View Full Version : New Workshop Ideas wanted

08-17-2001, 06:15 PM
"Stuff expands to fill the available space."

This is a corollary of Parkinson's Law.

Parkinson’s Law:
Formula invented by the English political analyst Cyril Northcote Parkinson, which states that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’.

[This message has been edited by fixxit (edited 10-05-2004).]

09-29-2004, 09:18 PM
I'm very lucky. I'll soon be moving and have the opportunity to build a new free standing heated workshop from the ground up. Regardless of how much thought I put into this, I'm worrying already about the things that I'll forget to put in.

If you lucky like me and were to do it again, that is build yourself another shop, what would be the most important things not to forget or "must have" items???

As a guideline, I'm thinking of a 40ft x 100ft shop. The machine shop to be on one end to include lathes, milling, tooling, bench space material and office area. The main area would be metal fab with welders and plasma, and one area with extra high ceiling for larger vehicles.

I have no firm plans as yet, with building design or floor layout or roof trusses..., so any suggestions would be truly appreciated.

charlie coghill
09-29-2004, 10:01 PM
first construct the building so that snow will shed to the side and not in front of the doors(that is if you are is snow country). Next try to put plugins every four ft. no more that 6 ft apart along the walls and have them about 4.5 ft. off the floor. Get a good oil heater with an auto thermostat. (On at 0700 off at 1600) it will be warm when you get to the shop and will be warm when you leave at 5) Oil may not be so good any more.
Lots of lights on different circuits. Than you can turn off any light not being used.

Lay out the floor plan to scale and cut out wood blocks that will represent your machines to scale. Decide where the machines would set and be the most convienuet to use that wire a circute to that machine.

Have a washbasin and a way to get a bucket of water for the machine sumps.

Some of this will add some cost to the building but is will be worth it in the future, as what you plan for now may/will change in the future.
Hope this has given you some food for thought.
P.S. Also lots of shelves.

[This message has been edited by charlie coghill (edited 09-29-2004).]

09-29-2004, 10:13 PM
Figure out what amp service you will need, and then double it!

09-29-2004, 10:33 PM

I had a similar opportunity a couple of years ago moving in to a new house with an over-sized garage. I laid out all the machines on the floor with tape (if you are building, the model is a good idea) to make sure all would fit. Before we moved in I painted the floor with light gray epoxy and installed plenty of lighting. The floor reflects the light and greatly enhances the lighting. Also installed quad electrical at each machine station(220 for the lathe and Mill 110 for the rest) and ran black pipe for air lines from the air compressor to each work station. The last thing was installation of central heat and air with its own unit and thermostat. The whole installation and unit was just under $2100. I then insulated the floor of the attic (ceiling of the garage) and put sealing strips on the garage door to seal any leaks around the edges, top and bottom when the door is closed. Also put sealing strips around the attic door, as well. By adding the heat and air, the garage becomes useable year round at 72 degrees evene when temps hit 100 in summer and below freezing in winter. The best part is that the area cools and heats so rapidly that the utility cost appears minimal.

The shop is equipped with 13 x 40 lathe, Vertical Mill with Knee, Drill Press, Horizontal and vertical band saws, 60 gal compressor, acetylene and mig welders, 6 foot work bench, grinder, polisher and disc/belt sander. Took some doing, but with a little pre-planning I was able to arrange all this around the walls, put both cars in and still have room to work. (It has a storage closet where all the tooling and hand tools are kept so I don't have any shelving on the floor)

Sounds like your shop will be every man's dream. Two things are a must-- lots of light, lots of electrical. Good luck


09-29-2004, 11:09 PM
My shop has a some very key features for me:

*) Every 6 feet around the perimeter, I have a quad 120v outlet. This is true around the entire shop. Cost me about $600 extra, worth every penny.

*) I don't know what area of the country you in, but I have in floor radiant heat. Love it. The slab is nice and warm, the machines are warm. A good thing.

*) In the machinery area, make sure the slab is at least 8" thick, if not a foot.

*) Don't skimp on your office size. Also, don't forget a bathroom. I wish I had put a urinal in mine. Also, don't forget a sink in the shop itself.

*) I really wish I had put in a paint booth area with ventilation. Many metal projects require finishing that is not pleasant to do outdoors.

*) Plumb for air. Put the compressor outside if you can.

*) Floor drains

*) A spot for a phone every 25'. A 100' dash for the phone isn't fun in a shop. Might as well put cat-5 wire for computer network and a cable TV outlet in the same spot.

09-29-2004, 11:14 PM
Whoopee! Open cheque book time.

Trying to think of the building and basic facilities only. Lots of other things can be done later if needed.

High stud whole area, steel frame construction for maximum usable hight under roof trusses. (any area not needing height can have mezzanene above)

Some Laserlite polycarbonate sheets in the roof for natural light.

Solid level concreate floor, at least 8" plus steel at least with good foundation underneeth.

Office & facility area one end with mezzanene above.

Perhaps a large full height door at the end were you can get some extra height up in the gable area.

3 phase power, as Charlie says figure what you think you need and at least double it.

Phew! That was fun.

Yep all these things will add to the cost, so if that is a problem. None of the above.

[This message has been edited by zl1byz (edited 09-29-2004).]

09-29-2004, 11:15 PM
Figure out what service you'll need then double it. I agree with that, also have lots of outlets, and separate circuits. A shop sink with hot and cold runnung water is also a good idea, and have a first aid cabinet easy to reach. I would include some flush mounted threaded anchor points in the floor where you would be likely to want a flat table. You can put a coupling nut halfway on one of these anchors, and plug the top with a short bolt and washer, so you can embed it in the concrete flush with the floor surface. If you don't use them, they aren't in the way. Using these, you can adjust a framework to be absolutely flat, good for an assembly table, etc. Consider an area for a forge or heat treat oven, and build in suitable ventilation. In this regard, build in a floor level ventilation system for heavier than air solvents, etc, and maybe have a spray booth area, a clean room. You could use a heat exchanger in the vent system to minimize heat loss if that's potentially a problem.
Does it make any sense for you to have some kind of gantry from the ceiling to move heavy items around? That would influence your choice of roof structure.
Consider wiring in a loop of multi-conductor wire, useful for a number of systems. You may want to have an intercom system, and possibly a panic system. Some easy to reach buttons to alert someone in the house or wherever, in case of accident. Some lights in various spots to alert you to someone needing you.
If the air compressor is to be inside, build a room for it, to keep noise down. You might need a drain in that room.
A good humidity controlled cabinet for the myriad tooling that you want to keep rust-free.
You may find that the office should be large enough for a bit of a kitchenette. Handy to have a fridge and a microwave.

[This message has been edited by darryl (edited 09-29-2004).]

Paul Gauthier
09-30-2004, 12:03 AM
Once you have determined where you machines will be consider running power to them thru the floor, If you have a dust collection system that can also run thru the floor.

Paul G.

09-30-2004, 12:53 AM
Eyewash stations: They are cheap enough that it makes it worthwhile. C&H sells the plastic bottle ones for less than fifty dollars. They even make one that goes on a sink faucet.

Fire extinguishers: as many as you can afford, more if your doing welding - you will have a fire at somepoint...

First aid kit: cheap insurance against the inevitable burns and cuts

Insulation: If your doing "stick" framing, build using 2X6's or larger and fill it with fiberglass batt, then put a double layer of 2" polyisocyanurate foam board on the outside and roof. This will give at least an R45 wall and roof. I would use the new tile backing board they sell in Homedepot for the interior walls, it's some kinda fiberglass and is therefore more fire resistant than plywood or sheetrock. If your doing concrete block construction, the foam board is still an option for exterior insulation.

Heating: forget oil or gas, think geothermal - with a well insulated building the monthly heating costs would be miniscule and you can use it for airconditioning as well. A typical R19 3000sf house would have a yearly heating/cooling bill of something like $900. It will cost you more up front but you'll thank me when the temp hit's 95 and you can't afford to make it cool enough for comfort. I would also suggest a small(8KW) emergency genset to keep the building from being a meat locker if the power fails in January for a week.

Floors: I would put down a 6 or better yet an 8" thick wire reinforced concrete floor, more than that is a waste of money. The only time you see floors a foot thick in commercial machine shops is when they have machines that are so big, they're brought in in sections... I also would pour the floor in 20 foot square sections to make it easier to replace when the inevitable floor damage shows up. Radiant underfloor heating is nice, but it makes jackhammering up and replacing a damaged floor an additional headache. Hydronic baseboard is a better idea. Epoxy is fantastic for surfacses, light grey is about ideal for color. A perimeter drain is a must, with a sump and pump. keep in mind what is going to wind up in their is not going to be just water - a holding tank might be necessary.

Power, Air: instead of putting quad boxes for the 110 household every couple of feet, why not use a reel with 50 feet of extension on it? this way the power can be had anywhere and you don't have to deal with extension cords. Ditto for non machine dedicated air taps. I would plan on having at least 100amps 3phase in the shop, more if you plan on a decent size Mig/tig/plasma cutter. These things are power hogs. A Syncrowave 250 draws 90+ amps, single phase at max output. As for piping the air, I would use plain ole' solder copper tubing - it's good to over 200 PSI, and it's easy to install. Figure on using one inch diameter. I wouldn't put an aircompressor outside, I would put it inside within a small sound insulated space. Why? Because I've seen enough crapped up air compressors that have been put in a shed because of the noise to know that it's just a bad idea. The elements aren't very kind to them. If your going to buy a compressor, may I suggest a screw air? a refurbished 10 horse will set you back about the same as a new piston of the same size. but the screw airs are quieter and put much less water in the tank.

Lighting: Don't skimp on it. Go to Homedepot the next time they have a sale on generic 8 foot twin tube florecent stips. Buy and install a lot of them. and paint the walls and ceiling MATTE white. You'll find that the gloss finish is blinding under the bulbs. Try to use daylight bulbs, too

Communications. forget running phone lines every where. Put a "station" in your office and put one or two hard line phones in the shop. Here's the trick - with the "station" cordless phones, you can buy additional handsets for something like $50-60. Just put them and their charging stand whereever it's convienant. They work surpisingly well in the Rf nightmare that a machine shop generates. If the static is too much you can always switch to one of the hard lines in the shop. I would also suggest getting one or more of the "shop ringers" that Northern tool sells. Your not going to hear a normal ring over the buzz of machine tools. You may even want to add a visual indicator in the form of a rotating beacon. Cat 5E and now Cat6 are a good idea to run, but don't get crazy if you don't need it. A better idea is to setup a cable "runway" that you can add individual port lines as you need them.

Misc: Plan on having high ceilings, 14 foot is a pretty good height for a home shop in it's own building. Why? Because now that you have space your going to start to look at things from a different view. Suddenly that deal on a big boring mill is going to look pretty good, plus the height comes in handy when welding big projects. It also helps with my next suggestion - get a forklift. They go fairly cheap at auction, just try to get something that runs on propane with a sideshift from a known "name" (Clark, Toyota, etc) I know it sounds like a waste of money, but for two or three grand, you'll never want to move things the hard way again. Also build a big door, at least 9' by 9'. It makes moving things alot easier than thru the regular size garage door particularly if your using the forklift. Think pallet racks for storage of big stuff and metal cabinets for small stuff. You might also want to get a refridgerator for the shop - gotta keep your beer cold. I would also suggest that any "dirty" processes(spray painting, electrochemical finishing, sandblasting, casting) be done in a seperate small building if possible. The minutia they generate isn't good for precision machine tools. If you need a cheap place to keep your good stuff clean and dry, consider using an old refridgerator with the light wired to always be on(no your not going to be using the refrigeration system) With a small bulb to generate a little heat and the fridge being airtight, you'll never have a rust problem with your tools


P.S. Almost forgot - Lindsay Technical Books sells a book on building small barns and outbuildings, although aimed at agriculture, it still has a lot of good ideas

[This message has been edited by HTRN (edited 09-30-2004).]

09-30-2004, 01:40 AM
This appears to be a subject that everyone enjoys thinking about.

In my last shop I put in a ducted evacuation fan, I didn’t put one in my new shop and really miss it. I did put quad outlets every 4-5’, but as it turns out, I didn’t put in enough 220v outlets. I also have the cord reels from Sears mounted on the ceiling and they sure are handy. I don’t like listening to buzzing florescent fixtures, so I put in a bunch of the new T-1 fixtures and I really like them. See if you can get 3 phase for a reasonable cost. I put in central AC/heat pump and am now officially spoiled. I have a light that flashes when the phone rings, so no more missed calls. I dropped a lot of extra wires in strategic places to make adding things easier in the future.

It sure is handy to have one tall garage door so you can get the big stuff in, like a large truck or a forklift with a mill on it, insulated and sealed of course. A bathroom with a big sink and a urinal is nice, if you can’t swing it now at least plumb for it. If you work with wood, leave room for a dust collector. My wood shop is in a separate room to keep everything clean. Plumb for air.

Hang several of the big fire extinguishers in prominent places and by each door. Consider a sprinkler system. I have my shop connected to my house alarm system, if the door opens when the system is off, I can hear a loud chime in the house. Install motion detectors, as you are really reducing your security without them. I also have heat detectors installed through the alarm, so I will find out if my shop is on fire *before* it has already become fully involved. A regular smoke detector won’t do me any good if the shop catches on fire when I am not in it, or when I am asleep.

Make everything as easy to expand as possible. I thought that I had everything perfectly planned, but then along comes another piece of machinery that makes me rearrange everything.

09-30-2004, 02:15 AM
So many good ideas here, thanks a lot for your early responses. I've got a lot of ideas from you already. Lots of agreement on some major areas..... Here is the summary of your responses.

1. Build roof to ensure snow slides to the back, not the front Cc=charlie coghill
2. Electrical outlets every 4 to 6 feet around the perimeter Cc
Quad outlets every 6 feet around the perimeter Kr=kevinro
50 ft extention cords htrn
3. Good (oil) heater with thermostat and adjustable timer Cc
Central heat and Air Conditioning Tw
Radiant Floor hear Kr
Geothermal heating With hydronic baseboards Htrn
4. Lay out floor plan using wooden templates and to plan electrical circuits Cc
Lay out floor plan using tape Tw=TomW
5.Water Supply including washbasin and hose bib to fill buckets Cc
Bathroom with urinal and sink in the shop area Kr
Facility Zz
Shop Sink D
6. Lots of shelves Cc
7. Twice the power you think you need Klemchuk
Double the calculated power D=darryl
100 amp 3 phase htrn
8. Paint the floor light grey epoxy for brightness Tw
Grey epoxy floors Htrn
9. Lots of lights Tw
8 foot fluorescent lighting htrn
10. Compressed air to each station Tw
Air with compressor outside Kr
Air compressor room with floor drain D
50 ft air hoses htrn
Air compressor inside to be screw type htrn
11. Insulate well and seal air leakage Tw
R45 insulation Htrn
12. 8" to 12" thick concrete slab Kr
8" concrete with re bar Zz
6 or 8" reinforced floor in 20 ft squares Htrn
13. Big Office Kr
Office Zz
14. Paint booth area with ventilation Kr
15. Floor Drains Kr
Perimeter drains with grunge holding tank htrn
16. Phone, and computer jacks every 25 feet Kr
17. High interior walls, and build mezzanine where high ceiling is not required Zz=zl1byz
14' ceilings htrn
18. Skylites using polycarbonate sheets Zz
19. One high opening doorway Zz
Big high 9 x 9 doorway htrn
20. First Aid Cabinet D
Eyewash station, fire extinguishers, first aid htrn
21. Floor anchors D
22. Forge and heat treat oven with ventilation D
23. Ventilation system D
Dust Collection System Paul Gauthier
24. Spray booth and Clean Room area D
25. Gantry Crane D
Get a fork lift htrn
26. Intercom system and Emergency Alert D
Telephone system htrn
27. Dehumidified area D
Use old fridge with light bulb for de-humidifier Htrn
28 Kitchenette D
Beer Fridge htrn
29. 8Kw Genset Htrn

09-30-2004, 02:20 AM
Depending on what sort of work you intend doing, but one thing I have seen in the concreate floor of a workshop are tie down lugs. Great for straightning twisted frames. The ones I have seen were recessed in pockets in the floor, they were near the portals. Probably attached under the concreate. They certinaly gave you the ability to do repair work that other wise would be very dificult,

09-30-2004, 02:54 AM
Another one I have seen is a main power switch near the entrance/exit and clearly accessable (to adults) good for safety and damm handy when opening or closing up. Obviously not the real main breaker as there would be some services you wouldnt want it to affect i.e. beer fridge, water heater? computers etc.

09-30-2004, 07:23 AM
Add some sort of tornado/huricane safety area. Even a 6' deep hole in one corner of the building would be better than nothing. If you work on cars at all you might want make it bigger to work underneath.

Even a reenforced bathroom would be good.

[This message has been edited by MarkT (edited 09-30-2004).]

[This message has been edited by MarkT (edited 09-30-2004).]

09-30-2004, 02:20 PM
I did quite a bit of research on piping compressed air. As for the copper piping for your compressor, you should be using types K or L for that. Type M is not strong enough. You can find more information on the OSHA website.

Never use PVC. When PVC fails, it explodes. Copper bends.

An interesting compilation of information on the subject can be found on


09-30-2004, 02:54 PM
I see another project within the project. Geothermal requires going into the earth- so does hurricane shelter/bomb shelter. So you need an elevator that goes a few stories underground, and an equipment room down there- might as well have a suite there too. Stocked with the inevitable requirements, beer and kraft dinner. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif
Anyway, the underground thing is interesting- would it make any sense at all for you to punch a well or two before constructing the shop? Ground water heat pump comes to mind.

09-30-2004, 03:07 PM
It won't be big enough. Double the intended size immediately.

09-30-2004, 03:37 PM
JCHannum... I doubled it already. Here's the story

My current shop of some 25 years right is 25 x 25 with 12 ft ceiling. But for the last 20 years has been too small for many of the bigger projects. I always thought about double or triple would be around the right size, say 25 x 75. So I then thought a 30 x 100 would probably be the ideal size.... Thinking how I would justify this to my wife.

When I mentioned this to her, she said "You know whatever you build will be too small, why don't you build a 40 x 100?"

So here I am. lots of good ideas from everyone so far. Never thought of a bomb shelter dug underground but that's a good idea also. That could be a cool place for a nap in the summertime...

09-30-2004, 04:03 PM

What I like best about my shop: skylights in the roof, 2) electrical drops for the machines from the ceiling, 3) walls and floors are white.

If you use flourescent lights, the "daylight" full spectrum bulbs are much more expensive then the cheapies and worth every penny.


09-30-2004, 07:20 PM
kevinro, your right, you should never use "common" PVC for any kind of pressure application. It is known as DWV or "Drain, Waste, Vent". It is all to often used in commercial shops, because of distance/air demand. A 3/4 copper line will not satisfy an air hungry machine over the course of several hundred feet, you simply have to use a larger diameter. There is however a Plastic Pipe designed for Compressed Air applications. Manufactured by Ryan Herco, it's called aptly "Chem-Aire" and is available up to 4" and will handle 185PSI at 100F. It is only available in Alistairs favorite color http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif What's the down side? Cost. The 2 inch size pipe is $8.30USD a foot. The fittings aren't cheap either. The Air drops do have an advantage, they are hooped so that the union is mounted UP - this keeps water out of the individual air drops. You can easily do this with copper tube too. As for Copper tube, I'm pretty sure that Homedepot/Lowes both carry "L", but I don't think they carry "K" because normally it's only specced for commercial installations.


[EDIT> I just looked it up on the Net, changed the price. It is apparently some sort of ABS. Ryan Herco sells other compressed gas piping products now besides Chem-Aire. here's a link: http://www.ryanherco.com/auto/SECindex.cfm?FAM=175&SEC=160

[This message has been edited by HTRN (edited 09-30-2004).]

09-30-2004, 08:02 PM
Geeze guys..

Ya are going to have so much in the building you won't have any money left for machines.

Thick concrete floor, yep.. Somethings you can't do all in a day thou.
I'd rack w/unistrut around the walls to pipe in air, electrical, phones and anything else you think of in the future. Something about six or seven feet off the floor. 2x4's and two hole straps work too and are cheaper.. but..

Add on as you need to the system, 3phase is great, if available. At least 200 amps. Good heat, good lights, good bathroom facilities.

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-30-2004, 08:17 PM
I recently built a second shop building, as there was no more room to add onto the first one. This one is more fab than machine shop, so before the floor was poured, we laid in a grid of 1" rebar on 6' centers, and welded in a 1 foot square of 1" plate at each intersection. Pre drilled and tapped with 4 3/4" holes in each plate.
screw a bolt in one, snap on your ground lead, and anything touching any one is grounded for welding. And the whole shop is a jig now- we can screw down angle plates, and clamp things to the floor, use porta powers to push- its like the whole building is a platen table.

09-30-2004, 09:09 PM
The extension cord thing,I hate them on the floor.Pull down retractables or better yet,a pivoting over head boom with a retractable drop at several locations along its length.Its like a power cord thats always plugged in,but never in the way,also its hard for some one to barrow it http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

09-30-2004, 09:32 PM
Saw a pretty cool idea for movable wall cabinets and shelving ton the DIY channel's ultimate workshop show. Can be seen here


09-30-2004, 09:32 PM
Yep I agree Ibew, Those electical tray type systems what ever they are called. Would let you add as you needed without too much dificulty. I was keeping to the bricks & mortar type things, that if they arn't big enough or strong enough to start with then your stuffed. Things like an extra plug on the wall here and there are easy fixed when needed. But things like floor strength building size/height, power supply into the building. If they arn't right to start with you might as well sell up and start again.
Air supply can be very expencive to do properly. With a building 100' long I'd look for some second hand steel pipe at least 4" for a main. Weld it up and weld the outlets off the main, fittings are too expensive. Make sure the main has a fall in it and a drain. But of course it depends on how important air supply is to you. A smaller portable machine and a resonable lenght of hose may be sufficent. Just put the ear muffs on when it starts up. (should be wearing them anyway). Again this is an add as you get bigger item.

Ries, yes that sounds like an extension of what I was on about with tie downs in the floor. Can only be done when building, a do it now or don't have it sort of thing. Yours sounds very elaborate, but I think even 4 points 10 - 15' apart would be a great start.

09-30-2004, 10:06 PM
Hmm you know, no one has mentioned hieght! I would go and make mine at least 13 ft tall. 12 is too low at my work.

I would do my darnedest to sound proof the office. If you really want to hear the shop...open the door.

Have a dedicated site for work you want to do. Ex: wellding area (area 1), Painting (area 2), Machining (area 3), Assembly (area 4). You get the jist.

Garbage and recycables. You will have garbage and scrap metal. Decide what you will keep and what you will throw away...just don't trip over it.

Parking? Your customers have to deliver stuff and pick it up.

Crane? Ability to move stuff. I wish i had one of those cranes that will go any where in the shop like you see in metal shops. Nice

Something different but how about a display case. Show off some of your work. I am always curious to see what people have done. It could be a wall of fame, with just pictures however.

the last thing, if you have winter/snow, make the shop floor at least 6" to 1' higher in elevation then you plan. NOTHING worse then pumping out the shop in spring and rain storms.

I think i have described all my mistakes....haha

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

09-30-2004, 10:39 PM
Actually, I did - go check "Misc" I suggested 14feet, if nothing else than to make life easy using a forklift. Oh, in addition to the floor suggestion, you might want to situate the building on a natural high spot.


09-30-2004, 11:06 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by spkrman15:
Hmm you know, no one has mentioned hieght! I would go and make mine at least 13 ft tall. 12 is too low at my work.

Crane? Ability to move stuff. I wish i had one of those cranes that will go any where in the shop like you see in metal shops. Nice

Something different but how about a display case. Show off some of your work. I am always curious to see what people have done. It could be a wall of fame, with just pictures however.


I had tried to emphisise the height thing, but I wasn't sure if it was just a fetish of mine. Guess it partly depends on the type of work you do. There are several advantages to height, one is light with more height you can have high windows and large doors. Natural light is the best. Another is polution, if your welding a high roof allows it to rise up above your work zone till it gets dispersed. Finally and this moves onto your crane thing. Gantries use up height. Think about it by the time you add up the beam, trolly and chain block you can loose 2' of lift even with a small gantry. This is a problem I'm working on at present, I only have 11'. I want to build a floor gantry about 2 ton capacity 4m span. The most lift I will get is about 9' and then if your using a sling you soon loose some more. I hadn't mentioned the gantry thing as unless your doing a full blown comercial shop, a floor one or jib crane can be done after. Need the height though.

Lastly the display thing. Yep Rob your right onto it. I'd go further and say if your going to have customers come to your premisis have a reception area. Make it look professional, completely closed of to the workshop. A bell so they can call you is good. This is not only good for safety reasons, but also raises the profile of your bussiness. I think this is one of the biggest problems engineering shops have, the customer sees your bussy shop it's a bit untidy and dirty and they relate that somehow to what they think you are worth. Obviously quite wrong, if your bussy doing real work it's going to get a bit untidy. Why do you think lawyers and accountants get away with charging so much more? They look professional. A machinest is no less with years of knowledge and 100's thousnads, (millions?) dollars of capital invested. Not a do or die though, a flash front can be built when the money comes in, as long as you plan for it to start with.

10-01-2004, 02:27 AM
Hi Errol
Just an idea, I have been researching building with square straw bails. R value is 40 to 50 and unlike a 2/6 framed wall you have full R value for the full span in-between poles not every 16". Structure is just like a pole shed style, bales stacked in-between poles, pined every three feet and stuccoed inside and out. Complement that with a wood boiler and hydronic heating( BC has lots of wood) and have a nice warm shop in the winter and a cool one in the summer. Not sure how cold it gets were you live in BC but in Alberta it can get pretty nasty in the dead of winter.
I will be moving in the next year or so and hope I will be able to build a new shop also.

10-01-2004, 08:12 AM
oops missed some of the heigh comments. I shouldn't skim the pages so much...hehe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Well since we are wishing, how about a couple of master cut off switches. If something happens at the other end of the shop, you don't have to run to shut things down. This will be a big cost, but if it saves a job, limb or life, it would be a bargain in my book.

10-01-2004, 08:17 AM
How about a master off for everything located in a central location?Electric,air,gas,etc.

10-01-2004, 09:55 AM
Don't forget piped in music and a paging system so the SWMBO can call you for dinner. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

10-01-2004, 02:39 PM
Don't forget to leave room for the poker table and the beer fridge.

10-01-2004, 02:45 PM
Well, much has been covered in this thread already. I'll just add one thing about lighting. Don't use the cheap, magnetic ballasts florescent lights.

I have a fairly nice shop with all the luxuries of a house pretty much, in addition to the equipment and such. With out a doubt, the absolute biggest regret I have, is not using high quality electronic ballast lighting.

I curse those noisy, headache producing, crappy florescent lights every day I'm in the shop...

Pay the money now, for quality lighting.


10-01-2004, 07:52 PM
Agreed regarding the noisy, flickery fluorescents. I don't have any experience with high freq. ballasts except in the little 60 and 100 watt bulb replacements. Those I like. I do have some interference issues with them, though. It's something you'd want to check out if you're going to be using sensitive equipment, radios, etc.
The idea of a network ground system in the concrete floor is interesting. Nice to be able to just connect a framework or whatever to that, and just be dragging one welding wire around. It just might make sense to punch in some ground rods, welding them to this grid, before pouring the floor. Just a thought, but I wonder if that wouldn't reduce possible interference to other equipment when welding.

10-01-2004, 09:34 PM
For the electric in my shop I chose to run 4" square wire trough around 80% of the shop, running both ways from the breaker panel. I located it about 1 foot below the celing. Very handy when adding or subtracting machinery or outlets.


10-01-2004, 09:41 PM
Storage. My "workshop" is a 6800 sq foot area that is chuck full of machinery. I can post the web site of you wish for pictures. All of the suggestions mentioned are great - power every four to six feet, first aid, air, lighting - very important. I will also mention machine zones later. FYI. I have planned and built five school shops, a major hotel chain kitchen, and a maintenance shop for this chain. I have also re-designed many other shops. Storage and proper spacing was always the "hidden issue". The other things are easy, but storage is like the back of your neck, You know it is there, but darned you do not think about it until it hurts.

Storage. For each machine you have the equal space in tools storage all said and done. This is not always "floor space", as I will mention later. May not be 'direct" storage space, for some tools are stored in different areas, but none the less, the floor and shelve space equals each machine. Add hand tools to the mix, tool boxes, fixturing, books and manuals, little stuff, and you have this. Storage is the bain of my existance, and from listening to other shop owners, my plumbing instructor, and my carpentry instructor, this is their "bain" as well. Remember, for every tool you make, you must have a place to put it. For every item you buy, there is a space requirement.

And I have not even got into metal storage, wood storage, fasteners, chemicals, - consumables, shop vacs, air hoses, rags, computers and the asociated books, disks, and such. Not to mention "secure storage" areas where you keep the real "good stuff".

I have probably 30% of my used floor space as storage, many shelves, 6 feet high shelves, cabinets, work benches, tool boxes (movable storage). If I laid my storage out on the floor, it would probably be about 60% of the space. The idea is to minimize storage space, and maximize use in the area. For exmple I use work benches by the machines with front opening doors underneath, and shelving in the cabinets. I use those kennedy tool box work benches with 8 to ten drawers - 6 feet long. I have 14 x 3 feet of shelving in a storage cage for projects in progress, fixturing, special tools, fasteners, maintenance items. I have a storage area for metal that is 20 x 14 with two sets of horizontal racks for the metal. Your sizes will be smaller, but an example of how my 6800 sq feet is broken up. If this metal storage were vertical, you would need 14 feet ceilings, remembering metal comes in 12 foot lengths (you can cut it in half). metal cabinets for chemicals, fire proof and vented. I use those double door front opening cabinets 36 to 40 inch wide by 6 feet height 18 to 24 inch depth for general storage. Under each lathe, there is a storage cabinet that is full length of the machine for tools specific to the machine. I also have three sattelite kennedy tool boxes for my common tools I use, and common use tools for the students - mobile storage. By using "vertical storage" and mobile storage, I solve many issues of direct storage, but I still can't get enough places to store my stuff.

Of course, I run an educational shop that could easily go full tilt production (and has), but the fact of each machine has equal storage space requirements and more is just this, fact, and is used in general shop planning. You may think less, but with all things added, this is true. This is taught in design classes for shops, at least when I was in school.

Usable work bench space is also an issue, for if you do not plan storage correctly - over plan. I also have my little wood shop and auto shop at home, and this is true there.

Storage. You will make things in the shop, and want to keep them somewhere. You will have many tools, and make many little things to make other things you want to keep.

Storage, and how to minimize floor space and maximize vertical storage space. If you do not plan this in, you will be forever sorry and cramped. If you over plan this, you can always remove some for other machines, which is a good thing.

machine zones: make sure you have the room to do wht you want. Nothing is worse that trying to cut a piece of plywood on a table saw when you find you are feeding into a wall, or do not have side clearance. Same goes for the planer where you feed in a piece 8 feet long, only to find you have six feet on the end. real issues i have faced when re-designing shops. Nothing kicks your fanny more than turning your Bridgeport handle only to find you are interferring near the end of the usable length with your other handle banging another machine or the wall, or a workbench.

Storage and clearance. Over plan these, and by the grace of the almighty, you will have room to grow. Under plan, and you will be looking to build little sheds all over outside of your new shop.

Mike W
10-02-2004, 05:29 AM
Why is it that stuff always expands to fill the available space? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

10-03-2004, 12:57 AM
Errol, Having a long I beam (10" or 12")buried in the floor..top level with floor..grounded to be used to weld lugs on when needed for repair/straightning frames and the like with the use of hydraulics. They can be cut off and weld ground flush. Another would be to have drop boxes in the floor (covered)with pins through the middle to hook a log chain on for frame straightning. In either case consideration would be to have sufficient concrete below for an anchor.

10-03-2004, 01:09 AM
What a brilliant dream subject. My contribution is to watch out that a steel roller door does not rob you of all the energy savings.Some form of door that can be insulated is the go if you have extra cold/hot winters/summers.
Best of luck,

10-05-2004, 01:25 PM
Test to bring this to the right page.

10-05-2004, 06:10 PM
Thank you to all of you who wrote to provide so many thoughtful suggestions. So many ideas that I had not thought of. I have your ideas printed out for nightly bedside reading material. (yes spope 14, we would love to see pics of your shop)

We're taking possession of the new property at the end of the month, then will immediately begin the excavation and groundwork. Hopefully can get the foundation in before the cold weather sets in. I'm sooooo excited!

I may be getting a little ahead of myself, but have any of you compared the differences between steel roofing trusses as opposed to wood? I was thinking it wouldn't take much to weld up some 40' long steel trusses. Might help in keeping the overall height lower... could do a torch on flat roof as opposed to a pitched roof.

10-05-2004, 08:30 PM
I would stay away from a flat roof. I have had nothing but trouble (long term) from snow and ice damning on my flat roofed garage. 2 years ago, I actually built a pitched roof right over the flat roof to fix the problem for good. The old flat roof became an enclosed attic space to additional storage. Personally, I'd go for a fairly steep pitched steel roof. I like to shed the water, snow and leaves as fast as possible. I should have put in skylights as electric's not cheap here. You can't beat free lighting.
Keep us posted on the progress of your project.

10-05-2004, 08:53 PM
Yeah, metal pitched roof. Sheds snow and such. Wish I had one for my home, where I have to climb that rickety ladder and fear death every time it snows over 4 inches.....

High pitched roof, with a LOFT FOR STORAGE!!!!!!!!

STO - RAGE. The bain of my every day existance. 6800 feet of space, countless shelves, and too much stuff for the room I have. I imagine if I had 100K square feet, I would somehow fill it......and I am NOT a packrat.