Laying out a new shop

Advice on dust collection, electric, and general layout from those who have built their own shops. March 16, 2001

We are planning to construct a 5,000-7,000 sq ft building. Can others who have done the same share ideas and concerns?

Forum Responses
Try to keep the main duct run in the middle and place the largest chip producer closest to the machine.

Take a look at The Business of Woodwork by Bill Norlin.

Obviously the floor will be concrete. You could run the main ducts under the floor. Think well ahead about equipment layout, including power requirements. It is much cheaper to run conduit through a slab rather than running it around or overhead.

Keep in mind that the work should always flow smoothly from station to station and out the door to achieve the best possible profit percentage.

We took the floor plan of our shop at 1/4 scale and then made paper 1/4 scale footprints of the machines we owned and planned to purchase. We included in the footprints the maximum stock size feeding into and out of the machines. This combined with looking at the processes and material flow gave us maximum use of the space available.

Build your shop with room to grow!

I put the electrical and dust collection ducts under the slab on my first new shop (8,000'). Soon we were adding on and the machines needed to be moved. I put off moving them and operated less efficiently than I should have for awhile. Had I known then how much more space would be added and how often machines would need to be moved I'd have run buss duct for power.

I just completed building my new shop with an underground vac system. I first took the PVC piping and prepped it with a 1/4 x 1/16" braided ground wire along with 2" HVAC metal tape. I put this through every length of pipe and all the fittings, making sure it came out and overlapped the outside. This allowed the connection of additional fittings to electrically mate, thus providing a continuous ground. The system was installed before the cement was poured, leaving all ports exposed above the surface. The ground is connected right at the inlet of the main vac system. This, in addition, does not allow any materials to hang up in the pipe due to the wire not running perfectly against the wall of the pipe. It's flat! It won't snag or rip.

We just reorganized and added more equipment to our 4000 sq ft shop. I spent several hours with Mac Draw (a simple program) laying out the shop. When we got down to moving machinery, we had to tweak the plan quite a bit. The book Business of Woodwork helped a lot. We set up work cells to have the best flow for our products.

I would not put any electric or dust under the floor. If I were starting from scratch, I would use the quick connect dust fittings. They cost a lot but if you ever have to move things, it will pay.

If you contemplate running the electrical in the slab, it is much cheaper, even if you run pipe bigger than is required. Not only can you run pipe to where ever, it can be used for future purposes. It also adds some strength to your concrete foundation.