Workshop Floorplan

Hello everyone, I am about to acquire a new property and it will include a 24'x40' shop. It's 12' tall with 2 roll up doors, so I will have plenty of room for an incredible workspace. I currently am working out of a 8.5'x 8.5' room, so I will be increasing my area substantially. I have grown to love my small space because I have had to become innovative to fit it all in but with this new shop I am thinking I need to start designing it on paper that way I will save money and time and make best use of the place. The problem I am having is I have never seen a proper studio/workshop and so I don't know the appropriate flow and design of an efficient yet inspiring workspace. If anyone in the community could help with advise and or direction I would be very grateful. 
T. Scott Robinson


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    Hi Scott,

    Shop layout and design is something I've spent a lot of time researching and always love learning more about.  I actually keep a Pinterest board dedicated to tool and shop stuff (even though I'm not a fan of their outdated mess of a site)

    It's a big subject, so here is a semi-random list of first thoughts.

    There are a lot of different schools of thought on shop design and organization, and a lot of it really comes down to you and your preferences.

    The first big question is what types of projects will you be working on?  You'll want to plan your shop around your most commonly used tools and most commonly performed tasks.

    I'm a big fan of modular shops where everything is on lockable casters so you can move things around on a project-by-project basis.

    I would also suggest standardizing your work surface height on everything, so your benches, table saw, etc are all at the same height, which can make working on larger pieces easier.  Make sure things are a good height based on your own height for a good ergonomic setup.

    My next big priority is access to power and air.  I love shops where each section has its own drop-down air source or wall access point so you can quickly set up pneumatic tools.  The same goes for power.

    When running air/power you can also think about running dust extraction to work stations or sections of the shop as well.  A dust extractor is a big bonus in any shop.

    Having a few large rolling work tables is also ideal.  Those are often kept at the center of the shop and sometimes surround a table saw.

    Good clean/level floors are also nice.  I'm a big fan of epoxy floors for easy cleanup.  And you can have anti-fatigue pads near standing workstations.

    Then you can start thinking about tool and resource storage for things like hardware, wood, metal, plastics, paints, adhesives, etc. 

    In terms of how you section off a shop, sometimes that is more of a luxury for larger shops that can dedicate floor space to unique tasks.  This usually includes an area for each of the following:  Sculpting, mold making & casting, painting (with spray booth), electronics (soldering, wiring, etc), metalwork/welding, woodworking & fabrication, and then often cleaner spaces for working with fabrics/leather/foam, rapid prototyping (laser cutters, 3d printers, vinyl plotters, printers, etc), and makeup.

    Smaller personal shops will usually have a small area for metalwork & welding, a general shop layout setup for common fabrication and woodwork, an area for painting (ideally with a small spray booth), and a few multipurpose workbenches for things like electronics, finish work, small fabrication, etc. and maybe a clean area for rapid prototyping and other similar hardware.

    Safety stuff:
    Having a flammable liquids cabinet is also ideal, and often required. 
    I also recommend having multiple fire extinguishers.  Display them near any possible fire source and make sure they are always easily accessible. 
    Wall-mounted first aid kits are also great, keep them stocked and make sure things don't expire on you.
    With the first aid kit, I also suggest having saline eyewash bottles.  They are amazing when you can't setup a full eyewash station.
    Then all the usual PPE.  I like to keep glasses, masks, gloves, and ear protection next to each station just so there's no excuse not to wear them.

    In terms of planning your shop layout, working with paper or notecards is one great way, just try and keep things to scale.  I personally like to set up a 3D CAD model of the shop. For architectural stuff, I use Sketchup since they have an online resource library that has a lot of common items/furniture/tools to scale.  Then any time I need to get a new tool or want to reorganize the shop I just test it in CAD first, before things get expensive. 

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    Thanks for the reply Chris, I really did enjoy reading through this. I am a sculptor at my roots but making sculptures come to life requires many different disciplines, so I have had to teach myself many things from molding, painting, etc. and in learning those skills it would only led me down the rabbit hole even further in wanting to know more. In turn that only translates to another trip to Harbor Freight or Lowes to get more "toys" (It's Truly a vicious cycle). I'm a little concerned that I will just end up a wall of cabinets and tools. 

    I would have to say that my largest requirement is a space that inspires me to create when I step through the door. I'm aware that is a vague and ambiguous statement that only I can resolve but I do want it to have a flow or perhaps a certain order to it. I personally do better in structure and order so perhaps having a dedicated space for some of these disciplines would make sense. My interest was peaked when you spoke of centering the space around what I do most, I would say sculpting would be my focus so the tables on casters is an excellent thought in that I could make room when needed. Due to working with wood and metal I will have to make a clean area free from dust for the electronics and 3D printer. Many things to consider for sure. 

    I will check out your page and start working with CAD so I can start the process like you said before things get expensive.
    Thanks for the help and if there is anything more please feel free to let me know. Have a great night.
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