How well would a new shop work?

Money has obviously played a role in the new shop delay. Heat and effort a bit less so. As I reach the almost pinnacle of my current shop, I became interested in thinking about what a new shop would actually mean for me.

The most obvious thing would be a better seal. Window that doesn’t leak, doors that open and close properly, etc. Should help keep things much cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. A better installation of insulation will also help; I just need to decide if the floor gets some insulation too.

There would be two main benefits to a new shop being built – one, I would have more storage space in the ceiling. It would be built to my specifications and may have enough room to store all the dust extraction and air compressor up there. That would save a small amount of space. The other thing is that, if I go through with it, a bigger footprint. I’d build 16×12, and hope for the best.

With eight foot walls (perhaps 8.5′) and 48 more square feet of floor space, I get some opportunities handed to me. I can make a sheet goods storage center that will take up about 18-24″ on one side of the door. I should be able to keep three or four full sheets plus cutoffs. This would be absolutely massive for my ability to create. One of my biggest downfalls is not having what I need, and having to rent a truck or try and deal with the van.

Of course, with a new shop and not tearing down the current one, I could do some of this and have all of that additional space to call my own. I have options. As for a potential layout, I have no idea. It seems like I’ve hit on a very efficient layout, and aside from gaining a small amount of space around the tools I’m not sure there is any room for improvement.

If I had room to add them, I would add a CNC and a welder. A welder might be doable. I want to get back into working with metals, and if I get into furniture making working on my welding skills could be beneficial. Or making shop storage. What I would love would be to add a small CNC table, but I would have to get mighty creative in how to add it. If the old workshop still stood, not having the lathe take up room might be able to get it done. I don’t know. I need room in the old shop for a riding and push mower, plus yard equipment.

Something I really need to do in my future renders of a new shop is to account for the small things as well as the big things.

New workshop – Prologue 2: Expansion Boogaloo

Just when I think things are set, they change. This is a good change, though. I’ll be building a 12×16 shop. Not going to get into why, but it’s happening.

So, right now this is a two-front affair: prepping the ground for the base, and prepping the plans to see how much it will impact me. I’m still not set on the roof this thing is going to have, and I’ll have to get that sorted out by the time the plywood floor goes on.

The Sketchup is being worked on right now. In reality, the layout I have right now can be translated over to the larger space, just with a bit of freedom to move a couple things around. It’s only four more feet in one direction, it’s not a wholesale change. I just attempted to see if an offset door on the long side would work, and it does to some degree. If I don’t care about the miter saw, for instance. No, what will most likely happen is a continued riff on what is currently going on. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better way to get things done in that small of a space.

In reality, though, it doesn’t matter much what the inside is doing. It is relevant a bit to electrical runs, but I can always add on an outlet at a spot I deem necessary.

Here is a look at the base, from underneath:

Real new shop base

I learned after this that the blocking/bridging needs to be done along the seam of where the plywood floor will go at the very least. I also learned that the plywood floor needs to run in one direction, opposite of the floor joists.

Here is the initial proposed layout

Real new shop Real new shop 3

In terms of what this adds, I can get a little more elbow room with the bandsaw and drill press. The outfeed of the BS goes above the lathe, which works. The drill press can gain a table by being integrated with the miter saw stand. It will have a removable insert in the MS stand so I can wheel the drill press out if I need to. I can move the workbench off of the back wall a bit so I can eventually install a face vise, and I also gain room to access the end vise. The workbench will eventually be built in a new style, so I’ll need room at both ends. I also pivot the chaos wall to gain a little more room on the MS/DP wall, but we’ll see.

Going ahead and setting a viable layout now also lets me visualize where the drops will be for the dust collector system, whatever it may be. I can have a drop right next to the lathe and bandsaw that will get anything from the lathe, BS, table saw, and router table. I’ll have another drop on the other side for the drill press and miter saw. Blast gates all around, obviously. The only question will be if I want the jointer, planer, and anything else I’ll wheel to the middle of the building essentially, hooking into the table saw line or the miter saw line. Why not both, I suppose. I could have the jointer hooked to one and the planer hooked to the other and not have to move stuff around if I had some back and forth boards to do. The CT Midi will either keep living under the MFT/3 or go up into the attic right above it. With a larger space I do want a longer hose, and I suppose I could always use the non-antistatic one I have.

I’m thinking there will be two windows, one on each long wall in the middle. I could get some nice cross-ventilation on the nicer days. I’m hoping the doors can have some sort of windows as well, plus the ability to open them up and keep the bugs out. Roll screening, most likely.

New workshop – Prologue

I probed the building area a few days ago, digging down a little bit in the spots I thought the deck piers would go. In four or five of the nine spots, it was no big deal to dig down. Particularly to the rear of the property, that soil was loose. That’s also the high side, so I may dig down further and see if I can contact some firmer soil, or our famous clay. In the other holes, I dug up several larger stones and got them out of the way. If I’m honest, if I wanted to I could keep digging these things out, but I’m not planning to.

Mid-week or so (after my next paycheck), I’ll be headed to Lowe’s to pick up perhaps three of those deck piers and a bag or two of stone. I’ll do one row at a time and basically have them set to go. I’ll either set the high or low side up and work my way to having nine piers set in relative alignment. I will have to pick up a straight 2×8 to get the level sorted out as well, but I worry about picking it up too early and having it twist or bend on me. A hand tamper will also be purchased. I could easily see working on the foundation for about the next month or so when able to replace woodworking. Graduation is just over a month away and I don’t see anything major happening, just fitting things in to keep me sane.

You could sorta argue I’ve started. I did do a bit of digging. We’ll call it the prologue to the build. There will be a running cost calculation, and it will be compared in the end to what I estimate.

Just the right size

Let’s get down to brass tacks right away: just what is the difference between a 12×12 shop and a 12×16 shop?

The easy answer is 48 square feet, probably about 400 cubic feet. It is, and has to be more than that though. It’s not just mathematics or geometry. If I was stacking pallets of goods in here, it would be easy to discern just what the difference is. These are tools, though. It’s workbenches, it’s odds and ends, it’s a building I have to live with for at least the next several years. There is also a monetary and legal aspect to it, but for the purpose of this blog entry, those are being ignored.

Easiest to quantify is the 12×12 space, as it is what I have now. It won’t quite be the same, though. The new shop will have a gambrel roof, and I plan on taking it as high as the code allows – 15 feet, or thereabouts. That means I have room for a 6 foot loft, or perhaps a little higher at the peak. It’s not an area I really plan on spending much time in, but it does provide an absolute huge storage area, depending on the length I make it. It could be the entire size of the shop, but then I have to figure out how to get myself and any storage up there.

Point being, it has the capability to at the very least free up some floor space. The air compressor can go up there, and I’d obviously have room for a bigger one. I could finally add a real dust collector, and it would go up there. Scrap wood storage could go up there, as could the two containers I have around the shop. It isn’t a ton, but the savings do help. It’s cheating a little bit, but I’d also retain the old shop space for at least a time, where I could keep something like the lathe, which really doesn’t require immediate use of any other tool. I suppose the lathe could go upstairs, if I felt confident in the ability of my joist work to keep it above and not on my head.

Now, that’s not to say a 12×16 shop wouldn’t have the same or similar storage capability as well. I can’t say if it would have a gambrel or gable end, but there would be above-head storage that there isn’t now. So, what does that extra 400 cubic feet get me? Flexibility, for the most part. I can have a higher stand for the planer and not have to bend over. Or, it gets me room for a drum sander. It also gives me more room between the router table, workbench and MFT. It gives me a little more room to access the workbench. The drum sander and some maneuvering room would be huge. But is it $1500 huge?

Unfortunately, that isn’t something I can decide today. That’s a real decision to make, and it impacts too many variables to make a rash decision on. I’m going to keep compiling the costs the best I can either way. If I start construction on the piers, it will probably be for a 12×12 footprint. It wouldn’t be difficult to add a few more in for the extension

New workshop

This is not a drill. There will be a new workshop coming. I’m back into design mode, figuring out what it will be between two sizes – 12×12 or 12×16 (or maybe even 12×20). The reason why I’m not exactly sure what size it will be is that I have to justify a larger size than what I have now.

The reason, is the man.

In my residential district, I am allowed a structure of up to 144 gross square feet and 15 feet in height at a distance of five feet from any property line. My current shop meets these requirements. To move up just one foot in space requires the side setback to increase to 10 feet. Not too much of an issue there, but the rear setback increases to 30 feet. I just don’t think that’s possible on my property. In fact, my entire shop sits within that 30 feet setback by a good five feet.

I would have two options in building something while staying within the law: limit my building to 144 square feet, or apply for a variance. I’ve mentioned before that the simple act of applying comes with a $150 fee and nearly $900 in fees for an surveyor to draw up the application including diagrams. $1000, and I might not be approved. I will have to judge if the small increase in space would be worth a grand plus the increased material cost.

There is a third option, however, and one that at least on the surface seems appealing. I can build a new 12×12 space, build it to the maximum height to increase storage loft area, and have the option to build a smaller second building to replace the current one. There is no limit to the amount of outbuildings on the property.

Here’s how it would work: I would build a new, 12×12 workshop about fifteen feet closer to the side property line than I am now. This shop would be built the right way, level, with proper protection against insects, well insulated, with some measure of loft storage. I’d also have regular, well sealed doors. There would be at least one window, and that window could have air conditioner ability. The goal though would be for it to be so well insulated I might not need it. The old shop would remain for awhile until money and/or other situations allowed for it to be torn down and a smaller shop with a little deck to go in it’s place. This accessory shop would house my wood storage, lathe, and have room for garden equipment like the riding lawn mower. 8×8 would probably be plenty.

You’re probably wondering how much help this would be. Well, moving the scrap plywood out would be a nice little help on it’s own. I’d be able to save some money at times by buying additional sheets if I need to rent a truck. Moving the wall scraps out obviously frees up about 25 square feet of wall space. Moving the lathe out opens up quite a bit of layout options for the shop. Loft storage opens up the option of a true dust collector, plus storage for lesser used tools and storage. I could even store scrap up there while I tore the old shop down. I can’t overstate what the combination of all of these things, plus a more insulated, level space would do – it’s not a larger shop, but it really is. It’s a better shop. It’s a shop I could certainly live with. Having a deck or landing on a smaller shop even gives me a level space to set up the Centipede for sheet good use. Speaking of the Centipede, a smaller accessory shop also gives me room to store a sheet of foam to back up my cuts.

Now, I’m not sure I mentioned my ground solution. Digging footers isn’t really an option. What I’ll be doing is using preformed concrete deck piers to support the shop. The 2x8s will sit on them on the high side, and on the low side, they’ll be raised up by 4×4 posts. The piers will have 3/4″ crushed stone underneath in a small spot where I did down slightly and level. I think it should work.

All in all, that does seem like the way to go. For the next little bit I’m looking pretty hard at the 12×16 size and want to quantify that $1000+ difference. I’ll be taking my time figuring out which direction I want to go in. Watch this space, though, as I hope to make a final decision in about a month or so. Perhaps sooner.


Desk Jockey – part 3

Most likely this is where I have moved. I’ve explained the issues with my property before, but in a nutshell, the land is too hilly and too small for a big shop. The only thing that would ever make sense on the property is to build a single car garage toward one end of the property where my double gate is, but I’m not sure I could get approval.

The other thing these have in common is that major earth moving and a permanent foundation would be required. 12×16 is the largest building I would feel comfortable putting on skids or a non-permanent foundation. Anything above what I have now technically has to be footed anyway. One other assumption is that by making this big of an investment into a building that it would be wired for 110/220v, thus letting me run any level of power tool I would need. The buildings would then be able to be conditioned, which I can’t tell you how much I would love, almost as much as the bigger building itself.

The Single Car Garage – 12×20

This size fits a couple of scenarios: building a garage on my current property, or taking one half of a two car garage in a new place. This isn’t too much different than the 12×16 shed option, just gives a bit more room again in the middle. I would probably have room for a dedicated outfeed table here, and/or maybe a spot on the floor for dust collection. There could be some rearranging or spot made for some standing sheet good storage as well, although I would have some overhead storage for that in either scenario. If this was half of a two-bay garage, I may have the outfeed table be foldable, so that I could nose a car in for service or overnight storage of something short like a Jeep. (I had a render, but don’t know what happened to it)

This would by no means be my ultimate shop, but I could certainly do good things in it.

A 14×20 space is very similar, but those extra two feet on the shortest dimension open things up a bit more in arranging things. A dust collector can fit, potentially a bigger jointer and bandsaw, things like that. With a side door that you could orient long boards through, you can position some tools differently to take advantage of that as well. It would also be very advantageous for getting a car in, assuming this was a standalone building, particularly in my current space. Moving woodworking stuff for a car wouldn’t be a regular occasion, but sometimes you do have to change the oil give it a detail.

The Majestic – 16×28

The Daddy. Anything from here on is pure fantasy, the result of winning the lottery or something thirty years down the road. There’s no point in fleshing this one out with too much detail, because I bet our cars are flying by then – who knows if robots who build things for us will be affordable yet. But, here it is anyway:

shop expansion template

Plenty of room for pretty much anything, and room to add a couple of things here or there. I get to use a drum sander, and I bet I’d have room for a dedicated resaw bandsaw. An RAS also makes an appearance.

For now, my daydreaming is complete. My attention turns to other matters.

Desk Jockey – part 2

OK, so in reality I had been working on this for a couple weeks already in Sketchup, and have a few renders ready to go. This means I’m going to slightly change how I planned on presenting this. I’ll be going through several size iterations, and I’ll have the renders alongside. This means I’ll cover the current and slightly bigger sizes here, and truly grandiose next time.

Current – 12×12

2016 12x12

Not exactly current, but this represents probably about as well as I can do in a 12×12 (exterior dimensions) space. The planer/sander cart is right next to the miter saw now, and those upper cabinets don’t exist yet, just the upper portion of the chaos wall. Other than that, this is pretty much the shop if you were to sneak in there tonight. Also, for ease, all the router tables you see in here are the one I’m about to make. Like, real soon.

The Hush-Hush – 12×16

2016 12x16

So named because if I built this, I probably wouldn’t bother telling the county that it is a few feet over size in relation to the property lines. You need a much bigger setback once you hit 145 square feet.

I didn’t bring the walls up nor repaint the floor extension, but it should be pretty clear what is going on. This isn’t a massive boon of floor space, but it does help. I could add another column of systainers, have a bit more leeway with the planer/sander cart (if still a combo), and gain quite a bit of interior floor space, particularly between the MFT and router table, and table saw and door. It also brings into opportunity to put the lathe up against the front wall, leaving me room to wheel the router table and table saw up against the wall to use the planer or jointer. Forty-eight more square feet is all this adds, however it would make life much nicer. The possibility is there to even upgrade the table saw to a hybrid unit, perhaps even a 30″ 1.75HP Sawstop. There wouldn’t be too much room for sheet goods, unless I plan for a loft area (which I most assuredly would). A small loft area above the door could even support true dust collection, with a drop coming down at the table saw that would serve everything but the lathe and miter saw.

If I’m being truthfully honest, this is going to be my best bet at this property in both size and expense. I still wouldn’t have permanent power or a conditioned space, but I would be able to get more things done more safely. The only question I would have is lighting between the two loft areas, but I guess it’s a good problem to have.

That’s both of the options that are reasonably available to me at my current property and my current income. I keep ogling a shed at Lowe’s that is two stories, which would be super intriguing, but I very much doubt I could get away with the height. Two floors would be very interesting, particularly for the separate areas, under stair area, and etc. The only certainties with this property is that I refuse to go smaller (there’s no reason to), and if I’m going to build something, I’m going to gain something out of it – loft, porch (where the lathe could conceivably go), etc. The thing I need to add the most is better storage for sheet goods or a dust collector, and a loft could meet both needs.


Desk jockey – part 1

It’s not that fun when you can’t get out to the shop. I was last out there maybe a week or so ago, right when a stretch of cold weather was on the way. I brought in the finish cabinet with most of the finish in it (I decided I needed to cut bait with the paints), the batteries and the fire extinguisher. Thanks to school and work, I haven’t yet been back out. That means no updates, no projects, not much of anything.

The thing I like best about this site is I get to write about what I like. Something I tend to do is daydream about what could be. I thought I would stop doing this, but perhaps keeping a dream alive keeps me on the path to it. I don’t know. I do know it somewhat keeps me sane when I can’t do anything else but sit at the computer. I daydream about things for my house, but primarily I daydream about a new shop, and all the goodies that could fit.

So, another couple posts about potential new shops. If this doesn’t interest you, it won’t hurt my feelings if you skip them. There are some days I don’t want to read them either. They’ll be titled the same, because I’m sure to have a post or two between entries.

Let’s face it: my shop is obscenely small. Ridiculously small. A shop this small should have been dedicated to hand tools only, frankly. And when I think of bigger shops, I joke about winning the lottery, but I know it will all be earned, and whatever happens will be perfect. Because I don’t win crap. I’ve won two things in my life, and going by the first two, I won’t be due to win the next $50 value prize until 2031.

A new shop is frankly a necessity. I will be thinking about it every single day until it happens. What I should probably do then is go through several different sizes and take it seriously this time. I could then go back and use this information to ultimately decide what my route will be depending on space, funds, and goals. My goals for the shop will probably change over time, but I could always update things as time goes along. The second post will be talking through the different options, and the third post will be the renders.

I really am hoping one day I can look back and compare what I ended up doing to what I thought I would do. I’m letting myself go really in-depth here and really specific, so the next entry might be a bit.

A plan materializes

I don’t exactly have a way to pay for the whole thing just yet, but as of right now, I’m committed to building a new shop. I wish I could say it will be bigger in two dimensions, but at least it will grow in a third. I’m hoping my design will allow for expansion, but if not, at least I should be ahead of where I am now.

The plan calls for a 12×12 footprint, again, with a 6′ gambrel roof. The ground will be stone on compacted (if needed) dirt, with the shop itself either on runners or partially buried pavers. The subfloor will be 2×6 pressure treated boards, with pressure treated plywood on top, likely tongue and groove. First floor fairly standard, just putting the finishing touches on where the door will be, exactly – centered or offset. Also, determining if there will be another single-width entry door on the side, and letting the table saw be right up against the big door. There will be at least one window, on the house side.

The loft will be 2x4s and 3/4″ plywood, sitting on top of the top stud. Those joists will tie into the roof, which will also be secured with metal ties. I’m fine tuning the pitches, but have an idea of what they’ll be. The loft will not span the entire square footage. However, it’s undecided how big it will be. I want to have the dust collector and the Festool CT up there, plus room for 3-4 bins of random and not as-needed materials. Having room for sheet goods would be an obvious plus. It’s a matter of seeing if I can support full 4×8 sheets of plywood up there, and not have it be stepped on to get to something, like emptying the collectors. So yes, with the DC in the loft, I will have to do some sort of dust pipe planning, if only a retractable hose. These are all the little fine-tuning aspects that come into play with a new shop.

I have the location picked out, and if everything goes well, this weekend I will be marking it off and digging will commence. I could get a machine, but I don’t think there will be too much that can’t be done for this spot. I’m not digging down a whole lot, and there’s not too much leveling that needs to happen. Just a matter of about a six inch drop from back to front. It’s the most level spot in the yard.

Now that I’ve figured out how to calculate the gambrel roof, there isn’t much about the construction that really scares me at this point. I think everything up to starting the loft is pretty standard. Before I build the walls I’ll build the roof trusses, and have those ready to go up after the walls. I may build out the loft if it’s stable to do so, and use that as the platform to install the roof trusses. Once those are in, I can trim the ends of the boards flush with the roof, and then the roof goes on. I think the only thing that I’m apprehensive about at this point is putting the shingles on. I know how it should be done, except for the matter of perhaps a ridge vent.

It will (eventually) be insulated throughout, including the loft area. I don’t want that to get too hot with sensitive equipment like the CT up there, nor do I want anything to warp. Thankfully, it will be in a pretty shaded area. Exterior will be T1-11 plywood siding, painted a color TBD. It will have (most likely) PVC trim, to help discourage the carpenter bees. I honestly don’t know if it will work, but it’s worth the effort unless cost is an issue at that point. We’ll see if the budget permits a couple more panels of the T1-11 to help out the current shop.

Interior will most likely be OSB again. I like the fact it gives a bit more strength when hanging things on the wall, and I don’t have to always go hunting for a stud. The bottom of the loft might be covered, not entirely sure there. The lights will be installed either to the studs, blocking studs, or (I assume) the OSB that will cover it. Same lights, will have to see about lumen orientation. Undecided about adding in-wall outlets. I could certainly wire it up during the build process, even after, as long as it’s before the interior walls go up.

That’s where I am at so far. I haven’t priced out a stone delivery, and things of that nature. I know what 2x4s run, and need to calculate out how many of those I will need. It will be close to 100, I’d think. 16″ OC is going to be the rule for all things – floor, walls, loft and roof. Of course, the lengths are going to vary depending on the part. Not certain yet on a door, although I could build another one. I could even do it with glass, which guaranteed my doors will have this time. That’s going to be a project where I wish I had the Domino XL. A regular french door would be nice, too. Once I have the opening figured out, one could be made within a day or two. Worst case I could nail up a sheet of ply to keep things out overnight.

I’m hoping to come in under $3000. If I get an estimate for materials and I come in significantly under that, I might consider the petition for a variance to build bigger. It’s a pipe dream at this point, but would dramatically change the nature of the outlook. To think I would be happier in a 12×16 shop is an extreme understatement. I don’t know the engineering required to add on later.

Word problems

Karen, her younger sister Beth, and their older sister Jamie are going on a trip. Karen is seven years older than Beth, but three years younger than Jamie. Jamie is double the age as Beth. How old are all the girls?

It seems like a complicated exercise on the surface. You are given three people, and have to find out their ages without knowing any. All you are given are age relationships. Once you start to lay the facts on the table, a solution becomes clear. You know the range of years (10) and you know that Jaime is double the age of Beth. The answer then becomes obvious once you know to double the range to get Jamie’s age, and the rest falls into place.

I’m finding that the tools in my shop are a bit like my word problem above. Except instead of ages, I’m trying to figure out three-dimensional placement. All have their qualifiers. It seems like a simple problem on the surface, but becomes a much larger problem as you proceed. All tools are required to fit into a finite space, and as far as physics go, they do. However to try and find just the right combination is proving harder than a Rubik’s Cube.

I’ll start with the lathe. It’s 53″ long (I won’t be giving specifics for each thing, I just remember that), which means it really can’t go on the wall with the doors, either inside or out. Not with the door being centered. Not unless I wanted to go with a regular entry door. Which, on first blush seems dumb, but it’s worth investigating. Back to the lathe – it can’t but up against a left-hand corner, because the motor can turn for bigger bowls, and I need a bit of room to insert the knock-out stick, for dislodging the spur center. It can go up against a right-hand corner, because I don’t turn things at the upper end of range that often. It could go anywhere else except in line with the table saw, and it would probably be better for the long axis to go against a wall. See how it gets limited the further you examine it?

The route table, current or new, has less restrictions. The basic function of it is now on the infeed side, so I need access to a long side. All the drawers should be on that side as well, there shouldn’t be anything I touch on the outfeed side. The Incra fence means that it can’t be in the line of the table saw outfeed, unless I also have a place to store the fence. Storage in the router table is negotiable, but if router bits and accessories go there that I also use with other routers, it has to be accessible when the router table is stowed away, if it is. If the planer is stored under the surface, an entirely new set of complications arise. The addition of the Incra fence, plus the probable upgrade of the Wonder Fence, means that storing the router table under something becomes a bit more problematic as well. Not to mention the room needed to pull it out and use it for work. Consideration for all the tools has to be made for both storage and where I can use it.

The MFT can’t be used slap up against a wall, because the rail has to have clearance behind. The workbench would be preferable to have up against a wall, two would be better, and you can’t block the end vise. The sysports need 14″ of clearance in front. The miter saw needs to have about 28″ of shelf, and in a corner isn’t advised. The planer needs to operate with the maximum amount of linear room. The table saw can’t have anything in front or behind that is taller. You get the idea. There are so many compromises that have to be made I am looking at different door placements in the new shop to accommodate. What seems to be working right now is a door that is just slightly offset to the right, by perhaps only a few inches, in order to clear the lathe, either inside or out.

What I want to figure out is if there is a way to build a 12×12 shop, and design it so that it could be expanded a few more feet on one axis later on, when the funds would be available to do a variance request. I really, really could use just 48 more feet.