Working Principles for my Proposed Workshop

I’m in the position that i might get to set up my first workshop away from home.
Don’t want to burn through this opportunity, so i’ve put in too much time considering principles of function of a workshop space. To maybe get it right first go.
But i don’t want to rely on only my mind. So i’d like to show you the plan, and we can use this hypothetical as a talking point for general principles (on layout; equipment inclusion; etc.). At least for this one type of workshop. And i can hear from that whether any of my assumptions are faulty.

It’s SMALL. It’s GENERAList (though with proclivity to metalwork) - for the intention of being able to do most jobs that might come in - repairs; small run production.

Here’s a spin around the space for some perspective. With the primary equipment that i own and think this shop’s purposes will require, in positions that will make sense the more i explain.

There’s a big open patch in front of the door to function as the primary build space by day, and place for the shop truck to lock up by ‘night’. Double duty achieves both, and establishes teh first fundamental for this workshop. - It’s purpose as a build location with a decent, non-specific, open space, for whatever the task at hand. Everything else is to support this primary purpose. And (only) one task at a time at that.
Immobile machinery (mill; press; etc.) is on the perimeter. And more mobile equipment (air compressor; band saw; welding cart) fit in wherever possible, but also on the outskirts. So equipment that can be pulled out into that primary build space to perform a task.
On the other side are work stations. Horizontal ‘table’ space, but more than that. Those work stations are also tool boxes / racks / holders. So working in the main floor build space has those tools nearly as close at hand as when i’m working at the station / table itself. Maybe this is wrenches; hammers; drivers; clamps; squares; measuring tools; one tub of most commonly used fasteners but not all fasteners; etc. One of the stations is a (homemade) fabrication table One is more of maybe a repair station. There are these two so that all work does not stop as soon as one table has something on it. And there are not more than two to keep the main open build space.

The partitioned little rooms create a ‘mezanine’ and i’ll extend that accross the whole width. Underneath that extension, an area for office functions. Paperwork storage, meetings, 3D modeling, etc…

The partitioned rooms are a wet-room, and store for all manner of consumables. So a space for that all important function of cleaning. As well as others like dilutions. As well as toilet. Also a bit of a staging area, say for loading a cart with the consumables pulled from the store room for a job. That store room for consumables particularly is just plenty of racking For … solvents; abrasives; PPE; coatings; moulding materials; adhesives; card stock; jerry cans; cordage; chemicals; balloons; spray cans; …
All this consumable stuff is out of the way of the primary build area. And is also safe from dust / sparks / visitors. But when you need … plaster of paris … you know you’ve got some.

Things that aren’t accessed much, but need to be held-on-to, go up on the mezanine. Both equipment (a welding parts spinner; little propane forge; pipe roller), and full materials pieces.

Bigger boxes up there work like pods, or crates, of all things involved in production types that are very rare, but need to be at least accessible in a ‘do-anything’ shop (sewing; leather work; ) and also for recurring projects (like christmas products) so they’re out the way for the rest of the time.
This is not a materials storage locker for commercially available materials. However, there needs to be a place for materials brought in for a job. A place for steel section full lengths; wood boards; etc. And that’s on the mezanine, so that building tasks can happen unhindered on ground level.
Rather than staircase to the upper level, a lift takes up less footprint, and can be in elevated position normally (above head height and out of the way).

Tall carts that house all tooling for a type of task each, tuck away from the frontal build area. Into wherever there’s a natural opening. They could be tooling set specific, or project specific. Maybe all specialist hole boring cutters; all rigging equipment in one; all finish applicators in one. Or, a cart with all parts; fasteners; tools, to assemble that project type; etc - per product type. One way or another, tooling that’s workshop bound.
Re-staging the workshop’s main space is then largely about wheeling in or out the appropriate carts for the project. The tall carts can take up awkward space temporarily. Like space at the sides of a lathe, to be moved if an extra long workpiece needs to be turned.

So when you know you need -two slings and a ratchet strap- you go to one place for them. Or, wheel the cart to where it’s needed at the time. For example, one cart might be a set of Fireball fixturing accessories, to wheel to the fixture table when fabrication is what’s going on, but away again when the table is functioning as a packaging station. Again, keeping the general build-space clearer, and open for multiple functions.

So far we haven’t accounted for what i call “tools” to differentiate them from (floor standing) machines. Circ saws; (mag) drills; sanders; grinders; etc. And these have an unusual storage setup in the planned shop. I call them “process carts / boxes”. Maroon and blue in the vid above. Everything involved with that process in one movable box that CAN go off-site. If you’re going to be sanding, and you’ve got the sanding box, you can do anything sanding related that you might need to. All abrasive belts for the sander, particulate mask, power cord adapters, adjustment tool specific to the machine. Same for any other processes, like grinding; carving; wood router; thatching; electrics; etc. Now this is for a good reason. It enables this workshop to also be a tool chest for off-site work. It means that for any given away-job, i grab the process set boxes for the processes i know i’m going to be doing. Creating certainty that i’ve got all for that process, without vehicle packing hell, like hunting and carrying back and forth 2 little accessory bits at a time. I’ll take some process boxes to every job (the PPE, or Measuring sets), some to only few particular jobs (thatching). So packing is quick. Job change is quick and easy. Without having to carry every possible tool and accessory everywhere you go.
In-workshop use of the tools in the process boxes will mean getting out the process box every time i want to do that type of task. But that’s the sacrifice for the wide range of possibilities all in one shop, and this system will keep things cycling and being put away.

There’s another type of item that workshops like to contain that we haven’t dealt with yet. Parts; junk; use-it-one-day; spares; collections; etc… And there’s a strong need to keep this junk out of the working way. So that means providing it a place to be. Even more out of the way than the consumables room. And the solution for that is to use the building’s high ceiling and install storage (shelves / racking) above the build space and against the perimeter.

This means that i can keep my collection of fans stripped from dead equipment, without having that bag / box trip me up when i’m doing what the workshop is primarily for - building things. And when i need a scrap fan for a shop-made machine i’m cobbling together, i don’t have to wait for shipping; travel; or pay exorbatently. Without living in a junk pile.

That’s a lot to jam into one small shop. But i think it’s a workable arrangement, because the functions, requirements, and characteristics, of each aspect have been baked into the plan. And hopefully all within scope of what one man can manage upkeep on. While also being a space that others could potentially work in (process sets; separated areas such as work stations and office and wet room).

There are inclusions i haven’t shown. Like wall-mounted tooling (hand plane cabinet; clamps rack; tape roll dispenser; dust collection; fire protection). But if there’s a big function of a workshop i’ve not designed in, i’d like to hear about it please.

@AfreakanHobbyist Wow I’m impressed! I wish I was this organized. Are you looking for ideas from the peanut gallery?

@Fireball_Jason Mostly looking for criticism. I’m sure lots of particulars won’t be the way i’ve drawn them. So i don’t want to waste folks’ time giving ideas on specifics. But i do want to hear perspectives i might have missed. Like “too much is visible from the open door front, and people will come rob the place when they see what’s in there.”. Or “that modeled scenario leaves no room for change, and the one thing that’s certain is that you’ll want to change something later”.
But that’s what i want. The post could be a scratch-pad to discuss any ideas inspired by the topic. Not necessarily ‘for’ me. So go for it.

I’m not going to criticize that, it’s really well thought out.

All I’ll add is some thinking fodder.

  1. I don’t like cupboards because they are too easy to shove crap in any old how, so I like shelves and hook boards. I like to get at everything without moving anything. This is hard to achieve. This is also all personal preference and worth as much as any other opinion.

  2. The too much visible stuff is a good point. Worth thinking about.

  3. Nothing. There is no third thing.

Frankly you should just go for it. Post pictures.

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This seems pretty well thought out. Reminds me of a shop I visited once in Australia where the building code was something like “if your interior build out doesn’t touch the wall you’re good”. The shop had entirely cubed it’s space out with mezzanines very similar to your last image.

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Completely agree. Cupboards can end up add “out of sight, out of mind”

All in all, I’m impressed with the amount of thought and planning. Great job!

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@AfreakanHobbyist you have laid out a very interesting plan. It seems that any shop is a product of interests/intentions and possessions, so you appear to be well on you path with all that you show. Not much to comment on about the specifics, but good job thus far.

One comment that I’d offer is the importance (at least to me) of natural light and overall lighting in a shop. I painted the inside walls & ceiling white and floor off-white and provided a decent amount of light. Looks like you have a couple of large windows (in blue?) by the doors? As to people being able to see in being a risk, I find that decent quality horizontal aluminum mini-blinds are effective when I’m not around but easy to open when I want the light. Also, locating windows such that they’re inconvenient to break and climb through was a consideration when I built my shop. Perhaps more windows but smaller would be helpful?

Good luck & have fun with it!


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@Fireball_Eli With it being a rental, there may well be issue with too much drilling into walls to pin internal structure to. So my build-out might be a lot like what you describe. Or, I’ve thought, steel framing that pushes outward against both opposing walls (jams in place).

@Stuarts_Shed @SCDad I agree about cupboards. And drawers too. At least in typical form. I have devised a solution when it comes to tools though. If you’re on InstaGram look up the hashtag #centralstoragetable

@LarryFahnoe “any shop is a product of interests/intentions” - That might be the single biggest lesson in planning a workshop. Everything follows from this. For instance that not all shops should follow the same approach / blueprint. A shop that brings in large material and turns it into small parts might be very different to a fab shop that builds big, for instance. So I’m absolutely hoping to be an example of ‘know what the intent or type of work is, and let solutions flow from that’.
Lighting is so important. My home shop is white to retain light in it too. I even have a few shelves from mirror glass, to reflect light toward the dark rear.

@AfreakanHobbyist After looking over the plans for the shop layout the only thing that would probably bug me is the material rack. Most of the shops I’ve worked in have always put the steel material storage racks just inside the main door.

  1. It’s in a location that allows forklift or better access to long heavy sticks of material.
  2. Material sometimes doesn’t get put on the racks rights away and just lays on the floor. So it’s easy to stack or organize when time is available.
  3. Sometimes you have to unstack the rack to get to a piece that got buried. The free space in front of the door allows room.
  4. The saw is always in closed proximity to the rack so materials can be pulled off and set directly onto the saw. Then material put back on the rack when the cutting is finished. Having to go back upstairs to put the leftover material will be a pain eventually.
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@Fireball_Jason Now that’s wisdom there. Thank you.
Side note (ish) - I hope you’ve seen the crazy awesome materials rack by Job_Shop_Machining (IG).
An earlier version of my plan did have a materials-in section right at the big door. I’ll think on why i changed from that. But there may just be no better way (better compromised position) in such a small shop. IE no matter how much of a pain elevated storage is, it might just be the cost (of wanting a small space to do so much / too much). But you’ve definitely made me realize how much of an issue this is in truth.
Part of my scheming is that long term i might rent a neighbouring unit in addition. And i’m already thinking about how i’d split what’s jammed into the plan presented.
That’s an interesting hypothetical to itself - How would you split between two spaces? Materials storage & build space; or build types & their materials together; dirty & clean; new space for new machines (there’s nothing CNC in my modeled shop)?

First of all good luck and go for it or u will always be wondering what if I have a similar shop layout without as much upper storage one thing I see from my own experience u will undoubtedly end up wanting to add more toys this will be interesting without adding more space u spoke of also if u start a project in the area u park the truck and can’t finish that day hope u have a place for the truck . Jason has corrupted me and I am trying to make room for a fixture table