For 10 years I fairly succesfully shared a 2 car garage with 1 car
(SWMBO's) and for a couple of years even parked mine in there. The
past 3 years SWMBO has not been able to park in there as much as she'd
like during the winter (this is Minnesnowta btw.) I think the phrase
is "I'm sure my subaru can handle any tool or piece of wood in it's
After considering numerous options the only place I can find to go
with my shop is up - as in a 2nd floor above the garage. We don't
have enough room on our city lot to go out and all of the options I've
looked at for renting space aren't really workable.
I'd really appreciate thoughts on this. I think the biggest negative
is getting material up and projects out. I will have a stairway down
into the garage, but that still won't be ideal. One thought is to do
something like a hay mow with barn doors on the driveway end over the
garage door and bring stuff in this way. Maybe with a chain motor
sliding along an I-beam. Problem is it can't stick out all the time
and I don't want it jutting into the shop all the time since it'd take
up overhead room.
Any thoughts on this project, positive or negative, would be greatly
How about a swing arm for the I-beam with the chain motor. Iffin you have the room
inside for the swing clearance. That is what the Dutch do, or did, with their
upstairs loading and unloading from/to the street. Think on it.
A jib crane would work fine. It ,if you are not familiar, is a hinged I beam that can be swung out over your drive with a motorized wench that rides along the beam. When not in use you swing it back along the face of the building and secure it.
Be aware, if you're in Minneapolis it's just about impossible to get a
permit for a two-story garage. I ended up putting a basement on our
(new) garage instead. St. Paul is slightly more lenient.
How about putting the stairs on the outside of the garage? You'd be less
constrained -- hoist up big materials with a block and tackle, and
push the finished pieces over the railing. (Just kidding about that last
Also, you need to consider the structural integrity of the floor if
you're going to be putting a lot of heavy machinery up there, plus you
need to take vibration into account. The floor could act like a giant
sounding board if you're not careful.
One idea that I toyed around with is to put a trap door in the second
floor, opening into the garage portion, and using a block and tackle,
possibly with rigged so that it raised and lowered the entire section of
Anyway, as I mentioned, we eventually gave up on the second-floor
workshop idea and put in a basement instead.
I have had a 14 by 22 loft above my garage for four years. Entry is
from the garage to the laundry room then up the steps. I've moved all
my tools and recently my new Jet Supersaw up the steps. (I use a
handtruck with stair climbing treads) I've learned to rough cut all
panels before taking them upstairs. Lately I've had the lumberyard
rough cut them into 2 by 8 or 4 by 4 panels and they fit better into
my Jeep also.
Yes it takes a bit more to move stock up into the shop, but the cars
are much warmer in the winter. I have acces through a window but have
never considered using it for stock.
I've built large furniture and with planning haven't had any problems
on one occasion I made sure my two sons or my BIL were available for
some heavy lifting.
I've also found that the stairwell is great for storage of long tirm
pices about 16 feet long. Finally here's a secret - my shop opens
into my attic. With the right planning, a strategicly placed door
and some calculations (I'm an engineer) I reinforced the attic added a
floor and use it for wood storage.
I've seen a second story shop where the stair stringers (is that right?)
were exposed in such a way that they were like rails and a winch is set at
the top of the stairs to raise/lower a cart that rides on the stringer
rails. The floor of the cart can be angled to horizontal. Winch and floor
are rigged for quick enabling of the setup. It works.
I have a second story shop above the two car garage. It has a 4 ft x 5 ft
door on the gable end. Loading long stock into the shop is best done from
the back of the pickup. I have a set of very strong shop stairs in the
garage. It is possible to carry a sheet of plywood up the stairs, just
barely. The major drawback is the lack of wall space. I never realized how
useful walls are in a shop. I have a 18 inch knee wall on two sides so I
have placed benches and storage units on these walls. There is a huge
difference between floor area and useful area! In an ideal world, I would
have a separate building for a shop. I have just ordered an 8 inch jointer
and will have to have it hoisted in through the gable end door. I live in
a fishing community and there are lots of hoist trucks here.
If the garage is big enough to accommodate your shop and her car it should
be big enough to share her car, wood storage, and a final glue
up/assembly/finishing area and, with the use of KD benches, maybe even your
car when you aren't actively gluing up and finishing.
Not ideal but then again it will give you even more room in the second floor
shop for a few more goodies not to mention a relatively dust free finishing
area that doesn't require you to stop work in the shop itself.
What is the size of the usable space in the garage attic?
Was it designed to handle the load that you want to put up there?
Get rid of junk in garage that you don’t need.
Put shed in back yard for non-woodworking junk you want to keep.
Keep rough lumber and plywood sheets in your half of garage
Make big tools mobile and keep in your half of garage
Do most of the light work in the attic shop.
Do final assembly of big parts in the lower part of the garage.
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