Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

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Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by joshbloom » Fri Mar 05, 2021 1:15 pm

Hello All!

I'm a brand new member a long time precision enthusiast with a design and engineering background. Most of my work has been digital up till now modeling and sketching, with a lot of wood working, home repair, furniture making and light welding mixed in. I finally have the space, and a little bit of time and money so I'm converting a basement storage room into a small machine shop.

The size of the room is about 8x13 and theres a small window on the 13' wall (offset to the left). I've already picked up a Bolton 10x22 lathe and MAX MINIMILL 6x26 as my main machines and figure I'll probably have a bench grinder and a shop vac in there as well.

About 1/2 of the walls have drywall up everything painted a baby blue the rest was ripped out while remediating a roof leak, leaving bare studs.
The ceiling is completely drywall (also baby blue) with a single crappy light bulb fixture in the middle.
There's an uneven raw concrete floor (pretty dusty) that has a shimmed frame of 1x3's to level, with particle board covering most of it, 1/4 of the particle board was ruined and removed from the leak. The rest of it is not very strong either so my initial plan was to remove all the flooring and pour some self leveling compound, but would love to hear thoughts.

So my question to the group is what would you all recommend I do to set up this room for my machines, storage, work surfaces, flooring, lighting, power etc. I definitely want to take care of as much infrastructure work as I can before moving any tools in. I'm a solid maker with an equipped on site shop so I can make cabinets and benches etc, but also know that doesn't really save any time or money. Same for running power, lights, outlets, though those ones do save money.

Oh both machines are 120 single phase and there's a single outlet already in the room (sharing power with the living room upstairs from it)

Thanks for your suggestions and thoughts!

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by Harold_V » Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:00 pm

The advantage of building your own cabinets would be that they would be designed to fit your needs. I encourage that idea.
The floor should be as level and rigid as possible. I like the idea of pouring a self leveling compound, assuming it will set hard and adhere to the existing substrate.

You can't have too much power at your disposal. What you have today in the way of machinery may not be what you have tomorrow. I'd highly recommend you run a couple circuits to the room, assuming you have the capacity in the panel to do so. I'd also consider running some 240 while you're at it. A sub-panel for the room might be a good idea.

Try to not share receptacle circuits with lighting circuits. Make sure the circuits you create are such that if you operate more than one machine at a time, that they do not share the same circuit. That would be especially true if there are full hp motors involved. Fractional hp motors would be more forgiving.

Can't have too much light, either. Especially as you age. I am not up to speed on currently available lighting, but LED's seem to be leading the pack.

Consider having the ability to vent your vacuum cleaner out of doors. It sucks heat from the structure, but it also discharges fine particles of dust that may get recirculated. My vacuum uses a cyclonic separator and operates without a filter. It never loses performance, unlike a filtered vacuum cleaner.

I like fully covered walls, even if they must be painted drywall. If you replace any, might be a good idea to consider fire code board. Painted surfaces are much easier to keep clean, and generally contribute to light dispersion. I would NOT favor having any exposed wooden surfaces, as they absorb oil and become dark with age. Very difficult to clean, too.

I don't know that any of this is helpful.

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by SteveM » Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:32 pm

Running a heavy power cable over and having the shop have it's own panel is the way to go.

Get a box that lets you lock it; that way you can turn off the circuits for machines, lock the box and know that things are safe.

Put your grinders / buffers all in one corner with a vent fan. Maybe have a curtain you can close off to keep the particles down. Vaccum system might be a good idea. You want to be sure none of that ends up on your machines. I went to an auction where they had two very late model South Bend heavy 10 lathes, They were the most worn out lathes I had ever seen. You could measure the ridge on the ways with a ruler. When I noticed that there was a bench grinder next to every machine, I understood why.

If you can put tools on rolling cabinets that can fit under workbenches, that can save some space. Even if you can't get them under the bench, just being able to roll a bunch over to a wall and pull then out when you need them will give you space.

I have a HF bandsaw that is on legs. I'm going to build a cabinet for it so I can store stuff in the cabinet and roll the whole thing out of the way.


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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by joshbloom » Fri Mar 05, 2021 7:00 pm

Great thoughts so far guys thank you!

I hadn't even thought about grinders near the mill/lathe, but will definitely look to section them away somehow. Same with the subpanel run and lock out. Very good idea as none of these machines have keyed switches.


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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by curtis cutter » Fri Mar 05, 2021 10:42 pm

Do you have any ability to add a small room outside for an air compressor? Also, since you are connected to the house, you may want to consider a small exhaust fan to keep any oil smells out of the house.
Just let go of it, it will eventually unplug itself.

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by rmac » Fri Mar 05, 2021 11:14 pm

Think drawers instead of shelves for most of your storage.

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by Atkinson_Railroad » Sat Mar 06, 2021 5:15 am

Also in the phase of planning out a modest shop layout. Having worked in many, having arranged several
in a variety of settings from in garages, studio apartment bedrooms and basements, there ultimately is no "perfect" layout.

Industry typically keeps the dirty end of things at one end... and the finished "clean" product at another.

Placement of machines that complement each other is helpful to save steps in walking.

I've been getting some new ideas from looking at how shops were planned for Industrial Arts programs.
Some info is considered dated, and other ideas are timeless. ... 1up&seq=15 ... 1up&seq=13

It helps to look around how other's have set up their shops.
A recent post in the Live Steam board posted a link to Richard Carlstedt's shop which I found useful ideas to consider.

With a multitude of options to consider, one really has to choose what's best for what your own objectives will be within your shop.

Another useful tool is to observe how raw materials are stored in retail settings the next time you're at a hardware or big-box store etc.

You are ahead of the game already by thinking about how you want to layout your shop. Which is better than reflecting
back a few months later with... Why did I do that... when I should have done this?

I decided to wire my walls for additional sconce light receptacles which will provide
augmented lighting or a random place to plug in a temporarily needed fan in a window for example.

An 8 X 13 shop layout is a small area... so any place you plan on swinging a hammer or making a saw cut... leave plenty of room for
your elbows ; )


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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by earlgo » Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:23 am

Long ago when I was sharpening threading machine dies while "between Jobs" I built this little enclosure outside the garage to hold the vacuum cleaner so it would exhaust outside and keep the noise down. Maybe you can't do this exact thing but something similar, if you are in a basement.
Vacuum bldg.jpg
Now it is lawn mower gas storage.
Before you do anything, you must do something else first. - Washington's principle.

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by joshbloom » Sun Mar 07, 2021 12:45 am

Earlgo, Curtis, that is a great idea! The room is nearly ground level, so I could add something like that pretty easily.

I know most shops I've seen have an air-compressor for blowing away swarf etc, but I'm wondering if I having a vacuum at each station would suffice? Do you all use the compressor for much else? I've seen some small handheld battery blowers that might work as well. Anyone tried something like that?

Atkinson_Railroad great links I'm going to have fun digging through those.

For walls I'm thinking of going with a 1/2 dryway and then adding a white plastic panel to make it bright and easy to clean.

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by NP317 » Sun Mar 07, 2021 1:05 am

When I had my "tiny" 12 FT X 12 FT shop, I never used compressed air, only vacuums, brushes and brooms for cleanup.
One shot of compressed air and your small shop will become an indoor dirt cloud.
Even in my new large shop, I don't clean up with compressed air, for the same reasons.
Also metal chips inside machine motions is verboten.

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by Glenn Brooks » Sun Mar 07, 2021 1:30 am

Sounds like you’ll need a decent drill press and a small horizontal bandsaw. Along with a set of drills, reamers, taps and dies. I’d skip the shop vac. I suspect you’ll hardly ever use it. If you must have one, store it somewhere else, and use the room for tooling.

Also maybe move the grinder to the garage or out doors. You’ll want to keep swarf, grinding dust and crud out of the air and particularly off your machines. I sometimes cover my lathes and mills with old towels if I have some welding or grinding to do. Keeps the ways and machined surfaces clean(er). Also a 4” hand grinder with a flap disk can do a nice job of touching up edges on raw cut stock, without the need for a bench mounted grinder.

And check out a thread on “Places to visit” section on Chaski, about Gabe Brooks’ McCormic Railway Park, Scottsdale. He did a tremendous job in a 12 x 12 space. Very well laid out, everything one would need.

Most of all, start making stuff and enjoy your shop! You’ll find what you need and don’t need by making things.

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Re: Setting up a basement workshop (ideas wanted)

Post by liveaboard » Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:19 am

Bandsaw in a shop that size?
There will be no room left to stand.
A small rigid cold cut saw maybe.

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