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Thread: Hybrid Workshop Size?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Edmond, Oklahoma
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    1,616

    Hybrid Workshop Size?

    Hi All,

    A long time desire for a shop looks pretty doable in the next year or less. I have retired, moved, and now have a big enough back yard for a workshop that I have wanted, but never had, for most of my adult life.

    The plan is for a hybrid shop with larger power tools for materials preparation and also for some of the precision work, and also to be able to store and use my pretty good selection of hand tools in typical Neander fashion.

    Tools, etc.:

    I have my dad's old table saw and a lunch box thickness planer I bought a while back when it was on sale. The plan is to get a full size jointer, a band saw, and a drill press. I also am wanting to build a 6' Moravian workbench that can be hauled in the back of a pickup, but will also be in the shop most of the time, and a 7'6" main work bench. In addition I may put in an old desk I have, and an 8' school Manual Training workbench that was my dads, which will mostly be used for non-woodworking things. (Family connection on that bench.) Also needed will be Lumber storage, a wall tool cabinet, an existing tool cabinet (2'X5'), an existing assembly table (also has tool storage in it), and possibly an Anarchists type tool chest.

    I will probably have a back room in the shop to store the wife's Christmas stuff, other house stuff, and things like duck decoys, etc., but I am not counting that as shop space.

    Some of the above is expendable, and I may get rid of the desk which is expendable, and also the assembly table because it's tool storage is extremely inefficient. These can go if space becomes an issue. One of the workbenches can sever as an assembly table, and work just fine for that.

    Some of the big tools can go on casters so that they can be rolled against the wall to be out of the way and so that they will take up less space. The table saw, which is not a big one, is already on casters. The band saw, etc. will also probably have casters on them. The assembly table and the tool storage cabinet are already on casters, and have been since I built them.

    Some of the wall cabinets can go on the wall above things like the old manual training bench (I am not sure I can get the bench because it now belongs to a relative who probably does not use it, he may be willing to sell it to me, or possibly he has already sold it). In addition there will be smaller misc. items such as saw horses, and a planned roll around cabinet for nails and screws. This will have a top on it to set near the main bench for "in use" tools that are being used when working at the bench, etc.

    I am asking for advise and thoughts here on the Neander forum, rather than in the shop forum, because of my strong interest in Neander type work, rather than solely in power tool work that I expect in the shop forum.

    I am currently making scale cut outs of the bench type tools and benches, etc., and a scale drawing of potential shop floor plans so I can move the cut outs around to see how everything will fit in the actual shop.

    I am thinking of a shop size of about 22' X 30', that that is my initial thought, but nothing is set in stone.

    What thoughts on shop size do you all think and suggest? Any thought will be much appreciated.

    Thanks and regards,

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 06-30-2022 at 4:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Could you add a basement under your main shop? I added it and the space is great for wood storage, out of season stuff, my dust collector, infrequently used tools. I don’t have an estimate on the percentage increase in cost.

    On your tool inventory versus area, my opinion is that 22x30 will be tight. That is basically a large 2 car garage. You will need for most tools to be mobile. I have worked in smaller spaces and had to struggle on every task to move things around to do each step. I was younger then but it was a huge mental obstacle to even start. I mostly made kitchens and other built-ins that required a bit of space. The space needed depends on the projects. I am happy with 25x35 with full basement. That would be a big step up in cost compared to 22x30. I am sure you will resort to the paper doll layout and planning. Have fun and good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    216
    Hi Stew,

    While I can’t speak well to hybrid woodworking (I haven’t used my few machines in long enough that I’m planning on selling them off) I can say that for my own part the workbench is the central feature of my workshop area. I find that I like to have around 4-6 feet of space around my bench. In part, this is due to a tendency for various things to encroach on the available space—some of it my own doing, and some not; my workshop area is in the family garage, so it’s a shared space. In part, my desire for 4-6 feet of clearance around my bench is also based on making sure my footing is clear so that, for example, I can use a drawknife on a larger workpiece hanging off the bench while standing with one foot forward and the other foot back.


    So, my suggestion would be to make sure there’s plenty of room around your bench to use any hand tool you wish, taking into account the size of the workpieces, how you will hold them, and space to set your feet. Then, add a little extra.


    For the machines, I’d suggest that you take someone else’s advice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Longview WA
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    My shop is approximately 625 square feet without much in the way of power tools and is very crowded.

    Build as big as you can. Build with a basement and second floor if possible.

    Seldom heard when someone is talking about their workspace or storage space is, "I wish this space was smaller."

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
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    3,021
    Are there any zoning laws or ordinances? Insurance issues with your carrier? Fire marshall approval? Cost to get electricity and electrical capacity you can get in a remote building? I'd look at that kind of stuff before you get too far along with the planning.

  6. #6
    If you're building it, go bigger, as big as you possibly can. I have a 25x30 and an additional room that's 15x22 and I'm still buried once a job starts. It looks perfect and functional when it's clean and there's no wip but as soon as something starts...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Location
    Spartanburg South Carolina
    Posts
    367
    I have a 16' x 10' I got rid of a chop saw & jointer to have enough room to move. Based on that I think with two benches and a jointer along with all the other tools you will be tight in there. Switching to hand tool work made the space work for me. Even though I am not using my planner or table saw, just not having to pull them out helps.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    South West Ontario
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    1,375
    My space is 1,500 sq ft with 14 ft ceiling. In concrete floor heating is wonderful and very efficient. The temp goes right back after opening the massive door.
    Wood storage racks, table saw off feed table etc. Three other tool stations, not used that often. Assembly area and table. Racks, tool carts etc. Sink, fridge, coffee prep table.
    You could build 2000 sq ft and be very happy.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Lafayette, Indiana
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    1,353
    I have A 22x22 shop building and most if not all the tools you list. Unisaw with a 52” fence, SCM station, router table flanked by two 4’ counters, 18” Bandsaw, 13” planer, 6” jointer, two 8’ tall metal shelves, 12” deep, 36” wide, drill press, 30”x60” outfeed table that doubles as storage, assembly table and a second work bench, a dust collector, pancake air compressor, 7’ workbench with leg vise and twin screw tail vise, one wall cabinet is primarily a plane till and chisel storage. Two other two shelf book shelves hold fasteners, some block planes, a few woodies, and drill bits. A small chisel rack behind the bench with lots of stuff on the wall over the bench(dividers, compass, mallets, rules, marking gauges, coping saw, squares. I have a sheet goods rack and shorts bin. Lumber stashed on wall racks on two walls, as well as under the bench. Parallel clamps stored on the sheet good cart, F clamps hang on the back of the dust hood for the SCM. The table saw is positioned so that I can rip 10’ lumber. The TS,SCM, Bandsaw and planer are clustered around the DC to keep all of the runs short. I never finish in the shop. I either do that in the house or in the attached garage. My shop feels cramped, but it has 10’ ceilings and sky lights. I also have an old desk 36” wide x 26” writing desk and 24” metal base cabinet, and an old craftsman shaper. I recommend getting some graph paper. Cut out to scale foot prints for you tools and benches, you might cover them in scotch tape. Then draw a 22 x 30 floor plan and start playing around with the layout. I have a separate shed for yard tools, garden tools, mowers and the like. It really helped me to not share the shop with anything not wood working related. On occasion the chain saw or an axe takes up resident in the shop as well as some electrical supplies, but everything else is either in the basement, attic, or shed. 22x22 is cramped, I don’t have the luxury of working from all sides of my workbench.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    I agree you should go as big as you can. I too have never heard anyone say "I wish my shop was a little smaller." One thing to consider is climate control. I have a bunch of handplanes, some chisels, some old hand saws, I really really want my shop space on a thermostat so I can sleep through the night without having a condensation event on all my hand sharpened edges.

    FWIW all my power tools are 110/120 volt. I do share a 2 car garage (roughly 600sqft) with my wife. I don't even try to run my planer or jointer in the shop, I roll them out to the driveway for stock prep.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    347
    Agree with most comments above. I built my 1200 sq ft shop four years ago, and added a basement pretty much right before we started excavating. Good call, added costs weren’t huge but now I have my dust collection, air compressor, and 3 phase downstairs, plus lots of storage, and my lofting table for boat build designing.

    I heat my shop with a Rinnai ES38 wall heater (I think model number is correct) run on a Honeywell thermostat, chosen as the only one I could find with 40 degree setting option plus phone app connection. Uses very little gas and heats shop up to 60 by my phone 30 minutes before I head out there.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    347
    Also, go over to the workshops sub forum for lots more advice. Much of it is repetitive, but I ended up reading many of the posts for several years back, taking notes. You can find great tips on construction, flooring, DC, heating or cooling, electrical, etc.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
    Posts
    2,483
    I would kill (figuratively) for a shop area the size of a two car garage. My basement corner shop requires everything but the bench be on wheels. Pulling out the table saw can be like playing Tetris.
    Last edited by Rob Luter; 07-04-2022 at 11:33 AM.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Edmond, Oklahoma
    Posts
    1,616
    Hi all,

    Shop is currently on hold again for a little while, having just been put to forced labor working on the new pantry I framed earlier, building shelves, finishing and hanging the door, etc. For the time being I will be working in my son in laws shop on the pantry project.

    The advise from you who have shops and work in them with Neander tools is invaluable to me, you can't beat real experience, and I am very thankful for all of the thoughts and excellent advice received so far. I look forward to more good thoughts, but decided to give an update of what I have seen so far.

    I am incredibly impressed how well and efficiently some of you do with relatively smaller shops. Also I have never had a shop, so even the smallest shops above would have been a huge improvement over primarily working outside on sawhorses and planks like I did for most of my years.

    Yep, I am looking into building permits, insurance, getting utilities to the shop, zoning, etc.

    You who advised on going bigger were right, from my perspective, but it doesn't look like I will have to go a lot bigger. The next morning after sending out the original post, I made a scale drawing of the shop size I was thinking of, and drew in a grid with 2' intervals so I could visualize spacing. Next were cutouts, on the cardboard backs of old writing tablets, of the storage cabinets I already built, the tools I have and plan to get, desk, lumber storage, etc., these again to the same scale as the shop. I then played with different arrangements of things on the shop drawing. Again, the 22X30 was just my initial idea, and only a starting point for my thinking.

    It became apparent that I could get everything in there and it would be OK, but working space around some of the stuff would be a bit cramped. If most things were on casters, it could work very well, but it would require moving things around fairly often. What did surprise me was that going just a bit larger in both length and width makes things a lot easier. The thought from above from John, that when a project gets started, then what seems to be plenty of space initially quickly becomes more crowded, resonates with me. This based on my three decades of experience doing research in a lab and other years being a quality control chemist and lab and quality control manager. Working in a lab, especially doing what I did, has a lot in common with working in a shop. I had to design and build space grabbing reactor set ups, etc.

    I have historically always tried to figure out the cheapest way I could possibly do things, due to cost. However, it dawned on me to go ahead and plan to make it a bit bigger as it will not cost that much more, and I can afford a bit bigger shop. Also, from the comments above, I realized I had not thought about a sharpening station, dust collection, etc. That said, I am not planning on any more permanently space grabbing power tools. Some seldom used items can be made come apart and store.

    I also realized that some shop pieces and storage I built about 25 years ago, would be better rebuilt to solve issues that became apparent over time. For one example, I have an assembly table/storage cabinet/sometimes workbench, that I use for clamping a vise on, etc. Both of my metal type vises are mounted on bases so I can move them around. The existing bench/cabinet is poor storage, etc. After using it around 25 years, I want to redesign and rebuilt it to make it far more useful for multiple uses, and also for more convenient storage. I can use a lot of the existing piece in the new one.

    Again, thanks for the much advice, and look forward to more good comments.
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 07-04-2022 at 12:50 PM.

  15. #15
    Good call, especially thinking ahead to working space. Stuff works differently once all is setup and I guarantee you'll move more than a few things around, a few times. Something else to consider is working height. In a small (hybrid) shop, you'll want one tool working off the height of all the others so there's less to move around when you need access to one machine, workbench, etc or another. Enjoy your new space and enjoy building it.

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