Home Workshop Design Considerations
Features to consider for your Home Workshop Design or what do you need for your "Man Cave" ?
Ok, Let’s talk shop,
or home workshop, toy box or even the most recently declared “Man Cave”.
The home workshop
can be everything from a spare room, corner of the garage, an 8x6 shed to an elaborate full up fabrication and
assembly mega shop. If you feel you need
an area to work, there are many things to consider:
First – What do you
intend to do?
Do you intend to make small items like bird houses and toys, or
are your visions much larger projects like automobiles or large
sculptures? Your home workshop design and costs depend on these
costs money. The larger your projects, the more space they require. Also, with larger
projects, you need larger access doors and larger material handling equipment
and larger this, and larger that. You get the idea.
Do you plan on using
your garage? Although
most homes are
built with garages, if your significant other is like mine, they don’t
enter the garage only to find that their new car is covered with a
layer of sawdust
or metal shavings (I’ve been guilty of both). Plan some features
in your home workshop design to accomodate these concerns.
Do your home
developments Covenants & Restrictions (CC&R's or Deed Restrictions)
allow you to park outside your garage or in the street at all? Many dictate no working on vehicles in the
driveway. I’ve seen it! So, although birdhouses are usually small
projects, if you have to construct a small building to do the work, your
start-up cost may be a showstopper.
Second – What types
of materials will you be working with?
Wood, metal, plastic, glass, paint or gardening materials all require
different environments to use them safely and produce the best results.
I, myself, build
muscle cars and 4x4s. I don’t assemble
engines in the same space that I grind and sand on the body or frame, nor do I
paint where I do anything else. If
you’ve ever painted something in the same space that you sanded it, you
understand what I mean. Oh yes, mine is
an expensive hobby, but for me, it’s very rewarding. It also keeps me out of trouble (or so say’s
consideration is critical to the arrangement and equipment requirements of a
shop. Consider whether it produces,
dust, shavings, heat, fumes or fluids.
What size materials will you have to handle? Are the tools used to work
on the material loud? Will your home workshop design be able to handle these issues?
Does your hobby
require that your shop be separated from your house? Do you need a special type of work bench
(metal or wood surface); does the floor
need to be sealed, covered or even fatigue matted? Do you need special lighting (sealed,
florescent, or heat producing), ventilation, filters, storage or even special
fire extinguishing materials?
extinguishing! At the very least you
should have a home extinguisher in your shop to handle the basics. My brother is a Fireman and I have great
respect for their professional abilities, but I’d rather not have to call
them. The explanation usually starts
with “But I didn’t think it would ….?”
So consider what can happen, and how you will control it.
The third thing to
consider is power. I can’t tell you how
many times I’ve heard friends say that they didn’t put enough outlets in their
new shop, or they didn’t put in a 220 Volt outlet for their “Whatever Tool”. This is easier if your building a home with
a shop, you simply supply your architect with your power needs and where you
want the Whatever Tool to set, and it’s built in. If you have the room and resources, consider
your own power source i.e., propane generator, solar or fuel cell technologies.
However, if you’re
adding on to or changing an existing structure, the addition of power outlets
or power types can be from the very difficult to the impossible, depending on
when and where your home was built. And we
all know, cost is directly related to the degree of difficulty. Cost rises as difficulty goes up. So keep this in mind when planning your shop.
Make a list of the
tools you intend to use, and their power requirements. You might want to include a “Future Tools”
list. Are there tools that you don’t
currently own but would like to have in the future? It is less expensive to have them installed
when the electricians are doing the others than bringing the electricians back
at a later date.
Planning, it can save costs and frustration.
Also, make a list of
what I call “Support Equipment”. These
are the lighting, air supply equipment, lines and drops, water supply, fluids
handling equipment, vacuum systems, supply and exhaust fans, lifts, cranes etc…
and their respective power requirements.
Support equipment is even more important to me now than before.
A few years back, my
wife and I moved from California to Florida. For most of you this means
nothing, however for me, some of the things I had failed to take in to
consideration hindered and at times stopped me from working on my projects. Being from Northern California I did not need
to consider air-conditioning my shop however, if you’re not conditioned to the
heat and humidity in Florida, it’s a must!
Without the ability to control my shop environment I could not work for
very long without tiring, and bare sheet metal gets surface rust almost
immediately. Things I did not consider!
Just to make it
somewhat bearable I had to purchase large circulation fan which, when on,
produced a noise level equal to an Air Force C130 (even with the front and back
doors open). But that’s not all!
Having to keep the
doors open for circulation allowed the local wildlife to freely pass through my
shop. By the way, just like the song states “I don’t like spiders or snakes”,
and Florida has plenty of both.
Now to something not
considered by most home shop planners, “Monuments”. Large professional shops have pieces of
equipment that weigh up to several tons so hard mounting is a requirement
however; most home shops are filled with portable equipment.
multiple-use work surfaces and work areas.
Design workbenches that have multiple work surfaces if you’re working
with more than one type of material.
Plan tool usage areas where portable equipment can be easily moved into
and out of for optimum use. Or line up
tools against one wall so that they use a common long work surface with one
long material placement fence so you can work with longer materials.
I could go on for
quite a while about all the separate things to consider when planning your shop
area, and by now you’re saying “Gee, I just wanted to start a little hobby, but
after reading this, I’m not sure I want to!”
Remember, our goal
is to aid you in planning a shop for your hobbies, or build your new shop to
support your current hobby. We want you
to enjoy your shop and make certain it is "livable" without regretting
that you didn’t consider “X” when planning for it.
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