How big is your shop, and how big should it be.

How big is your shop, and how big should it be.

Joined: March 8th, 2004, 11:48 pm

March 1st, 2017, 9:57 pm #1

I will retire in a year or two and will be building a new house and shop to retire to. Actually it may be a huge shop with a bedroom in one corner. But I have been doing the usual cycle of starting small, adding on until I can't possibly afford it, then scrapping the design and starting over. So the question is how big is too big? What do you use and how big is realistic?
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Joined: December 21st, 2014, 1:39 pm

March 2nd, 2017, 12:43 am #2

There's only one right answer to each question:
How big should it be? Twice as big as you think you need...
How big is it now? Too small.

Douglas
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Joined: January 11th, 2016, 8:57 pm

March 2nd, 2017, 1:39 am #3

Bigger; In a workshop, Stuff increases to overflow the available space.
Breakfast.com halted. Cereal port not ready.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

March 2nd, 2017, 2:41 am #4

I will retire in a year or two and will be building a new house and shop to retire to. Actually it may be a huge shop with a bedroom in one corner. But I have been doing the usual cycle of starting small, adding on until I can't possibly afford it, then scrapping the design and starting over. So the question is how big is too big? What do you use and how big is realistic?
Okay, first and foremost, remember the Golden Rule: There is no such thing as a shop that is "too big". (At least from a space standpoint- affording it is another matter entirely. ) Like a gas, the stuff that goes in a shop expands to fill all available space.

I know several people who started out in a garage, outgrew that, built a shop, outgrew that, built a bigger shop, and have now outgrown that, and are looking for something even bigger.

Even a 100x100 building can get filled up fast, if you're a packrat, have a bit of disposable income, and a wide circle of friends.

Second, it very much depends on what you're planning to do. Obviously the guy that plans to spend his retirement building miniature model steam engines doesn't need as much space as the guy who's going to do a full rebuild on an old Cat 966 endloader.

And third, you're going to have to ask yourself just how firm you're going to be with yourself about collecting tools, parts and junk. Will you install a basic set of tools (hand, machine, woodworking, what have you) and then stick with just that? Or do you expect to keep swapping and upgrading and adding to the collection?

Personally, I have something like 1400 square feet of shop, not counting storage areas. Part of that is "machine room", the rest is car bays- one of which is currently filled with a very large lathe.

To do maybe 85% of my paintball work, I could, if necessary, pare that down to maybe as little as 250 to 300 square feet. It's not volume intensive, and I do the majority of my work on just two of the machines.

However, for working on a car, especially if you're doing something like a body-off, even a full 1400 isn't quite enough, since some of it is of course filled with tables, workbenches, tools and storage. You start taking sheetmetal off, and it's either outside in the rain (unless you live in Southern California) or it's stacked inside somewhere.

Personally, if I had the choice to do it all over again- but NOT assuming I had any kind of unlimited magic budget- I'd shoot for something around 2,000 square feet. One single room, two car bays, a select set of machines and workbenches along one wall, movable work tables and rolling tool cabinets along another wall.

If I had the budget and space for it, I'd probably bump that up to 3K/ft. Keep the central 2K box, and have two additional rooms of about 500 square feet each. Either along the side walls (which I wouldn't recommend) or side by side on an end, opposite the car-bay garage doors.

These two would be the "clean" and "dirty" rooms. The clean room for the machine tools, so you don't have to worry about getting grit and dust on them. The "dirty" room for the stuff that makes dust and grit- the sandblaster, bench grinders, arc welders, cutting torches, plasma cutters, chop saws, etc.

Tuck a small bathroom at one corner and you're set.

If you want to make the place integrated, have it two story, with the house/apartment above the central section.

Doc.
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Joined: March 8th, 2004, 11:48 pm

March 2nd, 2017, 3:09 am #5

I have considered everything from 1,600 square feet to 4,000. The problem is that I like to do a bit of everything so I need wood tools, metal tools, a paint area, etc. Plus I tend to be a hoarder so whatever size I pick will get filled with possible project material (also known as junk).
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

March 2nd, 2017, 5:34 am #6

Here's a quick-and-dirty floorplan. Roughly to scale:



The two long rectangles represent cars- approximately 6-1/2 feet wide and 18 feet long, representing a big car or typical pickup truck or even Suburban. The grey rectangles roughly represent workbenches.

The lower section is the main shop, with the garage doors shown in blue (roughly drawn, I know they're two different sizes. ) This portion is 40' deep and 50' wide, for right at 2,000 square feet.

The upper section is another 1,000 square feet, divided into two 20'x 20'/400sf rooms. These are the "clean" and "dirty" rooms- for a guy like me, there'd be machine tools and such in one side, with the grinders and welders in the other side. For a dedicated woodworker, you might have the sanders and planers on one side, and a clean room for glue-ups and assembly on the other.

It could also be metalworking on one side and woodworking on the other, or for a hot-rodder, the cleaning and machinework stuff on one side and the 'clean' assembly room on the other, or whatever.

The middle section is the last 200 square feet, and can hold the bathroom, the furnace and water heater, a utility closet, etc.

It might work better if this portion is set at one corner, and the two bigger rooms are placed side-by-side. Especially if you have something like a woodworking shop with sanding and planing on one side, and glue-ups and assembly on the other- a pass-through door would of course speed up the process. Ditto the hot-rodder; being able to roll a cart with the clean engine block straight through might be better than having to roll it out through the main shop.

But either way, that's 3K square feet. Which is, to be perfectly honest, pretty luxurious. My current "machine room" is just under 400 square feet, and I have two lathes, four mills, three drill presses and a shaper in there, along with two rolling tool chests, two fixed tool chests, and 12 feet of workbench.

If I moved everything into that floorplan, the big lathe would stay out in the main room, and all my welders, saws, grinders and sandblasters would go in the other room, which would leave a huge amount of central workspace for me.

Maybe I should do a Kickstarter... that couldn't cost more than, what, maybe a quarter-million?

Doc.
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Joined: September 12th, 2014, 5:45 am

March 2nd, 2017, 5:58 am #7

There's only one right answer to each question:
How big should it be? Twice as big as you think you need...
How big is it now? Too small.

Douglas
neolithic technologist
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Joined: September 11th, 2014, 5:40 pm

March 2nd, 2017, 10:19 am #8

I will retire in a year or two and will be building a new house and shop to retire to. Actually it may be a huge shop with a bedroom in one corner. But I have been doing the usual cycle of starting small, adding on until I can't possibly afford it, then scrapping the design and starting over. So the question is how big is too big? What do you use and how big is realistic?
But then the vast majority of my tinkering is done in 28mm heroic scale:)
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

March 2nd, 2017, 1:01 pm #9

Here's a quick-and-dirty floorplan. Roughly to scale:



The two long rectangles represent cars- approximately 6-1/2 feet wide and 18 feet long, representing a big car or typical pickup truck or even Suburban. The grey rectangles roughly represent workbenches.

The lower section is the main shop, with the garage doors shown in blue (roughly drawn, I know they're two different sizes. ) This portion is 40' deep and 50' wide, for right at 2,000 square feet.

The upper section is another 1,000 square feet, divided into two 20'x 20'/400sf rooms. These are the "clean" and "dirty" rooms- for a guy like me, there'd be machine tools and such in one side, with the grinders and welders in the other side. For a dedicated woodworker, you might have the sanders and planers on one side, and a clean room for glue-ups and assembly on the other.

It could also be metalworking on one side and woodworking on the other, or for a hot-rodder, the cleaning and machinework stuff on one side and the 'clean' assembly room on the other, or whatever.

The middle section is the last 200 square feet, and can hold the bathroom, the furnace and water heater, a utility closet, etc.

It might work better if this portion is set at one corner, and the two bigger rooms are placed side-by-side. Especially if you have something like a woodworking shop with sanding and planing on one side, and glue-ups and assembly on the other- a pass-through door would of course speed up the process. Ditto the hot-rodder; being able to roll a cart with the clean engine block straight through might be better than having to roll it out through the main shop.

But either way, that's 3K square feet. Which is, to be perfectly honest, pretty luxurious. My current "machine room" is just under 400 square feet, and I have two lathes, four mills, three drill presses and a shaper in there, along with two rolling tool chests, two fixed tool chests, and 12 feet of workbench.

If I moved everything into that floorplan, the big lathe would stay out in the main room, and all my welders, saws, grinders and sandblasters would go in the other room, which would leave a huge amount of central workspace for me.

Maybe I should do a Kickstarter... that couldn't cost more than, what, maybe a quarter-million?

Doc.
I'd recommend keeping the Clean and Dirty rooms as far away from each other as possible if there's any 'fine particle' woodworking(sanding, CnCing, use of bandsaw... ) happening.
Wood dust tends to stay airborne for quite a distance.

You don't really want it close to any area you're welding or grinding, either, come to think about it.
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

March 2nd, 2017, 1:07 pm #10

But then the vast majority of my tinkering is done in 28mm heroic scale:)
But try to find a decent drill-press to work on parts in that scale. Effing impossible.
You need to build one yourself, and then you need BIG precision tools, and you need a big workshop for those.

'Gadgetman!' on the Reaper forums...
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