

As the owner of a small workshop (12’x14’), I can say that it is well worth the effort to have a dedicated space to work. I had to be creative and plan out the work flow directions so that long boards would have enough infeed and outfeed room though. Casters are great and help when I need to make room for an operation.

I did make a decision to not include some tools in the main shop for noise and dust reasons. My planer is in the garage and easily wheeled out to the driveway. The belt sander also lives there because it spews so much dust and is nearly impossible to contain. My lumber lives in a few different areas due to the low-ish ceiling height and I’m finding that I am cross-cutting to length longer pieces before they make their way into the shop for further milling.

Still, not having to wheel things out and away immediately before and after a job makes the cramped quarters worth it. I am much more apt to steal a few minutes away in the shop when I’d most likely not bother if it involved lots of shuffling and wheeling and lugging and re-positioning to get some work done.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View OleCuss's profile

OleCuss

42 posts in 432 days


#14 posted 01-05-2021 08:47 PM



Here is my 2 cents. I started out in the Bay area with a 6×8 shed and a Shopsmith. Happily, I am now out of the bay area and in half of a two car garage with a cabinet Sawstop. (Although looking for a bigger one now.) Even with that, most of the time I roll my planer out in the driveway because of lack of room. So a concrete pad outside would be very helpful, with as small of a drop-off between the concrete floor and the outside pad. Especially if you have plans to roll the cabinet saw out. My sawstop is on wheels, but I have never moved it. I would consider 220V if you are pulling electric anyway. Also as you mentioned, think about cutting longer stock. If you are ripping a plywood sheet you will need at least 8’ in front and 8’ behind the blade. In addition, almost 4’ on at least one side of the blade for that 16’. Perhaps as mentioned you can position double doors and the saw so you can let the wood go out the door. One more thing you should think about, if you’re going to have a telescope in there as well is how you will keep the dust out of it.

- DrBreakIt

I generally like the idea of breaking down sheet goods on insulation on the ground better than trying to manhandle the stuff through a table saw. I have the Accu-Cut now and I’d rather like to get the Kreg track saw as I think that would be even better. I may have the wrong perspective but that’s my tendency.

Unfortunately, the telescopes (except maybe two) are going to go away. I developed an eye problem which is bothersome almost only when I look through an eyepiece so the remaining gear will be for the wife to use when she wants – and that isn’t very much.

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OleCuss

42 posts in 432 days


#15 posted 01-05-2021 08:50 PM



I think if you are that limited on space a Jobsite saw is what you need. Unless it is raining you can just wheel it outside. There is much hand tool work that doesn t take up much space and I find it very rewarding. They made some fine furniture before jointers, power planers were around. Do the TS and a band saw and make a smaller footprint work bench and you will be ready for some fun.

- controlfreak

I’d really rather have the bigger/better saw but I keep thinking that the advantages of the SawStop Jobsite Pro may make it the better choice.

Having a more compact size could make a huge difference for me. The other part is that the cost savings means I can actually get a few more needed items to make life easier. The biggest drawback is that I want a really good fence and I’m not sure the jobsite saw will give me that.

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