This workshop hideaway presents an open invitation to enjoy its cozy atmosphere.
Photo of Mike Dunn's workshop

Mike Dunn considers his Iowa workshop his pride and joy. When his home was built in 2011, he left the lower walkout level unfinished. Mike eventually finished the entire level, creating a 16×24' area for his shop. 

From the beginning, he put a lot of thought and effort into minimizing dust and noise migration to the upstairs living space, paying particular attention to the ceiling insulation and HVAC system. The insulation, in combination with the drop-ceiling tiles, helps dampen sound. His plan worked. Mike says no noise is heard upstairs except when he's running the benchtop planer. The home's forced-air system heats and cools the shop. The cold air return located outside the shop space prevents dust from getting circulated into upstairs living space.

Drawing of Mike's shop

A dedicated 20-amp circuit provides all the power Mike needs for his small shop. The large window brings in natural light to augment the fluorescent ceiling fixtures.

Photo of bakery cart
This aluminum cart salvaged from a bakery makes an ideal location for organizing cutoffs for future use. Mike cut plywood to fit the slots where baking trays once resided.

The many homey touches give the basement personality, but they're not just aesthetic—they also serve a purpose. Mike chose vinyl plank flooring purchased from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a durable, easy-to-clean surface. The flooring is warmer and more comfortable to walk on compared to the bare concrete. He covered the insulated walls with beadboard paneling coated with semigloss paint. The paint allows Mike to easily brush away sawdust that accumulates on the walls. He chose an inviting color for the walls and stained the woodwork to make the space feel less like a basement workshop and more like an extension of his home.

Photo of slatwall in MIke's shop
Slatwall panels provide flexible options that can be rearranged as needed.

One section of wall features slatwall panels sandwiched between shelf standards. These give Mike options for storing heavy items. Heavy-duty shelf brackets above the workbenches serve as lumber racks. A repurposed bakery cart keeps cutoffs organized and handy.

Photo of sliding glass door front cabinets
Sliding glass doors on the wall-mounted cabinets enable Mike to show off his collection of antique tools.

Mike was fortunate enough to snag a bank of vintage medical cabinets from a hospital remodeling project. The metal cabinets take up a full wall of his shop, centralizing his storage. Glass doors in the upper cabinets keep items tidily stored away but easy to find at a glance. Mike upgraded the base cabinets with an MDF top trimmed with hardwood, creating a massive worksurface at a minimum cost.

Photo of workbenches in Mike's shop
A pair of identical workbenches roll about on casters to provide outfeed support for the tablesaw and offer plenty of storage below.

Mobile workbenches tuck neatly into one corner and can be rolled out to serve as assembly tables or outfeed support for his contractor-style tablesaw. To one of the benches, Mike permanently mounted his benchtop drill press by removing its base and mounting the collar directly to the bench. Most of the larger tools also roll about on casters, giving him the opportunity to rearrange tools and worksurfaces depending on the project. 

Ever conscious of dust in his in-house shop, Mike has more than a few solutions for collection and cleanup. A small dust collector tucks into one corner. When needed, he connects its 4" hose to the larger machines. A shop vacuum serves smaller tools as a dust extractor. Mounted on one wall, a smaller shop vacuum with racks for the hose and attachments makes for a convenient cleanup tool. A ceiling-mounted air filter takes care of airborne dust. He also made sure to seal gaps around the door between the shop and living space. 

Mike's list of projects includes decorative boxes, tables, cabinets, and a few cutting boards. He'll use any excuse to spend time in his workshop. After all, it is his pride and joy. 

Photo of Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn retired after working 50 years in the food industry. A hobby at first, woodworking became his passion. Mike's miniature models of barns have won several ribbons at the Iowa State Fair.