The Battle: Garage VS. Basement. Need !nput!


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So As of now I am working out of the garage. I have a three car garage and am using the small one car as my shop. I am here in Mi so I have to deal with warm summers and cold/snowy winters. I have the luxury of moving from the garage to my homes basement, here are some of the pros and cons. But I really need input, cause I am torn!

Garage

Pros -Easy to bring in materials and machinery

-Natural light during the warm months

-noise in at a minimal from the inside of the house

-Dust is kept out of the house

-Currently have storage built

Cons -Temps swing greatly from summer to winter months.

-I would have a heater installed in order to work in the winter months which will cost around $1500 or so..

-Cannot really expand my shop the way I would like in terms of the size bench or machinery Id like.

-Constantly feel the need to keep the shop clean as it is the main entrance we use when having people over or just in general, which makes it hard to get in the shop and just GET TO WORK..

Basement

Pros- I could essentially make the size of the shop fit my needs.

- Stable temps and humidity

- the option of a finishing room would be possible

- I could build the size bench and storage Id like.

-This would be a stand alone space thus If I am in the middle of a project I do not have to set time aside to clean up, just shut the door!

Cons-The stairs will have to be used when bring materials, machinery and lumber to the shop

-Noise in the home, though the shop will be insulated and drywalled

- though I do have a DC, dust will be a bigger issue than say in the garage.

- The shop will have to be roughed, drywalled and electrical ran all of which I will do myself.

What else should I think about guys...any input!

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I had the same issue with weather I moved out of my basement due to it feeling like I was in a dungeon and wanted that freeing feeling of being able to open the doors and have it open to nature, I purchased a cheap metal building and ended up with a shop about 5x smaller than my old basement shop, sure I could make more noise during the day,I had nice fresh air from the double doors, Clean up with basically a leaf blower which was nice! but man the first summer and the temp in the shop was 120+ I said dang oh well I can just take a few months off, then fall hit and it was like Yeah! this is what im talking about,then winter hit and temps would hit 8-9 deg F and I said dang guess ill have to take more time off, then the second year spring Yeah! perfect then summer rolled around again and I said enough of this crap, moved back into my basement with its constant 65-70 temp, electric already ran no need for extension cords etc for power and gained all that space back and I tell ya what I opened up a few windows that had been previously boarded up and im as happy as a pig in .. well you know the old saying.

Moving back to my basement was the best thing I did, and really if your willing to spend $1500 on a heater might as well just make a second access to the basement that is a direct link to the outside thats what I got in mine one set of stairs lead upstairs into the house and a door that leads up 4 steps and im outside its perfect man Im never leaving my basement shop again lol

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Where is your service panel?

Is your basement all below ground? Can you excavate a ramp from ground level to a (new) basement door to get machinery and materials in? How tall are the ceilings in the basement and the garage?

My family is sensitive to solvent-based finishes, so I only use them in the garage or outdoors.

I would set up shop in the basement, provided you can get your machinery in. Perhaps do your finishing in the garage. You can probably close the dust collector in a corner to reduce the noise. There are a lot of things you can do to reduce the noise transfer, most of which decrease your ceiling height (effectively lower the ceiling).

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I'd also think about the heat you have in your house. I'm assuming (Since you're up north) you have forced air heating. These are actually better thought of as dust transporters, and they are very good at transporting real fine dust too, so you can expect a fair ammount (i.e. enough to make a spouse iritable) to wind up in the dining room, bedrooms, living rooms, etc, etc, etc....

Also, Woodshop fires are not all that un-common, and when they happen, they can really ruin your day. The only think I could think would be worse than a woodshop fire, would be a woodshop fire, when that woodshop is in the foundation of your home....

Just out of curiousity, didn't you say you had a 3 car garage?

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My 57 cents... (inflation...)

I use a basement shop out of necessity. I don't have a garage.

I enjoy having stairs from the side of the house directly to the basement, as it is far easier to get materials and tools into the house... normally. (Last night was an issue, due to the snow drifts blocking the access to the door. I needed to bring the planer through the living room, since the wife would not let me wrap the box and put it under the tree... :( )

What I don't like is that the furnace and water tank (both gas) are within arm's reach of the current bench. (A second bench is planned, but only a handful of inches away.) The house is over 100 years old, and the electrical is in bad need of starting over. Wire and plumbing are stretched between the joists, so I can't suspend lights or insulation between them. The current box is maxed out, and so is the sub box. I don't have tall ceilings, and don't have a dedicated storage space. (Currently, I have stuff stored on the front porch. It's under 3 inches of snow... so it will be March / April before it comes into the shop.) I don't have the option of running ductwork for the dust collector overhead, so it has to go around the room, and it might have to go the long way for the "bigger" tools.

Worst of all is that there is no location for fresh air to enter the basement other than the main stairway down, so I can't vent the finishing fumes up the stairs like I was planning (except for June through September, when it gets warmer). And, since it's not my house, I need to keep the other items that are in the basement (including a 4'x8' train table, a 4'x 8' painting bench, two sets of welding equipment, and a large roll-around tool box).

That said, I remember when my dad used the garage for his workbench. It was a 5 car garage, and he turned the end bay into a shop for his ornament side job. (don't get excited, it had a 16" scroll saw, a 1" belt sander, and a micro lathe. And three heavy duty workbenches in that 4'x8' size.) Since the bay was one that could hold two cars nose to tail (or one limo...) but you needed to layer to do any work, and there was no electrical aside from one outlet and one bare bulb, it was not great. And when the neighbors moved in, they turned all of my dad's plywood into a wall in the garage separating the bays.

I'd rather have the garage, if I'm planning larger projects in and out of the workshop. (By larger, I'm referring to five foot tall by three feet wide or bigger. If it takes two people to get it out of the shop, it needs a ground-level workshop.) But since I'm doing smaller projects, I'm very comfortable with the basement shop. Yes, you can do projects that are based out of components, so you can tackle stairs and multiple levels. While I'd agree the garage seems to be a great finishing area, you still need to get the project from the shop to the finishing area. If the shop is not right next to the finishing area, and (preferably) the same heat/humidity settings, keep the finishing right in the shop.

While I sound like I'm advocating the garage shop, I actually prefer the basement. If you can overcome the obstacles of getting tools and materials into the basement (ever try to drag a full sheet of plywood through a kitchen to get into the workshop?), the basement will be such a relief to use. I had the opportunity recently to join an existing warehouse-style workshop, and just set my stuff up in the corner. I passed, because it was 15 minutes away from the house, and no longer convenient to go into the shop. The basement has that option of going to work/play in your pink fluffy slippers, and that helps keep motivation going.

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I have a garage workshop, but being in SoCal, no basement. The garage is a shared space (not with cars, but lifetimes of "treasures"), so to work I have to roll carts, equipment into the drive to have room. On nice days (like yesterday's mid-70s) that is awesome, but when rains come, not so very. Small lot size means neighbor's bedroom is closer to the garage than our own. So I don't work after dark to show some compassion and appreciation for our neighbor's tolerance.

We have a small two bedroom home. One bedroom is my office (for graphics). I made a small hand-tool workbench for that space. Really nice to have that space for rainy days and nights. I don't do any sanding or finishing or large projects there. But even many large projects have smaller components which can be worked on in my little inside space. Depends upon the type of work you do but that could also be a possibility to extend your working season.

When I began in my crowded garage I had some envy for folks with spacious basement workshops. But then looking at some pix and videos I saw the low ceilings and minimal natural light. Decided that my au natural workspace suited me fine. But we all have constraints and make the most of them. Hope you find a solution that makes you smile.

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I would say keep the garage. For me the pros of the garage are the ability to make noise and to make dust. You will have to heat the space (& don't forget to insulate too), but I think that's a worthwhile cost if it's affordable. Though the garage has less space, the access is much greater (a benefit you don't fully appreciate until you lose it). As for the mess, don't fret. It's a shop. Just remind your guests of the wonderful things it produces as they travel through it and let them know they're getting a tour of a shop in progress, not a fancy grand entrance. Finally, as for the space, let the shop grow. Are the cars really more important than wood? Can they live out doors in all but the worst snows? Admittedly, I live in less snowy New York, but I would never, ever give an inch of my garage space to anything but my shop. It does mean I spent 20 minutes this morning sweeping off cars, but so what? I'll spend longer than that tonight working wood.

Either way, good luck with the new set up (heated garage or basement shop).

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For me I only have the choice of a basement:

It has its advantages in many ways and just as many weaknesses.

Some good stuff:

The space gets enough heat in winter from the ductwork and is protected enough from the heat in the summer that things stay a pretty constant environment. This is a major plus. I have no worries about condensation rusting my tools and my wood stays pretty stable. I don't really have to worry about my comfort while with regards to temperature.

This plus would be immediately negated if I did not have a 12' sliding door to get things in and out -- for me this is the big deal breaker if I did not have it.

Do you want to haul a DC bag full of dust and woodchips up the stairs and through the house?

I would NEVER want to try and wrestle a large wood slab up and down the stairs. What about a sheet of plywood?

My ceiling is low, about 7' so I had to make adjustments to my dust collector to fit under there.

I did some damage to the furnace with the dust before getting a DC and air filter

Renee

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Well guys thanks for the input.

Here is just a few things to answer your guys questions.

- I do not really have the option of putting in another basement entrance due to layout and what not.

-One of my other passions is cars so I really cannot/do not wanna leave them outside either.

-I built the house two years ago and intentionally left the ceiling to be able to be finished at 9', so they are nice and high!

-and as far as hauling material downstairs it does not bother me too much as I do staircases for a living 8-5, six days a week. I guess you can say I am used to it! lol

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Well guys thanks for the input.

Here is just a few things to answer your guys questions.

- I do not really have the option of putting in another basement entrance due to layout and what not.

-One of my other passions is cars so I really cannot/do not wanna leave them outside either.

-I built the house two years ago and intentionally left the ceiling to be able to be finished at 9', so they are nice and high!

-and as far as hauling material downstairs it does not bother me too much as I do staircases for a living 8-5, six days a week. I guess you can say I am used to it! lol

Given your love of cars & stairs, sounds like your shop is moving. Good luck with the move.

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I would keep your power tools in the garage and put a workbench with hand tools in the basement. That way the noise and most of the dust stays in the garage and you are comfortable using hand tools and glue-ups in the basement. Depending on your work flow and the size and quantity of your projects you could rough cut and mill most of your lumber for the winter projects in the fall.

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I have the same setup a two car garage with a small third bay and also a basement. I chose the garage for the ease of bring in everything (tools, wood, sheet goods, etc.) and also for the high ceilings. When I need more room I just move the cars to the driveway. For the heating and cooling I need both here in Kansas City I put in a sub panel first ($275 installed) and then put in a 5000W (240V) heater ($250) which on the low setting keeps the whole garage nice and warm. For cooling I bought a portable A/C unit for ($300)and cut a 4" round hole in the wall, installed a dryer sleeve as the vent. It works well and takes the edge off the hottest days in the summer to allow me to work in comfort. I did this over a couple of years, adding each piece. I also added a wooden floor to the third bay which has been wonderful.

-Gary

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Howdy,

I have chosen to use the basement for my daily activities. I use the garage for the breakdown tasks for oversize tasks.

During the weather comfort extremes I much prefer my basement.

I put a big tablesaw setup in the garage, and a smaller contractor saw in my basement.

To get the job done in the climate controlled underworld, I have to haul a lot of stuff down to the dungeon.

I can easily handle getting 3/4 plywood to the basement, but I just muscle-head it. I let gravity do a bunch of the work.

I work in the garage when the weather is nice.

I am doing much to isolate the workshop from DUST transmission to the rest of the house.

What I would like to hear about is how our friends in this forum deal with FUMES (not from mammalian low grade methane sources).

I happen to do my hobby work from a basement with no windows.

It's a modern location, < 5 year old place, but has the furnace and water heater just around the corner in the basement.

My shop is awesome to me. I can turn up the tunes and the equipment and not bother anyone.

Here's the rub, I know the fumes travel low, right toward the pilot lights.......

I would like to hear how, within reason, how ours friends suggest solutions.

Signed,

Woozy and a little nervous

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I know in my area all pilot lights are required to be 3-4 inch's off the ground for that very reason Geek,but I dont think the average hobby wood worker is going to be producing enough fumes to cause a combustion its not like we have a production spraying line set up that is constantly filling the basement with flammable fumes.Thankfully my basement has windows and a door to the outside so I dont have to worry about it from my point of view of getting rid of the smell but if i didn't have them I would install a ventilation fan threw the wall to the outside with a switch so I can control it as not to pull all the hot air out of there when its not needed. Generally they dissipating before reaching any critical level in a hobby setting.

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I moved my shop from the basement to the garage. The biggest problem I had with the basement shop was noise. The shop was under the bedroom so if the wife wanted to take a nap I tried to be quite for a while. I prefer the garage shop even thought I currently have to walk thru the snow to get to it.

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Geek, my solution is to wait until spring for heavy finishing. My hot water tank is the other side of the walkway from the (current) location of the grinder, where i sharpen my turning tools. naturally, the grinder sits on the miniature woorkbench (read: former stool) next to the lathe workbench. (It would sit on the bench, but I have the drill press on that end right now...)

While I have no problems using wipe-on finishes at full strength, I hesitate to add anything like naptha to it (all these holiday gifts need finish NOW, and i have no time left...) due to just how close I am to open flame. And the furnace is on pretty much constantly.)

anything other than poly, though, I'm staying away from during the heart of winter.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm in my second basement now. If you would of asked me in the first one I would of said stick with the garage basically for sound and material handling. But since my Big D I have a bigger shop and storage plus it's a walkout basement. Other than a tight corner on longer stock I like it. I am by myself so I don't care about the noise levels. But with that said, if money allows me someday I would like to build a separate garage type building for Woodworking, but it would also house mowing equipment since I only have a 2 car garage. Plus it's been a dream on mine to have a separate building. Plus I would have taller ceilings than what's in my basement. I like that the basement is almost the same temperature as the rest of the house. Plus in the summer if the AC is running the shop is cool. Honestly if I didn't have an air conditioned shop I wouldn't be in it in the summer when it was above 84°, so that is a plus with the basement shop.

All in all I like my basement shop.

What part of Michigan are you in BTW?

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Hey thnks for the response Jim, I am here in macomb township. The basement it is for me, Overall yes there are many great advantaged of having it in the garage as well as many that lean me towards the basement. Overall though, by building my basement shop I will be able to have a large enough shop to suit my projects as well as a space that stands alone as only a shop. So let the shop begin...and yes I will start another thread updating my progress with the roughing in and setting up of the new shop as well!

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