Woodworking Shop in Basement

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Joe Roberts wrote:

finished putting in a basement shop (my third one to date) and enjoy it greatly. Closing the shop door keeps the sawdust in the shop and out of the house. My children are grown, so I don't worry about waking up the kids running power tools after bedtime. We insulated the basement cinder block walls with 2 inch blue board foam insulation with sheetrock on top which helped a lot in the home heating bill and made it warmer and drier. Since you are planning new construction, allow for lots of light, lots of wall sockets, a 220 volt circuit, and a sink for cleaning brushes and stuff. And as much space as you can afford. Your table saw wants 8-10 feet in front and in back, and at least 8 feet on one side if you are gonna cut up 4*8 sheets of stuff.
David Starr
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I have a shop in the basement. For me, the only major advantage is when it gets to minus 30 C outside. Inside, I am warm!
Happy woodworking from the frozen north,
Mike

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Joe Roberts wrote:

Mine is in a walk-out basement, so it's dry and easy to access.
The Cons that still remain:
Little natural light Low ceiling Noise, dust, and smell migrate into the living space Little natural light Low ceiling Lolly columns and a center staircase eat space Little natural light Low ceiling Concrete floors Little natural light Low ceiling Little natural light Low ceiling Little natural light Low ceiling Little natural light Low ceiling
Sorry, I got stuck on little natural light and low ceiling. I'm getting cabin fever. <G>
With a choice, I'd greatly prefer WINDOWS and some head space in a detached building with no columns and wood floors.
In fact, I'd trade half my space to be above ground.
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It's a little better if your basement layout permits your workbench to be near those walkout slider doors and a relaxing view through them is achievable.
David Merrill

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David Merrill wrote:

The furnace is right next to the non-sliding doors.8^(
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David Merrill wrote:

The shop in my old house had an interesting view. The lady that lived behind me had two college aged daughters that would sunbathe in the backyard in bikinis every afternoon.. made it hard to get work done.
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B A R R Y wrote:

But new construction can easily solve most of your basement problems. You can build a new house with a walkout basement with plenty of windows and sliding doors on the walkout side(s). You can put the staircase and furnace off to one corner, along a wall, etc. And make sure the water main does not come up in the middle of the basement. These are free changes at time of construction. Lally columns can be minimized by using deeper rafters or steel beams as the support beam. Some extra cost here. But not a lot. Also the foundation shape will affect whether the ends of beams can be born by the foundation walls without any lally columns. Something to be considered in the planning stage. Make the basement 1 foot or 2 feet deeper. A little extra cost for concrete and digging. All of these things are relatively cheap/free and easy to do if PLANNED for at time of construction. I almost always work in the shop at night so natural light is meaningless.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Sure can! But if I were building new, I'd still prefer to make the shop an attached building on grade. Even with windows all along one side, it's still not the same.

And all I need is a new house. <G>
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I went from having a shop in the basement to building a separate building for my woodworking and everything else that goes with it. I also added a lean-to to the shop for storing a tractor. I enjoyed building the shop myself, and thought of the carpentry as a distant cousin to woodworking.
Now I can easily back the truck with large sheets of MDF or plywood right there at the door of the shop and put a rolling table there to catch them and never lift a sheet by hand. That is really nice.
And it is useful to have the standalone shop as a catch-all place for doing things other than woodworking including (but not limited to) auto/mower/tractor & gardening tool maintenance & repair. I have all my woodworking tools on mobile bases so I can slide them out of the way and easily bring in (for example) a riding mower in the summer for a flat tire or blade changing etc. The grinder is right there. My files for sharpening are right there for touching up a chainsaw. Before I had this separate shop, I had to do some of these things in the basement and some in the garage (or even the driveway) which does not have space for a workbench or cabinets, and it was a hassle having tools in two places. It is also nice to not worry with making noise & dust. Of course it increases the value of the house, but who cares anyway?...
Having said all that, when I sit and think about it, I believe I enjoyed the woodworking shop in the basement more, and if it weren't for the thought of hauling all those power tools down there (no large walk-out access unfortunately), I might be tempted to move back. It was just cozier there, and heating & cooling was not a problem at all.
My $0.02.. Cheers! Dukester
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Joe Roberts wrote:

Years ago, I started my shop in the basement. One winter day I resawed some cedar with the tablesaw, the dust collection wasn't all that good yet, and I put a very teensy tiny little bitty light coat of sawdust over everything in the basement including the washer and dryer. SWMBO put me in the garage the first warm day of spring. She was not open to negotiation.
When I was done with the wiring and had all the tools out there and put everything on wheels to accommodate her car, she told me I could have her side of the garage and she'd park outside.
I like the garage better. More room. No laundry. Heat is a problem but I'm okay with the tradeoff. Everything's fine with the marriage.
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Joe Roberts wrote:

Basement, hell. I'm taking over the entire house. Wood storage -- right next to the refrigerator. The people I live with couldn't give a
damn less.
Biggest probs with a basement shop are noise (don't locate machines under living room areas, agree to a cutoff time) and dust, meaning dust onto your projects during finishing, not from them.
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My wife wants me to build a detached shop, but I'm resisting. I'm now in the 1400 SF basement. It is heated and air conditioned 24/7/365, has telephone, cable, ethernet, hot and cold running water, a bathroom with a shower, a walkout entrance, and is a 10 second walk from anywhere in the house, in my underwear if I want.
Her main objections to the status quo:
Foot- and clothes-borne Dust & Shavings: Shavings and dust gets tracked
through the house and fall off my person. My solution: Try to keep the shop floor swept. Brush myself off. Resolve to wear shoes in the
shop. Go upstairs only when summoned.
Airborne Dust: The 2 HP Grizzley gets most of it, but catching all the
fine dust from every machine is pretty tough. My solution: Do my best to collect the dust. Try to limit long- duration dust-generating activities, instead spreading them out to more frequent, smaller dust-generating incidents. This reduces my culpability by making my dust mostly disappear in the dust background noise floor.
Noise: Two or three horsepower's worth of abuse to a piece of wood can
create some pretty obxoxious noise levels. My solution: Insulate & acoustically decouple the shop ceiling. Keep doors closed. Save the noisest stuff for when no one else is home, or after my wife goes to bed. Suggest the next day that maybe she dreamt it.
Odors: My wife actually says she likes the smell of some cut woods, but it's some of the finishes, paints, and adhesives that are the problem. My solution: Do these smelly operations outside when possible. Otherwise, do them after she goes to bed. The odors will normally be gone in the morning, and I can play dumb be especially sympathetic about any headache complaints. Give waterborne finishes and adhesives yet another chance.
On the other hand, my wife does acknowledge that accessibility (to me) is pretty good the way it is, and she'd hate to give up the immediate response she now enjoys in emergency situations like, say, a bug in the
sink.
Joe Roberts wrote:

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ed_h wrote:

fans and use it to blow air outside when finishing. I'll let it run until I go to bed (as the finish dries). It makes a huge difference in the amount of odor that gets in the house.
In fact, I've gotten to the point where I do almost no finishing in cold weather because I don't like the odors of finishing all over the house either.. So when spring comes, I usually have a backlog of things to stain and poly. Gives me an excuse to start new projects in the winter.. Darn it, it's just too cold to go any further on this project, time to start another.
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I happen to work in "my" half of the two-car garage, both bays of which are below the living space. Pros: easy access, can expand into the driveway during warm weather, excellent light with the garage door open, sufficiently well insulated so as not to bother the folks upstairs. Cons: it's dark in winter and a little cramped, had to wall off the shop to keep dust/shavings from littering "her" half and the family station wagon, the central vacuum scares the bejeezus out of me whenever someone upstairs decides a carpet needs cleaning.
Without the garage bay door I think my woodworking would be limited to quite small projects (and tooling) that would fit around tight corners and through standard 3 foot doors. Staircases to the cellar are not often well placed. (Mine aren't.)
J.
Joe Roberts wrote:

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On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 17:50:01 GMT, "Joe Roberts"

Most of the issues I would add to have already been addressed, and pretty much the way I would address them.
I worked in a basement shop for 21 years (in Northern Illinois). I liked it in the main. However, I didn't have a full complement of Delta tools then, and I shudder now to think of getting them down to the basement if I were still there. Not so much size, but overstressing what are essentially two half 2x12s holding things up. I think I'd do some major reinforcing, were I in that position again.
Lighting. This goes for any shop. Your eyes are the best right now that they will ever be. There is no such thing, in my mind, as too much light. I was always happy with what I had in my shop. Approximately 350 ft^2, with five or six 8' two tube fixtures, and a couple of two tube 4'ers.
I didn't realize how good I had it until I took the shop apart. I went down in the basement afterwards at midday on a sunny day, and even with the puny single incandescant on, it was like being in a cave. I was shocked.
Gawd, wiring was easy.
Can't over-agree on the low ceiling assessment. I've since been in basements that had 9' foot ceilings, and my thought is, "oh, if I'd only known." Of course even if I had, it probably would have wound up being, "oh, if I only could afford it."
One problem no one has touched on, and it might have been slightly unique to me. We had a two story colonial with essentially a full attic. I had my ham radio room in a bedroom on the second floor. The attic had lots of associated coaxial and control cable. The second floor was also where many of my wreck pearls in the late '90s came from, as it doubled as the computer room. Although I've long been smart enough to have radio room tools, garage tools, kitchen tools, as well as shop tools, that pertains mostly to screwdrivers, small wrenches, and small socket sets. If I needed a saw or drill bits, it was a two to three story hike down to the shop and a two or three story hike back up. That was less a problem when I was 30 than it was when I was 51.
In the main, I liked it.
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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LRod wrote:

That's actually not a concern. My basement stairs are even wimpier than 2 X 12s .. they are prehab crap.
I've gotten a 18" bandsaw down there (I think it was around 400 lbs), as well as other very heavy stuff. It's not fun, but it's doable. The loads as you bring them down the stairs are only temporary.
Of course, my basement stairway is straight, which helps a lot. If you have a bend or landing on your basement stairs, that makes things a lot more difficult. That was the main requirement for me buying any house.. either a walk out basement or woodworking accessable stairs down there.
As far as dust control, I walled off half the basement for the shop. I sealed it off from the rest of the house pretty good, but it could be better.
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On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 17:50:01 GMT, "Joe Roberts"

Pros:
Semi climate controlled, easy access to wiring and plumbing. Sound is almost entirely blocked so the neighbors can't complain.
Cons:
Difficult to get things in/out (though that isn't true in my case, as I have a 36" door to the garage in my basement.), finishing fumes will raise up through the floor and stink up the house from time to time, low ceiling (mine is 7") and the furnace will need filters and regular cleaning more often.
Having had both a garage and a basement shop, it's been my experience that the basement shop is far nicer for me. There's no additional heating or cooling costs, and I never have to wade through snow to get to the shop. It is also more secure, and nobody knows it's there unless I tell them- which isn't necessarily true about a garage shop if you work with the door open in the summer. The furnace is far less of a problem than I was afraid it might be- I give it a good cleaning every couple of months, and it usually doesn't even really seem to need it.
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I wonder if anyone has had the oppertunity to have a shop under the garage? It's an idea that I've been playing with. Quite a bit of wasted space without requiring extra realestate. Lou
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Lou wrote:

I know a reasonably wealthy individual who built a nice, custom ranch house with 3 or 4 car garage and had the builder use engineered concrete floor panels or whatever to have a basement under the garage itself. The part of the basement under the house was nicely finished and I think the under garage part was work shop or something. I did not look but I suspect there was also official engineered supports for the engineered official floor panels used for the garage floor to hold up the vehicles. I don't know how much it cost, but I would guess the cost per square foot of space under the garage was far more than the cost per square foot of the master bath or kitchen. Kitchens and baths as you might know are high cost rooms. Unless real estate is extremely dear, like San Francisco or New York City, or cost is of no concern, its probably not practical to have usable space under the garage.
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Never thought of it, but it would be neat- with a couple of provisions. It'd still have to have a concrete floor, at least in my area, and that floor would have to have some kind of drainage piping run through it so that oil and other drips that come off the cars doesn't fall on your tools.
Probably be too expensive for most budgets, as the floor of the garage would have to be built like a parking garage (though I confess I really don't know what that entails.) But if you've got the money, it could be pretty cool- especially if you put some kind of industrial lift in the corner for raising finished projects and lowering tools and wood.
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