Now that I’ve hit on just about the best outcome I can get with a 12×12 shop, it’s time to look to what life could be like in the next shop.
The lessons I’ve learned with my starter shop have been tremendous. When it is all said and done, I learned way more about having an overstuffed shop than I ever would with a garage-sized or larger shop. Unfortunately my woodworking has lagged because of it, but ultimately I think I will be better for my experiences this way.
Just to recap, this is what I have going on now, minus some minor details like dust collection and some things that just haven’t been modeled to this point (the header pic above is current as well):
As I said, there’s probably not much more I can do with this space. Now, what a new shop of the same size could do would be to have additional storage space in a loft area. I could move and upgrade the air compressor upstairs or to a nook outside. Dust collection could get an even bigger benefit from that, moving the main and miter saw vacs, plus the dust separator. This would allow for a bit more flexibility with storing the spindle sander, mortiser, etc. Basically anything that just needs a home out of the way. So even a redo of the current footprint would gain benefits.
That said, things open up when the footprint expands. Here’s what a 12×16 layout looks like, just four more linear feet:
Looks largely the same, but that’s the point. The table saw can be pushed almost right up against the wall, for better floor space clearing. I can get a few more inches between the router table and table saw, so that the fences clear each other. There’s quite a bit of room for moving things around and assembly toward the back. There’s room to use the jointer and planer in either the square space or the walkway.
On the left there I’ve moved the planer out from under the miter saw, but it doesn’t have to. That space could then be used for a drum sander, or storage. Or for a stand for the mortiser or sander. Lots of possibilities there, but obviously being able to add a drum sander, my last big tool want, would be the priority. The drill press would move to the counter, which I’ve wanted to do for a bit a la Dave Stanton. Or if it wasn’t feasible I could find a home for it a couple other places, one of them where it is in my shop now.
The 12×16 shop is an intriguing layout to me because, if planned properly, the shop could start out as 12×12 and be expanded to that size. Theoretically I could have that extra four feet as a deck, then pull the boards up, put down floor, and build the walls up when feasible. It would be a really smart play if I could pull it off.
That said, I’d honestly like to go even bigger. This is what a potential 14×16 shop looks like.
As you go bigger and bigger, many more layout options come into play. You can start to tailor things to a workflow instead of the space available, and this layout keeps things very simple and relatable to the other sizes. I could use the workbench as an outfeed, do a few other things. I don’t think it’s quite big enough to have the workbench be accessible from both sides, but it’s close. Having it as an island gives some advantages for assembly and some hand tool work, so it’s a nice goal to have, but not at the expense of having to give up a needed tool or other goal.
To be quite frank, anything over 12×16 isn’t likely on this property. While I have a carport, there’s not enough room to turn it into a garage without removing the chimney that juts out into it. Putting a garage-sized shop elsewhere in our backyard would be a massive amount of doing and money. I don’t like our house that much, and certainly don’t like my neighborhood that much. I’d much rather put the money toward a new house with either land for a blank slate, or a big garage or basement area. I’d even take a shared garage space, because most of what I have could be converted into mobile storage and tools pushed to the perimeter when needed.
I think I’m pretty much done messing with Sketchup and layouts for awhile. There’s really nothing else to add unless/until a new shop space comes along. Same thing for talking about it, I think I’ve beat this topic to death over the last six years. I will continue to seek out improvements, but aside from small tweaks I don’t see what much else can be done. I’ll post updates on what goes on, but I don’t see much point in dedicating entire posts to it anymore. Not unless some epiphany comes along, or there is some major change in how my shop is equipped. With what I have, I’m happy. Or at least I will be once I do some final cleaning. I think it has been a great exercise in getting me back up and running in a short time frame when it happens, and now I know. If for some reason I have the opportunity to work in some sort of different space, I’ll take that opportunity and challenge as it comes – there’s little point anymore to dreaming and thinking what if.
Dance with the date you brought. I’m about to head out to the shop to clumsily step on her feet.