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Thread: New Workshop: What to consider first!

  1. #1

    New Workshop: What to consider first!

    A simple thread, I was wondering what people regret or would change about their detached workshop builds?

    Currently planning:

    1> Electrical (100amp sub-panel)
    2> Insulation (Spray Foam perhaps with rock wool over it for the ceiling)
    3> Environmental (Mr Cool and perhaps a dehumidifier)
    4> Position DC in best spot for potential closet build if needed later.

    Anything else I should consider? What would you recommend doing before moving into a new built shop?

  2. #2
    Another closet for air compressor. Consider 200 amp service, unless very light hobby use w/small amount of gear or hand-tool primarily. Finishing room, with explosion proof fan if possible. Use sketchup or similar program to draft it out and lay out machines. Helps a ton.

    Hands down, absolutely the best thing I did when building the shop: Radiant heat in the slab floor. One zone for your entire building = super simple and very reasonable cost to DIY the bulk of it. Plumber made final connections/helped kick-start it. No more expensive than a gas-fired box hanging off the ceiling, but much safer in a high-fuel environment like a wood-shop, and super cozy, even heat. (If you need to/plan to heat - don't know your general location. Also, won't work for occasional use, as you can't bump up the thermostat 10 degrees before breakfast and be cozy in an hour... )

    Lots more, but not sure of your goal/expectations. Fill us in on some more details: hobby or career? Type/scale of equipment and rough size of building would go a long way towards helping guide you.


  3. #3
    I concur with Jeff on the 200 amp service. If possible, a separate shed external to main shop for a cyclone DC. Raise the shed floor to the correct height so that the DC inlet hugs the ceiling. If you know Sketchup, it is definitely the way to go to plan the shop. Here is a link to my shop Sketchup drawing. Feel free to rob anything out of it for your own use.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Be generous with the size if you may feel you "only" need x by y, but a little more space will always pay off for flexibility over time. Absolutely get the cyclone and compressor in a sound mitigated closet and make it large enough that you can easily service them, too.

    HVAC....while it's true that in-floor radiant can be a great source of heat, it's most efficient for colder climates where there is a decent length heating season. Why? Because rodent likes to be turned on and stay on for a consistent result over time. For more temperate locations, today's mini splits are wonderful and very economical to run. They will also cover you for dehumidification in most cases...some even have a special mode for that.

    Doors...make your "man door" a generous size, but also plan for a larger door to bring material in and projects out. Some folks use "garage doors". Some folks use carriage/shed type doors that open outward. I favor the latter, honestly. Windows for natural light are nice...use transoms if you want the light but also want to retain wall space.

    Consider your options for your floor. Concrete is easy. Wood is more comfortable.

    I kinda agree with upping the electrical service. There's no downside to that and the cost will likely be only a little more for the higher service and that's primarily because of the heavier feed wire.

    Make sure you get communication/Internet to your shop, preferably hard-wired. You will benefit from it immediately for a number of things and if you decide to embrace some of the modern tools and methods, such as CNC, laser and 3D printing, Internet is essential.

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

  5. #5
    Add Dust collection ducting in floor as well as electric.
    I was smart enough to add the electrical in the floor, but did not do the dust collection when I did my shop.

    As said before bigger is better. I thought I went as big as I would need,but of course I wish I had a few more square feet now

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    NE OH
    I can see the point about larger electrical service, but it's easy enough to add up the loads you will be running at one time, especially if it's a one person shop. Air conditioning and electric heat and electric hot water (if applicable) need to be included in the calculation. Whatever size service you end up with, get the physically largest panel you can; 240 loads eat up breaker slots quickly.

    And speaking of water, you don't say if you plan to have running water and sewer hookups. I would put that high on my list.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  7. #7
    Thanks for all the thoughts all, lots to think about...I knew this group would bring the good stuff.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Tampa Bay, FL
    1.) Enough headroom. 10 ft preferable.
    2.) Dust collection in floor is great. I did mine with a raised access floor, which is unique to workshops, but I love the versatility of it. The problem with in-floor dust collection is that if you move machines....
    3.) Air filtration.
    4.) Cyclone and air compressor in soundproofed closet.
    5.) Soundproofing for shop walls if neighbors / house is close. Rock Wool with double-drywall and green glue is amazingly effective here.
    6.) Mini-split HVAC with heat pump. The heat pump even comes in handy in Florida.
    7.) 3-phase electrical service. I accomplished mine with a Phase Perfect unit, but there are many other ways including from your utility if that is economically feasible (it often is crazy expensive). 200 amp single phase AC with a way to provide 3-phase to necessary machines is clearly a path many have taken.
    8.) A bathroom is always nice, but requires extra space. At least a utility sink.
    9.) Hard-wired internet service run from the house.

    Just a start. Good luck. And share the build here. We all love following them.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
    - Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Alan, that first one is a good one! I'm shooting for 10' myself. The only reason I won't likely go higher is the residential setting and resultant appearance. (zoning has something to say about that, too)

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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    NW Arkansas
    Blog Entries
    I had a 30x30 metal in MS with 10ft walls and more between the few beams. GREAT for WW shop. Swing a 8 ft 2x and never hit anything or think about it. (put lights above beam height if possible)
    In current shop I've got 8 ft sheetrock ceiling that is popcorned. ARHGGGG. I HATE the 8ft ceiling. Lights are lower still. I have to watch all the time. Even much shorter pieces will hit if I'm not careful.
    AT LEAST 10 ft ceilings. And Figure out a place to put a hoist (even the 400 pound rated HF hoist is GREAT) Add an extra joist or two to help support if wood. Lifting a machine to place on a set of rollers or just lifting a motor is great also.
    Mini split. You can save big time if you want on a Senville or similar. I just put one in I bought through eBay and it already has a dehumidifier setting if you have wet air. Fan setting is great in my cool basement. I bought for heat and that works really well also.
    Bathroom is really nice, I've got to run back to house.....which is only 30 feet away, but still would be nice if inside shop.
    Cyclone house next to shop. OUTSIDE main building. Make it big enough to move around in and also if you want to change size later. Cheap to add now. You can always add filter vent to get air back into shop if you want (put that well above the bags if you can)
    I'd put DC piping in attic area if wood, way easier to move if needed, or put above metal joists and drop down.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Having a bathroom is a very nice feature...if that's something that can pass zoning. It's unfortunately not a reality for most of us, however. Water for a slop sink is a nice intermediate step if one is permitted to drain grey water from said sink into, say, a French drain of some sort.

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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    NE Connecticut
    Can you use steel and/or wood trusses to keep from having supports in the middle of your shop? Even one 6" diameter lally column in your shop is guaranteed to be in exactly the wrong place for the layout you want.

    +100 on the heat pump. They are amazing and efficient machines.

    I would absolutely love to have a finishing room - even more than a closet for my DC.

    Don't forget to leave room for maneuvering and big workbenches. Space to work is vital.

  13. #13
    James, when you get into climate control it is difficult to advise without a location. Minot or Miami? As well, what are you thinking about dimensionally. My shop is 30x30x10 with a 100amp service and runs all my 220 gear plus my welder/plasma with no problems. Upgrading depends on your gear of course. One thing to consider is orientation of the building. Mine is a few points off of S and I installed a 7.5 kw solar system last year. We made more than we used in the first year so I have zeroed out my power bill for the property. With CA rates that is a win. I would not consider a dehumidifier until the mini-split showed that it was unable to keep up. They really do an excellent job at that. Check the specs on the unit you choose. They publish the data on dehu.

  14. #14
    Man, more fantastic things to think about.

    A little more detail on the "shop":

    1> It is 24x30 with one garage door and one man door.
    2> I'm doing spray foam on the walls, and spray + mineral wool on the ceiling. I will have beams at 16"OC along the building, they will be at or above 10'.
    3> Not going to be able to do Solar due to HoA limitations, though I might fight that one as I'd love too.
    4> Good tip on the Mini-split and dehumidification. It is easy to add one later, so I'll get a unit that has a dehumidifer setting and see how it does.

    I'm also thinking of swapping out the overhead garage door for home made carriage doors that would allow for real insulation and better weather sealing...the door will be in a stupid high wind exposure (North West) so I'm not sure a standard garage door is going to work long term.

    The location is mid-Atlantic. So HOT/HUMID in the summer and moderately cold in the winter.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by John Lifer View Post
    Mini split. You can save big time if you want on a Senville or similar. I just put one in I bought through eBay and it already has a dehumidifier setting if you have wet air.
    Check the manual carefully for this. I've also got a drier function on my Fujisitu but it will not function unless it's also reducing the temperature. In my case often the temps are fine, but the humidity is still higher than I want, so I ended up buying a stand alone humidifier which just runs without checking to see if it's reducing the temperature. YMMV.

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