The Workshop Build: Lessons Learned

by Patrick Harper - Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

No matter how well you plan, there will always be things you’ll wish you’d done differently.  So, I’m here to share a few things I wish I’d done differently with my shop build.

Completed Workshop

Wall Space

Wall space is sacred.  If you’re limited on space, plan the locations of outlets and ducting carefully.  Make sure you have enough uninterrupted wall space for lumber storage.  I ended up with a few duct drops I wish I planned more carefully.  So, carefully catalogue everything you plan to store on the wall.


Maintain as much headroom as possible.  There are one or two spots in my shop where I constantly hit my duct runs with lumber.  Why I didn’t run the ducting 6 inches higher, I’ll never know.  I will raise everything in the future as time allows.


Don’t skimp on electrical.  Determine how many receptacles you need and then add 50%.  I thought I had planned for sufficiently, but I already wish I had more.  It’s always easier to do it all at one time.  In my case, it will be much more difficult to add any electrical now that the drywall is up.

What I did Right

  • Storage – I have plenty of it considering the small size of my shop.
  • Lighting – I installed plenty of efficient LED light fixtures.  So, there isn’t a dark corner in the shop.
  • Efficient Design – Placing my tablesaw and jointer in the center of the shop made for efficient movement around the shop.
  • Dust Collection – Dedicated ports keep me from disconnecting/reconnecting machinery and save time.
  • Air Conditioning – A comfortable shop ensures that I am able to work year round.  Installing it myself, saved me lots of money.