Building a Shop

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by pnchad, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    I want to turn my 20' x 20' garage into a shop and don't know a thing about it.
    I am looking for a wish list from those who know. If they had to start from scratch with a decent tool budget of say $6000.
    Recommendations for tools (router, bandsaw, planer, drill press, duct collector system, belt/drum sander, etc.) would be greatly appreciated.
    Also, cabinet dimensions and layout would be excellent, too.
    I know individual tools have been covered but I'm really looking for minimum needs to build basses.
    Thanks for any help or direction. :eyebrow:
  2. Fasoldt Basses

    Fasoldt Basses

    Mar 22, 2005
    Stevens Point, WI
    Karl Thompson, Builder (Formerly Fat Karl)
    I would think about making cabinets on wheels to mount your power tools on, so you can roll them out when you want to use them. That way you'll have plenty of space to work all of your tools. And make sure to collect plenty of ducts.;)
  3. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    I suppose you mean dust and ventilation?
  4. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    you really dont need all of that to build basses.

    the very basic tools will do the job. if i were you, i would save up those 6k and buy some cool wood to work with instead.

    as for the basic tools: Drill Press and may be Router, band saw, spindle sanding machine.

    next step would be a spindle moulding machine (for me at least) but those are extremely dangerous to work with.
  5. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Wow, that's double the space and well over ten times the budget I have!!

    Anyway: first you need to design your workspace, i.e. the room for hand tool work. A good workbench is crucial, and you may want another bench for assembly and setup. Perhaps you want a pillar vise of some sort for carving.

    Second, IMO, would be a drill press.
    Third, I will make a "universal table", where I can attach the router (fro a table router), the jig saw (since I have no room for a bandsaw), a circular saw (instead of a dedicated table saw) or the hand drill (which may be useful as a drum sander).
    I don't like planers, they tend to chip the wood too much. I think I'll build a "thickness sander drum" instead. Something like Hambones, but a lot more woody...
    And all that in half your space. :)

    Peek around at,,, and all related links, and you will find a huge bunch of ideas and other input.
  6. if i only had the time, money, and place to do something like this,
    consider yourself lucky that youve got the means and motives to do this for yourself man, good deal :)
  7. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    I am a rookie except for building 'parts' basses with minor customization so every comment helps.
    Isn't a planer essential for putting together body blanks and laminate necks??

    I'm stuck in south Florida, (which I now hate b/c of overcrowding), for the next few years. I have been toying with moving to Central America and opening a shop since there are tons of great wood and very skilled woodworkers (funriture makers).

    So, the plan is to have a place to get lost for a few hours a day and develop some designs I have floating in my brain and learn the craft along the way.

    I have unending GAS (3 basses on order right now) - gotta stop!

    I see postings of mixed opinions about Grizzly tools but they seem to have a reasonably priced line??? :D
  8. Some general tips having done this myself and for others...

    - When wiring, install at least 1 additional outlet box for every 2 that exist already. Also consider installing some that hang from the ceiling - perhaps utilizing cord reels to pull them up out of the way. Forget about using 2 plug boxes and go for the 4 gangers - you'll use'em. Also update your fuse box to split your lighting and tool circuits from each other. Also isolate your big induction motors on seperate breakers if you can. It will help when they start up.

    - Dust collection - If possible where you live, you can exhaust your dust duct to the outside rather than into a bag inside the building. I do this with my frame shop and exhaust the dust under the building between the floor joists. No muss, no fuss. You could exhaust it out of the wall with a vent hood to keep out moisture. If you can't hook up a particular machine or it's not in the budget, you can use dedicated shopvacs under or between machines to do your dust collection to get started. It works but will require more dumping of the bins to keep them working up to par. I keep one under my table saw.

    - Tools in general - When considering purchases, I make sure that there isn't a tool in the shop that can't perform at least 2 different tasks. It's better if they can do more. This isn't limited to jobs that the tool is specifically designed for but jobs that the tool can be modified for or utilize attachments for. For instance, using the drill press as a lathe and drum sander or the table saw as a disc sander and carving machine.

    - Lighting - Along with the ambient lighting of your choice, you should consider using task lighting at each of your work stations. A cheap but flexible way out is to use the inexpensive drafting lamps stuck into your bench or on brackets installed on the wall. They can be swung over different spots like adjacent tools and can get very close to your work. You can also use different lamps for different things.

    - Power tools - If you have the budget, get the best tools you can possibly afford starting with a GOOD table saw. This will be a basis for just about everything else you do. A good table saw - cast iron top, 2hp+, large table, accurate fence, heavy base, etc - will last a lifetime and your parts will be accurate from the start. That's a big part of getting good results when you're learning.

    - Flooring - If you've got a concrete floor, you should really consider putting down an inexpensive shock flooring. It will save your knees and back on those long nights on your feet. It won't cost much - like $5 a square yard and you'll be glad you did.

    I'm sure there's more and this thread will get longer...
  9. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    I have seen your many posts. You are surely the most creative finder of solutions I have read. Great stuff ALL!
    I hope this thread grows. Free education. :D
  10. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    I'll add that you also obtain quality hand tools, and learn how to use them. I'd almost recommend this as a prerequisite before purchasing expensive power tools ... if you know how to do it by hand, you'll know what you need in a power tool when you're ready.

    The essentials in my shop, and in no specific order (and I know I'll miss something in this list):

    floor standing vise with adjustable pitch and height
    planer (for roughing wood blanks)
    horizontal drum sander (for making the final minute thickness adjustments and re-sanding glued bookmatch pieces)
    drill press (I bought a used ShopSmith and gained a horizontal boring machine in one position)
    orbital sander
    1-3/4+ HP plunge router (I've used both a DeWalt and Porter Cable with satisfaction, but prefer the PC)
    dut collection system
    high quality spokeshave (and any jigs you need to keep it incredibly sharp and adjusted properly)
    Forstner bits in most every size from 3/16" to 3/4"
    carbide tipped router bits (truss rod, carbon fiber rods, body cavities, edge round over, pattern bits for exhuming bodies utilizing templates, extra shank bearings)
    extra long 3/16" drill bit for connecting p/u cavities to the control cavity
    surforms (for roughing tummy cuts and neck profiles)
    storage racks (for your growing accumulation of wood, so that it can acclimate for some time prior to being worked)

    I know there's more to add ...

    All the best,

  11. damn, im going to have to put in my official resignation from this thread, the more i read it, the more i want to build my own shop.......and i do not have the money for that right now (contemplates bank loans :bag: :rolleyes: :p )
  12. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    Hambone's points are extremely insightful. The kinda stuff you don't think about until you think you're ready to work but can't. :rolleyes:

    Electrical layout, quad receptacles, isolated motor breakers - excellent.

    Lighting - drafting lamps yes - maybe clothes hanger track for a movable hanging shop lamp?

    Flooring - I know concrete will tear up your legs but even @ only $5/sq. ft. that's $2000 of the budget. Do you think I could get away with rubber pads in strategic areas in front of benches, tools and paths of traffic??? They could be drug outside and hosed off at least.

    Benches - what is the best working height? Does anyone make a kit or plans for a suitable design? I should have 2 benches, right. One for close work and one for leaving work in progress? I have never fretted an instrument. It scares me the most of any process.

    Tool wise I take Hambone at his word so let's start with a good table saw. Any suggestions?

    I also have to air condition the garage - this IS Florida after all.

    thanks again gang!!!! :cool:
  13. I would insulate and seal the garage, put in a/c and heat (ive lived in central florida (tampa) for 19 years, it does tend to get pretty chilly in our "winter" nights.

    as far as the floor, i would do the paint on concrete floor sealer and then put mats or rugs down in high traffic areas

    table saw, i'd say craftsman, they've never done me wrong, and they tend to stand by their products

    as far as benches go, you probably want something you personally can work at without fully extending your arms, maybe right above your hips, the bottom of your belly, you can always get closer to it by sitting down to work, but you dont want it to be so low that you bend over or even fully extend your arms to work, it causes fatigue and other problems im sure, plus its just uncomfortable

    where in FL are you anyway?
  14. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    I'm in Deerfield Beach just north of Fort Lauderdale.
    Yea painted floor with matts. I don't know if insulation is really necessary. I will be cutting a hole in the concrete block wall for a AC. If I get a powerful enough unit and only run it when I'm in there it should be good. Any materials that are delicate can be brought into the house for extended periods.
    I have finished a garage down here before but that was for a studio (recording & animation) where we worked and entertained clients. This shop can be a lot rougher.
  15. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    O ... O ... O ... don't forget to plumb in a urinal! Every shop needs to have a urinal in a visable, yet private location :D

    :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:

    All the best,

  16. the only reason i would insulate and seal is 1.) your comfort and 2.) the woods used in making instruments are tempermental, if you work on a piece in a cold shop, then take it into a warm house, the wood starts to do funky things. and when finishing, it you go from hot to cold, or cold to hot, you have about a 90% chance of getting pinholes in the finish from cooling or warming air escaping from the wood.........thats just what i was goin after on the whole sealed bit
  17. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    Thanks for the great tool list and the advice. Where did you get your spokeshave?

    And, yes the humidity is crazy down here so insulation would be nice but I've got to draw SOME lines. :eek:
  18. shameandspite


    Oct 12, 2005
    Definately!, I had a full shower and toilet in my shop, best move I ever made. As well as a microwave and a freezer. If only I'd had a mini-fridge and a futon(spelling?) I would have never left it.

    Warning: !!Construction major overly full of himself ahead!!

    As for insulation, 40% of heat is lost in the first five inches off the floor, and thats in an "inhabitable" room with lots of windows. In a stone garage, if its sealed well enough, I've seen cases where the room was heated with nothing more than lightbulbs (In kansas cold nonetheless).

    Edit: If you have any left over, you might look into getting a lathe, or at least a drill press that you can convert. It might not help you with building guitars, but there's nothing like the thrill of setting a green blank on some centers and rough turning it. Absolutely satisfying.
  19. maybe insulation wouldnt be needed, but what about sealing the garage door(s) and so on......
  20. A viable source for real quality that can be counted on without much research is to purchase well maintained vintage hand tools. The attraction is that you'll get much higher quality for the dollar than you can purchase in a modern tool. I'm NOT saying that modern tools are inferior - I'm saying that by the time you've found say a modern high quality 12" jack plane, you'll pay 3 times as much as the same quality version that was made 40 or 50 years ago before the influx of imports and the inherent drop in quality the competition chose as the route to regain their share of the market.