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Thread: New Beginnings - A shop story

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Southern Louisiana

    New Beginnings - A shop story

    And so it begins. I will soon venture out on a journey to build my new shop. Well my first shop actually since I don't own the one i work in now, my dad does. All my life I have done any type of woodworking in my dad's small cramped cluttered 20x20 shop. Whether it be a small shelf or a full set of cabinets for new construction. At present I work for an engineering firm doing drafting work in a refinery. I have been doing this work for about 6 years now and have been dreaming of getting out of it for about 5. I have now decided to open my own woodworking business, mostly focusing on cabinets for new construction but willing to do most anything wooden. About a year ago my wife and I purchased our first piece of property, it's a nice 1.5 acre plot on the outskirts of a small town. kinda rural but we have close neighbors. This finally gave me the oppurtunity to build a shop of my own. so for the past year i have been planning and saving. I have been doing jobs on the side over the past year saving money and learning alot about doing cabinets on my own. The land is there, the money is there and the industry is really hot right now. So it's time to leave my computer behind and do something I enjoy for a change. This bring us to the contruction of my shop.

    I will be building a 30x54 metal building. It is 2x6 metal stud construction with roof trusses. We recently completed two of these buildings, one for a friend and one for my dad. I will be working in my dad's new shop till I get mine up and running.

    I thought i'd get the ball rolling by listing some of the Equipment I will have upon start up of the shop and also a list of equipment I plan to aquire soon after. I will soon have to decide what type of electrical supply i want, size i mean, because the Electrical company is going to be running power to our land in the coming weeks. It's either gonna be 200 or 400 amps.

    Tools that I will start with.

    Table saw
    Band saw
    benchtop planer
    6" jointer
    Miter saw
    Router table
    small drill press
    Portable 1-1/2 hp dust collector
    air compressor (not sure what size)

    Tools I plan to add.

    another Table saw (possibly a slider one day) (i want 2 so one can be dedicated to dadoing)
    larger planer 15" or more
    cyclone dust collector
    2 shapers 3hp min
    drum or widebelt sander
    line boring machine

    i think that is all, who knows can never have enough tools. seeing as i plan to be a one man shop with the exception of some help from my dad, i want tools that will make my life easier. so we'll see how that goes.

    so any ideas on the electrical? 200 amps or 400 amps....of course more is always better. but it could cost me alot more in the start to get 400 amps. is 200 amps enough?

    sorry for the long post, if you made it this far...thanks

    awaiting advice and comments

    Last edited by Chris Mire; 12-11-2006 at 06:33 PM. Reason: added air compressor to list of tools

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    chris, most electrical co-ops don`t charge any more for larger service unless you intend to run new wires for a long ways.......if you have single or three phase to your property the cost should be the same to hook up 200 or 400 amp supply the panels all they supply is the meter head...
    i take it you`re talking single phase?....if so another 200 amp panel and wire should run you well under 500 bucks at the time of install to upgrade to 400 amp.....if you don`t need it right away it`s not costing you money to sit unused.....whereas to add another 200 amps later would be a major chore....tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Southern Louisiana
    tod, i should have given more details sorry.

    it's single phase. 3 phase would have cost me around 10-12,000 to get it back there.

    i have to trench and run PVC for an underground line from the pole to my shop, about 140-150'. they will furnish and run the wire inside the pipe.

    here are the two options i guess i am faced with. i can run one line and use a 320 amp meter (which is supplied by us over here) and run 200 amps to my shop and 200 for my future house. or i can get two separate meters. one for the house and one for the shop that can run 400 amps. in order to do this it might be required of me to run two separate trenches with two runs of pvc. i still need to clarify some of this with the electrical company.

    i guess what i really need to know is will 200 be enough. i never plan on running more than 2 machines at once and really it will usually be no more than just me running one machine. well 2 if you count the future cyclone.

    i would need a phase converter if i planned on getting anything like a slider or widebelt. i don't know how many amps a converter pulls either. i am basically just really in the dark when it comes to electrical stuff.

    thanks for the response

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    chris, like everything depends ....
    start here and figure one 200 amp panel for your house;
    hvac system
    2 major pieces of equipment
    20 amp incidentals (computer, coffee pot, fridge??)
    as you can see it doesn`t take long to create a major amprage draw.....figure long when you`re planning (a widebelt pulls 50 amp per head on 220-3 phase)
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    Thanks for starting this thread Chris and I wish you success in your new venture. I look forward to seeing it unfold here.

    As regards electricity, if you never plan to run more than two machines at once, I suggest that 100 amps is enough. That will certainly accomadate the two machines plus the cyclone dust collector. I have 100 amps in my shop and at one time had a planer, a jointer, a cabinet table saw and a dust collector running at the same time. They are all 240 volt machines.

    I see that my advise is different than Tod's but so be it.
    Cheers, Frank

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Back when I was designing motor controls we used 100% of all connected loads+150% on the largest load for sizing. The 150-% was to allow overhead for starting. This should also apply to the panel that feeds you shop.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Southern Georgia
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pellow View Post
    Thanks for starting this thread Chris and I wish you success in your new venture. I look forward to seeing it unfold here.

    As regards electricity, if you never plan to run more than two machines at once, I suggest that 100 amps is enough. That will certainly accomadate the two machines plus the cyclone dust collector. I have 100 amps in my shop and at one time had a planer, a jointer, a cabinet table saw and a dust collector running at the same time. They are all 240 volt machines.

    I see that my advise is different than Tod's but so be it.

    Frank, Chris mentions having three phase in his shop via a converter. He also mentions possibly getting a wide belt sander. Let me help you understand why 100 amp service is NO WHERE NEAR ENOUGH...and in fact 200 amp service probably isn't either...

    First off, as tod mentions, a wide belt alone will actively pull 50 amps per head of three phase power.

    Second, a phase converter large enough to power a wide belt and three phase dust collection, will require ONE HUNDRED AMPS all by itself! (A single phase duct collector would be very hard pressed to keep up with a wide belt!!!) My converter will be fed by a ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE AMP BREAKER, and it's just barely large enough to power a wide belt and my blower!!!

    Ok...with that established, let's try to step back and look at this Chris...

    I mentioned some of this in my 'Birth...' thread when you asked, (link), but lets go into a little more detail...

    I chose to put in 400 amp service and here's how it's being consumed...

    Amps Purpose
    110 HVAC
    125 Phase Converter
    120 Lighting
    90 Three 30 amp wall outlet circuits
    30 Attic outlets and Water Heater
    20 Dedicated circuit for office computer and equipment

    110 amps HVAC - This may seem high to lots of people, but given the size of my shop (and your future shop), this isn't all that high. It's for a high efficiency five ton commercial unit. Knowing where you are Chris, HVAC should be HIGH on your list of requirements in the shop!

    125 amps Phase Converter - This size converter will power two major tools and my dust collector. It will 'just barely' power a wide belt and three phase blower! If/when I decide I want a wide belt, I'll most likely get an additional converter. If you're planning for a wide belt up front, you're looking at major power requirements, and that alone tells me you'll be needing more than 200 amp service!!!

    120 amps Lighting - This might be overkill to some, but as far as I'm concerned, blowing a breaker by turning on additional lighting is NEVER acceptable in a shop. Here's the breakdown of circuits that adds up to 120 amps:

    1. 60 amps - three seperate 20 amp circuits to power the three banks of main shop lights
    2. 20 amps - 'task' lighting along front and back walls, to be added once machines and benches are in palce
    3. 20 amps - 2 finishing room banks, kitchenette/bathroom and office lights
    4. 20 amps - Porch lights and fans, Carriage Lights on porch, motion detector spot lights

    90 amps Wall Outlets - I have three seperate 30 amp circuits for wall front, one back, and one west. I chose to run all outlets as 30 amp circuits, so I could plug in two major 120v tools at once and not worry. That meant larger 10 gauge wire, and more pricey 20amp outlets, but in the grand scheme of things, it's trivial to increase from 20 to 30 amps. Keep in mind what you might be plugging into wall outlets before you lay things out. It's easier than you might think to max out a 20 amp circuit with tools!

    30 amps Attic outlets and water heater - Not sure if you'll have plumbing or not in your shop, but if you do, you need to accomodate a water heater.

    20 amps Dedicated Computer Circuit - Not sure if you plan to have 'office' space in your shop, or if you plan to have a computer in the shop. If you do, think about a seperate circuit so that it's isolated from your tools.

    The stuff I've mentioned is almost FIVE HUNDRED amps. Granted, I'll NEVER be drawing it all at once, but there will be some major draws at times.

    Oh, and I'm not done. I still have to add a few circuits for single phase 240v tools....probably another 60-100 amps.

    So Chris, 100 amp? Heck no! 200 amp? I think not! 400 amp...I'm afraid avoid having to upgrade in the near future at least.

    Good luck on the shop build. You KNOW I'll be watching...and looking to help in any way I can....
    - Marty -
    Fivebraids, Inc.
    When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there’s no end to what you can’t do…

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Congrats on your new project, can't wait to see the photo progression.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Between Aledo and Fort Worth, TX
    Chris, as I see things, you need to decide if you will use 3-phase or not before you decide on your electrical feed, unless you don't mind duplicating your efforts later on if you decide to go with 3-phase. If you think you will, I'd go ahead and do 2 service entrances now. Having to dig that trench twice does not sound fun. Even if it has to be in 2 different ones, doing it with one machine rental would be advantageous.
    I'm thinking 200 would be ok if you stay with single phase, and you indeed only use 1 or 2 tools plus the cyclone at a time. This is where I'm coming from.... I have a 20 X 24 shop, with a side room that is 12 X 14 for finish and assembly work. I have a 200 amp box. I wanted something with enough slots to separate my runs to different equipment. I have 8 30 amp 220 runs, plus 6 20 amp 110 runs. I'll never have that much stuff going at once. But the 5 HP cyclone, 2.5 HP BS and the future hopefully 5 HP air compressor, could conceiveably all be on at one time, plus 2 light circuits, and hopefully the TS will be 3 to 5 HP when I get to get a cabinet saw. Right now I have 8 single slots left, and I plan on using 2 of them to run power over to my storage building. If I put my future air compressor over there, which I'm thinking more and more about doing, then that will free up 2 slots I have wired now. Not all of my 220 volt circuits have something set to plug into them at this point. I have one for a PTAC unit for the finishing room to let it double as a dog quarantine room in the future (it's the only way I convinced SWMBO to let me enclose the covered patio!!), one for a welder, one for the TS that is wired 110 right now, 1 for the DP that will probably stay 110, and 1 for the future jointer. I have 2 dedicated lighting circuits, and 4 110 outlet circuits, which also run lights in the finish/assembly/quarantine room. There may only be one place in the shop where adjacent outlets are on the same circuit, and that is at the bench where I have 5 duplex outlets available. this allowed me to use the 15 amp outlets instead of the 20s that Marty is using.
    Hope this helps you in your decision making. Is it overkill? Yeah, probably so for a hobby shop. But my motto , as others have stated, plan for the upper end of what you will be using. Jim.
    Coolmeadow Setters...
    Exclusively Irish!
    Home of Irish Setter Rescue of North Texas
    When Irish Eyes are smiling, they're usually up to something!!
    At a minimum, I'm Pentatoxic...but most likely, I'm a Pentaholic. There seems to be no known cure. Pentatonix, winners of The Sing Off, season 3

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    La Habra Hts. CA
    Chris sounds like a fun project. Like everybody says I would go as big as you could on electrical. I actually have 2 meters- 100 amp single phase and a 200 amp 3 phase I share with my other shop.

    Almost all my machines are 3 phase and they add up quick. Slider, planer, jointer, wide belt, tablesaw(rip saw) shaper, bandsaw, line borer, blum drill/insertion, Dust collector, edgebander.

    I still want to add a drill press, and edge sander and who know what else. Plan, plan and plan more. Especially on tool layout, try and layout everything in advance so you can plan your electrical wiring, DC etc.

    Try to lay it out with the flow of your shop. For example you said your going to do mostly cabinets. So material goes from rack to slider to possibly edbander to line boring to assembly. Planning and asking question here will save you time and money in the long run.


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