We’re back above freezing, which means the shop heater can do a bit of work without being futile. While the shop is warming up a bit, I thought I’d share my ideas that I came up with over the last couple of months or so. Unfortunately it has become apparent that at least one of these is a pipe dream.
The Dream Shop
There are some truly grand workshops out there. 30×40, 40×60, 50×100…palaces. I wasn’t nearly so bold when considering what would be my dream shop. Coming from a 12×12 space, it seems like something as modest as a 16×24 shop would meet a great deal of needs for me.
I worked with this size, a plus-one car garage, for awhile trying to see if it could be done. It took a little bit of work, but I think I came up with some good ideas here. There would be a closet for the dust collection and air compressor, along with a small spot for either a utility or mop sink. Of course, running the water lines are a completely different story, but I was just mocking. There would be a side single door and a french door that would serve as where stock entered the shop. I would have most of the tools I’d really want – a 3HP cabinet saw with outfeed, a 8″ jointer, resaw bandsaw and an RAS, plus everything I already have. I’d have an entire wall of storage that also serves as infeed and outfeed for the crosscut saws. I’d have a ton of room around my bench, which would be rebuilt with better materials and features. I’d have room to store sheet goods above the ceiling joists, and there would be a few more windows than I have now. Plenty of light would also come in through the window panels in the doors. The french door end would probably be built with a header suitable for a garage door. I’d have plenty of systainer storage both in the mobile MFT and elsewhere.
This is the pipe dream, unfortunately. I discovered the zoning regulations for my property, and it doesn’t work by any means. It might be possible to get a variance for it to fit, but it would be a big ask. It is also by far the most expensive option. For one, the site prep would be immense. The site selected is the most hilly on the entire property, requiring a lot of leveling out and soil retention. A concrete slab would be used because I would plan for it to be converted to a garage, for future resale value. I would have electrical costs, 110 and 220, since I’m planning for a big table saw and bandsaw. Being the biggest shop space would also obviously be a bigger material cost.
The easiest and cheapest option would be to rebuild the 12×12 space over again near where the current shop is. I would build it right, unlike the previous owner did. Proper site prep, pressure treated materials for the floor and joists. 16″ OC studs, good insulation everywhere, regular doors with window panels for lots of natural light. A high roof, up to 15 feet, which could allow for the attic to store a DC and perhaps the air compressor. The shop wouldn’t provide too much more room (storage in the attic primarily), but it would be built a lot better. Hopefully with the better insulation it would be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
The real benefit here would be that the old shop would stay put for now. It would be yard storage, house storage and scrap storage. The lathe might even stay put. I’d build a level deck area between the two that would serve as a family area, and spot where I could do some work outside on nice days. Particularly, it would be a great spot to break down sheet goods initially. A folding plywood platform would work great, and be stored in the old shop. Eventually, as funds were rebuilt, the old shop would be torn down and something similar would replace it, built in the same manner. Or, if we were in a position to move, the old shop would just be torn down for aesthetics.
The Potential Compromise
If I can go through the various hoops associated with it, a 12×16 shop would be a great fit. Four linear feet added to the length of the shop (door centered on one of the short walls) would allow me probably all the room I really need with my current levels of equipment. I do not know what structural hurdles I would have to jump, nor if I would add electricity. The hope is that on either the 12×12 or 12×16 I would eventually add power. 12×16 would allow for plenty of systainer storage, plus perhaps a convenience or two. It would be identical to the 12×12 shop, just longer (gambrel roof, location, etc). The cost difference between the two should be minimal.
I’ll be getting a hold of some survey tape to see how accurate the fences are in comparison to the lot. I need to see about finding what all the measurements are, and see what I can reference off of. I’ll need that for a variance hearing anyway. It’s interesting playing around with the GIS map that the county has – technically, I’d have room to build even the 16×24 shop, however it would be right next to the house.