Any serious woodworker who’s been keeping tools in the garage for years probably loves the idea of building a shop dedicated to woodworking. If you’re planning your dream shop, here are some important things to consider before you start building.

Location

There’s no one perfect spot to put a shop, although you probably have a preference. Budget, yard size, and how often you’ll use it are the biggest factors to weigh when deciding where to put your shop. Here are the three most common locations and some of the pros and cons of each.
  • Part of the house: You may want your shop as part of your existing home if you have a large garage with some space that’s going to waste. Most woodshops start in the garage, but by putting up a few walls you can section off a dedicated space and stop worrying about getting sawdust all over everything in the garage. You may also choose to build an addition onto the house. This can save you the trouble of running electricity to an outbuilding, and if you’re concerned about resale value, an extra private room that could be repurposed as an office could add a lot of value to your home.
  • Basement: Basements aren’t ideal for a shop since they’re harder to ventilate and the stairs make transporting materials inconvenient. However, if you don’t have a large yard and you do have an unfinished basement, this can be a very affordable option.
  • Your yard: If you have the money and a large yard, you can’t beat a dedicated shop building away from the house. The distance from the house keeps the noise levels down for the rest of the family, you can install a large door to improve ventilation when the weather is nice, you can easily get large pieces in and out, and it just feels great to have your own space.

No matter what you decide, remember to check with your municipality’s building department to see if you need a permit for any of these options.

Design and Size

Budget is the biggest factor when it comes to designing your shop, but don’t feel like you have to pay out the nose to get a nice shop. You can save money if you’re willing to do some (or all) of the labor yourself, or there are good quality shed kits that can be easily assembled fairly quickly.

The biggest advantage of building your shop from the ground up is that you can customize it perfectly for your needs. The kits are generally affordable, but if you have the know-how, you may find they’re not really much cheaper than building it yourself.

When deciding on the size, draw out a plan, and include your large tools, workbenches, storage cabinets, etc. Bigger is almost always better when it comes to a shop, but don’t waste space, especially if your yard is small.

Utilities

A good shop needs plenty of outlets, so don’t skimp on the electrical. You should always use a licensed electrician to make sure your electrical setup is as safe as possible. Some of the things you need to consider when setting up include:
  • Lighting: Excellent lighting is a must when woodworking. Installed lights and powerful free-standing units can both be useful.
  • Ventilation: This is especially important if your shop is in the house, but outdoor shops need good ventilation as well. You may get a fan, a dedicated dust collector, or an air cleaner. No matter how good your ventilation is, never lacquer or spray-paint indoors unless you’re wearing a respirator.
  • Heat: You’re probably building your shop in the summer, but don’t forget about heating. You might install a gas or electric forced air unit, a wood stove, a space heater, or a radiant in-floor heating system. Consider both the install cost and the lifetime usage cost when deciding which is best for you.

A shop doesn’t have to be complicated or overly expensive, so if you’ve been waiting around to get your tools out of the garage, now’s as good a time as ever to start building! You’ll enjoy woodworking all the more when you can do it in your own dedicated space.

We love hearing from you! What are your favorite features in your woodshop? Let us know in the comments!

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