Building a Complete DIY Workshop




Introduction: Building a Complete DIY Workshop

About: I'm a Special Education Teacher with 7 kids. I use donated and salvaged tech to teach STEM with my students and kids. Someday I'll get all of my projects posted up. For now, it's nonstop DIY, teaching and do...

Build your own workshop from the ground up!

Most of my photos have detailed notes, so check them out.
This is the Instructable for my Workshop Video Tour 2013.

This Shop was constructed for under $2000
Materials for construction(roughly):

100 2x4x8'
4     2x4x12'  
8     2x6x10'
2     2x6x12'
35  4x8 sheets of OSB
20  1x4  trim
10  1x6  trim
1    roll of roof felt
3 sheets of plexiglass (windows)
Clear plastic roll   (vapor barrier)

Deck  ~$65
4 old pallets and blocks for base
20 contractors grade deck boards

*Before you start do a quick check of your local building codes and have your utilities mark all of their lines.
*Before wiring for electricity, check your local codes.  You may need to have your shed inspected and wired by a licensed electrician.

Step 1: Building the Base and Putting Up the Walls.

I spent a full week grading, compacting the soil and leveling each block before laying the floor joist.  The last thing you want is to finish your new workshop and have a corner start sinking into the ground.  My floor inside my shop is perfectly level still with a 6 foot level.  You can see that I had a drop of about 12 inches on the low side.  During heavy rainstorms, water can flow like a stream next to the fence.  I wanted to make sure my workshop was high enough off the ground to avoid any flooding issues.

I framed and sheathed each wall individually and then stood them up with the help of long 2x4 braces.  My neighbor let me borrow his framing nailer, which made things go much faster.  I added a second cap of 2x4 on the top to make the walls a little more rigid.  I then laminated 4 2x4's to construct a ridgeboard.  I nailed in some temporary 2x4 supports and had a friend help lift it into final position.  Once all of the rafters are cut and nailed into place, the supports were removed.

Step 2: Rafters and Roofwork

You can see in this step how I notched each rafter to fit more securely to the walls.  I also used a metal hurricane strap to secure each rafter to the wall.  Even though this was not required by code, I felt my tools were far to valuable to be left to chance over such an inexpensive solution.  The walls are a simple board and batten system.  The 1x3 trim covers the joints of the 4x8 OSB.  They make much more high quality sheets goods to use as siding.  However, the cheapest I found was $35 a sheet and the OSB was about $5 a sheet.  I sealed the OSB and painted it with exterior paint.  If I run into problems in the future, I can just add a second layer of more durable material or simply have siding installed.  It has held up very well over the past couple years and I see no need to spend more money on it now.

Step 3: Doors, Wood Storage and My Workbench.

Once I had the walls completely filled in and trimmed out, I built my doors.  I clamped them in place each day until after I painted.  Then I installed the hinges and hardware.  I decided to change my original plan of building a hinged 4 foot door.  I was worried that the weight of it would cause it to sag over time.  I had also decided at this point to install a small unused AC in the back wall.  I thought that by keeping one of the doors closed, I could keep more cold air in during the hot summers.

This is where I started thinking about how I was going to store all of my lumber.  I had planned on building a wall rack, similar to what I had used in my single car garage.  But I hated using up an entire wall for lumber storage.  I also knew from experience that I would easily lay stuff against it and soon be digging lumber and junk out of my way.  I decided to use the space under my workbench to store the long boards and I realized that by pulling my bench out from the wall I could slide sheet goods behind it.  This created a problem:  How do I get it out.  The Shop isn't long enough to pull out 8 foot boards from inside and I would probably have to move things around to get to it anyway.  So my plan for this came at kind of a sudden epiphany moment, when I decided to cut access doors in the front and build my storage into my workbench area.  This has been the single best idea that has come out of my shop.  I can't express enough how easy it is for me to get straight to a board i need with no hassles.  I just remove the doors and pull out what I need.  I can store a surprising amount of lumber in this area.  I do have a secondary area for some cutoff sheet goods and a scrap bin next to my table saw in the garage.  But this area stores most of my lumber.

Step 4: Trimmed Out, Primed and Painted.

These pictures show the final look with everything primed and painted.  After I finished this step I moved on to building the attached structures on the back.

Step 5:

I framed in a 4x8 Garden Shed on the back.  I didn't want it so deep that stuff would get buried in it.  I need to take an updated picture of the back.  These pics were from early on and I have changed some things in the organization.  I used similar framing techniques and built a lean to roof attached with metal hangers.  I chose to use clear corrugated roofing to allow natural light into this shed.  You can see the 2 shopvacs that were originally part of my simple vacuum system.  I have removed them and found that I get better airflow using an electric leaf blower with the vacuum attachment hooked up to my system.  There is a large metal trashcan with a dust collection separator to collect the larger pieces of saw dust and chips.  My air compressor is on a shelf on the right now and I ran a hose through the wall and to a 25 foot reel attached to the ceiling.  I wired separate switched for both on the inside of my shop.  These systems work extremely well for a small shop.  The wall provides some insulation from the overwhelming noise they would otherwise create inside the shop.

I later added two small 2x4 closets on the left and right sides of the Garden Shed.  I use one to store camping and fishing gear, the other I will soon re purpose to use for my kids' sports gear.  I preferred the idea of multiple smaller sheds/ closets because I didn't want to bury everything in one big shed.

Step 6: Video Tour: Construction and Design

Step 7: Video Tour 2013 (Inside the Shop)

Step 8: Final Notes

This project may look a little overwhelming and I do consider myself pretty handy.  However, I think just about anyone could complete this project.  This was my first real experience building a solid floor, framing walls and sheathing/ shingling a roof.  I spent a lot of time researching and educating myself on proper construction techniques.  I have not come across any glaring mistakes along the way, but I welcome comments about the construction from more experienced builders.

I spent so much time building organizers and filling in just about every square inch on the inside of my shop that I feel it will be better to show some of those in separate Instructables.  I made a couple of video tours to try to highlight some of the different aspects of my workshop.  I hope you enjoy them and I will work on making my future videos more stable.

What I like best about my shop:
   *My wood storage built into my workbench
   *All the painstaking time I spent organizing everything has really paid off.  Small shops need to be HIGHLY organized with this many tools.
   *My tools are stored safely and securely from my 6 adventurous kids.
   *All of my power tools along the miter station wall are wired separately to a safety switch which makes my shop much more kid-friendly.

Some things I would like to have done differently:
   *It gets very hot in the shop during the summer and that little AC can only do so much.  If I had more money in my budget I would have insulated the walls and ceiling to make it more comfortable during the hot summer days.
   *Of course I wish it was larger, but I think just about every single workshop owner would tell you the same.

I hope you enjoy this Instructable.  Your comments and questions are welcome.  Please lt me know if you think I left out details that would be important in the construction part of this Workshop.  I hope you look forward to the upcoming Instuctables on the organization of my Workshop.

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    57 Discussions

    Thanks, it's still my favorite part of the whole build. I never have to dig my way through stacks of lumber or leaning plywood, or best of all, piles of junk leaning against my stack of wood! I just pull off the hatches and grab what I need. It also makes it easy to take a quick inventory before i go shopping or start a project.

    I like this! :D I'd also put hatches up in the "attic" area for longer term storage items. For short boards and stuff you can suspend a bunch of those cardboard sonotubes for fencing using metal strapping. then just stash all your dowels and goodies in there :)

    I remembered seeing this instructable some time ago and your idea for the timber and sheet storage is genius. I am now in the midst of building my own workshop and happily I stumbled across your Instrucatble again so I will be using your storage idea. How does the leaf blower work out for the vaccuum system?

    1 reply

    So far it has worked out. It's probably not ideal. I imagine a system would work much better, but it gets the job done until then. I ended up setting up in my small 1 car garage as well now. I used two shopvacs to build a system in there. I have a few new Instructables to put together and a new shop tour to do as well. Thanks for the comment! FYI: The wood storage has passed the time test. I have not had to change a thing about it. I plan on adding a shelf above the sheet goods to store thin moldings and cut-offs. I still find it incredibly easy to access my wood quickly with that setup. I have to move stuff around in the garage to get to my wall mounted wood storage, so it's more of a pain.

    Nice video. However you should take instructions from stodoys website if you want to learn how to make it easily.

    I love it! Such a shame i am in Europe. I cant make sense of the imperial system. and when i convert the units i get things like 3.256 meters etc... :( Keeping my eye out for a metric one.

    I have a question, you mention what a problem it would be if the cinder blocks were to sink yet you have installed them with the least amount of footprint on the ground. Was there a reason for this? I would have installed them with the flat side on the ground, and I realize they would not hold as much load as the way you have them but considering the number you have used, the spacing, and the size of the shed, load should not be a problem. Just wondering.


    1 year ago

    A warning out of concern and love for my fellow 'ablers. A framing nailer is a VERY dangerous tool. Not something to loan out willy-nilly to just anybody. For a small project like this it's just not going to save a lot of time. Most of us are better off burning the extra calories that swinging a hammer uses anyhow. Emergency rooms are seeing a lot of visits because a lot of guys see these on TV and at your big box stores and think they look cool. They are only marginally safer than shooting at the nails with a pistol. (Hmmm...). Be careful, PLEASE.

    Agreed...the wood storage idea is genius. Well done.

    Great workshop! I am in the planning stages of one of my own. May I ask where you are located? I am in Virginia and am wondering if the batten construction would be up to keeping the space semi conditioned so that my tools don't suffer in the moist VA environment.

    6 replies

    I live in Northern Va and have the same concerns. I save those little silica gel packets every time they come in a new product and put them in my tool drawers. I also salvaged a dehumidifier from a neighbor that I need to repair and set up in there. I use the wall mounted AC in the summer to keep it cool enough to work in there. Although I haven't gone back yet to insulate the ceiling, it stays really cool in there if i want it to be.

    As far as the batten, your actual question..haha. There has not been any moisture or rain make its way through. However, I did caulk all of those joints before I painted. I also made sure I primed all the exposed edges, especially the bottoms of the osb sheeting. You could probably put some pvc j channel along the bottom to prevent rain splash from absorbing up into the end grain. Just make sure you give a way to drain any water that makes it in the j channel. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for the quick reply. Sounds like you haven't had any big problems with the moisture. I'm in NoVA too, so that bodes well for me. I was considering finding some tyvek house wrap or something to go around the walls in addition to a plastic vapor barrier under the floor, but it sounds like that is not going to be necessary. I was also thinking I'd try to find a window AC unit to use like you did. I like how you mounted yours up high.
    In any case, we are not closing on our new place until the end of May, so I've got some time yet before I can even solidify plans, but hopefully this time next year (give or take a few months, most likely 'give') I'll be able to post my own build inspired by your work!

    I would definitely stick with the vapor barrier under the floor to avoid moisture from breaking up the OSB. try to build the base high enough to keep it dry and allow airflow to dry it out under there. FYI I recently repaired a neighbor's shed roof that must have been partially repaired before with plywood. The OSB was fine under the shingles, but the plywood was wrecked due to moisture. I would stick with OSB. Since you live here in NOVA, details will be a little more helpful to you. I really can't use the shed in the summer without the AC on. It gets direct sun and gets up to the 90's in there with out any air movement. I am planning on eventually lining the inside of the ceiling with that thin reflective insulation to bounce back some of the heat.

    Thanks again for the inspiration. I've just finished putting the door on my 12x16 shop. Aside from shingles it is ready for the winter. I've yet to cut out the hatch for the lumber or start on the interior, but at least it's weather tight and I can work on the rest I the coming months. I am planning to use mineral wool bays for insulation to mitigate sound and ease installation. I don't see a way to add pictures to this reply (I'm on my phone), so I'll try to add one or two later.
    Thanks again for the great instructable and the inspiration to get it done.

    apparently I have 2 accounts (this one and CODIY which appears to be synced with my phone). Anyway, here's some pics from various late stages...


    It looks great. Your little guy looks like he's having fun. I just had over 50 kids come through my shop last weekend to do some woodworking for cub scouts. I am saving left over insulation to put in there soon. I restocked my plywood recently too. The pieces of pipe made it much easier to pack in a lot of heavy pieces. I also took the time to measure lengths and mark the ends of all my lumber in the hatch under my bench to find what I need a little easier. My $100 8x8 needs a little TLC soon. But the shop is still rock solid. If you plan on making a lot of dust, I would also suggest a diy air filter with a box fan and a cheap air filter. It helps a little.

    I don't see the video or information on the wood storage that everyone loves. Where is this located?

    1 reply

    I think what you are looking for is in the Video tour. There are also pics of the storage above. I plan on using some time this summer to add a second storage area on the opposite side. The first has worked out so well, I may just do the same thing for both sides.