Planning a Garage Workshop

by Patrick Harper - Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Planning a garage workshop is intimidating.  Working with limited space is frustrating.  Knowing where to compromise is the key to success.

Create drawings.  Create many of them.  Make one for each of your key systems: structural, machine locations, electrical, dust collection, lighting, etc.

Planning a garage workshop

Drawing 1 – Initial Layout

First, I created a two-dimensional structural drawing.  I drew it to scale and included both existing and future doors, windows, etc.   Then, I added all of my current and future machines.  Any demo work might show more hangups, so don’t hesitate to revise your drawings  if anything comes up.  Keeping things up-to-date will make sure that problems don’t snowball later.

Planning a garage workshop

Drawing 2 – Revised Layout

In my case, removing drywall revealed a sheer wall in a location where I had planned a new exterior door (bottom left of Drawing 1 ).  Moving the door meant relocating a few machines.  This opened up a space close to my workbench at the bottom for hand-tool storage (Drawing 2).

Planning electrical

Drawing 3 – Electrical

With the structural work outlined and machine locations established, I started outlining my electrical needs.  I included power for each of my existing machines as well as machines I plan on purchasing in the future.  If you plan on using an electrician, this drawing will give a clear picture of your expectations.  If you plan on doing the work yourself, it can help you create a shopping list.

workshop light plan

Drawing 4 – Workshop Lighting

Good shop lighting is often overlooked when planning a workshop.  Shoot for around 100 lumens per square foot at the work surface.  I am using 8 x dual-bulb T-8 led fixtures.  This will nearly quadruple the light I had in my old workshop.

Workshop 2-Ducting

Drawing 5 – Dust Collection

Finally, I plan on adding a stationary cyclone dust collection system in the future.  All of my drawings reflect this.  I created a drawing that included duct work for this future system.  This affected the layout of machines, electrical, and lights.  Creating this drawing illustrated just how important it was to plan out every system and check how each system worked together.  Without it, implementing a ducted dust collection system in the future could have been much more difficult.

I used Grizzly’s workshop planner to create my initial drawings, and then edited them in MS Paint.

For the rest of the workshop build, check out the garage workshop build index.