Page 1 of 8 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 118

Thread: Rules of Thumb for Workshop Size

  1. #1

    Rules of Thumb for Workshop Size

    Hi all, I am a new member and this is my first question.

    I am about to build a new garage/workshop to house my tools that are currently scattered in several locations because I have outgrown my 18x26 basement shop. I have worked on general arrangements of a functional shop but I am coming up with a lot of square footage. I was just curious if anybody knows of a reasonably accurate way to estimate the overall dimensions based on the number and type of tools to be housed. I am looking for something that puts a constraint on the size then I just work on the layout within that constraint that suits me. Any ideas? Here is a list of the main power tools

    1. Delta Unisaw with extension table
    2. Delta 14in bandsaw
    3. Delta 18in drill press
    4. Incra router table
    5. Craftsman 36 in lathe
    6. Performax 16-32 flatbed sander
    7. Craftsman 6in stationary belt/disk sander
    8. Craftsman 10 in radial arm saw
    9. Dewalt 10 sliding compound miter saw and stand
    10. Classic woodworking bench with wall hanging tool cabinet
    11. Powermatic 15" planer
    12. Oneida 2 Hp dust collector
    13. Ridgid shop vacuum with Dust Deputy cyclone
    14. 4' x 5' assembly table

    And some bench top tools that I want to have a good place to set up.
    11. Delta scroll saw
    12. Porter-Cable Omnijig
    13. Kreg Pocket Hole system

    I also currently have a wood storage rack with 30" cantilever arms that is about 12' wide and a 18" by 8' "closet" for plywood.

    I have 3 metal shelving units that hold hand tools and miscellaneous hardware bins and tool accessories. I have a lifetime of jigs crammed in a 10' x6' closet.

    I plan to add some base cabinets and rolling tool carts to increase storage space and organize the storage better.

    The current plan is to have heated enclosed shop space as part of the garage building. Doors opening from the shop to the parking bays would be my expansion space for handling sheet goods and long feed operations. The planer and radial arm saw would likely live in the garage space.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Hendersonville, NC
    Posts
    331
    Before you (or any of us) can realistically plan a new shop building, there are some key issues to address first. Assuming you want to park one or more cars in the same space, you need to make that determination for any of us to recommend a combined space -- a typical 2-car garage of 20 x 24 is about the same square footage of your current basement shop. The other factors include the amount of building space you have available for a "large" building and your construction budget. If you want more shop space and need to park two cars, you are looking at a 30 x 40 building in order to gain 50% over your existing shop. Remember than no woodworker has a shop that he believes is big enough.
    ______________________________
    Rob Payne -- McRabbet Woodworks

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Williamston, SC
    Posts
    694
    There is only one rule of thumb I use when determining the size needed........Make it bigger! My 1st shop was 10'x20', my current shop is 26'x26' and it's still too small.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    No. Virginia and Fulton, Mississippi
    Posts
    207
    Grizzly has a handy online tool that let's you plan a workshop. But without knowing the layout of your land and the size of your bank account it's hard to give accurate advice.

    I have recently gone from an area of about 300 sq feet in my basement to 4 shops with a total of 5,500 sq feet. I now think I've almost enough space.
    Setting up a workshop, from standing tree to bookshelves

  5. #5

    A Revised Question: Let's Do a Survey

    Thanks for the response Robert.

    Yes, there are a lot of things to consider when designing a building, but I am not asking for advice on the design. That is too big of a question for a forum. I am making a request of the group's experience. I want a rule of thumb for total shop floor space. If we do not have such a rule, let's do a survey and develop one.

    If you have X stationary power tools and Y square feet in which they are installed, then Z is the square feet per stationary tool that works for you. That is the kind of number I am looking for. It is a simplification and there will be a range, but the average and highs and lows of the population may be useful to know for planning a shop.

    So here is a revised question, what is your shop square footage and how many stationary power tools are in it. Feel free to add any comments or other advice on your shop size versus number of tools or kind of woodwork you do that might bear on the ratio.

    For myself, I currently have 7 tools (table saw, router table, drill press, miter saw, jointer, bandsaw, and vacuum) set up in the 468 sq ft. basement shop. So I have a Z= 66 sq ft/tool. I expect that this is on the low side of the distribution. Everything but the drill press is on wheels or otherwise portable. I frequently have to move things around to have enough space around the tools to work.

    I will be happy to tabulate, plot, and analyze the results with my excessively geeky woodworker/engineer skills.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by george newbury View Post
    Grizzly has a handy online tool that let's you plan a workshop. But without knowing the layout of your land and the size of your bank account it's hard to give accurate advice.

    I have recently gone from an area of about 300 sq feet in my basement to 4 shops with a total of 5,500 sq feet. I now think I've almost enough space.
    Wow 5500 sq ft. I am impressed.

    I am aware of Grizzly's and Fine Woodworking's workshop floor plan tools and Better Home and Gardens room planner (not specifically woodworking but you can make it work). The library of icons of woodworking tools that they have are nice, but I actually prefer to just use Sketchup. It is what I know best. It is 3D and I can draw rough mockups of things very fast. I use it for furniture design also.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Damm View Post
    There is only one rule of thumb I use when determining the size needed........Make it bigger! My 1st shop was 10'x20', my current shop is 26'x26' and it's still too small.
    This will be my third or fourth shop (depending on how you count it) and probably my last. I am probably going upwards of 26x26 this time. Everything is a compromise.

  8. #8
    no matter how big you make it will never be big enough

  9. #9
    Well I think if you are going to do rule of thumbs
    lets start with the table saw, the placement of mine accommodates
    16' in the front and rear of the blade
    5' to the left, 5' to the right

    320 sqft for my table saw


    I seem to run 12' material thru most of my equipment so planer, jointer, bandsaw, sander, and radial arm saw
    so lets say each machine needs 2'x2' area where the machine contacts the wood and 3 foot at least to one side of the machine to walk around it
    so 5 machines 5'x26' 650sqft

    add benches, cabinets, wood storage, dust collector

    so i would say 1200 sqft for the shop 30x40

    30x20 to include assembly, storage, and finishing areas

    so 1800 sqft for starters
    Carpe Lignum

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Wilson View Post
    If you have X stationary power tools and Y square feet in which they are installed, then Z is the square feet per stationary tool that works for you. That is the kind of number I am looking for. It is a simplification and there will be a range, but the average and highs and lows of the population may be useful to know for planning a shop.
    I'm afraid there is no such formula. The size of the shop depends on how much clear floor space you require for projects underway. The machines themselves take little room compared to building/assembly space. My shop has been in several buildings over the last 30 years. Now that I am retired I require far less working space then when I was building telescopes a dozen at a time. Lots of my shop photos showing some of the different layouts I used on my site.
    Last edited by Tom Clark FL; 11-23-2013 at 2:09 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by phil harold View Post
    Well I think if you are going to do rule of thumbs
    lets start with the table saw, the placement of mine accommodates
    16' in the front and rear of the blade
    5' to the left, 5' to the right

    320 sqft for my table saw


    I seem to run 12' material thru most of my equipment so planer, jointer, bandsaw, sander, and radial arm saw
    so lets say each machine needs 2'x2' area where the machine contacts the wood and 3 foot at least to one side of the machine to walk around it
    so 5 machines 5'x26' 650sqft

    add benches, cabinets, wood storage, dust collector

    so i would say 1200 sqft for the shop 30x40

    30x20 to include assembly, storage, and finishing areas

    so 1800 sqft for starters
    Just to be clear, is this what you actually have or is this what you would recommend?

    In either case, you have come up with a different estimation formula. That is a valid way to do it too.

    Lets work out the numbers my way too. In the Z=Y/X square foot per stationary tool, I think you are suggesting my shop with 14 stationary tools would have Z= 1800/14=128 sq ft/tool. That would be nice and spacious. Thanks!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Clark FL View Post
    I'm afraid there is no such formula. The size of the shop depends on how much clear floor space you require for projects underway. The machines themselves take little room compared to building/assembly space. I shop has been in several buildings over the last 30 years. Now that I am retired I require far less working space then when I was building telescopes a dozen at a time. Lots of my shop photos showing some of the different layouts I used on my site.
    I looked at your shop. It is really gorgeous. I move my tools around too. That is not the question. I am looking for data not a formula. What is the square footage and number of stationary tools that are set up in your shop? Let's just develop a statistical sample. The Law of Large Numbers will take care of the rest. (Bernoulli would be so pleased.)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Wilson View Post
    Just to be clear, is this what you actually have or is this what you would recommend?

    In either case, you have come up with a different estimation formula. That is a valid way to do it too.

    Lets work out the numbers my way too. In the Z=Y/X square foot per stationary tool, I think you are suggesting my shop with 14 stationary tools would have Z= 1800/14=128 sq ft/tool. That would be nice and spacious. Thanks!
    I have 30x40 now and looking for more

    I am suggesting that there is a individual sqft requirement to use each tool/cabinet/workbench/shelf to work safely
    not x amount of equipment =sqft
    Carpe Lignum

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by phil harold View Post
    I have 30x40 now and looking for more

    I am suggesting that there is a individual sqft requirement to use each tool/cabinet/workbench/shelf to work safely
    not x amount of equipment =sqft
    That is true, but complicated. My hypothesis is that it all averages out. For statistical purposes, in your 1200 square feet do you have 7 stationary power tools (table saw, planer, jointer, bandsaw, sander, radial arm saw, and dust collector) so your Z=1200/7=171?

    I know what you are saying. I am still interested in the statistics and discussion of shop size. The problem of adding up necessary space is the difficulty of accounting for overlapping work spaces around different tools, and space that has multiple purposes. That is really complicated I am looking for a simple correlation that averages things out.based on people's real workshops, not their dreams. The correlation may not work all that well. Maybe a better correlation will be Z=Y/X + S where S is a fixed area. If we can get some people to volunteer their data, we can see how this works out. It is all fun and games until they start pouring concrete at my shop.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Beantown
    Posts
    2,788
    Here's the problem with estimating size based on tools…..it leaves out what your doing with the tools Let's say for an example…..2 identical size shops buy the same table saw and shaper. One shop wants to make mostly cabinet doors and small pieces of furniture, the other wants to make passage doors and moldings. The one making passage doors and moldings is probably going to need double the indeed and out feed space as the one doing cabinet doors. So it's not so much about the machines as what your going to make with the machines

    Second problem is the idea of calculating sq. ft. per machine. Although it makes sense at first, it does't account for something almost all small shops have to do…..share space. So in my shop the jointer out feed is the same area as the shaper infeed. The planer out feed is the same as the wide belt infeed….and so on. And the number of machines per sq. ft. does't work either. A 12-14" table saw consumes almost trouble the floor space as a 10" saw. You could have a 6" joint for a 16" joiner. I know you listed your machines sizes, but if guys reply with # of machines per ft. they'd also have to list all their machine sizes and then it gets too complicated

    In my opinion the best way to layout the shop is a combination of your experience with how you like to work, and taking that and translating it to a floor plan. You can use scaled down cardboard cutouts of your machines to place them, and then secondary pieces to show in and out feed required. Now of course this is a bit more difficult if you don't have a size to begin with, so you'll have to reverse engineer it a bit

    Lastly I'll say the best rule of thumb I can give you…..build it just slightly bigger than the biggest size you can afford to! Unless you buy a factory I don't think there's any such thing as too big a shop. I'm on my second and at 1700 sq. ft. I'm seriously crunched for space. For me I think roughly 3k sq. ft. would be a nice comfy size

    good luck,
    JeffD

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •