New garage Shop. Need advice/ideas/opinions. Thanks

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Forum topic by mHudd posted 02-04-2015 03:44 PM 2065 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2506 days

02-04-2015 03:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: new shop garage woodshop shop


I am a new woodworker and am planning on building a shop in my detached garage (the only space I have available). The garage is a standard sized one-car building. It does not leak water or anything like that and is in fair shape. However, I have a few questions.

Shop setup? Anyone have any great design ideas or things that have worked in your garage-shop? Design? Layout? Stationary table? Rolling Bench? Things to avoid. Must haves.

Also, I am a little concerned about the environment. I live in Cincinnati – very cold winters, very hot and extremely humid summers. Should I be worried about leaving my tools and lumber (table saw, other power tools, hand tools, lumber) in such a cold winter environment? Will this have any negative effect on them? Same for the summer? Will the high temps and humidity have a bad effect?

I am no pro – as stated, and I am trying to work with what I got as far as a shop. I plan on using covers for all of my machines when not in use – covers similar to AC unit covers for the winter (stretchy tarp-like covers) I know I will not have a perfect climate controlled environment for my tools and lumber, but just want to make sure I’m not making any major mistakes.

Any advice/comments and help are greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone in advance.

20 replies so far

View pjones46's profile


1002 posts in 3934 days

#1 posted 02-04-2015 04:27 PM

Do not cover your machined surfaces with tarp as moisture will be trapped underneath and accelerate rusting.

The bearings of all your machines have grease in them and the cold reduces the effectiveness of the lubrication so the space should be brought up to a reasonable temp before use to reduce chances of a failure.

In a limited space, mobility of tools and benches is a key consideration.

No matter how much room you have, you will always wish for more.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View BUBBATAY's profile


58 posts in 3605 days

#2 posted 02-04-2015 04:35 PM

Make sure your power to your shop is adequate. At the minimum you should have a 50 amp circuit. Good lighting is a must. Good luck and have fun in your new man cave

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 2505 days

#3 posted 02-04-2015 04:56 PM

A good trick is to set your bench height to the same height as your table saw to serve as an outfeed table, it greatly improves the saw’s performance and you can drop the blade and remove the fence to get more room off of the bench when needed. Place as many tools against the wall as is practical, a Drill press, dedicated sander, chop saw, or router table might be at home pretty snug to the wall, a TS and a Bandsaw, not so much. Good overhead and low angel lighting, some floor mats to save your back and knees, will help too. Anything that wood passes through or over, like a thickness planer or jointer/planer or TS should be placed to maximize the infeed/outfeed distance. in a garage this can mean cheating these things toward the garage door to get more infeed by opening the door.

As to heat/cold, I’m in NY and I work in a detached garage year round. I insulated the garage and put in a propane heater, now I can bring the garage up to temp in about 25 minutes and work comfortably year round. If you are storing your tools over winter, make sure to relieve tension on things like band saws, and apply a coat of wax to metal surfaces to keep oxidation at bay. Your tools and wood can survive all Ohio extremes with a little TLC.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View Kelly's profile


3876 posts in 4235 days

#4 posted 02-04-2015 05:21 PM

  • Insulation is your friend. Seal every leak. It’s better to control the air movement than to try to stop it after the rock is up.
  • Outlets. Lots of Outlets. Both 120 and 240. Put them in the ceiling for your equipment and tools that may be moved to the center. Everywhere else, raise them up so they would be just above your bench top.
  • You may be able to start with 50 amps, but you won’t run lights, radio, heat/cool and a welder/table saw and dust collector at the same time off that. Plan for no less than 200. Even if only a way to run the lines later.
  • Wheels are your friend. Adding one new tool may mean rearranging everything.
  • Consider framing for mounting cabinets before you insulate and rock. The more you can get up on your walls and off the floor, the nicer your shop will be (more floor space for assembly, rolling things and easier to clean).
View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4262 days

#5 posted 02-04-2015 05:28 PM

What kind of ceiling? Open rafters/trusses or sealed?
8 ft height or more?
This all relates to the type lighting I would recommend.
Most garages do not have adequate lighting for a work shop.

I insulated my shop and put in a small air conditioner. More for humidity control than anything else.
Have not regretted this move at all.

My space is 16ft wide by 24 ft long. I needed a 10,000 BTU AC, but if yours is smaller you might be okay with an 8.000.

In the winter, some form of gas heat will be less expensive than electric. And I only try to keep my shop about 50 degrees unless I’m actually working in it.

A 60 watt light bulb under the surface of cast iron tools will help a lot. The problem with big cast iron is it gets cold and then humidity condenses on the cold surface.

View mHudd's profile


10 posts in 2506 days

#6 posted 02-04-2015 06:16 PM

Ceiling is open rafters/trusses.

Nothing is sealed. Inside is exposed framework. Although gas heat and insulation and all that seams like a great idea… its not in the budget at the moment as I have a baby on the way.

Is it imperative to allow the tools (table saw, etc) to warm up before use? I personally am not worried about the cold, as I could always get decent space heater to keep myself warm. I’m more worried about my tools and machinery.

Like I tell my friends.. I’m “ballin” on a budget, or at least trying to.

View Dan658's profile


93 posts in 2561 days

#7 posted 02-04-2015 06:55 PM

In a limited space, mobility of tools and benches is a key consideration.

No matter how much room you have, you will always wish for more.

- pjones46

This, right here. I use 1/3 of my basement which should be about the same size, if not smaller, than a one car garage. Having as much as you can on casters makes a big difference. When I set my shop up, I went crazy and built a big ‘L’ shape workbench which seemed like a good idea at the time, but I only ever use one side and the rest just has stuff piled on it. A lesson I learned is to keep it simple. I’m going to tear down the bench to build a smaller one and create more wall storage for the piled junk. Maybe you have more self discipline than I do….

View devann's profile


2260 posts in 3984 days

#8 posted 02-04-2015 07:09 PM

Many good suggestions above. You may want to have a look at the many workshop photos posted on the site for layout ideas. A work flow plan is a good start.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 5033 days

#9 posted 02-04-2015 07:15 PM

Insulate the building.

Nothing likes to be hot/cold cycled. it is not likely damaging to the mechanisms per-se, but stabilizing the temperatures is going to be a good thing.

Most often, you will find the Cold cast Iron, will condense warm humid air and rust may be a challenge.

The garage being hot in the will be less of an issue to the machines, other than your comfort, and sweat dripping on the cast iron is instant rust..

My shop is 14X21 1-car garage we added on to the existing 2 car attached – and kept the wall between the two spaces.

I have an electric 220V heater that I have keeping the garage about 50 all winter. Which isn’t expensive as the number of days below freezing are fairly few. In the summer I run a window AC – only when I want to work in there.
Put your machines on mobile bases. Even though it is Rare that I move the table saw… i have needed to for some larger projects, and also have used the open garage door when ripping long pieces.

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

View Tugboater78's profile


2796 posts in 3483 days

#10 posted 02-04-2015 08:02 PM

I live nearby and deal with the same conditions, just be sure to keep your equipment clean and things such as tablesaw top waxed to minimize rust. If possible make everything mobile even if it probably wont move much. As you can, make sure to get plenty of power to run at least 1 circuit of lights and 1 for tools ( usually only use one at a time when you start out) eventually you will need more if you add in dust collection and whatnot. I am currently running off a 10g extension cord from the house but have plans this spring to run a dedicated 100a sub out there. Slowly you can insulate the shop like i did mine, buy a roll of batting here and there and seal off with osb ( better than drywall imho). It goes a long way toward stabilizing the huhumidity and temperature. I currently have no AC ( though shop has decent shade trees around it) I use a space heater this time of year that i run off and on.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View KDO's profile


154 posts in 4061 days

#11 posted 02-05-2015 02:39 AM

Electricity may be a big challenge. For most of us who work in small spaces, we don’t have space ( or sometimes money ) to buy 240 volt tools.
You can probably do almost anything you need with 120 volts. Why do I say that? Because chances are that is what you have, and since you are starting out, you can buy what you want.
Most “hobby” and many of the commercial tools can be had in 120 volt machines.
Don’t let anyone tell you that 240 is a MUST. If you had a big shop, did big work, and had a big budget, yes 240 is great, but you can get by with 120 volt tools.

It is more important to have several circuits than one BIG circuit.

And safety is a primary reason for that. You should put LIGHTS on at least two circuits and have them Both running anytime you are working. That way if you trip a breaker, which you will do, you are not left in the dark, with a table saw that is running, and it is between you and the door. If you have lights running on two circuits and one trips, no big deal because you still have light. I never step into my shop to work that I don’t turn lights on to at least two different circuits.
I spread out my main tools over several circuits. I put different tools on different circuits that I would be inclined to use almost simultaneously. My router is on a different circuit than my sanders, because I may rout something and want to step to a sander and smooth something out and go right back to the router.
I would probably never use my lathe and Table saw at the same time, so they could be on the same circuit, assuming that being a one man band, that you are only using one of those tools at a time.
Start with cheap 4’ fluorescent lights, and buy several of them. Make sure to buy “Daylight” bulbs for them. Regular fluorescent bulbs are a cool white and will fool you into thinking something looks good when you are staining it, only to get it into the house and it looks ghastly because of the color difference in Cool White versus Daylight. That is what is known as Color Temperature. Almost any of the big box stores or hardware stores stock both, so just make sure you get Daylight color bulbs.
Use as few extension cords as possible, and use as short cords as possible. In a shop that size, I would look at your layout, but you would be able to use a lot of 10’ cords and probably not many 25’ cords. Again, this has to do with electrical safety, and always buy at least 14 gauge cords, or better yet, 12 or 10 gauge.
Bigger and shorter cords run cooler and you have less of a chance of starting a fire.
Regular house extension cords should only be used very sparingly, and maybe only for low wattage stuff like a radio.
If you are having electrical work done, it would be almost impossible to have too much electrical capacity.
As someone else mentioned, a 200 watt sub-panel would be great, with many different circuits.
Also, run all of your outlet boxes at at least 50-52” above the floor. That way, they are above your tools and workbench and also, you can lay a piece of plywood against the wall and the plugs will be above the 48” width of the plywood.
I lived in Denver for 12 years and just had a space heater set at 50 degrees and even when we had a week of subzero weather, that always kept the garage warm enough. Be sure and keep your glues and paints and aerosol cans from freezing.
As far as humidity goes, it is worse than freezing, on your tools. If you can’t run an AC unit, at least you might consider a dehumidifier when it is really humid.

There is so much more to consider. Take your time, plan it out well. You will never regret doing a good job setting it up.
It is a blast setting up a new workspace. Have fun.
And as someone said, troll this sight. Look at different members “Workshop” photos and ask questions.
Keep us posted on your progress.

-- Christian, Husband, Grandpa, Salesman, amateur Woodworker.

View pjones46's profile


1002 posts in 3934 days

#12 posted 02-05-2015 03:08 AM

If you are having electrical work done, it would be almost impossible to have too much electrical capacity.
As someone else mentioned, a 200 watt sub-panel would be great, with many different circuits.

I think you mean 200 Amp Panel not 200 watt, however, I have a 100 Amp sub-pannel in the shop but will never hit the full draw as I only run one machine at a time with the dust collector and lights are on main 200 Amp panel in the shop but found not much differance in price for a 100 Amp service vs a smaller one.

I run 220v for all my big machinery as they run cooler, more efficiently and with more power.

Do your homework and look before you jump. The pocket book controls allot of the decisions. It took me about 40 years to finally build my new shop and move out of the cellar.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View Kelly's profile


3876 posts in 4235 days

#13 posted 02-05-2015 03:36 AM

Actually, running two twenty is no gain on any panel. It only benefits the toy on the end. If you panel is a 100 amp one, going to 220 circuits gains little, if anything. Though you use fewer amps, you use the same wattage AND use two circuits, instead of one.

While 100 amps might work, all it takes is a friend or two to load the system. Take my little shop, for example:

  • Twenty 4’ bulbs (LED & florescent).....................................10 amps (will be adding more)
  • Radio…..............................................................................5 amps
  • 1-1/2 hp collector (band saw, miter, drum, spindle)..............7 amps
  • Band saw…........................................................................8 amps
  • Heat ….............................................................................40 amps 70 amps
    Now my buddy comes over:
  • 3hp collector….................................................................15 amps
  • Cabinet saw….................................................................. 7 amps __ 92 amps

Plan, if you can. You CANNOT run your panel at “capacity.” The lines to it cannot take it. If you are running off the house, well, those lines will heat and that’s probably worse than overheating shop lines.

View Kelly's profile


3876 posts in 4235 days

#14 posted 02-05-2015 03:49 AM

On four foot lights, Costco is selling LED’s for $31.00 The last four florescents I bought cost me twenty for the fixture and another ten for the bulbs, so the same price. HOWEVER, the LED’s ARE brighter, don’t have to warm up in the cold and should outlast the others.

Don’t get excited about energy savings, both use about the same (about 37 watts for the LED’s and 40 for the florescents).

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4262 days

#15 posted 02-05-2015 05:54 AM

Ceiling is open rafters/trusses.

Nothing is sealed. Inside is exposed framework. Although gas heat and insulation and all that seams like a great idea… its not in the budget at the moment as I have a baby on the way.

Is it imperative to allow the tools (table saw, etc) to warm up before use? I personally am not worried about the cold, as I could always get decent space heater to keep myself warm. I m more worried about my tools and machinery.

- mHudd

Okay, I can certainly understand limited funds.
A simple trick to keep the cast iron, and your table saw warm is to put a heat lamp above it. The IR rays shining on the iron warms it and it in turn knocks the chill off the air in the shop.
Take your glue and any water base finishes inside the house, or put in a cabinet with a small light bulb inside to keep it from freezing.
Open rafter ceiling has its advantages for storing your wood and other long stuff.
It’s a challenge to insulate that space and not loose the storage, but worth it in the long run.
My shop has trusses and I’m gradually adding a ceiling above the bottom of the trusses but below the rafters just to support insulation. I’m making it out of reclaimed wood paneling I salvaged from a house remodel. Will paint the bottom white to reflect light better. Been working on this for almost half a year cause I got laid off just as I got the shell built. Can only do a little at a time.

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