Every home needs a room in which to build and fix stuff. Unfortunately, there rarely is one, so a lot of work happens in inconvenient places – like on the kitchen table! Many homeowners turn to the garage when they need a workshop. It’s out of the flow of family traffic and no one minds if you make noise there. But garages are typically crowded with all sorts of equipment, including mower tractors, bikes, kayaks — and maybe even a car or two! Besides, who feels comfortable with keeping saws and other power tools within reach of every neighborhood child who drops by for a play date?
A much better choice for the home workshop is the basement. It usually has everything you need, including plumbing, electrical service, and access for large items. Heating and cooling are not usually big concerns because temperature swings in basements are not dramatic. Below are some great pictures of a basement workshop created by Alan Lily.
What basements typically don’t have is a climate that’s friendly to tools. Excess humidity can quickly rust your prized set of chisels. Flooding can ruin your supplies. The lack of adequate lighting is a safety hazard. In addition, concrete slabs are not fun to stand on for long periods. And while it’s not critical, stained and ragged masonry walls are not particularly inspiring to the woodworker trying to replicate a grandfather clock or a pencil post bed.
All of the above can be quickly remedied with many of the same products used to convert a basement to a game room or an entertainment area. Basement Systems, Inc. offers a menu of products that will dry out your basement and keep it that way. Its interior perimeter drain and sump pump systems have a proven track record in hundreds of thousands basements across the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and the UK. Its Total Basement Finishing™ (TBF) division offers wall, floor, and ceiling products that not only look great but are waterproof (just in case the unthinkable happens). Impact-resistant wall panels are offered with insulation for basements that would otherwise be too chilly to work in. Or you can opt for bright white non-insulated panels that hide ungainly masonry walls and provide a vapor barrier at the same time. TBF’s basement tile- and plank-style basement flooring products easily snap in place and offer a vapor barrier and thermal break.
Click here to see a video view of the basement workshop.
Tim Snyder, former editor of American Woodworking and an avid woodworker himself, recommends some additional tips should you consider converting your basement to a workshop. “It’s wise,” says Snyder, “to wall off the workshop from the rest of the basement. Having a door to the workshop area solves several problems: it can be locked for security and safety, and it helps with dust control. He also recommends drop ceilings. “They do a pretty good job of dampening noise transfer to upstairs. In addition, they can accommodate fluorescent light fixtures over workstations,” says Snyder. Snyder says that you should also bring at least two new circuits to your shop. “Keep the lighting and the power tools on separate circuits,” he says. “If you trip a circuit while ripping a board, at least you won’t be left in the dark!” Snyder adds that a dust control system is a must. “In my own shop, I have a centrally located dust collector that I can easily attach to each of my dust-making tools.” Dust collectors can be wall- or floor-mounted and can be used to power a shop sweep accessory. He also recommends an air filter. Good ones, such as those from Grizzly Industrial, Inc., can draw 1400 CFM and filter to 1 micron.
Other basement workshop design tips
- Replace old corroded windows than no longer function. TBF offers sliding vinyl units that can be opened for ventilation.
- Keep access ways clear so you can move supplies in and finished projects out!
- Install cushioned workstation mats wherever you’ll be standing for long periods. They help fight fatigue.
- Install a high-capacity dehumidifier so any excess humidity is eliminated before it can tarnish your tool collection.
- Devote a separate cabinet to safety equipment so you always know right where it is. Store dust masks, respirators, safety glasses and goggles, and hearing protectors there. Emergency eye wash and a first aid kit are good ideas as well.
- Install a utility sink. It will save you from running upstairs every time you need water to wash a brush or rinse glue off your hands.
Having a basement workshop, especially one that is comfortable place to spend time, is a great asset to a home. Not only will it allow woodworkers to pursue their hobby, but it’s a great place to fix miscellaneous household items and to work on projects with your kids.
This is written by Joe Provey for Total Basement Finishing.