Garage to Workshop Conversion – First Steps

Garage to Workshop Conversion – First Steps

What should I do first to convert a garage into my woodworking dream space?

woodworking-cleanSo you’ve finally got the ‘ok’ from your wife to turn the garage into a workshop. Great, first battle won! Now to the next challenge, getting things organized.

Because of the small space that you will have in either a one or two car garage, you will want to make the most what you have. So the first step is to actually measure the dimensions of the garage. This is to help you layout your tools and workspace in the most efficient way for your use.

If you do not do a layout before starting to fill up your garage space with tools, you will definitely loose a lot of time in the future moving stuff around. Eventually, you will spend more time un-cluttering your space and looking for tools than actually working.

So, very important, do a layout plan before you start filling your garage up with tools! Here are some ideas to get you started on laying out your tools in the garage.

Secondly, start to think about the heating in the garage. If you have a detached garage this is probably more of a problem. Once again, before you start filling up your garage with goodies, you might want to put insulation up first.

If you have an attached garage, you might not need insulation for warmth, but you might want to consider a sound barrier insulation to keep the noise from your machines from polluting the rest of the household or your neighbors.

Thirdly, again a concern if you have a detached garage, you will have to take a look at the electrical system. It is possible that you may not have enough ‘juice’ to run some of those machines out in the garage.

Fourth, efficient storage will be the key to keeping clutter down. Again, if you want to be doing ‘fun work’ in the woodshop, instead of shuffling and looking for tools, you will have to think about how to arrange the cabinets in such a way to accommodate your tool collection.

Lastly, you must think about dust control. In a small space like a garage, the dust from even a tablesaw, let alone a planer, will become a dangerous hazard. Opening up the garage door will help, but will not be sufficient to keep the sawdust out of your lungs. Think about how you will collect the dust from each machine. besides your lungs, the last thing you need is your wife shouting at your for tracking dust into the house every time you come out of your workshop.

These are the first steps to think about when turning your garage into a woodworking shop. Of course the devil in is the details, and you will find a lot more information in the other articles on this site.

As I have said in first steps to a garage workshop conversion, the first thing to do is to measure your dimensions. This is very important when planning to working a small space such as a garage.

Then layout your dimensions to scale on paper or in Excel or however you draft. [You do know how to draft right, you are a woodworker aren’t you? ;)] Put in not only the dimensions, but also where the doors and windows are. You’ll want to think about wall storage in this phase as well.

After you have your dimensions on paper, the next thing to do is to compile a list of all your tools that take up floor space. If you have all the tools already, great, otherwise you will need to estimate the dimensions of the tools. Draw out the dimensions of the tools (on another piece of paper) using the same scale as the floor layout, such as the planer, jointer, tablesaw, etc, and your workbench. Now cut out these paper representions. Now you can easily place and move around these tools on the floor layout.

Remember to think about infeed and outfeed when positioning your tools. It is also a good idea to think about where your wood will be stored. Try to get the shortest distance from the rough stock to your first tool, which maybe a chopsaw on your workbench for example.

The next big thing to do is to think about storage, both wood storage and tool storage. Put together a list of all the tools you have that do not take up floor space, the ones that go on your workbench for example, your clamps, jigs, etc.

Think about which tools you will be able to hang on the wall, like your clamps, and which items will be stored under your workbench.

Other important space planning considerations might be where will the garbage and keep-able scraps go? What kind of dust collection will you have, and how much space does that take up?

You’ll definitely want to build a wall storage rack for your wood. This is the best option when you have limited floor space.

It does take a lot of planning and there are lots of tings to consider. It might seem childish to start playing around with cut-outs, or it might seem tedious to take so much time planning this garage workshop. Believe me, it is worth all the time it takes.

It might take a few hours to plan out your garage workshop efficiently. This will pale in comparison to the amount of time that you will waste moving stuff around or looking for tools throughout the years because things are always in the way, or you can never find that tool you need.

If you need some ideas for layouts, here is another article with some garage layout plans.

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