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    Hello all, first time doing this, so bear with me. I just got the go ahead to plan and build my very own woodshop in the backyard!! Would like some advise on layout. I have only one large tool, table saw. Best part, i get to start fresh, no re purposing a garage or a basement. i have watched a ton of Paul’s videos, and other youtube “Shop tours” so i have some ideas, but would like to hear from the forum. any potholes i should be aware of?



    Make it bigger than you think you need and have plenty of windows for natural light.

    Located in Honeoye Falls NY USA. The Finger Lakes region of Western NY.

    "If you give me 6 hours to fell a tree, I will take the first 4 to sharpen my axe" Abe Lincoln


    You didn’t provide any constraints — are you utterly free of budgetary restrictions or size restrictions? If so, you don’t need layout advice, just google “most beautiful woodworking shop” and tell the builders to copy your favorite one (and don’t forget to post pictures for us to drool over when it’s done)


    not many restrictions really, i have enough property. I’m going to do most of the construction my self, kinda do that for a living. Maybe budget on some of the more expensive machines. but i want to go more with hand tools anyway. So i guess i’m asking the group that has a dedicated shop, what would you do differently if you had to do it all over again?

    Just planning now around 20×20, something about that. dedicated power. I’m planning on a barn style, mansard roof. which i plan on using as lumber storage in the lofted rafters.

    About it at this time.


    Larry Geib

    1)If you plan on working with plywood, a 9′ ceiling height is just BARELY enough to allow you to rotate the sheet in any direction with a corner or edge on he floor. That way, you don’t have to lift the weight of the entire sheet.

    2)Go with a wood floor. It is much more comfortable to stand on all day than concrete, and it is easier to fasten things down. Make it fairly stiff (L/480) your lumber/timber dealer can help you with span tables.

    3) windows are great, just make sure most of them face North ( northern hemisphere). Midday glare is hell. Grouping them together works better than wall between them. Doors should be arranged to make getting long stock directly to the storage racks without having to turn them. Barring that, have a convenient window that serves that purpose.

    4)Post pics.

    Since I retired and moved the shop downstairs, it violates every one of these rules.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Larry Geib.

    thanks, going to take that ceiling height advise. I’m going to put a rolling barn door on rails so i can get sheet material in easier. Due to location, I’m at the bottom of a hill/ravine, so north facing windows would show me a steep dirt incline. I get great southern exposure, so i have planned a couple windows and a large skylite facing S/SE. Should give great light, as long as i layout the storage space in the rafters correctly. dont want fading or drying too fast. Wood floor is going to be an issue, as s.o.p in So. Cal is slab on grade. I would have to design a step up to get into the barn. best idea i can think of is 1×4 sleepers shot into the slab, then sheet it. I have a good source for those anti-fatigue floor mats, so i was going to get 3-4 and place them strategically around the shop. Pics will be easy, ill be so proud 🙂


    Larry Geib

    Well, SE is better than Sw.

    If you can’t do north facing, think about an eyebow eves over the windows you do have so they are shaded when the sun is high in the summer and let more light in during the Winter. It will help with your heat load both times of year.

    For the same reason, think about a clerestory with a vertical Window and shade. It will also give good ventilation and not cost much more. Even think about turning that north (ish) . It will still give plenty of overhead light.

    The wood floor on sleepers will work well, just make sure you have a vapor barrier. 6 mil plastic under the sleepers is fine.
    There is a product that is 2×2 interlocking strand board with a plastic back with little feet on it that keeps the assembly off the floor. They work well at about $1.50 a sf.
    The antifatigue mats are good where you stand, but not so good for areas where you have to move heavy stuff.

    If you know anybody in commercial office work, I once put down worn out black rubber backed carpet tiles in a shop upside down. That left an easy to clean and comfortable surface, if you could get past the black color. Heavier and more durable than the interlocking foam stuff, the tiles were free for the hauling. You could easily roll heavy stuff over it.

    And consider conduit under the floor for electricity where you will have your saw and maybe your bench, so you don’t have to trip over cords. The saw especially will be most useful out in an open area.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by Philip Adams.
    Paul Benoit

    Just retired to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Got really tired of shoveling snow in New England. The wood shop was built behind the house. It’s 30×30 ft sq, big enough to build a 20′ boat. the shop is very much a work in progress. Several things to watch out for.

    1. It has a 10×10 ft sliding door. any thing smaller will be a pain for handling plywood.
    2. It has 10′ ceiling. The 9′ clearance is a good idea. My lights are attached to bottom if the trusses, there isn’t a full 10′ clearance.
    2a. The trusses were 32′ overall. The bottom cord is a 2×4. Make sure your trusses are 2x6s. I wanted to put a hoist on a rail to handle heavier pieces.
    3. My floor is concrete and it’s not real level. Make sure that whoever does your slab takes extra care on it. Most of my tools need to be raised a couple of inches to reduce my back bending.
    4. Insulate the shop well. The shop has sprayed foam the thickness of the studs and joists. It was comfortable last winter and will be easy to air condition this summer.
    5. Make sure you have enough storage space for tools and other supplies. Plan for the space it will remove from your working areas. Two 2′ deep x 4′ long cabinets are under construction. They will store all of the big tubs, etc. scattered around the periphery of the shop.
    5. Make sure that you do have enough lighting. My situation is probably much different that yours in that I have lost 80% of my sight and do not have any detail vision. There are 9 8′ florescent light fixtures in the shop and I still need extra focused lights.

    I can post some pics to show you how I’m setting things up. Just don’t want comments about how crocked things are.

    Good luck with your shop.


    thanks Paul. I’ll take your rafter size into account, as i plan on using the rafters for storage, and i don’t want sagging. I dont think i will go as big as that. After thinking about it, i dont want it square, so i’ll probably go 20×25. ground breaking is scheduled for July, so i have some time. But this is great, love the ceiling height advise, and all!


    Dan Roper

    20×20 is a nice size. My shop is 20 x 32. I wish I had made it 20×40 and had four times the windows. I think you will find that a table saw in the middle and the addition of a workbench will really fill the 20×20 with little room for anything else. Remember you need space in front and rear of a table saw.



    Thomas Angle

    From my experience.

    1) I am all about natural lighting. So the more windows the better.
    2) Bench in front of windows. Maybe have a corner where the windows wrap around and put the bench there so you get light form 2 directions.
    3) As far as machines go. A bandsaw to resaw with and a thickness planer is all I would suggest. This takes the “donkey work” out of it.
    4) If you purchase wood from a lumber yard, plan on a drying and staging area from the lumber. You can let it dry outside for the most part, but will want to bring it in doors for that final drying.
    5) 20×20 might be a bit small if you plan on having a lot power tools. I would suggest measure what you plan to to have tool and bench wise and then lay it out on paper. Then lay it out on the ground and walk around a little like you where working there.
    6) Think about lighting also. Maybe it is that I am getting older, but plenty of light is really nice. Especially over, behind and to the sides of the bench.
    7) I am with the person who said a wood floor. Concrete kills me after a while. I can feel it in my heels all the way through my lower back.
    8) A sink is really nice for clean up.
    9) Think about heating and cooling. I live in Tennessee and the winter are pretty mild and I can work in my shop most of the year without heat. Between April and November it is a sweat fest for me. I really do envy the people in UK with your mild climate.
    10) Might want to think about an overhang or car port on the side for additional lumber storage.
    11) I am with the guy that said something about go bigger than you think. Of course that means more room for hoarding, I mean tool and wood storage.

    Please post some pictures.

    Arbovale, WV

    Proverbs 18:13
    13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.


    On the floor, since concrete on a grade is SOP. I would suggest putting insulation and wood on top of the concrete. It will cost more/take more time, but everthing, tools, materials, your body, will thank you for it in the long run.

    If you looking at sky lights and roof storage any way, skip the truss roof, and go with a more open style roof. Then you have all the room to move things on your bench, around power tools,, install a hoist rail, and make a dedicate wood loft away from the sky lights.

    Power tools, put those beasts on a roller system. That way you can just move them to the open area or were ever you need them to feed the pieces in and out. This was something I learned running a theater scene shop, the tools are never in the best place to work on the projec tyou are actually doing when you have them in a fixed location.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop


    If this is new construction, do you have good exposure towards the south? You might want to choose a roof style and orientation optimized for solar panels, even if panels aren’t installed until some time in the future, maybe by a future owner, and even if the power isn’t for use in the shop.

    Think carefully about your electrical design (solar or not).

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