I had my shop 1st in my garage... then got into restoring a car so the
shop had to be moved into my basement... For woodworking, ease of use,
not disturbing the baby (noise) , DUST (that disturbs the wife)...the
garage is Much better...
My shop is now in a detached building...BUT I am still into restoring
cars and I have my shop on the second floor of this building...NOT
GREAT... but I had to do what I had to do...
1.Detached..2..Garage..3.Basement ...4 .None.. is how I would rank
I've never had a garage shop and don't think I'm likely to at this stage of
my life, 73 YO. I originally had an entrance to my basement in the garage ,
unfortunately it required a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the stairs,
tough for 4X8's or anything really over 4'. Closed it up, filled the hole
and built a main floor laundryroom for the bride.
Opened the basement on the end of the house and installed a Bilco Door that
solved getting sheet goods down and heavy machine access, if not easy, at
least bearable. Course I do have to go out the back porch door and down the
outside basement steps. Hot water heat with the pipes running along the
ceiling handles heat and the whole house AC'd keep it a comfortable place to
work year round. Available space works out to approx. 22X35. Indoor access
would be nice but I can live with this. Ground level outside access would
also be niice but my lot doesn't work for that. The fact that all my
electric service is in the basement was a plus. Only regret is I didn't
paint the floor and walls when I moved in 20 years ago. It would be a bear
My 34x34 shop is in my basement. I have radiant floor heat from a geo
thermal water to water unit which, imo, is the best way to heat there
is. It's very comfortable in the summer too. I have 9 1/2 foot
ceilings which are nice as well. If I were doing it over again though,
I'd use floor trusses to get rid of the support posts. It's a walk out
basement with no stairs.
The basement shop has 2 drawbacks and dust isn't one of them in my
case. Finishing is the major problem. I absolutely will not use oil
based polyurethane down there. I hate the smell in the house and I
have a wife and 2 kids that I don't want to subject to it. Luckily, I
have an apartment above my garage that I keep heated and I use that for
all finishing. The other problem is noise. The tablesaw isn't bad,
nor most powered hand tools. The worst offenders are the SCMS and the
20 inch planer. I think I could take care of the noise if I insulated
the ceiling and then drywalled it. The finish smell I could take care
of in the warm months with good ventilation but that would never work
in the winter. The concrete floor isn't tool freindly but you'll have
that problem in the garage too.
If I didn't have the apartment, I'd do all my building in the winter
and finish it outside or in the garage when it was warm enough.
Hope this helps.
Mine is in the basement - not really an option. We both like to park
cars in the garage, plus it's nice having a car at a normal temp in the
morning - no ice to scrape or 150F interiors. HOA will not allow an
outbuilding over 150 sq ft.
So into the basement I went. It has a walkout (couldn't have done
without this) - think it is really important to have the easy in/out.
It is about 12' wide and 25' long. Only has 7.5' ceilings over most, 9'
over about a third. Needless to say, the latter is where the bench is
and final assembly occurs.
I do have a dual laundry tub in there, there is also a bathroom in the
basement which is nice (the whole basement is finished, well almost,
with full amenities.
Regarding dust, noise & fumes. For dust, the shop is separated from
rest of basement with a wall and door! The door has weather-stripping
and an exterior threshold. The DC has one of those huge pleated
filters (from an industrial supply - much cheaper than a Jet-type - no
'flappers' inside though) with a ridiculously micron rating and huge
surface area. Except for what doesn't go in the DC, no dust. I have a
set of furnace filters connected to the DC as an 'air cleaner'. If the
DC runs for 15 mins or so drawing through those filters the air is
clear as can be seen - I can usually start applying finish. SWMBO no
longer complains about dust (she did before walls & DC rigged up).
Noise. Walls and ceiling sheathed in plywood, every cavity insulated
(including ceiling). Shop is directly under family room. The big
tools are a not-unpleasant "rumble" - planer munching wood (I have 15"
w/induction motor) is probably the loudest. Routers scream the most.
Almost no complaints. Even at night I don't get complaints - the only
sound she & the kids hear is what is travels through the ductwork - a
long way to all the bedrooms.
Fumes - biggest complaints - stinks up the clothes in the dryer if it's
running. Two fixes have quieted this down to no complaints on recent
job: 1. sealing the door, 2. big (rated at 300 cu.ft./min, but
probably less than a 1/3 that ) exhaust fan. If door is shut it draws
air through the ductwork. If I leave door just a crack open then it
the air comes through the door. I sometimes do the latter as it allows
me to crack a basement window nearby and reduce the draw on the house.
Basically, I maintain a slight negative pressure in the shop. For most
finishes (especially shellac) you only need 4 hours to get odors "below
threshold" and can stop sucking precious heated/cooled air out of the
house. If you like BLO finishes (straight, "maloof" mixes, etc) all
the solvent is gone but, damn, that BLO stinks for days and the laundry
problems arise (we have three small kids so it's a daily affair).
Moving finished products isn't an issue. If it's too big to get out of
the basement door - it's too big to move through the front door. I
don't build those kinds of things. If I didn't have a walkout I
wouldn't do it (or equivalent, like a bilco door) with my stair
The low ceilings are a pain, but you learn to work around it. It feels
smallish, especially with all the tools packed in there. The upside is
I can really only fit one project at a time in there so I am better at
getting things done than in the past.
I do tend to do quieter activities at night if I can - hand planing,
I do like being "in the house" - SWMBO can leave and I'm still
accessible to the kids.
Apologize for the length.
Can you get a walk out basement, with some access to the street? That
makes getting tools and wood in, and projects out much easier, as they
typically have double wide sliding glass doors in our area.
Get a good vacuum system, and possibly an air cleaner too. Invest in
changing the furnace filters more regularly (or get cleanable ones) and
run the vacuum once in a while upstairs (your wife can show you how).
You may want to consider some extra sound insulation for the basement
Use of hand tools rather than power tools will reduce dust and noise,
and makes it easier to listen to the radio.
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