Welcome back to Farbulous Creations! I’m Ron, and this video will be the first in a series as I work to convert our standard two-car garage into the functional all-season shop that I’ve dreamed about for years. Once it’s done, I’ll be able to complete projects more easily and produce videos more frequently.
In this particular video, we’ll go over my rough plans for the garage and what I want to do within its walls. As you can see here behind me, I recently had supplies delivered to get started on the buildout, but we need to step back a bit to go over the game plan before digging into any of this, which will happen in upcoming videos.
To get started with my planning, I first measured all of the interior dimensions of the garage to know what I was working with. It turns out my future shop is roughly 18 feet by 21 feet with the roof joists at 9 feet high.
After I had my measurements, I decided to work in 2D for the time being by roughing out my plans in my design tool of choice, Adobe Illustrator. Eventually I’ll probably want a working 3D model of the space in Sketchup or the like, especially before building work benches and other shop “furniture.” Jay Bates really sold me on the nice-to-have factor of that in some of his videos where he goes over his shop, and it seems immensely helpful in terms of planning tool layout and functionality.
One down side of Adobe Illustrator for this task is that it has limits on how big your documents’ canvases can be. But to be fair, I suppose your average graphic designer isn’t going to be working with garage floor-sized documents. We’ll give Adobe a pass on this one.
In order to still be able to use Illustrator for this preliminary phase, I decided to work in inches instead, and work at 1/10th scale. 21 feet, 2 inches, for example, became 254 real life inches, but in my document, I scaled it to 25.4 inches. This is just as accurate and keeps everything to scale, and all I need to remember is to move the decimal place over one. To the CAD fans out there who are cringing at this approach, I promise I’ll do a better model in the future.
After the floorplan was set up to scale, it was time to fill it with all of my tools and equipment! Err… future tools and equipment, that is. At the time of this planning, the only tools I have in my shop, apart from a few hand tools, are a cheap Harbor Freight miter saw, cheap Harbor Freight drill press, a 14” JET bandsaw I got second hand off of Craigslist, and an old, old table saw that the previous owner of our house left behind. I bought the cheap Harbor Freight tools knowing they would work just fine for me to get started and I could upgrade later once I knew what I wanted more and knew what “better” meant for each particular tool. As for the bandsaw, I absolutely wanted to invest in a good one up front because that’s one of my most-used tools at the maker space I’m a member of. I also wanted my own because it’s one of the tools that most frequently goes down at the maker space: inexperienced people who are afraid to ask for help are always trying to make 90 degree turns and break the blades, so having one of my own was of high importance to me. So those are the tools I had, but in this planning document, I decided to focus on what I wanted long term for my shop too.
One of the first things I decided was that I would eventually be building the Jay Bates miter saw station. If you’re unfamiliar with Jay Bates, he’s an incredibly smart and well-spoken woodworker here on YouTube who built this now-iconic miter saw station for his own shop, and at least half a dozen other woodworkers on YouTube have built it for their own shops too. It delivers a ton of storage space and functionality in one smart design. So while I don’t mean to play copy cat, the fact that so many other makers have vetted the design by building it too speaks to how good of a design it is. Jay sells plans on his website, and I’ll be purchasing them when I’m ready to build mine.
Next up, I added a table saw. Like I said, I currently have an old underpowered one, but eventually I’d like to get a SawStop table saw: one, because they’re damn nice saws, but also because my husband always worries I’m going to hurt myself so knowing I won’t lose a finger to a table saw is one less thing for him to have to worry about. Since I plan to get one some day, I decided to look up their exact measurements to make sure I knew how much space it would take up. I decided to place the table saw facing the garage door so that in the event I ever need to cut anything super long, I can just open the garage door to have that extra clearance. I also added in a future outfeed table that is the same size as the saw itself.
Next up, after adding a few of my existing tools like the bandsaw and air compressor, I added a workbench. But not just any work bench, no, a workbench to help take advantage of the limited floor space in a garage. Mark over at Gunflint Designs designed a quite nifty double-flip top work bench that, as the name entails, has two areas that flip over to reveal a mounted tool stored underneath. He was gracious enough to send me the plans for his bench to build one of my own, and he sells plans over on his website if you’re interested in building it too. I’ll leave a link down below for you to check it out.
Now if you’ve watched any of my videos up until now, you know I love using the laser cutter at the maker space I attend – I love designing things on the computer and using the laser to help bring them into the real world. The maker space laser is great, but I would eventually love to have my own. I grabbed the measurements of the Glowforge laser, as that’s one of the more affordable consumer lasers on the market, but I’ve also researched Trotek and Epilog pretty extensively too. Either way, I wanted to plan for a laser in my shop, so in my document, I created a computer workstation to control the laser with. The items next to the laser are stand-ins for the monitor, keyboard and trackpad, and of course a stool to sit at while working.
Another facet of computer-aided design I’ve been eager to dig into is CNC milling. It’ll allow me to do many of the same things a laser does, but in addition to increased cut thickness, I’ll be able to do 3D forms and relief carvings. So while this will be a bit down the line in terms of budgeting, I thought a perfect companion to the laser workstation would be a CNC machine that can share the same computer. I looked up measurements for the largest Shapeoko and largest X-Carve – two of the well-known consumer models – and added a table to my design that could fit it. The nice thing about this layout is that I’ll have good visibility to what’s going on at the CNC from my stool at the computer.
So with those primary elements in place – the things I know I absolutely want to get at some point – my rough shop layout plans were effectively complete. I still had space for some tools along the back wall, but really I need to actually get started using the space before knowing what tools I’m “missing.” I want to get into more lathe work in the future, so it’s possible I get a lathe for back there, but for the time being we’ll call that area “for future expansion.”
I’ve mentioned Jay Bates a few times in this video, and I’ll probably mention him a few more times in this series. That’s because Jay has done an incredible service to me and other people wanting to build out a shop by talking at length about his own shop build-outs on his channel. He talks about why he did certain things a certain way in his shop, rather than just what he did, which allowed me to take furious mental notes as I daydreamed about my future shop. One of the other things he’s talked about in his videos is workflow optimization as it relates to the spacing between things like his mitersaw station and the workbench behind him. He said he’s found 32” to be the perfect amount of space to both work comfortably at the tool while also having the workbench be close by for assembly of the parts he just got done cutting/milling/etc. So in my layout, I added a visual boundary to a few of the centerpiece items of my shop, the table saw and work bench, to make sure I had this ideal spacing around my work areas too.
Finally, you may notice there’s a bit of space left at the front of the shop near the garage door. I negotiated with my husband and we agreed that there still needs to be space for things like our lawn mower and snow blower in here if I’m taking over the entire garage, as we don’t really have room in our yard to place a shed anywhere. I figure those items can be parked permanently at the front of the shop out of the way of my work.
So that’s the rough plan. There’s many other details that will get ironed out as I go and start “living” in the shop, but you can’t plan forever, right? In the next video in this series we’ll go over the electric subpanel I had installed that will power the garage. Stay tuned for that! Until next time, cheers!