Designing a new shop – from the inside out

It’s fait accompli at this point that a new shop will be built, at some point. It’s probably also an undeniable fact that this new shop will occupy the same square footage that the current one does. Sad, but true. That’s not to say that I can’t make some tweaks to the layout based on a blank slate, and there’s nothing to say that the roof can’t be raised.

Here are the incontrovertible facts: to avoid the zoning board, or infractions, or a $1000 fee, I have to exist within the following dimensions: 12 feet by 12 feet by 15 feet tall. That’s gross footage, meaning when you take walls into consideration I am looking at a 136 square feet floorplan, same as I always have had. I do get some say in how tall the building will be, considering the current one can’t be more than 10 feet tall. Storage, but not working room, unfortunately. When you take into consideration floor joists, I’m probably only looking at 4 feet of height at most up there. But still, it will be a massive improvement to get the little things out of the way like the compressor and some dust extraction.

It unfortunately can’t really hold tools though, so I decided to look at a few different building designs to see if something would work better. My main route here was to see if putting the table saw right up against the entrance, and putting in a single door somewhere else would work. In short, no. It works on a 12×14 building, but not a 12×12. Not with the tools that I have.

While I think I’ve done well with the layout I have, it’s not without compromises. I can’t easily get to the corner of the shop where the lathe and table saw are, which means my storage options on that wall are severely curtailed. I can’t afford to waste space like that, but I also haven’t replaced that interior wall either. So, what I did was retreat to Sketchup to look at multiple options, including a cheat scenario of 12×14.

What I found was that I couldn’t do a whole lot, but something that could be accomplished was to to keep the middle part of my shop the same, but rotate 180° everything against the walls. The image is above, but here it is again.

My current shop is on the left, the proposal on the right. The saw, router table and MFT are in the same spots, but the right side bench rotates over to the left, and the workbench moves to the front of the shop. With these changes I get quite a bit of improvement, if the renders are accurate. The corner of the shop that is least accessible is now the scrap wall, which I only have a need for at certain times. Again, the jointer is under the miter saw shelf, but this time back at the front of the shop, and the wings of the table saw straddle it. This should allow me to push the saw a little bit closer to the right side wall. It is also moved a bit forward to the door to give me more room between the router table and MFT. Otherwise, pretty much everything about the miter saw wall is the same, just on the opposite side. This does mean my Festools are farther back in the shop, but that isn’t a big deal, and they are now right next to the MFT where they are almost always used. I don’t honestly know though if I can pull out the double drawers all the way with the MFT there. That aspect may have to be looked into a bit more.

The workbench moves to the front of the shop, where I should have much better access to it. I should again have room to use the end vice, which is sorely needed. You’ll notice the lathe is not in the new render, and that’s on purpose. If it doesn’t work out that I can have it in the new shop, I won’t. I have an idea that I can narrow the table that it is mounted on, and perhaps have it behind the MFT or behind the bandsaw/drill press. If it doesn’t work to keep it, I won’t be too flustered – I can always add a midi lathe back in somehow. Or it can sit in the old building until the old building needs to be addressed. I don’t turn nearly enough as I thought I would to warrant making my life harder.

Now, you won’t see me try this layout out while I’m in this shop. Why? Well, as I said above the wall where the scrap would go is not finished, and will never be. I can’t guarantee where the studs are, due to how it was constructed. Also, it would be a massive pain in the ass to flip the shop around, and better done when I can remove piecemeal and put into place.

Since I don’t know when I’ll get around to building the new shop (it assuredly won’t be this summer, due to other commitments), I can work on putting some of the details in the shop render, like where clamps, tools, the TV/computer will go, etc. Also, refining how much room I need for systainers, and perhaps even finally making some storage for the MFT.

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