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Old 03-07-2008, 09:36 AM
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SVanderkolff SVanderkolff is offline
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Location: Mildmay, Ontario, Canada
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building a basement shop - suggestions please

We are going to be putting an addition on our house this coming summer and one of the bonuses to this is going to be a new shop for me. The shop will be in the basement, it will be 15 X 30 and will have all 4 wall and the floor in concrete. There will be no vents, air or heating to the rest of the house, one door to the outside and a metal outside style door that leads to the rest of the basement. Thats what I have figured so far. I was thinking of having the builders use plywood for the cieling so that I can install lights whereever I wanted. Is it worth while getting the walls drywalled? Might be worth it just so I can insulate behind the drywall. BTW we live in Ontario Canada so we need to deal with actual weather. we still have snow.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Stephen Vanderkolff
Please come on over and check out my website.
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:41 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Location: Wauconda, WA
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You need ventilation, as much as you can get. It doesn't take much heat to keep a shop warm enough to work in, mine is kept at 45 F all winter by a single electric wall heater (but your shop is about 50% bigger than mine). You'll probably want to hang tools and belts and stuff on the walls but a few peg boards and masonry screws could handle that. You'll need a bunch of electrical outlets and all the light you can get. The shop will get filthy, build it so that it is as easy as possible to clean. If there's any chance the concrete will sweat and create a mold problem having it exposed could be a benefit....


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Old 03-07-2008, 02:41 PM
Carey Quinn Carey Quinn is offline
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Location: Georgia (Texan by birth)
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I'm working off some info that I gathered a number of years ago so hopefully it's still good. If at all possible, waterproofed the outside of the walls before they are backfilled. That will help with moisture problems that can never be cured from inside.

Good ventilation will not only help with keeping the shop cleaner and more livable, it will also help cut down on mold and mildew problems. I would also consider a top notch dust collection system.

If I were doing a shop in a basement, I'd get junction boxes for all the lights I ever thought I'd want installed in the ceiling before the ceiling goes on. That would save having to try to wire it up later. Wiring between joists is a complete PITA.

As Ray said, you can never have too many outlets.

Just my thoughts and they are certainly worth what you paid for them.

Good luck and enjoy the new space.


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Old 03-07-2008, 03:23 PM
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SVanderkolff SVanderkolff is offline
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Location: Mildmay, Ontario, Canada
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Thanks for the input. I do have a Torit dust collection systemthat I will be installing. As fo the lighting, that was why I was thinking of the plywood ceiling, then I can wire up lights where ever I want.

Stephen Vanderkolff
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Old 03-07-2008, 05:32 PM
george tichbour george tichbour is offline
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Location: Mississauga, Ontario,Canada
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You might want to consider an outside entrance to the basement.....easier to move equipment in and out as opposed to through the house.


george tichbourne
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Old 03-07-2008, 05:49 PM
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Drac Drac is offline
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Something about basements amplifies sound. You might consider replacing the hollow doors with solid ones with weather stripping to help keep the dust out of the rest of the house.

Also several of the wood shop magazines I get recommend (if you can) placing the dust collection system in an enclosed cabnet just outside the shop to cut down on the noise.


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Old 03-07-2008, 07:39 PM
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AUBE AUBE is offline
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Location: Cebu, Philippines (or Michigan, USA)
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Buy the widest door to the outside you can find to make it easy to move machines in and out.

I wouldn't worry about insulation unless you plan on heating it a lot...say with a furnace. I've had a basement in each house I have lived in and each stayed cool but warm enough to work in without any insulation. If I got chilly I would do what Ray does and use a space heater. (I'm in Michigan... sometimes it gets fairly cold here too) Also if you ever suffer flooding concrete dries out fine, drywall damages. They make a certain kind of paint for painting cement in basements to help as a moisture barrier....but it only works on unpainted walls so you may want to either use this paint or hold off on painting altogether. Plus drywall/insulation, while not very flammable, is more flammable than concrete so it would pose a slightly higher risk.

Speaking of fire I would buy one or two of those automatic extinguishers that go off at a set temp that way in case you have some sparks smoldering that you don't notice it is added insurance against burning your house down. Inexpensive security...think I got mine for under $100.

If you use a lot of energy sucking machines you might want to have it wired with slightly thicker gage wires. Need it wired for 220volts for an oven, press, compressor, etc?
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:00 PM
Frank Niro Frank Niro is offline
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Location: Blind Bay B.C. Canada
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Steve, I believe you should have a serious look at electricl outlets and lighting before closing up the ceiling. My shop is about 13' X 24' I put in over fifty outlet , light boxes , and switch boxes. I have outlet boxes in the ceiling . I have four machines that go length wise in the center of the room. For lighting I recomend the "daylight" type flouresent tubes My lights go around the whole room and then down the center. There is about 2' beteen ends of the fixtures that hold the tubes.
You absolutely need an air exhast and intake system or the air will not only go stall but will loose ite oxygen content. I have an exhaust fan but also am able to open an intake vent if I don't use the window. I too use a 220volt construction type heater to heat with and as well installed an air conditioner just two years ago that I wish I had put in ten years ago.
In you can plan the layout of where your equipment will be placed you will have a way to figure on where the lights and plug ins should be.. Frank

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Old 03-07-2008, 10:17 PM
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Harry Mathews Harry Mathews is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: SE Georgia
Posts: 673
I would second what has been said about the dust collectors and ventilation. Do it right up front.

It is going to be a nice big shop and something you will want to think about is the equipment location. Charlie and I work in a fairly large shop and a comment from a friend really made us think about some of the shop layout issues we had not considered. Travel time between work bench/equipment. You get tired of having to get up and walk over to everything you need when you would like to be able to just reach it.

You will have an opportunity to segregate operations that are dirty from those that need to be clean.
I would seriously consider making a separate room at least for the grinders/dust makers with outside ventilation and weather striping on the door. Our grinding room has outside vents to suck air in and three exhaust fans blowing air out in addition to dust collectors. We did that early on in our shop and it makes a world of difference in the amount of dust in the rest of the working spaces. The shop is still dusty but nothing like it would be if the grinders were in the same room as the work benches.

Our leather working bench is in a separate room (storage room) also. If you have the space I would do this. It is that much more of a barrier to the dust which can be a pain with leather....

I would sit down with a diagram of the room and scale sized cutouts for the equipment and play around with it. Walk through making a knife from start to finish and the moves you will have to make. After you do this a few times you will have a better idea of how your shop should be laid out and where the lighting and outlets should be placed.

You have a chance to do what many of us have dreamed of which is lay out a new shop just like you want it. Good luck and I hope you will share with us a few pictures of the results when it is finished.

Harry Mathews
Twin Blades
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:27 PM
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ranger1 ranger1 is offline
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My whole shop is in a 20 x 20 concrete block building.peg board is great.Its my next add-on. with a shop the size of yours My thought would be a clean room.Small room to keep design and referance materials away from normal shop dirt and dust. An office of sorts.

Andy Sharpe
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:31 AM
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Gary Mulkey Gary Mulkey is offline
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Location: Branson, Mo
Posts: 1,129

Something that will save you time & grief in the future is make a floor plan with your electrical equipment placed within so you will know where to place the outlets both 110 & 220. This will help you with lighting as well. Areas like your bench, grinder & other machines can be lit separately this way. [I am using a shop that was designed for a wood shop with florescent lighting throughout and each time I do a show I will see scratches that weren't visible in my shop.]

I will echo the need for easy access for large machines. Stairs & large machines don't like each other. Having been a home builder most of my life would recommend a minimum of a 3"0" exterior door (with the ability to back a car/truck close). A concrete walkway coming out from the door helps.

When the contractor pours the floor have them trowel it slick. This will help with clean-up. If you have any especially heavy machines you should have them thicken that area to at least 6" (four inches is typical). If they pour the floor prior to the walls make sure that they put a moisture barrier where the walls will be poured. They should pour the walls first. If so a exterior moisture seal and drain tile will prevent problems.

It's not my idea to add expense to the house but these ideas should help prevent future expenses.

More than any other tip I would try to design the shop to where it is most comfortable for you. You will probably be spending a lot of time there so why not make it to fit your own personal needs/wants.

Good luck & enjoy.

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Old 03-10-2008, 11:53 AM
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SVanderkolff SVanderkolff is offline
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Location: Mildmay, Ontario, Canada
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Thanks everybody for your suggestions. It sounds like I am going to need to sit down and draw out where my machines are going to be in order to figure the power and lighting. I had figured on the plywood cieling that way I can run all my lighting on the inside surface of the cieling and add lighting easily if I need to. I am still not sure if I should drywall the walls or just leave them concrete. I am leaning towards leaving them concrete and just adding studs if I need to for certain areas. There will be a man door to the outside, unfortunately it will be in a pit, just because of the way the land is shaped. But I am going to have it big enough to move some equipment. I plan on moving some of the bigger equipment in during consruction before they get next floor on.
I figure the torit dust cleaner and the compressor can go in the fruit cellar with piping in to the main shop. I will need to figure out a clean area. I do have a separate office for that admin stuff but an area in the shop that can be kept relatively clean would be nice too.

As I said, thanks again for all the help.

Stephen Vanderkolff
Please come on over and check out my website.
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:35 AM
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Teknition Teknition is offline
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Location: Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 185
My suggestion while building your new shop is to consider the future. Machines or tools you may not have now but may aquire later. When I built my shop, the only 220 volt tools I had were a compressor and a welder. No problem sharing a single 220 volt outlet between the 2.

Since then I now have 2 welders, a plasma cutter, a belt grinder, a compressor, a mill, and a heat treating oven all sharing that single 220 volt outlet. What a P.I.T.A it is to constantly have to change plugs when I want to use a machine. I'm planning on fixing that problem this summer.

One other thought you may want to consider is plumbing. A sink with running water and a drain sure come in handy in the shop.
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