Shop advice for a newbie

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Forum topic by WoodenRambo posted 03-26-2014 07:46 PM 1730 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 3492 days

03-26-2014 07:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shop question

My wife has just given me the go ahead to build a small wood shop in my back yard. I have no idea where to start. I want to try and keep it as small as possible(read cheap) while still maintaining a convenient layout. (I sound like my clients now God help me) Any tips from some of you more experience guys who have built a shop before? Any mistakes you guys have made that I can learn from?

Thanks in advance.

25 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8439 posts in 4836 days

#1 posted 03-26-2014 07:55 PM

You’ll never regret having more space….decide how much space you need, double it, then add 10% more.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 03-26-2014 08:04 PM

Outlets outlets outlets…you can never have too many. You may want to consider putting them in the ceiling as well…makes life way easier not tripping over cords.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 4531 days

#3 posted 03-26-2014 08:05 PM

Lucky dog!

If it were me, I’d probably spend a day or more looking at as many pictures and sketchup drawings as possible, clipping my favorites to Evernote. Some people share the models for their entire workshops. If possible, I’d ask what the owners have changed since the pictures were taken, and what else they’d like to change. Then I’d find a few of the smallest ones that make me drool and set my sights on one or two designs a couple sizes larger.

For now, I’m stuck trying to figure out how I’ll fit a shop into a 1-car garage.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 4445 days

#4 posted 03-26-2014 08:12 PM

Having an idea of the type of work you will do and the tools you will use will greatly help. And don’t forget that your interests will likely expand in the future. You may think you have no desire for turning, scroll sawing, boat building, whatever, but when the bug bites, it can be near irresistable. I agree that biting the bullet to get more space is a very highly recommended thing. Adding more space is the one thing that is hardest later down the road. A lot harder than swapping a table saw, or adding in another bench.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Todd's profile


421 posts in 3137 days

#5 posted 03-26-2014 08:21 PM

My shop is 16×24 and I wouldn’t go any less. Even then all my tools are on mobile carts because there really is not enough room for dedicated workstations. I’m not complaining however! I’m very blessed with the shop I have.

+1 on the outlets. Here is my shop. I tried to list things that were important to me in the description.

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

View rickf16's profile


400 posts in 5042 days

#6 posted 03-26-2014 08:28 PM

Knotscott advice is dead on!!! When I started on my shop, I had the floor laid out, 10X12. The wife came out, looked at it and said
“You need to go four more feet that way” Would have been 10X16 “Naw”, I said. “Trying to save a little money.” Wrong answer! I have a great table saw, but I cannot even cut a full sheet of plywood. No room! Plan for new and better tools in your wwodworking future…especially if your wife has given you the go ahead, like mine did!

-- Rick

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5038 days

#7 posted 03-26-2014 09:23 PM

Lets work backwards what’s your budget?


View WoodenRambo's profile


20 posts in 3492 days

#8 posted 03-26-2014 09:25 PM

I have no idea, I won’t be building anything soon. I am trying to get a feeling for what I want so I can get a budget number that we can work towards/with. The space in my back yard lends itself to a 16 by 20 shop. I think that is where I am going to start then adjust as I get a feel for price.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 5046 days

#9 posted 03-26-2014 09:40 PM

16×20 is not too small I would take your time and work it all out on paper drawings or computer if you are able.I took nearly a year before buying a single brick.I eventually built the one I wanted then extended a few years later to add around fifty percent or more space.Mine has central heating and double glazing and it is my little paradise on earth.Have fun but do take your time.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4431 days

#10 posted 03-26-2014 10:29 PM

I was just planning to build a 23’ x 23’, but due to site conditions, shallow bedrock, sloped site, tight money, I had to reduce it to 16’ x 24’ and turn it 90 degrees from the way I had planned it. But it’s under way and I’m happy with what I was able to work out. May have to sell the lathe or something and will have to move my mechanical stuff somewhere else, but this can work.

View Todd Sauer's profile

Todd Sauer

28 posts in 2985 days

#11 posted 03-26-2014 10:33 PM

You can make a lot happen in 16’ x 20’....just make sure to plan ahead about it. I’d love to know what you come up with. I’m reorganizing my shop (garage) this summer, and need to make it wayyyyy more efficient. Outlets.

The snow needs to melt first. Whoops….we’re getting more tonight.

-- --Sauerkins; Duluth, MN

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 5203 days

#12 posted 03-26-2014 10:39 PM

Put in a panel in the garage. Don’t tie into your house breaker bay.

I did a subpanel in the garage – so still just one meter, but inevitably, you will have a machine pop a breaker, and you don’t want to have to stop, and go into the basement of the house to reset it.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4691 days

#13 posted 03-26-2014 10:44 PM

Do you live in an area where there is a Home Owners Association? I am limited to 120 square feet (10×12) and that is what I built. It is just a storage shed…and full! :-(

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 3409 days

#14 posted 03-26-2014 11:12 PM

+10 for more outlets, and put a 220 drop on each wall whether you need it or not, or at least size the wire so you can make it 220 later. My shop had 8’ ceilings. I had to reframe the ceiling 10’. 8’ drove me nuts, when it was finished I couldn’t even stand a sheet of plywood up without hitting the ceiling. I would never build a workspace without at least a 9’ ceiling

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4801 days

#15 posted 03-26-2014 11:14 PM

maybe use this ‘shop planer’ from grizzly tools
you can see how the tools and work-flow happen
for the tools you think you will use
and the things you want to make

i would go higher than standard 8’ for a ceiling height
as making furniture or cabs are a real pain
if it is to low (with lights and fans too)

myself i’m building a 30’x40’x12’ high one

but would prefer this i saw in phoenix
it has a roll open roof
and lots of room for tools and wood storage
i like the idea of riding from tool to tool
in a golf cart

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

showing 1 through 15 of 25 replies

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