185 – Dream Shop Build

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If you’ve been following my blog posts all summer (links at the end of this write-up), you are probably as excited about this video release as I am! Welcome to the Dream Shop Build!

Every woodworker (I think!) dreams of someday being able to construct their own dedicated woodworking space. To date, I have bounced around from garage to garage (about 4 times), making the best of a crappy real estate situation. And while I have been lucky to have fairly large spaces to work in, I still daydreamed about the possibility of designing a shop from the ground up, with both woodworking and video production in mind.

The “Perfect” Shop

In my opinion, the best shop space is a flexible one. I know many folks expected that after setting up my shop so many times, I would be able to design the PERFECT shop space including a finishing room, a dust collection closet, and even some internal walls. But the truth is, the most important lesson I learned over the years was to expect change. My shop is not a static entity. It is more like a living breathing creature that adapts, evolves, grows, shrinks, and changes configuration. Committing to an internal spacial arrangement too early could yield disappointing results. This is why you won’t see me placing dust collection ductwork in the floor. I need to work in a space for at least a few months before I can be confident in my initial setup. Even then, I fully expect things to change at some point. If I made too many restrictive and/or permanent decisions ahead of time, these changes could be difficult or impossible to implement. So my best piece of advice is to forget about the concept of perfection. Instead, focus on flexibility. The ideal shop, in my mind, is little more than 4 walls, a roof, and a butt-load of outlets and lights. So here are some of my basic general goals for my new shop space.


I want the shop to be big! Not only do I have a lot of tools, but I tend to frequently bring tools in for testing. As you probably know by now, I also do a lot of filming. So I need a space big enough to allow for full movement around most of the tools. My tripod has a pretty good-sized footprint and having more room allows me to get the best vantage point possible. More space will also allow me to stage larger pieces of furniture, whether for the show or for jobs I take on locally.

The final size I decided on was 1800 sq. ft. Yeah, that’s big! I actually balked and second guessed myself after we received the estimate from the contractor. Sure, more space is nice, but at what cost? I then asked for a second estimate, bringing the shop down to 1500 sq feet, which is still huge. As you might expect, the savings just weren’t that substantial. By the time you get over 1000 sq. ft., the price per sq. ft. is really low, making it very difficult to justify down-sizing. So I bit the bullet and stayed with my original choice of 1800 sq. ft.


The more outlets the better! I have a good mix of 220v and 110v outlets throughout the shop. I even included a few in the ceiling and the floor in hopes of avoiding power cords in the walkways. And although this contradicts my previous comments about over-committing, I picked locations that would likely work for various tool configurations. If at some point they don’t work for my setup, I just won’t use them.


Every shop should have good lighting, whether natural or artificial. My video work dictates limited natural light, so I was sure to have plenty of overhead T8 fixtures (6500k). You’ll hear me mention in the video that I was disappointed to see that the ends of the shop were just a little dark. Thankfully, I was able to get the contractor to come back in and drop in 4 more fixtures for me, two at either end. Now the light is bright, crisp, and evenly distributed from one side of the shop to the other.

Just a quick note about light spectrum. I went with 6500k because that’s what I like to film in. The daylight spectrum makes it easier for me if I decide to open the blinds, letting in some natural light. For the average woodworking shop, I think 5000k is probably a good choice, although some folks really enjoy the crispness of a 6500k light. But you should test them out for yourself to see what you prefer.


I have to admit that I am very easily distracted. So working from home can be very inefficient. In order to remove my primary excuse for going into the house, the shop would absolutely have to have a bathroom. As you’ll see, I also included a slop sink for various shop cleaning/rinsing needs.


Nicole and I decided not to go public with the cost of the build. Although we are very open about most things, we are a little uncomfortable about making an expenditure of this magnitude public knowledge. Furthermore, unless you live in the Phoenix area and plan on building the same size shop with the same patio and with all of the same finishing touches and labor requirements, the price isn’t all that helpful to you.

But here’s a quick back-story so you know how things went down. The reason I moved my shop so many times was because the sale of our old house fell through at the last minute. This is the house with the original Wood Whisperer shop/garage. We took the house off the market to recuperate and wait for the market to improve. In the mean time, I decided that I should probably make the best of the shop space that I was already paying for, so that’s why I moved my tools back there. When we eventually put that house back on the market, it sold on the first day. That was a BIG surprise! While we weren’t financially (or mentally) ready to build the new shop, I wasn’t about to lose a chance to get that 2nd mortgage gorilla off my back. So all of our resources went into the sale of the old house and the purchase of my mom’s new place. Truth is, there really wasn’t much left to put toward the new shop. Thanks to some financing wizardry, we made it work. But let’s just say I’ll be paying this off for quite some time!

We did our best to keep costs down, but there was only so much we could do. We needed the shop to go up quickly, which eliminated the prospect of me doing some of the work myself. Additionally, we live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association. This means we have very specific restrictions for what we can and can’t do on our property. So the shop must have all of the same finishing touches as our house.

Time to Build Stuff

Overall I am very happy with the final results and I can’t wait to get back to making sawdust. The first project to be completed in the new shop is going to be a Queen Size Platform Bed for one of my favorite clients. I mentioned in a previous post that one of my goals this year was to get back into doing client work and this is me making good on that promise. I can’t wait to get started!

Of course not everyone needs or wants a space this large, but this was the right move for me. I hope the sharing of my personal experience with you will provide some ideas and inspiration for your own shop, regardless of its size.

Category: The Shop


  1. Great video Marc and the shop has turned out really well. Even my wife sat down and watched the vid (she would not normally watch anything to do with woodworking) and she said she was very impressed. Maybe that’s as I am having my shop rebuilt right now and she recognised all the construction paraphernalia.
    Anyway thanks for sharing the build and have lots of fun working in your new shop.

  2. Rick October 22, 2012

    Interesting, when you consider that the shop on Russell Morash’s property, where The New Yankee Workhop was filmed was only 936 square feet

  3. Wow! I have been following the build, was great to see it all come together. Excellent job on the video!

  4. Riley October 22, 2012


    Congrats! I am very excited to see what is in store for the Guild. The shop looks great! I am anxious to see your setup. I draw up my dream shop from time to time and it always changes, so it will be fun to see where you decide to position your tools.

  5. Ted (http://ruegroupinc.com) October 22, 2012

    Really GREAT (as always) video of your Dream Shop Build. I like how you explained everything along the way to a almost finished shop.

    Only one thing that bugs is that you do not have guards over your Florescent Lights, it seems like it would be a good safety factor.

    Would love to see a video of a the equipment placement and the reason for that placement.

    All the Best NOW and in the FUTURE! Ted

  6. I have followed your website for 3 or 4 years ago. Since then I heard you talking about your “dream” shop. I am sincerely happy about you. The shop looks just great, it is quite big. I agree with you about one-volume shops, it keeps the building much more versatile. Keep working and making your dreams came true. Congrats from Mexico!

  7. My shop needs, and therefore my actual shop, are MUCH smaller in scale, but I know the feeling you get when a purpose-built space like this is finally up and running. Well done!

  8. Congrats on a very nice shop. Great video to capture the moments. I too have moved around from place to place (in the Army) and I have to make my shop work with what they give me for a house. I’ve done work out of a tool shed and I make it work becuase I just love working with wood. Once I retire and settle in one spot I hope to get something similar to yours. I’ve picked up a lot of ideas watching this build.

  9. Rick W October 22, 2012

    Awesome Marc! Really happy for you and looking forward to all great content you will be putting out. Congrats!

  10. Frank October 22, 2012

    Nice video Marc. I did enjoy seeing the details of the construction process. Since becoming a homeowner and a woodworker (something that happened literally at the same time) I have become fascinated with anything having to do with the process of building and finishing and all the details in between. I thought of an off the wall question while watching this video and that is do you write yourself any kind of script for any of your monologues and/or narrating or do you just have a general idea of what you want to say and wing it?

  11. Chuck aka "Sac" October 22, 2012

    Great shop Marc. I got to build my first dream shop a few years ago. Cant wait to build the next one. That will be the last one that I ever build. Cant wait to watch it develop. It is always a fun process. Enjoy.

  12. Another great video. Nice hop, why isn’t their a finishing room? Nice to meet you at WIA

  13. Thanks for showing the process. That was great to see. Congrats!

  14. Charlton October 22, 2012

    Thou shall not covet. Thou shall not covet…ARGH!

    Congrats. Nice shop! Well-deserved, Marc. Keep up the good work!

  15. Mark Loughran October 22, 2012

    Congratulation Marc!! WOW!! New shop is amazing!! Just wanted to wish you every success and happiness in it!! Best wishes!! Mark

  16. Andy October 22, 2012

    Congrats Marc! I am a guild member, and a follower for along time… exciting times and can’t wait to see more!

  17. Congrats Marc on your new shop space! You have certainly come a long way in a relatively short amount of time… and I’m not just talking about your shop; your production quality is exceptional and your shows are always enjoyable to watch. Keep up the good work!

  18. Blair October 22, 2012

    Amazing shop Marc. I’m super jealous but no one deserves it more than you do. Have fun!

  19. congratulations, congratulations, you’re the best, you deserve the carpentry shop, all we learned carpentry thank you thank you …

  20. Kent Eggers October 22, 2012

    Hey Marc! Great looking shop. Watching your video brought back many memories -both good and bad – of my dream shop build. I’m happy for your buddy! You’ll love it! The only thing I saw missing was a fridge for your cold drinks. We don’t want you running to the house to get something cold to drink and then wasting a lot of time!!!

    I especially enjoyed seeing how they put up the trusses. We did it the same way. I was the guy doing the pushing with a 2×4.

    Happy days for you, my friend!

  21. Alan October 22, 2012

    Congrats on the new shop, may you enjoy it and be safe in it for the years to come. Great video update looking forward to the videos from it


  22. Britton October 22, 2012

    I’m currently in the process of building my own small shop and I almost didn’t watch this video because I was afraid I might become too jealous. I wasn’t. It made me realize that a good shop is worth waiting for and that I don’t need to be discouraged when things aren’t moving as quickly as I hoped. Thank you for the inspiration and congratulations on your new shop, you deserve it.

  23. Dean October 22, 2012

    Well, it’s about time! I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling a dynamic tension in the background, waiting for this shop to manifest itself. The birth of a woodshop. Or, maybe I should say video shop.

  24. Johan October 22, 2012

    Nice video and shop too. Congratulations with your new addition.
    You really think it trough.
    One concern however, and that is the audio of your recordings.
    Although you are crystal clear, there is an echo that is not annoying at all, but still noticeable.

  25. Megashed October 22, 2012

    Great video Marc, nice to see it start to finish. Safety last! :)

  26. Texfire October 22, 2012

    Mateo had that “One day all this will be mine!” look in his eye.

    Nice shop Marc, I expect you’ll love it more as you use it.

  27. Bob D. October 22, 2012

    At the end of the video I saw 2 happy kids to be in the new workshop. Your video is a great summary of the process you went through.
    Thanks for sharing.

  28. It’s so nice to see this completed for you and us, your loyal audience. It is truly a dream shop. Use it well and enjoy!!

  29. Christopher Robinson October 22, 2012

    Congratulations on your new shop!
    And thank you for putting all of that effort into showing us how the entire process works, it was very helpful.
    I’m building a new shop here in the San Diego area on my property (albiet much smaller at onlu 650 sq ft) next year to supplement the two car garage.

  30. franklin pug October 22, 2012

    Great podcast Marc! I really like your new shop – you have inspired me to make some more changes to my own shop.

  31. Hodginator October 22, 2012

    Congrats on the new shop!

  32. Donnie G. October 22, 2012

    Hi Marc,
    Been following you from almost the beginning and it’s wonderful to see so much develop in your woodworking and your family as well. Awesome shop does not say enough. Still as always you are the best on the web. Keep it coming.

  33. Jason Paslak October 22, 2012

    I’m surprised how happy it makes me for YOU to get this awesome shop finished! Looks amazing and you deserve it man!

  34. Kevin October 22, 2012

    I thought I was going to get out of my 300 sqft basement shop into 1200 sqft of rented space in a nearby mill building this year, but it just isn’t going to happen. So it’s nice to see someone else getting their dream shop while I defer mine.

  35. Very nice! Can’t wait to see what you build in there.

  36. Scott October 22, 2012

    The shop – like it’s owner – is a class act. I genuflect in your direction and repeat “I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy…” Seriously dude, way to go. It’s nice to see nice guys do finish first once in a while.
    Enjoyed seeing Nicole and the “Supervisor,” hope they are both doing well.

  37. Congrats! Looks great!

    Any plans on adding acoustical treatment to control the reverberation?

  38. Josh Wixom October 22, 2012


    This is great! The shop is beautiful, all you could ask for. I am so happy for you, Nicole, and Mateo. You definitely deserve this and I wish you all sorts of success. I look forward to the creativity that comes with a new shop!



  39. Kuhlenberg October 22, 2012

    Once everything is setup are you going to shoot a “The King and His Castle – Part II”?

  40. Scott October 22, 2012

    Way cool Marc, I’m so jealous of you and yet very happy for you. That’s been a dream of mine for ever to have a dedicated large space.
    I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with to build.

  41. Daniel Abad October 22, 2012

    Exelente, estimado Marc, que se realisen todos tus suenios y que nos des a todos tus seguidores nuevos projectos e ideas, , felicidades !Daniel from Australia…..

  42. Congratulations Marc. I wish you and the family all the luck and success in your new home and workshop. Look forward to seeing what you do next.

  43. Hey Marc. Just wanted to send a huge congrats your way for this milestone. It’s been pretty awesome to follow you on this journey since I discovered you on iTunes some 5 or 6 years ago. Mad props for what you’ve done to grow and enhance the online woodworking community as well as woodworking as a whole. I think with todays generation (as well as future generations) growing up behind a computer, the work that you and the rest of the podcasting world do will go a long way towards bringing new people into the craft. I hope that in the future you are able to start a series of videos showing how you introduce Mateao to the craft. Keep up the awesome work!

  44. Peter Durand October 23, 2012

    Very well deserved Marc. One question if I may. How will the noise level be when you have the DC running? I have mine (an Oneida) tucked in an adjacent room (garage actually) and I leave the connecting door ajar to correct for pressurization.

    The motor is a Baldor and the documentation states not to cycle it frequently but leave it running. So it runs for about 2 hours at a time. I attached a dooflicky to the power outlet and it tells me that it costs $0.05/hour to run at our rates up here.




      Well this is the same unit I have used for years so the noise level will be what it has been. I never turn it on without ear protection. In the future, I plan on building a little closet around the cyclone to help mitigate the noise to some extent. As for cycling the motor, I read that too. But the way I work, I just can’t do that. I have to turn it on and off as needed but I do try to limit it as much as possible by doing all of my heavy milling at once.

      • tom October 27, 2012

        just wondering if you considered putting the dc unit outside, also those ac units are available for ceiling mount, i have seen them mounted in drop ceiling grid but don’t know if they have a surface mount

  45. Steve Fleming October 23, 2012

    Really enjoyed watching the video of the shop build. You will be turning out great pieces in no time. At the end of the video it looks like you have your dust collection system up and running. Where did you purchase the duct work? I thought I remember you talking about this in the old shop. Did you use regular HVAC 4″ round duct or a heavier piece. Thanks for the insight and good woodworking.


  46. Fantastic build and opportunity for you. I really appreciate your humbleness given the great asset you have in the new shop. You flaunt/market what you do and where you do it because that’s the business you’re in, but at the same time you understand what a great tool you have in the shop itself relative to what most folks will ever acquire. Well done.

    My only disappointment was at about 23 minutes in when I learned you don’t take the time to include the “ADR” process in your recordings! Ha ha… time and money, Marc, time and money!

  47. One of the things that draws me to the online woodworking community is amount of passion people show are willing to share. Your shop build is a fine example of your willingness to let us in on your passion. You could have said “I’ll be back in a few months when its done” and most of us would have waited but instead you turned it in to a summer of updates and dream shop discussion. Thanks!


  48. Barron October 23, 2012

    Great shop. Is the HOA going to let you put up a sign over the doors? Seems like an epic shop like this needs one.

  49. Steve October 23, 2012

    Congrats Marc, great looking shop, I hope to build one like it in the next few years.

  50. Max October 23, 2012

    Nice Ferris reference. So choice. Great shop too.

  51. jlaviolette October 23, 2012

    I read and respect the fact you don’t want to get into cost, however I have a general question. I do not have plumbing to my garage-turned-dedicated-workshop, but it would be AWESOME if I did. What general percentage of the budget did that eat up? In watching the video, I would have to do a lot of the same to make it happen.

  52. John Fitz October 23, 2012

    Marc, once again- congrats on your new shop. I guess it truly is a ‘Dream Shop’, since before you dreamed about it, and now you can dream about making it better. :)

    I totaly get not wanting to get into the cost part of the shop. We just went through a house renovation, and my stock answer to the ‘how much’ question is either ‘enough’, or ‘enough that was right for us’. There is a quality of life or utility aspect that every person needs to figure out for themselves. And, I would think not having to bounce around from garage to garage anymore has gotta be worth something!

    I am looking forward to your first project and videos from the new shop. Congrats!

  53. Roger Williams October 23, 2012

    Hi Mark
    That shop is soooo cool … I rely enjoy following your escapades
    Their fun and informative and I look forward to more of the same.
    Now I think you have the shop of your dreams…Brill..
    looking forward to more updates
    back here in wet Wales UK (not England) :)

  54. Loren Schomaker October 23, 2012

    Well done Marc
    When is the open house…lol. If I start biking now I may make it there by spring.

  55. Brian October 23, 2012

    Great job, I noticed you have spent a lot of time thinking about it. I’m pretty happy for you, it’s pretty darn exciting. Are you storing wood mostly inside the shop or do you think you’ll store some of it on the “porch?”


      Actually, ALL of it is on the porch right now. :) Much to Nicole’s chagrin. Ultimately, I will store the bulk of it in the shop and I might even try to take some space in the garage if I need more room.

  56. Jean-Marc (from Calgary, Alberta Canada) October 23, 2012

    Howdy Marc:
    Once again I would like to Thank You for letting so many of us see what is going on in your world. It is very educational and entertaining to see what has happened in the past few months of your dream shop build. As I was watching the video I periodically looked out my window to see the snow falling steadily and building up along the windowsill. Every now and then I imagined I was in your sunny backyard admiring your Shop. I am looking forward to seeing what you will create in your New Space. Keep up the Good work and Congratulations on your Dream Shop.

  57. Brian October 23, 2012

    Great shop you’ve built there, Marc.

    However it is too darn clean at the moment. ;) Time to make some sawdust.

    Enjoy it in this state, as it will never likely be this clean again.

  58. karl October 23, 2012

    I bet the drywall picker upper putter downer can pick up sheet goods.

  59. Jon McGrath October 23, 2012

    Great shop and great video Marc. Nice pace of taking us through the process. As you said it clearly looks like a great place to build on from here (Pun Intended). Good stuff

  60. mike October 23, 2012

    been off the site for a while, been busy.
    all I can say is wow! congrats.
    I love that your family and business are growing together!

  61. Sam Viall October 23, 2012

    Great Video Marc. I’ll be looking forward to all the new episodes from that spiffy new shop of yours.

  62. Eric October 23, 2012

    Great video Marc. I know I’m not the first to bring up the reverb in the shop. However I don’t think addition of rubber floor and cabinets will change this much. Furthermore, sound panels look very clunky in my opinion too, but may be necessary above some machines? Materials like drapes and carpet strategically placed can also do wonders, but I don’t know how practical that would be in a wood shop.

    I am curious about how the current acoustics affect the zen-quality needed to be a furniture design artist!? :)


      I get all the zen I need from Dunkin Donuts. :) Actually, I am reserving judgement concerning sound at this point and here’s why. I worked in a 1000 sq ft shop for the first 5 years of this show and never had any echo complaints. That was with 16 ft ceilings. The new shop was pretty unbearable to talk in when it was empty and became quite tolerable when filled with the initial equipment. With the addition of the floor pads and cabinetry, I am pretty confident the echo will be reduced fairly close to the previous shop’s level. If not, I’ll have to consider my options, because there’s no way I’m hanging drapes in my shop, lol.

  63. I especially like the new big panel for the house and semi-big panel for the shop.
    Thanks for sharing the process overview.
    Looking forward to many new projects and sharing.
    Well done, Marc

  64. Sean O October 23, 2012

    I’m happy for you Marc. If I can have a shop like this when I’m 35 I will be very happy. Although I don’t plan on having to deal with an hoa and all the headaches involved. The shop is incroyable. I could see the joy in your face at the end of the video when you and your family were walking around the shop

  65. Tom Collins October 23, 2012

    Hi Marc. Great shop and great video. I built a similar room at work with epoxy floors and drywall on the floors and ceiling. I am getting a cave like echo. I am considering acoustic panels to be hung on the walls to mitigate the problem. Are you experiencing anything like this?

  66. What about music????

  67. Nice Ferris Bueller line. (Re: Drywall pickeruper/dropperoffer.).

    Awesome shop.


  68. John M October 24, 2012

    Outstanding shop Marc. It was good to see the same look on your face and Mateo’s face at the end. :)

  69. Gordon October 24, 2012

    The shop looks great, Marc! Looking forward to seeing all the great projects that will come out of there. And kudos to all your contractors involved; I work in the construction business myself, and it looks like they all delivered a very high quality project for you.

  70. NiteWalker October 24, 2012

    Awesome shop Marc. :)
    I’m extremely happy for you and extremely jealous at the same time.

    There’s nothing like seeing a dream realized to reality.

    Congrats, you worked hard for it and deserve it.
    If I got what I deserved it would be an 8×10 shack. ;-)

  71. Stephen P October 25, 2012

    Awesome shop. You sir are a lucky man and living the dream.

  72. Jordan A October 25, 2012

    Marc (and Nicole!)

    Thanks for allowing us, your viewers, into your home and shop. In a way, woodworking and hospitality collide through your videos. Lots of appreciation coming your way!

  73. Erik Voigt October 25, 2012

    Congratulations on your new shop and all your success. I’ve watched all of your videos and someday if I have the money I would love to join your guild. I started a small workshop in my grandparents basement and someday I hope to start a small bussiness. Your website and videos have been the most informative and the most inspirational to me as a beginning woodworker. Thank you for sharing all your tips and hard work with people like me. I look forward to watching your videos for years to come.

  74. Congrats on the new shop. Looks awesome.

  75. John Davidson October 25, 2012

    The Woodwhisperer shop 3.0! Very Nice. So how long before 4.0? JUST KIDDING! Look forward to more projects. Very insperational. Did I spell that right?

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