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Thread: Lets Talk about shops

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Lets Talk about shops

    Okay so i know many of you have been at this for donkeys years longer than me. But i thought it would be nice to share some tips and lessons we learned along the way for shop layout.

    We got Darren considering shop layout and Brent cutting plywood. Maybe a few of our hard won experiences will help them out in some way shape or form and Rick still has to fill out the interior of his shop. Jebb is breaking ground, Mike is in revamp mode.

    Yeah i seen all the guys do the drawings and detailed plans etc by you know the saying "the best made plans of mice and men often go astray"

    For me some of my lessons are

    1) Make shallow draws if you plan on storing tools in them. That way they dont pile up.
    2) Larry gave me a aha moment when pointing out that the offcuts of wood we keep tend to be the biggest issue to manage when it comes to lumber. Worse if you a guy that cannot stand to throw out scraps. So i am now thinking of a bin for scraps that keep near the table saw.
    3) I had planned on fixed machine positions but it seems this is not possible in a small shop. I am still resisting even though my machines are mostly mobile.
    4) I am going to try and consolidate the router table into the right hand side of my table saw extension so as to remove one cabinet that neednt be. Whats the general thought on this? Time will tell for me.
    5)Build a decent workbench for woodworking. Huge improvement in my work, comfort during working and overall satisfaction. Not just a table to work.
    6)Along with 5 it was coming to the aha moment of realizing the workbench is a tool. Its really ones third hand and even fourth depending on how you do it.
    7) I wish i had surfaced mounted my any receptacles and made all the wiring suitable for 220v then i could have moved the 220v receptacles around. There aint that big a deal in the one off price of using the yellow i think its 12 guage wire all throughout.

    8) My jury is still out on my huge windows. They nice but they ate up a whole wall and half another.

    9) Think carefully about the location of the doors. I put mine in the middle but it pretty much caused a waste of a lot of wall space that way.

    Things i dont regret spending money on.

    1) Wooden floor
    2) My infrared heater
    3) scissors truss so i get a higher ceiling.
    4) Lighting lots and lots of it.
    5) Double doors
    6) Large electrical panel and lots of receptacles.
    7) Running an extra conduit from the house to the shop for telephone cables, smoke detector cable, internet cat 5.

    Things i do regret

    1) getting carried away with my dust collector purchase while still working in the basement.
    2) Using drywall on my outer layer of my shop interior. Mixed feelings here.
    3) Leaving a 4ft strip full length of my shop as a porch. Thats 88 sq ft of trully wasted space. We have a deck to sit on. This was just to soften it to the rest of the yard for asthetics.
    4)Buying the mobile base for my Dewalt Planner. Well Technically did not buy it it came as a show bundle incentive.
    5)Not wiring my lights to switches with differnt banks and putting the main switch in the wrong place. (dont know what i was thinking. )
    6) Not listening to Stu and finishing the shop before moving in.
    7) Making my cupboards with deep draws but that will be changed soon.

    I still have a ways to go but these are some of my lessons learned as far as the actual shop goes.

    I would love it to be bigger but I got a stand alone shop and consider myself incredibly fortunate where many have to use the garage or basement so i aint complaining. Also i did it as big as the town would allow already so bigger was not possible.

    So anyone want to add and share some more advice that the guys in process can consider for their own situation.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Rob, what do you regret about the duct collector purchase?

  3. #3
    Chris Hatfield is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    1) It will never be 'done.' Or 'perfect.'
    2) You will always see an improved idea. Typically, for the layout or storage you just finished making.
    3) Have multiple sets of plans. Ranging from immediate to long-term, and make them all coordinate. Nothing worse than building something and realize that it's not going to work down the road or fit into your other plans.

    4th (and most importantly) - Make stuff accessible.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    And now you got me thinking to clean out the 10x16 storage shed* and wire it. Then move the big cargo trailer with the stationary tools in front of the 10x16. Then build a roof spanning the distance from the trailer to the shed. Trailer has a drop down back door. If it drops on stands, then it is a floor that will then extend to the shed. I'll have an assembly "breeze-way".

    The 10x16 can house the wheeled cabinets with the smaller power tools. No windows in the 10x16 though. May have to pay a visit to the ReStore store.

    The turning shack can stay where it is, as can the metal shed in the back yard The trick now is to not make the place look like a mini-mall of shops.

    Next week, weather permitting, I'll begin a lean-to shed on the back of the 10x16 for lumber storage.

    That's gonna be a whole lot quicker than building a new stand alone building, not to mention bunches cheaper.

    *Brent's version of a bunk house.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    I'm really seeing the value of not having deep shelves. The shelves on one side of my shop are 2' deep and they eat things. Just too hard to really store anything there. I'm leaning towards 16" max depth for shelving, or else have things on full extension slides.

    Toss the junk.
    A fireplace is a great way to get rid of offcuts.
    Don't save too many small pieces of ply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble
    4)Buying the mobile base for my Dewalt Planner. Well Technically did not buy it it came as a show bundle incentive.
    Totally agree. Can't wait to put mine on a flip top table and get it out of the way...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    Rob the most important thing I found is storage. Wall lockers do not take up a lot of space and hold a lot of stuff.
    Placing boards on the walls in strategic places that will be used to hang thing.
    Some machines are great on rollers but a large table saw , well that is usually fixed and most everything in the shop is worked around it's placement.
    Ski lights are great.
    Door is best placed in a corner and storage set up behind it for anything 6" wide and under. They have to go somewhere and usually most of them smaller items just seem to get in the way.
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::

  7. #7
    There's a lot I can say about shops, but Rob has already covered much of it. My shop is one stall of a 3-stall garage, and my tools must share the space with my motorcycle (and snowblower, in the winter). What is really missing in my shop is wall space. The builder made a huge mistake, though, that has affected everything from capacity to placement of tools and storage. The mistake was that he ran the side of the overhead door right up to the wall. That left no room for storage against that wall. I can't even stand boards there. My advice would be to keep any door at least 2 ft from the wall so you don't lose that wall space for shelves at the very least.

    We will be retiring and moving in the next 5 years. In my dream shop (a stand-alone building), I will have a solar collector and passive solar heating so that I don't have to pay the full heating bill. We live in MN and won't be moving south so this is particularly important. It will also be air-conditioned. There will be skylights. There will be both walk-through and overhead doors.

    I'm also thinking that the walls will be covered with a wood product like plywood or OSB. I want to be able to hang stuff wherever I want.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    I'm really seeing the value of not having deep shelves. The shelves on one side of my shop are 2' deep and they eat things.
    It seems silly but, this is the first thing that came to my mind. The back or drawers or shelves deeper than about 18" lead to some other dimension. What ever is back there may as well not exist; keep the floor space.

    Double the electrical you think you may ever, ever need and you won't have to add any for at least 18 months.

    Lights on a different panel than the large machines; if the whole panel blows, you are never left in the dark.

    I went with pull strings on my light fixtures. Seems old fashioned but, I only turn on the ones I need; sometimes its 3, sometimes its 12.

    Go larger on your DC than you think you should.

    I'm in a garage but, the 2' x 2' foam floor squares from Sam's Club are reasonably priced. Used in target spots (front of bench, bandsaw, tablesaw, etc.) make standing more pleasant and save tool sharpening in the event of a drop.

    I store a lot more lumber and a lot less sheetgoods than I thought I would; adjustments have been made.

    Double your expected storage for cut-offs and small scraps and learn when to let go ;-)
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    So you set out to plan your shop. You have a table saw a jointer, drill press and a planer that all need a home. Now you lay it all out and it works just fine. The problem is that you forgot the lathe that you are going to get in 3 months.(That's right you didn't even know you where getting a lathe)
    And the big drill press that some one is going to give you next summer. Or the bandsaw that you got a really good deal on.
    Can you see where this is going lay your shop out with room for the addition of new large tools. Even if you all ready have them. At some point you are going to up grade to that 12" jointer.
    Or swap out that 12" bandsaw for an 18" one Yup that's right they both have a bigger foot print than what you have now.
    If you are doing a stand alone and you lay it all out to find that a 20' X 30' is just what the doctor ordered. Than build a 30' X 40'
    It could be worse You could be on fire.
    Stupid hurts.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Thoits View Post
    If you are doing a stand alone and you lay it all out to find that a 20' X 30' is just what the doctor ordered. Than build a 30' X 40'

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