With careful planning and a little ingenuity, you can transform your garage into a perfectly functional woodworking shop and even have room left over to park your car. On the other hand, if your significant other is open to the idea of driveway parking, so much the better. Whatever option works best for you, the key is to plan everything on paper until you get your shop area just the way you want it.
Planning Your Woodworking Shop
Lay out the basic measurements of the space you have to work with on a piece of grid paper. Make to-scale paper cutouts of your tools and create a logical workflow as you arrange the major components of your shop. For maximum flexibility, think mobile bases and work stations – this means putting everything that you possibly can on wheels. In addition to a central workbench, you’ll need room to safely and comfortably access your table saw, drill press, planer, band saw, jointer, ripsaw and router table. Wherever possible, conserve valuable floor space by consolidating tools into one workstation.
Consider your storage requirements, and allow enough space for the shelving and cabinets that you’re going to need. Don’t forget to plan adequate storage for lumber and trim; an overhead loft-style storage rack would help you economize on floor space as well as provide an out-of-the-way place for drying lumber.
A word here about partitioning off your workshop: don’t do it. Partitions will restrict your flexibility, which you’ll need if your woodworking shop is going to share space with the family car.
Double-Check Your Basic Requirements
Once you have a detailed plan committed to paper, consider your minimum shop requirements. For starters, you’ll need easy access to power. Unless you’re comfortable doing the electrical work yourself, budget for an electrician to add extra outlets and possibly upgrade your electrical panel. You may want to consider additional 220-volt outlets for your more power-hungry tools.
Now is the time to match your layout with overhead lighting. Determine where additional light will be needed, and the quantity and type of fixtures that will best fit your needs. Adequate lighting is essential for your woodworking shop, and is the one area where pinching pennies makes no sense. Painting the walls and ceiling white will help reflect light and brighten up your workspace.
Many garages are left unfinished by the homebuilder. If you live in cold country, you’ll definitely want to insulate the walls to be able to use your woodworking shop during the winter. A good choice for insulation is friction-fit fiberglass bats – unfaced R-13 bats for 2×4 walls, and unfaced R-19 bats for 2×6 walls. Consider covering the insulation with T-111 siding, which is much stronger than drywall and will bear the weight of storage and tool cabinetry much better.
Be sure all door and windows are adequately weather-stripped; replace any seals that are cracked or torn. The garage door should have a threshold that provides a tight seal against both the elements and pests. Garage door insulation kits are readily available for uninsulated overhead doors, and installation is pretty straightforward.