setting up a garage shop

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Nov 7, 2002
Pacific NorthWest
Ok, as some of you know, I am in the process of building a house. Attached to the house is a 3 car garage :D

Thinking of tools for my new shop. Air compressor, air tools. What do you guys use, what do you recommend. I don't want to spend a fortune (snap-on), but I do want something that works well.

I also have a monster beam running down the middle of the garage. I want to attach some sort of a hook for a lift on it. Got any ideas? It's still exposed so now is the time. I want to be able to pull an engine with it and use it to hoist my hard top off.

Garage/shop pictures? Post em up

for the air compressor, large and upright. Anything under 60 gallons is useless for a tank, I have a 35 gallon horizontal 220 unit and it sucks with my bead-blast cabinet.

220 outlets everywhere (well, 2-3 anyways) for welder hookups and such.

Check into those I-beam/chain hoists for the center.

I HOPE you have some height in there too, mine is barely 8' inside with a 7' door and it's WAY too close!

Husky ratchets, Craftsman sockets - no problems
Got around 11' interior with 8 foot doors. Not a ton of room but better then most.

220 outlets are on the list as is a 60 gallon upright compressor. What kind of bead blast cabinet do you have? How big is it? That would be pretty useful. I have wanted one for years but haven't had a place to set it up.
mine is a smaller one, from Harbor Freight IIRC. Nothing fancy, but it does a nice job on small parts, even up to rims and such. With a bigger compressor, it wouldn't cycle as much and would work better. However, even with my 4-car garage, it's a tight squeeze fitting things in there!!
my parents bought me for christmas, a craftsman tool set (six point style) for like 280 or something. that is VERY NICE! i use those tool all the time!

Make Nice, Big work benches with a light colored top (ours is a white plastic sheet deal on top) works very well for finding small parts. ours is on casters and is a the perfect height so you can stand and work and be comfy.

TONS AND TONS OF SHELVES!!! If you're like my dad you accumulate a TON of junk. also make nice, accesable peg-board walls for hanging the tools.

PAINT your floor, just make sure it is not too slippery...some epoxy paint systems have an abrasive you can put in there...very good plan.

lots of lighting!

and for the beam, northern tool company has a trolley that rolls along the i-beam, and you can attach a cheap electric hoist to that! :D
for the floor paint, just mix in some fine sand. that's what we used to do when we painted the stairs and walkways in the expensive apartment complex washing rooms and stuff. i have a harbor freight blast cabinet and i think it sucks. lid doesn't seal and can't get the piece of crap to work half the time. i also have there portable blaster and i'm not pleased with it either.
I use a harbor freight/ northern tool sand blast cabinet too. It leaks. I use coal coke for a media. I buy it at Menards and i like it a lot. Much better than sand.

Hoist. Best $2000 you'll spend in a shop. You can get a good Rotary electric for pretty cheap.

Outlets and hang down drop light reels. I hate having to switch plugs between the welder, grinder, sawzall etc. when I'm dong a project.

Hose reels. Coiling hoses suck.

Big, loud obnoxious tunes for when you're working late and you're a couple of #6s down and "Radar Love" comes on the radio. Garage sales are best for shop tuners.

Is that "monster beam" a steel I-Beam? I hope so... If it's one of those structured/composite beams, they're designed to hold the load of the building plus normal load (i.e., snow and the like). But they're not built to withstand the point stress you'd put on it with a hoist. While it might work, you also may end up with a garage roof on your head and the truck :eek: Even if it was a steel beam, I'd be very tempted to add support/bracing if you're planning on pulling a LC engine out. Heck, if you're really willing to spend some $$$, how about one of those electric lifts? They can be installed pretty easily.

I agree on the shelfs thing--as many as you can fit. I prefer without doors, but if you generate a lot of dust (like if you have a table saw and such) you may want doors to keep the crud out. Lots of fluorescent lighting too. Might even consider some of those drop-style trouble lights.

If you live in a cold climate, consider some sort of shop heater so you can work without heavy clothing on in the winter.

Finally, leave enough room for a refrigerator :beer: :cheers:

I would look into a lift like a 2 post clear floor unit . :D I know it sounds like overkill but if your building at least make one bay tall enough for this. Using trusses makes this very easy as the outside dosnt change but the inside is taller (valted ceiling) in the middle for the posts. You can do this even if you don't want a lift right away . Also look into how much concrete thickness and PSI rating a lift will use so when you pour the floor its ready for you later and cost will be just a little more now but much cheaper then later :(
Sheetrock the walls and paint them white as it helps with lighting too. Peg board ,Heat is nice,a heated floor is better just dont run the tubes where the lift is going or anything else thats bolted to the floor A phone line with a portable phone is also good if you do alot of work alone.
A head and deep wash sink ( I need one of these as the POS in the shop is too small :doh:to put more then one hand in at a time )is nice as the SO will not have kittens with you walking in and out with grease all over in the new house or so that its near a mud room so you can do what you need without walking through the house all nasty :whoops:
A really good work bench that can handle a really big vice, you can pound the snot out of what ever your working on and its not going to move at all.
Cat 5 cable to network so you can put that old slow computer out there and look up stuff when you in the "thick of things". :rolleyes:
Make a room for the compresser so it cuts down on the noise when its running but you can get to it for draining and other things like oil changing air filter etc. Have Air hookup in the walls so you can run tools without lines all over the place on the floor
Thats all I can think of at the moment but im sure I'll think of more later
Another thing to consider which follows along with the lift idea is a pit in the floor. It's a lot easier to stand under a car/truck that to crawl under it.

Get a utility sink and a parts washer. 220 outlets near the doors, so you can weld near the fresh air source :). Get the nice chrome racks with casters at Costco. About $70 each.
From a home designers point of view... consider what Scamper pointed out about being sure that beam will support the weight. Even the steel beam sizes are determined by how much stress it is under from the floor above and/or roof. If the beam isn't large enough, you may have structural problems with your home. You would probably want to check with the structural engineer that approved your plans, if you have one. If not, You may want to call a structural engineer and verify it with him. Better to be safe then sorry.

Just don't be like the guy in my local town that went ahead and tore out some basement walls to finish off his basement, without realizing they were bearing walls. When he started to see two floors above him start to collapse, he made some pretty quick phone calls to get some help.
I built a workbench plus peg board out of 4x4 posts, 2x4 shelving and bracing, and 1" plywood top and bottom shelf. It could easily hold a motor or tranny. Large vice is necessary, as is a spring loaded reel for air hose.
I like those red Husky/Craftsmen rollaround tool boxes for small tools and supplies. Old chest of drawers from basement to hold chemicals, manuals etc.
For christmas I got a dual cylinder cast iron block 5 hp Ingersoll-Rand compressor. Only needs 110, good intermediate compressor, has 40 gallon tank and ridiculous duty rating. I don't have a blaster, but I run many air tools and a spray gun with no probs. Plumb a clean air line with filters for painting, a oiled line for tools, and an extra for whatever else you may end up doing. I love my spring-loaded hose reel. I hope to place my compressor outside the garage in a little shed with lines plumbed in, to keep it quieter. I like being able to hear my Grateful Dead.
Good radio is a must. Mount on shelf up high out of way.
Lighting, more is better. I have a plug at center of ceiling for drop light when working inside a car, soon to have it on a spring loaded reel.
20 gal. parts washer. $80 from Northern Tool. Makes messy jobs (ie axle rebuild) MUCH easier/cleaner/faster. Nothing beats 20 gal of mineral spirits for getting your hands clean either. :D
While building lots and lots of outlets! 220/120 both. don't forget to have some switched so the tunes come on when you flip a switch, believe me you'll like that. don't forget cable and phone jacks, not that you want peps calling you when your working but looking for parts is nice to have the phone you can get dirty. a the cable is for having your buds over for a football game and not worrying about the spilt beer. all the other stuff can be moved around later for organizing but the outlets are inportant before the wall board goes up.
I favor an engine hoist on wheels with fold-up legs. Can move engines anywhere in and out of shop, takes up about 2' x 3' floor space when not in use. Don't have to move the vehicle around during use.

I've had a 3/8" Craftsman air ratchet for 20 years and it runs fine. My 1/2" impact driver is CP (Chicago Pneumatic). No problems with it. My sockets and such are mostly Craftsman. Craftsman hand tools have a limited life span. I curse them daily now - sockets no longer stay on the ratchet, sockets and u-joints break under just arm strength, box wrenches fit a little sloppy. But it took 20 years to wear them out. If you wrench for a living, step up to Proto for wrenches and sockets.
[quote author=theo link=board=14;threadid=5805;start=msg46641#msg46641 date=1065038596]
I. My sockets and such are mostly Craftsman. Craftsman hand tools have a limited life span. I curse them daily now - sockets no longer stay on the ratchet, sockets and u-joints break under just arm strength, box wrenches fit a little sloppy. But it took 20 years to wear them out. If you wrench for a living, step up to Proto for wrenches and sockets.


I wrench for a living and I like Craftsman just fine. Proto is very similar, in fact, I believe thay are made at the same foundry. The difference is Sears is always in the same place and doesn't care how you broke it,or even if it's broken at all. If your stuff is worn, take it back and get all new.
To the right of the red tool box is the welding bay, and you can just see home made pot belly [from truck brake drums] and where car is parked is where hoist will go. Up behind the bench is a mezzanine floor, and the side door beside the banch goes to a 12' wide veranda right down the side for working on dirty stuff outside under cover. An A frame on car wheels makes a geat hoist, can wheel heavy stuff while loaded, put motors in the boot of the car or on the trailer etc, and can be pushed out of the way when not used. Most of my tools are snap on.
Shinola i'll throw in my .02...starting with the basics (I built my house 5 yrs ago with some...or a little fore thought). Right out of the box, ran 400 amp service which splits down to 2-200 boxes in the garage/shop. Plenty o'power is always good and the $ is quite minimal. Then there's that beam...can't recall off the top of my head it's actual designation...but it is "oversized"...I'll get back to you on the puppy I have...but suffice it to say I need to go to industrial suppliers to find a rolling set up to fit around it.

Air...a 5hp two stage with 80 or so gallon tank will keep you and 1 other in business. Mine is technically outside the work space and its plummed in...quiter. I have an inline separator/dryer and just manually oil the air tools prior to each use. POS sears unit is still here too... fills tires and basketballs....bout the only thing its good for.

Sand blasters...I picked up the northern tools unit ~ 179 or 199...I think it has a 20 gallon fill tank. So far so good. One point to make, I have never seen a blaster that the shut off nozzle works after the first use...just the nature of the beast. i just cut off the air to the unit to shut it down. Cabinet blaster...I have no experience with these.

Tools....for weekend warriors like most of us, craftsmen are fine...just realize that the snap on boys et al...are the only places to get "specialty tools". Fortunately, cruisers are designed to be worked on with a minimum of these.

Work benches...for years I have used big ass old wooden sewing tables (got them for free)...they have served well....but I am in the process of getting some very nice Stainless work tables. These can be had cheaply at used restaurant equipment supply houses. As a side note, you can get a long stainless work table with built in sink at the end...with some futzing could be a sweet parts washer set up. Also, that rest supply place can have some nice sturdy shelving units too.

Hoist..I get by with the old fashioned chain hoist...once the motor is evacuated I roll the patient out and roll the engine stand in. Bolt said up and I'm mobile. If you can put a lift in it.

One other thing I did...knowing full well I'd be painting, torching, welding etc...down there is put in a big mother exhaust fan...when I get home I'll send pics. It's @ 24"X24" and can move some serious cfm.

The welder...for greater mobility I have about 25' of damn thick black coated cable wired to a fixed box on one end and the 220 plug box on the other far so good.

The big deep double sink is also a must.

I guess thats about it for the basics.
You don't need to buy everything on the Snap-on truck but you won't find a better set of wrenches. I've had many tools for many years and nothing has ever held up as good as that set off wrenches. The only ones I ever replaced were the ones I lost. 25 years great service.
At the cost of about 10 sets of Craftsman wrenches. :D

I have a few Snap on tools left at home, most notably my line wrenches.
I have a box full at work, but I never find the need to get them out. When something needs replacing, I hate having to find the Snap on man, listen to him bitch about how it looks like it was "abused" and wait for him to get me a new one.
I've been waiting 6 weeks to get a new #2 OBD II key for my MT2500. When I break a tool i want to be able to go to Sears and get a new one right now.

It's cool. I know a lot of tool junkies that spend $200+ per week paying down their Snap on account. Just not for me, thanks. :cheers:

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