It seems we go through this every three months - hey Mark, how come the
archives don't work any more?
My three most important criteria for workspace are
light power storage
Space should be on that list, too - but for the most part, you're
limited in that from the get-go.
You can't work if it's dark. Give yourself lots of light - more than
you might think. Paint the ceiling white. Cover the walls with
something white - lots of folks sheetrock, I prefer to put up think
plywood (over insulation and vapor barrier) and cover it with the white
laminate that's used for whiteboards and shower stalls. If you have
bare studs, paint them white. Get ithe idea? Non-white walls lose you
about 30% of the light in the room (from absorption). A non-white
ceiling is even worse.
Use the sun if you can. Skylights are a big win - try to put up one
that opens for ventilation (and put up some whirlibird vents, too -
can't work if it's hot). Glass brick is good - you can put a 2x2
square of the suckers (or even a single) in a bunch of dark corners to
help raise the general level of illumination. Windows are OK - I have
one near the mill so I can stick a really long piece out the window and
still work on it - but mostly they seem to be a way to let noise and
Put up lots of lights. Fluorescents for general area illumination.
Incandescents (I like the halogen floods) for work areas, like the
bench and machine tools. Task-specific lighting is the way to go on
benches - light the bench with a couple of bright, focused lights,
rather than trying to bring the general level of illumination up. Spend
the extra $$ on the good fluorescent fixtures with a decent reflector
(and maybe even a diffuser) because they will put out 25 - 30% more
Wire the lights on a couple of switches - one for walk-in, just enough
light to find your way to the toolbox for that 1/2" wrench without
lighting the whole shop. Lights are on a separate breaker from *any*
outlet. A motion sensor switch, so the lights come on when you walk in,
is a luxury.
Power. You need as much as you can get. Outlets at least every 4',
probably more at the bench. Running both phases to every box so you can
combine for 220 is great, but no longer strictly code - it's hard to
satisfy the GFCI requirements at the same time.
Run the power for the compressor on a switch, and put the compressor
itself outside, in a soundproofed shed. Rig a light, outside, to the
switch, so you can be reminded that you left the sucker on when you
Storage. I don't know about you, but I hate having everything out in
the open. My garage is too small - it would be too small no matter how
big it was. Storage up and out is the way to go here. Cabinets - keep
the dust off and keep the clutter out of sight. Put a small shelf up
over the bench for that stuff you kep grabbing. Put (white) cabinets
above it. Scrounge for used kitchen cabinets from a remodel. Build
shelves and cover them with a window shade or venetian blinds. If
you're not insulating and finishing, use the space between studs for
Look up. I have shelves running along the entire preimeter of the
garage, above the plate height. I hang my race tires via a pulley rig
between a couple of joists. There's a lot of unused space in your
"attic", space that you can use without flooring the whole thing.
And don't forget that rental storage is really cheap in a lot of
areas. A 5x5 unit fitted with home-built shelves of 2x4s and 3/4" ply
will hold a lot of stuff, and can free up valuable shop space.
I have a small concrete pad along the back of my garage, covered with
an awning knocked together from redwood 2x4s, Strongtie brackets and
fiberglass "roofing". The compressor shed sits out there, along with a
small welding bench, a couple of 6' tall locking cabinets and the parts
washer. All the smelly stuff - I don't have to worry as much about
ventilation in the main shop, but the stuff isn't "out in the open"
A sink, even a small bar sink, is a great addition.