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Thread: Ideal Shop size

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Rochester, NY

    Ideal Shop size

    What do you think is the ideal reasonable size shop for a hobbyist containing standard american type power tools including a Cabinet TS and an Island workbench.

    I know this is wide open but before I start to make more specific considerations I would like to hear what people think. Thank you. Should be interesting.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    West of Ft. Worth, TX
    I think I would be very comfortable with 30 X 40, but I'd still want a separate finishing room of maybe 14 X 16 or 15 X 20. but something tells me if I got that shop, pretty soon, I'd want something bigger. I've got a 20 X 24 shop now, with a 12 X 14 room that will eventually be my finishing/assembly room. (anyone notice I don't add /dog isolation to that anymore? ) Jim.
    Coolmeadow Setters...Exclusively Irish! When Irish Eyes are smiling....They're usually up to something!!
    Home of Irish Setter Rescue of North Texas.
    No, I'm not an electrician. Any information I share is purely what I would do myself. If in doubt, hire an electrician!
    Member of the G0691 fan club!
    At a minimum, I'm Pentatoxic...Most likely I'm a Pentaholic. There seems to be no known cure. Pentatonix, winners of The Sing Off, s3.

  3. #3
    Well...I started out with a 20x20 garage shop. I seemed large at the start, but quickly shrunk down with the purchase of machines. I have a TS/shaper combo, Radial arm, Band saw, jointer/planer combo, lathe, drillpress, along with a bunch of hand and power tools. Everything fit, but lumber storage, and project storage was a problem. I moved and Im in the process of converting my basement into a shop. It should be aprox. twice the size. (hope it's enough)


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Pensacola Florida
    mine is 24X30 it seams to be big enough for me. I put everything on mobile bases because I also work on my motorcycle


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Saugus, Kelpafornia
    I think 20-24' X 30-32 would be nice.
    I've been in a shop that was 30 X 48. You had to carry a lunch and a canteen in that wide open spaces.
    Now as far as efficient, I like my current shop in a 20' X 20' attached garage. I don't have to walk too far when I forget something "over there".
    Plus my home office is the inside door to the shop. So I don't have to trapse through the house too much. I can pee in the drain outside the back door. (Hey, I asked if I could put a urinal in, but she said no. So tough poo, a mans gonna do what a mans gonna do.)

    It's not about the ideal, it's about happy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I started with 21' x 17' and currently have 21' x 30' minus a stairwell and my cyclone/compressor closet. I'm planning on moving my lumber storage upstairs and I may even build a dedicated room upstairs for my lathe to free up more space. It really comes down to assembly and finishing at this point...I'd like a little more elbow room.

    My "ideal" would be larger, of course...

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Dallas, Texas

    Size of a shop

    What ever equipment you would like, be it fixed or mobile, make a foot print of equipment on a scaled drawing and go from there.
    Good luck,

    Walk fast and look worried.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Mt. Pleasant, MI
    I have 24x30 (outside dimension) and it is OK but starting to get filled up. I also have a roughly 9x14 finish room.

    Figure what you think you need and add about 4-8 feet in each direction. It is much easier (and cheaper) to build a bit bigger than to add on.

    I am thinking about tearing out the divider wall (the building is 24x40) and making the whole thing shop and adding on a finish room on one end.

    JC Custom WoodWorks

    For best results, try not to do anything stupid.

    "So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala "Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith"

  9. #9
    I currently have a 17' x 18' shop but that is about to change. I bought my parents home, Mom wanted a smaller place after Dad passed way earlier this year. There home is on 2 1/2 acres with a 24' x 40' detached garage, this will be my new shop. I am building a closet attached to the back of the garage for my cyclone to live as I did not want to to take up room inside my shop any more. The air compressor will also be in another building not attached to the garage. There is also 1 other building that is 22' x 22' that will become my finishing room.

    It does seem a little strange doing all this after Dad passed but it is all things that we talked about doing some day. I know he is looking down with a big smile and glad that the place is staying in the family.

    Did not mean to hijack the thread...

    "Chaos is the law of nature. Order is the dream of man."
    Wallace Stegner

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Northern Oregon
    I had 1000 square feet when I was first got into the woodworking business from 1970 to 1977. In 1977 bought a 3000 square foot shop. Both were big enough for a 1 man shop.

    I retired and thought I was done with woodworking. I got hooked again and built a little 10'x 12' shop just for fun. I wanted to keep it real simple and cheap. I had a contractor saw in the center and opened the doors for long rips. It worked fine for the few things I made.

    One huge plus for that 10'x12' size, everything was at arms length reach! I'd often think wow in my old shop I'd have to walk 50' and back just grab this tool!

    Then I did a couple jobs for friends and needed a bigger shop, mostly for assembly and lumber storage. So I built our dream house and a shop.
    This time I got to design and build an "ideal size" shop from scratch.

    Notice how I put "ideal" in quotes?

    It turns out ideal was still a compromise. Not as much a compromise as fitting my shop into a fixed size space, but I was limited by lot size. So I went UP to get space.

    My new shop is 20'x30' with a 28' ceiling. My plan was to use the shop to build the furniture and built-ins for my house and add a second floor if I needed the space. The 20'x30' space is enough for the work I do now, but I want a lower ceiling.
    It's hard to heat and light a shop with 28' ceilings!
    I also miss being able to use " go-bars" for clamps. Go-bars are thin springy wood strips propped against the ceiling .

    Take your time and do a scale layout. Move scale size machines around and think about clearance. I needed an 18' space on 1 wall for my panel saw.

  11. #11
    Im in a 24x32 2 levels although right now the second floor isnt being utilized as well as it could. Like Jim B Im also thinking of putting my lathe up there or building on a 12x24 addition for a lathe/finishing room(s). A friend of mine has a 36x36 and its ideal I think, he has alot of room.
    If at first you don't succeed, look in the trash for the instructions.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Fallbrook, California
    My new shop/garage building is 24' x 40' with most of it dedicated to shop space. I already know, before I move in, that it will be too small. It was the biggest building that would fit on the lot and actually bigger than I could afford. It seems that no matter how big our shops are we always want more room. As someone said in a similar thread, perhaps Walmart might be big enough. The most important thing is to enjoy what space we have. Last week there was a thread started buy a guy whose only bathroom in his apartment doubles as his shop. He was having a blast at his hobby.
    Don Bullock
    Woebgon Bassets
    AKC Championss

    The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
    -- Edward John Phelps

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    When I built my 24 by 24 shop I thought would have plenty of space. WRONG! It seems like the rule of thumb is estimate what you need. Then double that and add 20%. Good luck.

    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Stanwood, WA
    The real answer may be "who cares"!

    I moved up to a 20 x 20 from a one car garage and I think that no matter the size the wood worker will do 2 things most every time:

    1) Wish they had more room
    2) Deal with what they have


    "Everything is better with Inlay or Marquetry!"

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Pleasant Grove, UT
    Gee, sound's like "what's the ideal size for a model railroad layout room?"

    Well, a lot of it depends on what scale you're modelling in, er, what sort of woodworking you want to be doing. There was a fella profiled in either Woodwork or Fine Woodworking a few years back who's entire shop fit in a large toolbox. Not toolchest, toolbox. He was a carver, or perhaps "micro-carver" would be a better description. Not only did his shop fit in the box, but so did his "gallery" of finished work, his lumber storage, and then, to top it off, the box became his "workspace", i.e., he would sit on it!

    On the other end of the spectrum, you've got guys building boats or hosting classes or carving totem poles, they need big shops...

    In short, the ideal shop is where dreams are brought to fruition. The size of the shop depends on the nature of the vision. What do you want to build? How do you want to build it? And what are your work processes going to be like, i.e., will you have multiple projects in progress at once, or will you work on only one project at a time?

    If I ever become a gazillionaire, I'll build a whole passel of different size shops, just so I can sort out the "ideal size." Or at least ideal for me...
    It came to pass...
    "Curiosity is the ultimate power tool." - Roy Underhill
    The road IS the destination.

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