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Forum topic by rodb posted 02-02-2009 06:29 PM 1815 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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170 posts in 3823 days

02-02-2009 06:29 PM

I wasn’t to sure to which Forum to post this to.
I am blessed with a great opportunity. I currently work out of my garage. This is a problem as I live in Ontario in a snow belt and my current work area is not heated. The garage will not last another year as all of the foundation is crumbling.
I am blessed because my wife has allowed me to tear it down and add a two story garage.
I would love some advice as to how build this and make it highly usable.

I have some ideas.
1) open the area right to the roof, install skylights.
2) have as many south facing windows as is possible, again for light and heat
3) Install a washroom and a small kitchen area, I may never leave if this happens

What about wood storage, Benches, how many, how big?
The whole area is about 25Feet X 30 Feet.

I know its a good problem to have.
Any and all in put would be appreciated.


-- R

25 replies so far

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 4134 days

#1 posted 02-02-2009 06:49 PM

A few questions… you say 2 storey, is that two floors, if so will it be used as a garage or just a work shop and what level will the shop be on. What large (non-mobile) tools do you have and what bench top. With 750 sq ft I don’t really see room for a wash room and kitchen. If in fact you are talking about 1500sq.ft. then there are possibilities.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View odie's profile


1691 posts in 4261 days

#2 posted 02-02-2009 07:10 PM

I have been toying with exactly the same thing. I live in a very cold area too. I was going to use trusses with R38 insulation and a twelve foot ceiling upstairs. Six inch walls with R19 and R38 under the floor. With that high ceiling you have room for wood storage up high out of the way. The only thing I would add is a dust free paint room. My garage is attached so I don’t need a bathroom.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3823 days

#3 posted 02-02-2009 07:29 PM

Hi to all
I say two story the first is the garage.
The long tools I use are a scroll saw a drill press which I hope to replace soon and table saw.
Most of the tools I use are hand tools since I am primarily a wood carver.
By kitchen I mean a counter top with a sink. Maybe a small fridge for Beer, i mean pop.

Odie I like the idea of the trusses with R38. I also loke the idea of the dust free paint room. Any idea on how to keep it dust free? Also since I carve a lot with a dremel I am thinking about a room to just do that, because it is very dusty. Any Ideas about that?

Thanks everyone

-- R

View Pie's profile


187 posts in 3826 days

#4 posted 02-02-2009 07:32 PM

I am putting my shop back together after taking everything out. My shop was just a place to store tools and repair stuff around the house. My shop does have an upstairs and downstairs and the shop measures about 15’ x 12’. This winter I froze making a christmas present and was very frustrated because:

1. No organization.
2. No dust collection.
3. No Heat
4. 1 electrical outlet
5. Very poor lighting.
6. No workbench.

So I emptied everything and started from scratch. I now have more electrical outlets. insulated walls. mobile workbench, I moved my air compressor upstairs with the hose reel bolted to the ceiling downstairs with a switch to turn it off/on. Upstairs will be used for storage, big tools, wood storage etc. I am almost done with my dust collection system.

So I would recommend:

1. Stay warm or cool depending on season.
2. Mobility sure helps.
3. Dust collection (I built my own cyclone DC from reading different websites and it works great. Basically it is a 20 gall trashcan with a Shop vac and it does a very nice job. I have an old electric leaf blower/mulcher that might get converted into a air circulator/filter for all the fine dust)
4. Good lighting.
5. Organization

I guess what I am getting at is to make your shop comfortable. Not sure if this helps but just thought I would share what I amgoing through doing exactly what you are doing.

Here is the link to making the Dust Collector (read the forum and if I can help just ask)

-- Pie

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3823 days

#5 posted 02-02-2009 07:38 PM

You know Pie, you make a lot of sense.
I will take all of your recommendations to heart. Experience is a great teacher.
Lets face it working in the cold just sucks. I worked on my current project until I couldn’t feel my fingers any more.
Thanks for the advice, I will use it.

-- R

View SteveB's profile


57 posts in 4479 days

#6 posted 02-02-2009 07:51 PM

If I could only add one thing, it would be a utility sink.

-- Steve B - New Life Home Improvement

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4306 days

#7 posted 02-02-2009 08:06 PM

Suggestion – Make your work bench the same height as your table saw so you can use it as an out-feed or side table. Made mine that way my saw is on a mobile base and it works out great.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3823 days

#8 posted 02-02-2009 08:12 PM

I just had another thought, two actually.
Any help anyone can give me with bench design, against the wall, centre of the room, how wide, how long.
open bottoms for storage, or doors, drawers???

Also dust collection systems, I have seen several mounted over head and some actually built into the floor. Any advice?

Questions questions, I’m asking so I don’t do it wrong. I want to get it right the first time.

-- R

View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3823 days

#9 posted 02-02-2009 08:14 PM

SteveB and John Gray, great ideas. Everyone here is very helpful.

-- R

View Pie's profile


187 posts in 3826 days

#10 posted 02-03-2009 04:07 PM

I can email you plans for a workbench I made that is made from 2×4 ’s, 2×6’ and either a solid wood 30”x80” door or 2 layers of 3/4” MDF or plywood. FIrst you build the functioning bench and you can easily add on drawers, vise, electrical outlet strip when you want to. Pictures, instruction, material list and cutting layout included. Let me know.
I would definitely make it mobile, so you can move it where you want to.
I am gonna make mine as John Gray suggested (same height as table saw) but I have to make a cabinet for my table saw and add wheels to get the height right.

Dust collection – not sure if I would put mine IN the floor in case something gets lodged inside of it. I would do overhead and clear if not too $$$. I am just gonna use 2” PVC with Y’s for dust ports (to minimize air restriction) not T’s .

-- Pie

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4314 days

#11 posted 02-03-2009 04:34 PM

Before you do anything do alot of research on the building code and how the municipality interprets the code becuase just becuase you follow the Onytario building code does not mean that the municipality cant exceed it. Also look into hieght restrictions and insurance. I tried to build a garage, two story, rural and wound up having to cough out 800 bucks for a variance which was declined so I had to get around it by building an “agricultural” building which, when using the “code” meant that all costs grew exponentially.

Having a garage attached to the house where its primary use is woodworking also affects your insurance and yes you can “distort the truth” on your application but this backfires big time should you have to make a claim.

As for the layout of a shop. make it mobile and dont hardwire a thing. I used metal conduit for thew wiring,mounted to the outside of the plywood walls (drywall starts to stink if its not heated and looks like poop in no time from shop abuse) and have no regrets because we all know that what works for a layout today will not work for a layout tomorrow. I made all my tools, “plug ins” including the 3 phase toys and albeit the cost was higher at the time… sure saved a lot of $$$$$$$ as time went on because I didnt have to re-wire a thing.

Despite the fact that the economy has crapped and the cost of a barrell of oil is now 40 bucks….....that will change and heat will once again cost you, your second born child, so insulate it well, vapour proof it. I like the green insulation, same R factor as the pink but unlike the pink it doesnt loose its R value should it get wet. If you can afford it, the radiant heated concrete floor is as effecient and cost effective as it gets andits also “safe”.

Windows are a double edged sword. Pros are more natural light, maybe even a bit of Vitamin D, perhaps a nice view of the garden or landscape outside. Cons are…...........they are expensive, they invite folks to see whats inside,they make it easier to get inside, sky lights are prone to leaking, and they wont save you a dime in heat or airconditioning unless you spend a fortune with some kind of passive heat collector. I ran out of money when it came time to buy windows so I made my own with argon gas filled panels and I made them half the size they called for (not enough money) and right now I regret it because the view, the light would be outstanding and to hell with the extra heat costs, not to mention the summer breezes I could catch.

I live in the snow belt too, an hour north of Toronto. Over six feet of the crap and counting and its only Feb 3.’s a lifestyle!

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4616 days

#12 posted 02-03-2009 04:47 PM

Just a couple of thoughts…First, I have found (and I’m sure a lot of guys will not agree) that having a bench on a stout of locking casters instead of rigidly set is very useful, especially where space is an issue. I love the ability to roll it for best light, clearances, and even a an outfeed table. That doesn’t mean you can’t also have a wall mount bench, too.
Also, I definitely recommend a bathroom & kitchen set up and sleeping area in case your wife tosses you out for spending too much time there…you might as well be comfortable. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View ryanlipski's profile


13 posts in 3825 days

#13 posted 02-03-2009 05:28 PM

How do you plan on getting big projects in / out?

I have seen a 2 story garage where the shop was above – similar to what I believe your setup is going to be. The guy installed a “trap door” of sorts with a winch to raise things up into the shop / lower things out of the shop. It was a really sweet setup.

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4182 days

#14 posted 02-03-2009 05:34 PM

In ‘07 I built my “Workshop in the Woods” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where there is a cold winter climate and codes that call for trusses that can withstand 70 lb per sq ft snow load.

I selected a 24’x28’ garage package from Menards with a gambrel roof. This gives me a 12’x28’ second story for wood drying and storage. The first floor is insulated to code. I put OSB on the walls and ceiling and painted the interior with semi-gloss white paint. Lighting is a mixture of Electronic balast fluorescent and standard incandescent fixtures. Heat is provided by a 35,000 BTU Reznor propane heater with the separated combustion feature. I have pictures and description on my home page.

When the slab was poured I had plumbing “roughed in”. However my wife objects. She says that If I have plumbing out there she will never see me.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 3909 days

#15 posted 02-03-2009 05:42 PM

I too vote for mobility on your work tables, even if you keep them stored up against the walls, its always nice to be able to move them when needed, either for cleaning, or using them. At lease one of your work tables should be built shorter for use as an assembly table, say 30” – 32” tall. I put a set of drawers on all my tables, you can never have enough storage space. All my tables also have a shelf near the bottom too, to store parts and keep tools out of the way while working.

Dust free paint room – key here is GOOD weather stripping around the door and have a fire extinguisher mounted within easy reach also! Install good air filters also that you can change out as needed.

Right now I’m researching a lift system / elevator so I can use my upstairs as my spray room and storage area, hate to waste that space.

Don’t forget PLENTY of lighting too, skylights and windows are great free lighting, but you’ll need some for night projects.

Keep us posted on things.

-- James

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