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  • Wood workshop design/Gallery forum?

    Is there a workshop design or gallery forum?
    I have poked around a garage design forum: But that is more for automotive garages.
    Is there a workshop forum design forum that is popular?
    I am just setting up a new shop in my basement.
    Thank you

  • #2
    it might be a good idea for a new forum . A place to post pictures and plans of workshops.
    I vote for making one.
    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
    BT3 FAQ -


    • #3
      That sounds like a great idea. On occasion there are discussions, pictures, and even floor plans that many have posted; but there isn't anything specifically categorized to the subject. I think a specific topic category would be a great idea. I've got a couple floor plans that I've done over the years.

      Important to the process is the the scale drawings of particular tools like my Ridgid drill press, jointer, thickness planer and even my Craftsman RAS and the BT 31001 that I've drawn to scale. Having such images to scale goes a long way in helping to do a floor layout and I know other members have done the same.

      Think it Through Before You Do!


      • #4
        Originally posted by cwsmith View Post
        Important to the process is the the scale drawings of particular tools like my Ridgid drill press, jointer, thickness planer and even my Craftsman RAS and the BT 31001 that I've drawn to scale. Having such images to scale goes a long way in helping to do a floor layout and I know other members have done the same.
        I'm one of those members... using scale cutouts of the tools on a scale drawing of the shop. And during office moves at work too. At work we've named this exercise "Colorforms Fun" in reference to the kids toy from long ago.

        Think about the size of projects, lumber, and possibly sheet goods you'll be dealing with. And keep in mind infeed and outfeed space needs for the tools as you play around with layouts.

        In lieu of the forum the OP requested... I'll start a "lessons learned" list:
        * Power outlets. Put them everywhere. Put some near the floor for larger power tools but distribute several along walls at just-above-workbench height / below shelf or wall mounted storage height. If you are running new wiring for outlets, try to minimize the number of outlets on each wire aka circuit breaker. It's nice not having to remember "can I plug this tool and the dust collector into this string at the same time?" Every outlet in my shop is on its own breaker... I don't have to worry about which tools might not get along with each other or with shop vacs/dust collectors. Don't forget an outlet or two in the ceiling for air filter units or other potential expansion. Some folks like to have two separate electrical circuits for lights too so a single circuit breaker popping doesn't leave you completely in the dark with your hands near some power tool's now-invisible blade running at full speed.

        * Lighting. Get as much light in as you can before the floor fills up with obstacles. Watch for the "color temperature" and color index (basically purity of the color) especially for lights around your finishing area. Many fluorescent and some LED lights look "close to white" by eye but have a lot of blue or red tint to them and may be lacking on other colors... that really throws off the color of your stains and other finishes. You don't want to custom-mix a stain only to find out it's not what you expected when you move the finished project from the shop into the house. Many home centers, in the lighting area, have displays of color temperatures - with names like "cool white" or "natural" or "warm." Bring a small stained piece of wood to the store and see how the color changes when lit by each of those display boxes. Or bring a small piece of colored cloth with a pattern - a brown dishrag will change colors dramatically under these different lights.

        * One other light: a small light close to the top of your work/finish area that can be aimed across the top (instead of beating down from above). Such "raking" light helps spot flaws in a workpiece before you finish it and helps spot minor runs, clouding, orange peel, etc. in the finish before it has a chance to dry and becomes permanent.

        * Ventilation and airflow. Some woodworking kicks up a lot of fine dust. I have an overhead air filter unit... I made the mistake of aiming its exhaust into a corner near my workbench so it actually stirred up sanding dust on the bench. I'd aimed it that way - orienting the inlet at my dust collector - figuring it would catch and filter any fine particles that blasted through the dust collector bags. But the exhaust flow was strong enough to kick up dust at my primary work area which was FAR worse. I turned it 180 degrees... Ideally the overhead unit is oriented such that the shop air circulates so all air gets filtered. Putting overhead collectors dead-center in the room limits their ability to circulate all the air. Closer to a wall or diagonally in a corner works well.

        * Storage space. Never enough. First, there's raw lumber: long boards, sheet goods, etc. They gobble up a lot of space. Cutoffs that are too good to throw away or toss into the fireplace... they'll accumulate rapidly and need some sort of organization. A big bucket is a start... but mostly that just leads to a pile of stuff that's hard to sort through, fills with dust, and falls over when you want to find something. And it'll be heavy so it'll be annoying to move when (not if) it gets in the way. Pigeon-hole boxes work quite well and let you do some sorting. Then you'll want storage space for all sorts of tools and accessories. Open shelves collect dust. Cabinets aren't bad. Drawers are nice. I replace the bent-metal leg stands that come with many power tools (including the BT3000's stand) with shop-made cabinets that are on locking casters. That recovers otherwise wasted potential storage space and it makes a logical place to store the blades, bits, belts, whatever, accessories needed by a particular tool. In my shop, I try to make the boxes similar in size - either cubes for bigger tools (like the Ridgid EB4424 sander) or half-as-deep for smaller tools (grinder, small band saw). That way the various boxes "fit" together along a wall or whatever fairly neatly and in almost any order. (think beginner's level Tetris) When I need extra space around a tool for a particular workpiece, it's easy to toe-tap the unlock levers on the casters and wheel the cabinet+tool into the center of the shop. Basic cabinets - a bit deeper than typical kitchen upper cabinets but otherwise similar to kitchen cabinets - along the walls comes in very handy. Most of my shelves and cabinets are "up" on the walls so tools on my roll-around cabinets can park underneath them. And my electrical outlets are just below these cabinets so I don't have to bend down to plug stuff in. Having the outlets up high also means they're not blocked by those same roll-around tool cabinets when the cabinets are parked against the wall.

        * Books and magazine articles on shop layout often try to group tools by "tasks" such as "initial stock preparation." Ergo the jointer and thickness planer are close together. That sounds logical but I wonder how important it really is. It's not like you go back-n-forth between those two machines when prepping a few boards... normally you'd run everything through the jointer and then the planer and you're done. No back-n-forth. So they don't need to be close together or usable at the same time - in a small shop trying to make it so you can use both tools at the same time means they'll gobble up one big spot in your shop when there's no real penalty in having them spread out in two smaller spots. Trying to make space for one huge spot - with the necessary infeed and outfeed clearances too - just over-constrains the rest of your shop layout.

        * Besides thinking about "how much space around this tool do I need for the workpiece infeed and outfeed?" consider dust collection too. Most of us on this site don't have the luxury of dust collection hoses/plumbing in the floor or ceiling. Some of us have ducts tacked to the walls but probably many (most?) of us just have a single long flex hose laying on the floor. I do the "move the hose from one tool to another" technique - nothing permanent. I use a quick-connect (i.e. friction-fit) end piece on the flexible hose to move it from tool to tool and the hose just lays on the floor. If you'll be in the same boat, don't put the dust collector on the far end of the shop from your power tools - you'll need lots of ($$) hose which also hurts the dust collection power too. And it's more of a tripping hazard laying on the floor. Grouping the tools that need dust collection in one general area - with the dust collector more-or-less in the middle - reduces the length of flex hose needed and likely keeps that hose behind the tools so it's less of a tripping hazard. No matter what, you want to make sure the hose (and the electrical cord too) is NOT where you'll be standing while using the tool for safety. For things like the jointer, you want nothing along the entire front of the jointer so you can keep your eyes and concentration on the workpiece and your hands instead of watching where you're stepping.

        * For folks that have shops in basements or other areas accessed by stairs, narrow hallways, etc. Make sure you can actually get your tools down those stairs and through the doors. Make sure your raw lumber and finished projects can fit too - including fitting around any corners. You may find you can't put some tool or a storage cabinet close to your shop entrance because that would get in the way when maneuvering long boards in/out for example. When doing your version of "Colorforms Fun" make a scale model of a sheet of plywood and an 8 to 12 foot long board - plus a scale model of you holding that workpiece - and see if you can maneuver it in and out of your shop and around your tools too.

        Last edited by mpc; 04-01-2017, 09:44 PM.


        • knotley
          knotley commented
          Editing a comment
          Excellent post. Thank you.

      • #5

        Very good points.

        I'm been in the 'process' of designing my new shop for some time now. After quite a bit of thought and some floor plan design efforts I bought a 12 x 20 shed early last year. My present shop is in the basement and frankly it poses some problems with dust, noise, odor, and space. Just too many limitations on almost everything. So moving it out of the house was essential. First thought was to expand the 8 x 20 storage area that a previous owner had built on the side of the garage, but contract estimates put that at $26K! There was no way I could go there. So the shed was the best avenue at less than 20% of that price.

        Challenges came from zoning, and size limitations and so compromises had to be made.

        I'm fortunate in that I'm a long-time user of CorelDraw. Not that that particular software is unique, but like similar applications it gives me the advantage to do all the layout and planning on the computer and I don't have to go through physical "Colorforms Fun" as you put it. Being a retired Technical Illustrator, the drawing to scale the various tools, benches, etc. just proved natural to me.

        The points that you outlined were almost exactly the considerations that my floor plan took into consideration. Placement of tools and their relationship to each other is important, not only for their operation, infeed and outfeed considerations, but also for the height of their work surfaces. For example my RAS needs to be located against a wall, and it needs considerable in-feed area; and, for some operations so does my drill press. Actually they can be side by side as in normal operations their tables can be the same height. Likewise I can place one of my work bench directly behind the BT-3 and at my height, that's comfortable.

        Having the drawing on the computer enables me to factor in movement of materials as well as my own movement around the tools and benches. Using overlays, I can factor in the wiring and outlets, light locations, dust collection, and even movement of mobile tools like my router table, joiner, and thickness planer.

        A 12 x 20 area is pretty small, but with planning I can make it work. And that little storage area that's on the side of the garage...I ordered the shed with double doors on that end which will connect the shed to the garage storage area; and I now have five foot deep lofts at both ends of the shed itself. The 'connection' will be 29" x 16 ft and that is where my HF dust collector will go, and in the garage storage area, an office will go on one end and the other will house my grinder and sharpening bench on one wall, while the other will be hardware storage. The double lofts in the shed will allow for in-processs lumber and tool storage, getting them up and out of the way of operations.

        Planning is everything, and like the old adage, "Measure Twice, Cut Once"... I think I put more hours into planning than I do into the actual execution. Problem for me though, at this point in my life is finding the actual hours to execute the plan. It's been a year now and the progress of getting this done is excruciatingly slow as there have been so many other priorities on my time.

        (Not sure what is going on here, but something seems to have changed... If I can figure out how to copy an image here, I'll post the floor layout to show a typical plan)

        Think it Through Before You Do!


        • #6
          A few more things came to mind last night after I signed off.

          * For basement shops, or even garage shops when the garage is attached to the house, noise and fine dust migration have proven to be issues for a few folks as CWS noted too. However, access to the electrical panel is often easy in basement shops when adding wiring!

          * For those electrical circuits, consider 20 amp wiring and outlets. The cost difference relative to the typical 15 amp circuit is negligible but it'll give you more options for larger HP tools in the future. Air compressors take a large current when kicking on especially when there is some pressure in the tank. Drum sanders can gobble well over 15 amps when asked to take a heavy cut... I measured mine with a Kill-o-watt and saw a continuous 18 amps when sanding a wide workpiece. Try to minimize the need for extension cords on larger power tools as well... if you must use extension cords find some rated at high amperage (i.e. with thick wire) to minimize voltage loss. Otherwise your power tool will suffer for power and that makes the motor run hotter. If you think big power tools are in your future (more than 2 horsepower) you'll need 220 volt circuits. Even if you don't want to run those now, make sure you leave space in the circuit breaker panel for a side-by-side 220 style breaker or two.

          * Cordless hand tools (drills, drivers, even a cordless circular saw) are quite handy. Having an off-the-workbench shelf and outlet for the chargers is nice; you don't want them sitting in the way or getting knocked to the floor.

          * work and assembly benches. It's nice to have two work areas - one for dry-fitting, assembly, and finishing the project and another for working individual workpieces after you've taken measurements from the half-assembled dry-fit assembly to see just how wide that drawer front actually needs to be. Most folks though don't have room for two benches and must make do with one work bench and some other assembly area... typically a flat panel (e.g. solid core door) across sawhorses, the top of the table saw, etc. One option is "rotating top" tool stands or "flip top" tool stands. Basically a box with the top on a pivot so you can store tools on both sides and rotate the whole shebang to get to the tool you want. If instead you have only one tool then the other side is empty and can serve as a small worktop. Make a few stands similar in height and you've got a serviceable staging area for assemblies or even a full assembly area. Just make sure the tools that'll now be inaccessible aren't the ones you'll want during assembly - e.g. the belt or spindle sander!

          * Think about the types of tools you'll want around your bench or benches. Having the clamps nearby is worthwhile. And some way of one-handed access to small saws, chisels, mallets, measuring and marking tools, combination squares, etc. near the primary workbench is advisable. Shallow cabinets or shallow shelves above the bench work well. A few drawers underneath the benchtop work too. Just leave room for clamps between the tops of the drawer box and the underside of the work surface. If you get lucky enough to have two work bench areas, you'll probably want to split your clamps unless the benches are close to each other. Put smaller clamps (like F-style clamps) near the working bench and longer parallel jaw clamps, larger F-clamps, etc. near the assembly bench where parts will tend to be bigger.

          * Table saw infeed/outfeed help as CWS noted. Many folks arrange a work area to the same height (or a fraction of an inch lower) as the table saw so that bench can double as a table saw outfeed table. When cutting long workpieces, or wide panels, you'll need help catching them as they pass off the back of the saw. Trying to hold them by hand is just asking for trouble. In my shop, my BT3000 saw with extension rails is on wheels (like almost everything in my shop) so it lives parked against a wall, underneath some cabinets. When I need it I move it to the center of the floor. If I need infeed or outfeed help I have some home built platforms that attach to the undersides of the rails. When fully set up, the footprint is huge, gobbling up almost the entire free floor space of my shop. BUT it allows me to cut full size plywood sheets by myself safely and easily - while making the cut I don't have to support ANY weight of those sheets so I can concentrate on guiding them. There are pics elsewhere on this site of my setup.

          * How much can you do outdoors? With large sheet goods, long boards, etc. being able to cut them down to size outside may be a better option than muscling a heavy plywood sheet down basement stairs. That's where a good blade on a decent circular saw will earn its keep. A couple of sawhorses, 2x4s across them to support the work, and a "saw board" to guide the cut are simple and inexpensive aids to managing large panels. I use Freud blades on my circular saw (and on my BT3000 too) and get very clean cuts. Running a layer of blue painter's tape along the planned cut line pretty much guarantees a clean tear-out free cut.

          * Dust collection - catching as much at the source is a lot better than cleaning it up later. Especially for basement shops where dust migration up the stairs will get you yelled at. Obviously sanding is a major fine dust source. Hand-held sanders typically have dust ports but what about hand sanding with plain old sandpaper? A "downdraft" sanding box that you can hook a vacuum to helps a ton and is a simple thing you can make yourself. You'll see online plans and pictures for units about the size of a bathroom vanity that have big fans inside sucking air through openings in the top (work surface) and exhausting through standard furnace filter panels. Nice, but overkill both in terms of cost and space for a small shop. Imagine taking a wide dresser drawer and covering it with pegboard (or Rockler's metal panels for downdraft tables if you want to spend a little more money)... then cut a hole for the shop vac or dust collector in one side. Lift that sucker onto the bench for sanding, stuff it out of the way when not sanding. I made just such a box and it's worked well for me. Typical pegboard is flimsy so my box is full of interior support columns. I even made small sticks with dowel peg fingers that I can place anywhere in the pegboard holes to generate fences... flat workpieces can then butt against them while I'm sanding.

          * CWS reminded me of another consideration: odor. Good ventilation is critical for many finishes... yet "good ventilation" and "basement" are often mutually exclusive. Can you work outside, or at least in a garage, for the finishing steps?

          * Even with lots of planning, and a few Colorforms Fun tests, don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting to re-arrange stuff once you've started using the shop. If you don't have a good memory, it might pay to write down a few notes of "why" something did or didn't work for future reference. As you add new tools you'll be forced to rearrange things. So, in the initial planning stage, think about the types of tools you hope to acquire in the next few years and include them in your layout plans.

          Last edited by mpc; 04-02-2017, 03:01 PM.


          • #7
            Originally posted by knotley View Post
            Is there a workshop design or gallery forum?
            I have poked around a garage design forum: But that is more for automotive garages.
            Is there a workshop forum design forum that is popular?
            I am just setting up a new shop in my basement.
            Thank you
            There are a LOT of different books you can get on "workshop design"... see the photo below for several of the ones I referenced before I built my "wood shop" addition off to the side of my two car detached garage (12' x 16' with 5' opening into garage -- weird dimension because of setback limitations -- garage {pre-existing when I bought the property 18 years ago} is set at angle to the property line, so I couldn't build full length, and the 12x16 was a sort of stair-stepped "happy medium/compromise"; if I went longer than 16' the thing would have had to be narrower than 12'; to go wider than 12' it would have had to be shorter than 16').

            Note that I included the one on "Workshop Dust Control" because frankly especially if you're talking about a BASEMENT workshop that's going to be one of the primary "issues"you're going to have to deal with. (It's frankly one MAJOR reason why I not only built my wood shop on the side of my garage, but also why I bought a property with a DETACHED garage in the first place; I grew up with my father's wood shop in the basement and I know what a royal "pain" it is dealing with both getting wood DOWN into the shop, getting finished product UP out of the shop, and trying {usually in vain to keep sawdust, wood chips, and various "fumes" & odors from permeating the entire living space {yeah cut wood sometimes has a nice "smell" but you quickly get sick of it, not to mention varnish or paint fumes... or of course the "dust"}... and I personally wanted to NOT have to deal with ANY of that, anymore than I wanted to deal with "vehicle" smells {gas, oil, grease, paint, bondo & fiberglas, whatever} coming into the house from an attached garage.)

            Yeah there IS the downside that with a detached garage (at least in the cold north/midwest) you have to have a separate heating system, and possibly even a separate cooling system for the garage (in my case really only the former: heating -- easily dealt with by insulating and installing a "Hot Dawg" propane ceiling heater -- I can usually cool the shop off by opening windows & garage door at night & with the concrete slab floor of the 2 car garage space, it has enough thermal mass as well as shade from trees that it stays pretty cool even during hot humid summer days).

            I understand that not everyone HAS that option (building some "addition" to a garage)... but quite honestly, I think you'd probably be better off with ANY "detached" workspace -- even if it's some super-compact "10x10 garden shed workshop" -- than trying to put it all in the basement (particularly if you don't have some "double door" ground level entry/exit access to the basement).

            Hope that helps.

            P.S. If you have trouble reading the titles on the books, I can pull the titles & authors (and ISBN numbers) for you... but to be blunt, all of the ones shown are a bit old, and probably several years OUT of publication -- and besides woodworking publishers put out UPDATED versions these kinds of "shop planning" books on a fairly regular basis, so just go to Amazon and do a search on "Wood Shop Layout" in the books section. Then pick a couple.

            P.P.S. Also, if you want to see some pics of my shop, I've started a new topic here -- -- and have & will be posting more photos as well as details of changes I've made recently. If there is any interest I could also probably do a thread on how I designed & built it (pretty sure I still have digital pics from most of the construction, and probably even some of the "planning" stage stuff, 3D models and the like, that I developed BEFORE I built anything).
            Last edited by WLee; 06-29-2018, 12:43 AM.


            • #8

              For some reason, I just noticed this post. Thank you for the thoughts.
              I have no choice other than my basement. No room for a detached workshop. I have begun to put things on wheels.