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Garage or basement

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  • Garage or basement

    Im in debate over where to set up my shop. Right now Im in half of a 2 car detached garage without much flexibility of leaving the wifes car outside if I need more space. My space is roughly 10 x 20 there. In that space I have a Craftsman 2412 table saw with a built in router table, a 5' long outfeed table, a small drill press and a small workbench (junk collector) and a (coming soon I think) 12" miter box. My basement space is about 12 by 24 but in that space is the furnace and my private throne. Next to my space is the laundry area which is somewhat closed off, and it would be easy to close more of it off. I dont really have proper power to the garage. My garage shares a 15 amp circuit with my microwave, so I have to put a sign on the micro when I am working in the garage to check with me before cooking anything. I can easily get better power in the basement. Noise is not of too much concern because my wife is usually doing her running around when I am home. The downside of the basement is I cant get a 4x8 down the stairs, which isnt too much of a problem for me, I can either rough cut them outside or at the cabinet shop I work at during the day, or I can make rough cuts at Home Depot (I know the guys there arent that accurate, but I work there p/t so I can get them as close as the saws let me) and I only have about 7' of headroom downstairs, which the garage doesnt have too much more either.

    As I write this I am thinking the basement is where to go. I laid it out on AutoCad and it looks great on paper. I have some more space in the back of the basement for storage (work out room that failed miserably) I have found that when Im in the middle of a project I really hate to have to run to the garage for a simple cut. If I go to the basement I will make a panel with a couple filters built in to cover the front of the furnace.

    Thanks for letting me ramble and giving me opinions. I think I know where Im going with this. I dont build alot of big projects. I plan on building my kitchen someday, but I can do that piece by piece with how the kitchen plan is. I want to get back into making small furniture projects mainly.


  • #2
    Your situation is quite similar to mine. We purchased a home recently with both garage and basement areas and I'll being setting up shop soon. Personally, a lot of my decision is based on the neighborhood and the weather conditions. (I'm in New York.)

    Because of your electrical situation (mine too) the garage is not going to immediately be very workable. So, somewhere in your plans I think we have to plan on upgrading the electrical situation to a 50 amp break-out for the garage.

    In the meantime, the basement is the primary focus. Challenges there may be ceiling height, noise, and dust.... that is providing that you have all the necessary electrical requirements (amp/outlet availability, GFI, and dryness). All too often basements are damp and without much ventilation, so that may have to be addressed both for electical safety as well as corrosion of your tools and conditioning of your wood.

    Electricity in the basement needs to be safe, especially if you're going to be standing on concrete. Check your local electrical codes, but most likely you'll need GFI (ground-fault interupts) to be safe. Of course you'll want independant circuits for your shop and you should keep the lighting on a separate circuit. You don't want a breaker to trip while you're working on the saw and find yourself in the dark.

    As you mentioned, moving your sheet goods into the basement will be a problem; but how about getting your final projects out of the basement.

    Noise will be problem with anyone if you don't balance your time, so that may be challenge should the rest of the family find your woodworking less interesting than you do.

    Dust! You don't want to track it back upstairs and you don't want to worry about it getting to your furnace filter or worse: have your pilot light provide an ignition source should you get carried away with sawdust or fumes from your finishing.

    For me, I plan on setting up in both places. The garage will be the place for cutting those sheet goods and the basement will be for finish cutting and assembly and those quieter tasks. Final finishing will go back to the garage, during the summer months, anyway.

    In the winter, the garage is a heating problem for me and frankly it's a noise problem all year as I certainly don't want to freak-out the neighbors. So, I'll limit my heavy power tool use and try to keep as much as possible in the basement. But there I'll have to take steps to contain the dust and fumes as well as work out some kind of schedule with the LOML.

    I'm now in the process of putting a wood floor in the basement (Dri-Core panels). That will take care of a slight moisture problem in those rainy months and will also help the old legs and feet a bit. I have doors that will seal off any dust from invading the rest of the house, furnace, etc.; and, most importantly for me, I have a couple of basement windows for better ventilation. I also plan on insulating the ceiling to cut-down on the noise transfer.

    My garage area definitely needs a new electrical run. But once done, it will be ideal for cutting down the sheet goods and doing the final finishing where it's just nice to have fresh air (at least when it's warm air!).

    I hope this helps,



    • #3
      One drawback to the basement is you are limited on the finished size of the project. Moving it out when done will be part of your initial planning. That, and the toxicity/flammability of the wood dust and finishing materials would be the primary concerns if it were me.

      my $0.02

      Practicing at practical wood working