Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Tag: Workshop

The Workshop Build: Lessons Learned

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.

Drywall for the Garage Workshop: Part 2

Completed Drywall

I am no drywall expert.  Many experienced professionals have detailed the process of taping and mudding.  So, I won’t go into too much detail about the process and techniques.  Instead, I will cover some of the lessons I learned doing this as a DIY homeowner.

A quick overview of my process

I pre-filled all of my large gaps with Sheetrock 90 bond.  Then, I embedded drywall tape in all of my edges and inside corners using general purpose mud.  At the same time, I lightly skimmed over all of my screw dimples and let the mud dry for 24 hours.  Then I filled in all the beveled seams with Sheetrock 90 bond, and let that cure for another 24 hours.  I gave everything a light sanding and finished up with a thin coat of general purpose.

Lessons learned

  1. Use the correct tools.  A narrow knife is perfect for embedding tape, but too narrow to feather out your mud on your final coats
  2. Mix your compounds thoroughly.  I failed to do this on one of my coats and it required extra sanding
  3. Learn the proper thickness for your compounds.  Too thick and it is hard too work.  To thin and it falls off your knife.  Filling gaps is easier with thick mud, but feathering edges on final coats requires thinner mud.
  4. Keep a bucket of water and a large sponge close by.  This is great for keeping your hands and tools clean.  It also allows you to quickly add a little water to your compound if it starts to dry out.

Now that they drywall is complete, I need to move quickly to trim and paint everything.  Stay tuned.

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


Workshop Update

There haven’t been any large developments over the last week.  However, there have been several small ones.

With the help of my lovely wife, I hung my air filtration unit.  We almost died in the process, but we did get it up there.  It was difficult to see above the unit, and we accidentally knocked a couple of the s-hooks loose during the installation.

Air Filtration

After removing the old garage door opener, I discovered signs of arc-flashing on the ceiling receptacle.  I replaced the receptacle and added an extension cord reel.

Extension Reel

I added two additional soffit vents and may add a vent fan to the gable vent.

Soffit Vent

Oh, and the drywall arrived.  I’ve started hanging sheet rock and I’ve already learned a few tricks.  Stay tuned for the full write-up.


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

Planning a Garage Workshop

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.



Hath Hell Frozen Over: Cooling a Windowless Garage Part II

LG portable air conditioner

It seems that way…for now.  I would love to install a ductless mini split in the garage.  I have a limited budget, so I figured I would give a small portable air conditioner first.  If it doesn’t adequately cool the space, I will return it.

So far, it is working pretty well.  It cooled down the garage from 82 degrees to 75 degrees in a couple of hours.  I will insulate the exhaust hose, which will make the small unit more efficient.

portable air conditioner exhaust hose

Speaking of the exhaust hose.  I decided to exhaust it into the small attic space above the garage.  I purchased a 6-inch dryer vent and some 6-inch flexible duct work.  I cut a hole through the drywall and connected everything.  It took less than half an hour.  As you can see, my drywall skills need some work.

The weather is cool at the moment.  Highs are only in the mid 80’s.  I will have to wait until next week to see if this small LG portable air conditioner can keep up.  At the very least, it blows a nice cool breeze across the workshop without disturbing too much dust.  I will be happy if it can get me through the rest of this summer.  Perhaps I can save up for a mini-split by next spring.

Click here for my first post about cooling a windowless garage