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

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