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jeffpNC

Best "shape" for dedicated shop building?

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I just bought the large lot for my "forever" homestead.  Naturally, given that I'm posting here, a nice shop building is a big part of the plans.

So, I'm just starting the "blank piece of paper" part of the design process.  Blue-skying it, as it were.

I started thinking "inside the box", in a rather literal fashion.  Then yesterday, while looking at the most likely spot for the building, realized that a non-square shape, like an "L" shaped building would allow me to make it bigger while still taking down fewer nice big trees.  That got me to thinking...what would be the ideal "shape" for a shop?

Would the ideal shop be a square?  A rectangle?  A triangle?  A circle?  Maybe a Pentagon shaped building with an atrium?

What sayeth the crew here?  What shape would be the ideal shop layout, and why?

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I don't know if there is a "best" shape for a shop!  The shop should be configured to suit you and your workflow. Where are the rough materials coming in the shop, where will you break them down, where will your jointer and planer be in relation to those broken down materials?  It takes a lot of thought as to how you work and what work you have in mind.. Is it going to be a business?  Hobby? or a general shop with auto tools, or garden and lawn tools?  There's a lot to consider, take your time! think it through. The other part is your landscape, and weather patterns.  Is your area prone to flooding, High winds, etc:   

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Since woodworking generally involves handling of long, rectangular objects, I vote for a rectangular space, or combination if rectangles, such as th "L" you mentioned. Maybe the long leg is the main workshop, and short leg is finishing room?

And don't over-value the trees nearby. They look nice, and provide shade, but Eric can attest to the destructive power of a falling tree. I'm having root growth issues around my house. Just stuff to consider.

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Richard's answer is spot on..  It all depends on your work flow and what other activities you want to do in the building.

Mine is an L shape but, my wood shop only takes a rectangle portion of that building's shape.  I park cars in part of the building, I have metal working tools in part of the building, and my wife's quilting room is in part of the building.  I also partitioned off sections just for storage.  With all that said, my wood shop is just that, my wood shop.  There is nothing else in there related anything else.

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While there is ample space to build...more building means more money.  So there are practical limits to the size.  That makes me think that lots of separation by activity will lead to a bunch of cramped little spaces.  I'm thinking I want to do some of that, but sparingly.

One example of that is the "bathroom".  It's just me there.  I guess I'm a loner.  Not in the uni-bomber sense, but at least in the living arrangement sense.  For me, the bathroom can be just a urinal on the wall next to the utility sink.  Don't need a "room" for it.

What's that you say?  Resale value?  My nieces and nephews can worry about that after I'm in the ground pushing up a walnut tree.

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I tend to lean towards a rectangle foot print.  I would make it a bit bigger than what you initially layout.  Never know what will happen down the road, and if nothing else you have storage area.  Hanging urinal on the wall, no thanks, might as well just step outside and water the trees, otherwise enclose the toilet, doesn't need to be much.

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I like the idea of having as separate area for wood storage and a separate finishing room.  That might say that an L-shape is best but not necessarily.  Economically, a square gives you the most square footage for your money.  Have fun.  It will be fun to start with a clean slate and design exactly what you want.

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I think a rectangle or possibly an " L " would work well. Seperate finishing room would be very useful. Seperate wood storage won't collect so much dust or intrude on tool/work space. I think a small bathroom with a wash sink outside of it would be more useful than you could imagine. Micro kitchen area for drinks, snacks, coffee etc is smart too.

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My initial thought was anot L as I've worked in a cramped box for a while but the more I think about this question,the more I think there's no replacement for displacement. 

What I currently lack is infeed and outfeed  room.  I have max 5' at every tool without moving anything. 

Not knowing what tools you own or plan to own, it is hard to give advice. The ideal space for a knuckle dragging hand plane thrower I'm sure would look a lot different than a power hungry shop needing 220 drops every 5 feet.

My advice would be to grab some graph paper and get to sketching. Work up a few drawings, take what you like from each and  refine until you find something that looks ideal for YOU.

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So what about the best shape for the main machine room?  I'm thinking of this as the room with tablesaw with long extensions nestled up to a movable outfeed/assembly table...which together fill the middle of the space.  Around that in some shape and with plenty of elbow room, live the various sanders and drill press and miter saw type machines and a hand-tool bench.

Would the shape of that area within a "rectangular building" still want to be square or rectangular?

What about a more or less circular main area in the middle of the building, where the corners of the building then become the "rooms", like bathroom, finishing room, etc.?

I guess the question is would such a circular space around the saw/assembly-table "island" make for a better flow, or would it be better for that outer ring to still be rectangular?

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Sounds like you have given this some thought.  I suggest, now, that you make little paper cutouts ,to scale, of each piece of equipment and each table, etc and just start arranging them how you want them and see what shape the resulting layout fits into,  You can do it electronically of course. 

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Rectangular or square shaped buildings are always cheaper to build (think of roofing trusses for example) so it comes down to how much budget you have. If you wanted an odd shape like an ellipse, a random curved shape or even circle you have to factor in the construction costs for the complication of putting a roof on for instance. Of course nothing is impossible given adequate funds. Rectangular has always worked for me and many manufacturing businesses also have used rectangular shapes for countless years.

As Richard eluded to it all depends upon your workflow as to where you site equipment and benches. If you are savvy with Sketchup layout machines where you like and once you have a basic layout then draw the shop boundary walls to fit it all in. It'll probably be rectangular.

Alternatively use squared paper and cutout machine shapes and a plan view of a human figure. That will give you some idea as to whether you have left enough room to walk around. Only you can decide what works best for you but you can get some ideas from looking at other arrangements by other people.

A good book to read is Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop by Sandor Nagyszalanczy. Amazon stock it and it is a Taunton Press book.

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I think others have offered excellent advice. Terry hit the nail on the head regarding construction costs. I think any possible benefit to any shape other than rectangular would be outweighed by costs.

One thing I would add into the good advice here is to plan on change. Try to add in as much flexibility as possible by locating as many outlets as possible for both 110 and 220. I've held off installing dust pipe for over a year because I wanted to get several projects behind me to see what my best layout could be for the space I'm in. Your best idea of machine layout will most likely change once you move in and use it, and if not will most certainly be added on to over time.

It's a fun challenge - good luck with it!

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18 hours ago, Brendon_t said:

My initial thought was anot L as I've worked in a cramped box for a while but the more I think about this question,the more I think there's no replacement for displacement. 

What I currently lack is infeed and outfeed  room.  I have max 5' at every tool without moving anything. 

Not knowing what tools you own or plan to own, it is hard to give advice. The ideal space for a knuckle dragging hand plane thrower I'm sure would look a lot different than a power hungry shop needing 220 drops every 5 feet.

My advice would be to grab some graph paper and get to sketching. Work up a few drawings, take what you like from each and  refine until you find something that looks ideal for YOU.

Cant agree more with infeed/outfeed consideration. I just spent a weekend with 15 boards 8' long 8/4 cherry, and it was incredibly annoying. It sparked me into doing a shop tour, and posting about what i wish i could change as a learning experience for others. Space is absolutely one thing i undervalued in the beginning. As someone else mentioned, we typically work with long and narrow pieces of stock, so it makes sense to have a similarly proportioned work space. In my case, i have a basement and it was a fixed resource to work with, but I wish I spaced things out differently. It looks like a waste when you see shops with a smattering of tools and a ton of open space compared to shops like mine where you have a 20" bandsaw, 20" planer, 12" jointer, 37" dual drum sander, and cabinet saw all packed within a 20' by 20' space, but the one shop is comfortable to work in and mine is a PITA. People earn a living by organizing shops, so you would think there would be ideal footprints that you could easily copy. I havent see them yet. Instead, you get answers like "do whats best for you". What the heck does that even mean? I did what I thought was best for me, and it sucks and isnt best for me. Once you have $1500+ of duct run with specific electrical outlets, theres no going back--well, unless you want to eat the cost for the return ticket back. 

 

Of every space I have seen, I really like Frank Howarth's shop. It's probably bigger than he needs, but the proportions, work flow, and layout make sense. Lumber storage immediately after the front door. Some method of rough sizing that material right there. Natural progression to jointer. I would personally switch his table saws with his powermatic planer. My jointer and planer flank my table saw too, and it's foolish. Material always goes jointer, planer,(sometimes jointer again for edges), table saw. To use the jointer and then walk all my material to the planer, then back to the table saw is not the best use of my back or time. Finally, frank's centrally located assembly table is another good take away. 

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26 minutes ago, Pwk5017 said:

I just spent a weekend with 15 boards 8' long 8/4 cherry, and it was incredibly annoying.

This is a good example of why the "do what's best for you" is important ... this is just not something I can see myself doing very often. Just curious what you were building that required 15 8' boards? Apart from lumber storage I've never used 8' boards. So far I've only built one project that needed a board longer than 6', and that was a bed (and only 6 long boards for that) - for most of my projects 4' boards are long enough. So if *I* were setting up *my* dream shop I'd make sure that handling 4-5' boards was a breeze, but as long as 8' boards were possible I'd be happy to accept "annoying" for the rare project that needs an 8' board. Clearly for your workflow that would be different.

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I can't beat a dinosaur.... wow, that is awesome!

On 6/26/2016 at 10:03 AM, h3nry said:

Shaped like a brontosaurus of course.

 

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On 6/27/2016 at 11:04 AM, h3nry said:

 

This is a good example of why the "do what's best for you" is important ... this is just not something I can see myself doing very often. Just curious what you were building that required 15 8' boards? Apart from lumber storage I've never used 8' boards. So far I've only built one project that needed a board longer than 6', and that was a bed (and only 6 long boards for that) - for most of my projects 4' boards are long enough. So if *I* were setting up *my* dream shop I'd make sure that handling 4-5' boards was a breeze, but as long as 8' boards were possible I'd be happy to accept "annoying" for the rare project that needs an 8' board. Clearly for your workflow that would be different.

You were building an awfully short bed with 6' boards. Point well taken that if all a guy does are jewelry boxes then it wouldnt make sense to design a shop exactly the same way as a guy that only does moulding. However, who is that specified in their portfolio of work? I certainly am not. I could be making a bunch of 2.5" by 2.5"  table number bases for my wedding one minute, or a 12' breakfast bar top the next. I assume most hobbyists operate across a broad spectrum of scale. I do. Using this assumption, I stick to my original thought that there is an ideal layout regardless of personal projects. It will never make sense to have your lumber storage at the opposite end from your primary means of breaking it down into rough project parts. Just as it doesnt make sense to have your shaper, router table, drill press, bandsaw, table saw, work bench, and miter saw in between your jointer and planer. Those are two tools that work in tandem with each other and they should be in close proximity. This stuff isnt rocket science. It can become rocket science when you have fixed constraints, but in the OP's case he kinda has carte blanche. 

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get a can or two of spray paint.  spray out a boundary of what you think you want.  then start walking around in it and see if it works.  (or stake out a long laundry cord...) then modify it.  years ago when I built my first office in to an empty space, I layed out all the rooms with tape on the floor until I had what I wanted.  then i had an engineer draw up plans for the city.  I said put a wall whereever you see tape...

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There is no ideal shop shape, but there are better or worse layouts for specific types of work for any given size.  There are minimum dimensions though where things start to get much more difficult.  For example my shop is 12.5' wide and it really limits the options.  It became clear pretty early on that it didn't make sense to have the table saw in the middle as an island.

If I had a bigger shop I think I would still cram most of the tools together like I have them now, but I would have a big lumber receiving area with my lumber storage, the means to cut it to rough length, and a 5'x8' table.  The table would be a place to break down sheet goods, located where I could slide them straight onto it from the truck, storing plywood underneath, for stacking and sorting through lumber, for feeding into the jointer and planer, and for letting the stock rest before final milling out of the way of the flow of the rest of the shop.

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The most frequently recurring theme here seems to be having a space right inside the door that is designed for breaking down large pieces from storage.

 I'm thinking this might be a longish narrow space with a miter saw station (with long tables) on one side, and a panel-saw on the other side. (or maybe a 5' by 10' table with a track saw instead of the panel saw)

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