small shop setup

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Forum topic by copper932 posted 02-26-2015 09:18 PM 2188 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2252 days

02-26-2015 09:18 PM

I am looking for some opinions on setting up a small woodwoodshop. My wife and I are going to be closing on a house very soon. There is a one car attached garage which is already spoken for ( wifes ride). I am looking to purchase a 12×16 shed fot my tools, and will be putting power to it for woodworking. Has anyone worked in a space this size, and how did you do it?

21 replies so far

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192 posts in 3006 days

#1 posted 02-26-2015 09:30 PM

The last issue of Fine Woodworking’s Shops and Tools had that exact setup I think.

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4615 posts in 4655 days

#2 posted 02-26-2015 09:33 PM

I am in a 14X21 shop (1 car garage) and find it too small (narrow).16X20 would be better.

be sure you have decent studs, because you will want to insulate the walls and hang stuff on them.
Many premade sheds have studs at 24 inch centers, and a ‘Springy” floor for the ones on the cement pylons. Build on a slab

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

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8618 posts in 3711 days

#3 posted 02-27-2015 12:08 AM

Consider a ShopSmith. I have a big shop and a small one in different locations and the ShopSmith really makes the small space “bigger”.
Just a thought but if you are interested I did a blog on my small shop setup here.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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1007 posts in 3889 days

#4 posted 02-27-2015 12:53 AM

My shop is 12X23. I guess you make do with what you have :) My only “big” power tool is table saw. I also have a HF dust collector and 2X5 table that functions for router table/outfeed table/work table/assembly table. I have bench top models for others (drill press, band saw and thickness planer). I try to put everything on casters so I can rearrange as needed depending on project. A big dilemma is I can’t keep inventory of lumber for future projects…pretty much have to buy it as needed.

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573 posts in 2305 days

#5 posted 02-27-2015 01:33 AM

Before my recent move, I was working in that same size shed. Frankly, it was too small.

One thing that did help was the fact that it had wide doors, and I was able to “move outside” for lots of things.

Even with that, I was constantly finding that things were in the way and there wasn’t room to maneuver either me or the workpiece.

I would suggest saving up for a larger building.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View firefighterontheside's profile


21265 posts in 2770 days

#6 posted 02-27-2015 01:41 AM

I think you can do ok in that space. Mine is 12×24. I have a contractor tablesaw right in the middle. My bench is also the out feed. The rail extensions basically go right up to the wall. I also have a router table, 6” jointer, floor drill press, and lots of other crap. Perhaps set it up so that one end has double doors that you can open in good weather and do your infeed on large pieces from the outside.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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9106 posts in 3063 days

#7 posted 02-27-2015 02:20 AM

I’ve got 16×18 and it’s used for more than just woodworking. So, it can be done.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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159 posts in 2205 days

#8 posted 02-27-2015 03:04 AM

My shop is 13’ x 22’, and while I could wish for me I feel that it’s going to be sufficient for the business I plan to have.. at least for 5-odd years.

Currently I have a Craftsman hybrid saw (22124) an 8” jointer, mitre saw, benchtop planer (deWalt 734) and I’m buying the HF dust collector soon. By utilising wall space I think I’m going to easily fit everything I need, though perhaps not in the most optimal configuration.

I think if you can afford to build larger go ahead and do it, but at the very least build in mind for expansion. For example, go for 12’ x 16’ but on the 16’ wall install a long 8’ header, and doubled up studs, centred so that in the future you can expand onto the back of the shop and have a large opening with which to access the extra shop space. You’d also want to avoid running wires through that portion of the shop.

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262 posts in 2508 days

#9 posted 02-27-2015 03:24 AM

If I was working in a space that small I would definitely try to do most things outside. I would have an area the width of the shed by about 12-18’ in the front where I could setup a 4×8” knock down cutting table and miter saw. I would use a track saw and miter saw as my 2 main cutting tools. Might consider a small portable table saw for ripping strips, sleds, and what not. A lot of stuff like dados and rabbits could be done with a router on the knock down cutting table. I would have a drill press, planer, and bandsaw on portable stands. The track saw can do jointing operations. I would make a small 2’x4-6’ workbench inside.

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4233 posts in 4022 days

#10 posted 03-01-2015 02:31 AM

Most of my “shop” is taken up by storage. It is rightfully the garage, but here in California, few people park their cars in them. My actual usable workspace in there is about 12 square feet. I do most of my wood working outside, and haven’t done a turning project in 3 years. I retired last October and am slogging through the rental home upgrades and repairs, plus neglected projects at home when I worked almost every day for the last few years. At least I have “carved out” enough time to get some wood carving classes, locally. I just hope I live long enough to get to some serious wood working. Good luck with your shop.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View ADHDan's profile


802 posts in 3021 days

#11 posted 03-06-2015 09:21 PM

I wish I had something as big as 12×24; I’m in an 11×17 shop with 8’ ceilings (in the lower level of a split-entry house). I have a somewhat outdated project in my gallery that highlights the key efficiencies/space-savers I utilize to pack a full set of tools into a small space – such as:

-Grizzly 1023RL table saw with folding outfeed and router table wing (with Triton 3.25 hp router)
-Grizzly 6” jointer
-DW 734 planer
-12” Craftsman band saw
-DeWalt miter saw
-Ridgid Oscillating Spindle/Belt Sander
-Porter-Cable pancake air compressor
-Generic benchtop drill press
-Generic benchtop bench grinder
-2 hp Harbor Freight dust collector with separator (running three drops)
-Medium size wet/dry vac in enclosed cabinet, with separator
-Rolling plywood storage rack
-Rolling offcut storage cart
-Wall-mounted lumber storage racks
-Rolling workbench with storage
-Rolling assembly table/storage cart with Rockler T-Track tabletop
-Wall-mounted cabinets, clamp racks, pegboard storage, tool cubbies, etc.
-Ceiling hooks for jigs, sleds, etc.

I haven’t updated my shop pics in a while, but if you think it would be helpful I can clean up and take some shots over the weekend to update. Really, I’m not sure how much more I could tighten up my use of space; the only major “to-dos” on my list are to incorporate more/better drawers into everything that can have drawers, and make better use of the space between the joists.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

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802 posts in 3021 days

#12 posted 03-06-2015 09:25 PM

Just realized those projects pics are WAY outdated, since I got rid of my R4512 and my standalone router table. I’ll take some new pics and update.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View smallerstick's profile


31 posts in 2090 days

#13 posted 03-06-2015 10:25 PM

First post here; I’m a newbie!
I just moved up from an 8×12 shed to a 16×20 garage, insulated, 40A service and well lit. this is about the smallest I could work comfortably in, I think. I have seen much smaller and some of the quality work that comes out of them. I’m sure that 12×16 will be enough for you to begin accumulating tools and finding out how to arrange them and work with them.
As others have said; go with a solid floor of some sort. Depending on your location, consider frost and heating requirements. Concrete is solid, but cold in the winter. Wood is comfortable year round, but costly.
Allow for at least 1 220v outlet if you can.

I could go on but so much depends on what you intend to build.

good luck!


-- Peter

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742 posts in 2848 days

#14 posted 03-06-2015 11:22 PM

My shop is the same size you are looking at. I did end up buying a smaller out building to put lawn stuff in and other stuff I didn’t want in my shop. Most everything in my shop is on rollers but I can set it up to get to most stuff with out having to move anything for much of the stuff I do.

One one short wall I have a drill press, workbench, and flip top cart with planer and miter saw. Then along the long wall (no doors) is a midi lathe, and wood storage (horizontal above lathe) and vertical next to the lathe, and a catch all shelving unit in the corner. Going down the next wall is the jointer, bandsaw, and another shelving unit with light weight stuff (Ridgid sander, a small delta table top band saw, circular saw, jig saw, scroll saw, router jigs, etc… I have horizontal storage above the the double wide doors and the table saw/router table sit mainly in the center of the shop. I also have cathedral ceilings so have storage in that area for junk wood (2×4 and treated stuff, ladder, and other stuff I don’t get to as often). I have a shop vac/cyclone set up on rollers that moves to where ever it fits best when working scenario.

My big knock on my shop is lack of power. Don’t skimp on this. Need to be able to run a shop vac or dust collector and name another tool at any given time.

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557 posts in 3270 days

#15 posted 03-06-2015 11:23 PM

Ummmm cars belong outside?

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

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