Turning a Parking Place into a Great Shop Space
Expansion and a thoughtful layout make an excellent professional workshop from a two-car garage
When my wife and I bought our house 15 years ago, I set up my first real shop in the freestanding two-car garage. Built in the 1940s, the garage was 18 ft. by 20 ft. with a concrete slab and wood siding. I entered and exited through the overhead garage doors, attempted to heat the space with electric radiators, and worked with low ceilings, no insulation, a lot of airborne dust, and very little natural light. I loved it. At least for a while. As I acquired more tools and machines, the space quickly became crowded. In the mean time, I had quit my job and begun making furniture full time. When I took that step, I realized I needed to retrofit the shop completely. I took the opportunity not just to enlarge the space but to revamp the layout using all that I’d learned about the way I work. (Watch a video tour of Gochnour’s completed shop.)
Several core decisions have made my shop a pleasant and efficient place to work. Most important, I divided the shop’s layout according to the three main activities of my work–machine work, bench work, and finishing. Then, within those three areas, I arranged the machines and tools to reflect the flow of work while keeping the layout as fluid as possible so that it could be changed to accommodate different projects. To store hand tools, hardware, and accessories for various machines, I built a number of smaller cabinets rather than several large ones. This enabled me to place tools and equipment right where they are most often used. I also put a lot of effort into aesthetic improvements. For instance, I took the time to build handsome cabinets for tool storage instead of whacking them together from scrap.
Most of the ideas…