View Full Version : Is an office area in a shop a waste of space?

Alistair Hosie
10-04-2003, 10:34 PM
In building my new shop extension I have created a small space about seven feet by seven feet. Space is at a premium and this only came about as the trusses where so long on the extension I added the stud wall below this part for extra strength (not really needed just me being a scardy pants).
Anyway my wife feels this would make a nice office area as I have a large collection of books etc taking up space presently in my bedroom (our bedroom).
I would like this, but think I could squeeze my two woodworking lathes in there too so I need advice should I forget an office area which would be a luxury or use it for my lathes. I feel if I do make a small office there I would build in a desk with suitable machinery around me where I could sit and do fine things such as woodcarving etc as I still have all my dental drills these are top notch and I intend to use them but don't want to do anything yet which is in haste and then change it later.C'mon guys ideas are needed Alistair

10-05-2003, 12:20 AM
Hello Alistair,
I'm very glad I put an office in my shop. It's about 10'x10'square x8'high. Made from old office partitions scrounged from a former place of employment. I have my desk, filing cabinet, typewriter stand w/ typewriter, and a lot of shelves along the walls for my books. It keeps things in their place, away from the dirt in the shop.
They were remodeling the offices where I used to work. I got the office partitions, desk, desk chair,and the typewriter and stand. The guys asked if I wanted to take a secretary along too!

G.A. Ewen
10-05-2003, 12:34 AM
In one corner of my shop I have a desk and two chairs. Most of my books are also in the shop. It is a quiet place to read and it's handy when I am working to be able to look something up without running to the house. If one of the guys stops in we can sit down and visit without tracking snow or swarf into the house. I have a telephone in the shop for the same reason. I like this arrangement and so does my wife. And yes, it is very handy to sit at the desk when fiddling with something small.

10-05-2003, 12:54 AM
It depends on how badly you need that space for your lathes. Does the whole shop have heat or AC? If not you can create a nice refuge by installing a cheap window unit and a heater, (make them large enough so you can change temp rapidly if you don't want to keep them on all the time). Maybe a TV or computer as well? . It gives you a place to get cooled off and do detail work in comfort. You can also store tools and such that you want to stay clean and climate controlled. Possibly a layout area with surface plate and height gauge?
If ceiling height allows, you can drop the ceiling a bit and create a nice storage area overhead. Make the extra wall removable so you can always change your mind. I have a LOT of books as well, but shop space is always at too much of a premium to store them there! BTW you are not alone, I have a "scaredy pants" partition in my shop as well.

Polski, What's a typewriter??? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

10-05-2003, 01:26 AM

Ancient manual word processor similar to a digital calculator, in fact, operated by the same digits.


Oh, and I recommend the office. Nice place to relax and plan, think, sleep...(when the need arises).

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 10-05-2003).]

10-05-2003, 01:35 AM
The devil you say! I suppose you guys cut your dinner with flint knapped knives?

10-05-2003, 01:45 AM
Funny you should mention that. The sharpest edge in the world is a broken glass microtome, including obsidian.

Also, I get a very warm satisfied fuzzy feeling when I sit surrounded by the books in my library. It's nice to know that I can go over to the shelf and pick up a reference book and find out whatever it was I forgot, again.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 10-05-2003).]

10-05-2003, 02:28 AM
I have a desk, filing cabinet and bookshelves in one corner of the shop. There's also a remote cordless phone extension and an old Pentium 1 computer with a word processor and CAD program (which I'm still trying to come to grips with). The computer lives under a large plastic bag on a trolley so it can be moved away from any jobs which are producing a lot of dust, and after three years shows no ill effects. I wouldn't be without the office area, although it does get a bit warm there in the summer. It was 37* Celcius in there yesterday afternoon, and it's only October.


10-05-2003, 03:02 AM
I would like a small room in the shop where I could sit and have a drink, ponder some item on paper, hear some tunes, and find reference material without the protective layer of crud. It would be awfully nice to be able to look outside, as well, for a small but healthful reconnection to the world.

10-05-2003, 03:09 AM

I believe the ayes have it. Office it must be. Angle your lathes like parked cars, they take less space.

10-05-2003, 03:28 AM

If you can spare the space - go for it.
She is probably going to make you move the tool grinder out of the kitchen too... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Alistair Hosie
10-05-2003, 09:51 AM
Dave she did have the toolgrinder in the kitchen as a matter of fact.I think it was in anticipation of a certain variety of meatloaf we had craned in over the roof last summer. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif That's hard sorry Dave

10-05-2003, 09:56 AM
A place for reference books, a desk or table to sketch plans, etc. or a place to reflect is not a waste of space.
A golf course, now that is a waste of space.

Alistair Hosie
10-05-2003, 10:12 AM
what about my new upstairs swimming pool I have all the parts cut from MDf soon as I get them up the stairs I was going to nail then together. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif Alistair

10-05-2003, 11:37 AM
I think it really depends on the individuals own needs. When I was still teaching I found my shop office of great use but now that I have retired I find I only use it to check on specs, answer phone calls and record information. I moved the computer to a spare bedroom in the house and my reference books to a seldom used upholstery room above the shop. My problem was maintaining a clean desk because of the grit and dust generated while machining. I will say that one thing that should always go with a shop office and that is a wash room or better yet with a bathroom and better yet with a shower. Because my shop was located 100+ ft. from the house a bathroom had to be figured into the shop plan which also included a shower. The shower didn't work out as a required item but the bathroom sure has or I was going to loose the big tree next to the shop door. Because of location the plumbing could be a problem. In my case, I went with a complete sepic tank and field which added some to the cost of the shop but worth it. The hot water heater was placed right next to the furnace and didn't require that much work to vent. I like to wash up before I sit down to work at my desk or page through a good reference book while working in the machine shop.

Michael Az
10-05-2003, 12:11 PM
I agree with Allmetal, I think a bathroom is more imortant than an office. I have a small desk and chairs and like that better than an office because I can easily move them to remodel my shop and can't easily move an office. I did put in a 1/2 bath, toilet and sink with enough room for a shower stall if ever needed. If you got the room, go for it all.

10-05-2003, 12:24 PM
Shop office you bet!I need some where to put all my portant stuff so nobody throws it out!

And look at it this way,all you would then need in said office is a maniquin in your chair and the old lady wount suspect a thing while your out with the budds at the local pub http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Alistair Hosie
10-05-2003, 12:27 PM
A bathroom for me is both out of the question and unnecessary simply because my shop is less than ten feet away from my house. Also I built It. to spec without planning permission. This is allowed so long as your building is more than two metres away from a neighbouring wall and two metres away from your own building also that it does not have water or be connected to a drain otherwise planning permission is required in full you still have to obtain building warranty i.e. submit plans and have them approved this is under Scottish law and may differ in other parts of the world naturally Alistair

10-05-2003, 01:45 PM
Office is the place with the beer, the phone, the cute calendar.. Far away from moving machinery.

[This message has been edited by ibewgypsie (edited 10-05-2003).]

10-05-2003, 01:56 PM
Since this shop was going to my last one. I went with all items I figured I would need so I went the whole route and got all the required permits to build, electrcial, sanitary, mechanical,& zoning. This done I subed out work like rough in, concrete work and jobs that I just wasn't up to anymore. I did all the electrcial, plumbing, insulating, drywalling and the like and had them inspected. Althrough this isn't a live in structure some of the permits could have been overlooked but if something were to happen the insurance company will want to see permits and inpection records before making a settlement.

10-05-2003, 02:38 PM
Office spaces are good homes for laser printers, file drawers & paper, PCs- with Fans, book shelves, CDs... DVDs.... and a whole host of things that do not like sawdust (!!), coolant, or metal flakes. But a good john is also a first rate office.... I stapled a picture on Admiral Nelson on the wall in mind just to up the atmosphere....


[This message has been edited by dvideo (edited 10-05-2003).]

10-05-2003, 09:29 PM
Speaking of office space, Good Idea. Noticed the first generation "Word Processor" above. I have a "second generation "CAD system" to gove as well, 3 ft x 5 ft drafting table complete with machine arm and templates.

Rich Carlstedt
10-05-2003, 09:51 PM
Office is a good Idea !
I use one corner of my shop for a 30 X 40 drawing board mounted at an angle.I lay out my prints for current jobs, to keep the bench cleared. All my reference books fill a cabinet above (4 shelves)and I have 2 lights mounted under the book case for lighting. Under my table is my 2 HP air compressor as it is out of the way. Telephone on the wall, but alas, no chair and no computer !

If I had a "new building", at my age, I would go for a toilet......

10-05-2003, 10:33 PM
WORD processor in above picture.. WEll.. they function as well or better than the WIRE marker systems that cost thousands of dollars..

You buy Brady Laser tabs on sheets, type the wire numbers direct on them with the cheap typewriter. Work great. Makes a CNC or panel look a lot better than "it was built in someones GARAGE" look...

10-05-2003, 10:48 PM
If you put an office in your shop, your wife will turn your den into a sewing room! I think the thing that I would like most in my little shop space would be a sink. I think I'd just go with some used kitchen counter and sink from a remodel job. A bathroom would be great, and it would help to keep the dust and grime out of the house. When I am working in my shop my hands get dirty and I don't have a sink handy. Therefore I don't touch any manuals. Sometimes I'll make a copy of diagrams or templates or exploded views but thats about it. Woodworkers don't usually have dirty hands unless you are staining or something.


10-05-2003, 11:19 PM
Hey guys it would nice to see some pics. of your offices and shops, to give us some ideas too.

G.A. Ewen
10-06-2003, 11:44 AM
The book cabinets are to the left of the desk.




Alistair Hosie
10-06-2003, 12:05 PM
here is some of my shop and the extension so far Alistair

10-06-2003, 07:27 PM
my 2cents worth..
i'd say 'no' on the office space idea in the traditional sense.. ie desk, chair, etc

i'm assuming that, by the mere fact that you are even considering installing an office, that you are running a (hopefully profit making) business.

in this sense, i'd consider 'office space' just one more place for clutter to build up.

i'm all for shelves, books, a computer, etc, but i'd consider making a 'desk' as small as possible. maybe even just a glorified shelf, where you can lay a few sheets of paper on to scribble, etc. a chair is good, but consider a stool, of sorts. someplace to sit and think, but not so comfortable you could spend a long time in.

keep everything off the floor. bolt a cabinet to your wall.

i'd say a (traditional) office is just one more place to forget your mic, or that one small drill you thought was in your apron pocket.

in fact, in recent years, i've almost all but completely emptied my tool boxes. everything is hanging someplace on a wall.
i can see it as soon as i need it, and (more importantly) i know when its missing or misplaced.


Alistair Hosie
10-06-2003, 09:47 PM
Knuclehead No no business just a hobby shop for an old Scotsman http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif to spend his time rather than sitting in front of the telly all day. I would like an office space no phone etc just a desk wall cabinets for books of which I have very many. I would if I decide to go ahead and I more or less have with help from my buddies here make the desk a functional desk.so that I can sit and make plans drawings also build in as said a small area with my old dental drills handy for sitting carving fine stuff. I cannot stand for too long result of a spinal injury so it is imperative I sit often anyway from time to time so I think it would not be a wasted space but definitely no formal office perhaps I should have made that clear thanks so far guys. If you look at the pics I posted with my new extension you will see the stud partitioning set up for this small area Alistair

Rich Carlstedt
10-06-2003, 10:07 PM
To answer the problem of dirty hands...
I keep some waterless handcleaner near the door, but ALSO, some Windex spray
after getting the heavy grime off, a few squirts from the windex and a wipe really works, and when I eat lunch, my hands don't smell like solvent...

10-07-2003, 06:55 PM

I know what you mean by hanging tools up, when I built my new workbench on the other side of my bedroom, I decided no more putting my tools in boxes in a roleaway cabinets, I screwed to the wall a sheet of plywood, and I hung everrything up that I use the most often, including individual bits and endmills, now I can reach them without being lazy to search for it in boxes stuck in a cabinet somewhere, everythings within reach and it does make it alot easier to work that way...

Not taking away from allistairs office idea, I still like the office idea too.