shop build-out for router... seeking experienced feedback


New Member
By now, many here have heard me mention my plans to add a router.
Things are in full swing now, and while I feel I have done a fair amount of homework, nothing takes the place of experience. For that reason, I want to outline my intentions, as they stand today, and see what considerations I may have overlooked, or that may be interpreted differently by those ahead of me on this path.

First, some background information. For 11 years now, my shop has occupied a 750 sq. ft. unit, that I lease, in a multi-tenant commercial building. I have 24 ft. ceilings & have made improvements steadily over 11 years. I now have 3 floors, and 2 of the three are partitioned into well finished, well lit, comfortable and functional workspaces. The 3rd is a large open top floor for painting and storage.

I looked into buying commercial real estate, and it is not within my means at this point. Although it won't build equity, the lease gives me the space I need at a much lower cost. Once purchasing was ruled out, I leased another unit in my building. I had waited patiently for an adjacent neighbour to move out, but after 5 years, I settled for a 750 sq. ft. unit 50 feet away in the 1-story section, resulting in a 10' ceiling.

Once the new unit was acquired, and leases on both units were extended out to 4 years... I began negotiations with my neighbour to trade his ideal space, for my less desirable new space, plus a substantial cash incentive to reimburse them for very well built improvements & for their sacrifices to make the move and put up with less bang for the buck in the smaller single story unit.

Upon agreeing to the higher terms of their counter offer, made after about 90 days of gentle prodding... it still took another 6 weeks to complete the deal. Once I got the keys, I sent in a 50% deposit on a 5x10 Multicam. That was 10 days ago. I have removed the carpet from the 175 sq. ft. office, and had VCT tile put down, along with a fresh coat of paint on the walls & a locking door connecting to the existing office.

In the back half of the ground floor, where the router will go, I have had a secondary metal stud wall built inside the existing single thickness of corrugated steel siding between myself and a recording studio occupying the commercial space behind me. For some sound-proofing, I have insulated within this wall, and sheeted with drywall. The side wall opposite my old shop has also been insulated and sheeted. I'm also tempted to insulate and sheet the ceiling, instead of leaving the exposed 2x12's. I really want to do enough preparations to the space now, so that once the machine moves in, there will be no regrets or needs to build out much else.

I will be bringing in a 7.5 HP compressor, and have considered the need to vent the hot exhaust. I think I'd like it in the back insulated corner, venting straight out through the roof 24' up. I would also consider building a little room to add additional soundproofing in my router work area, even though the router noise will be a common part of life in that room. I also plan to invest in a high end dust collection system, which may also need to be somewhat silenced, so it is drawn into that same little soundproof room as of now.
I will also have a 20HP vacuum pump. I wonder if this too should be installed in my "soundproof" corner room.

That's enough "background" for anyone to digest, in one serving, so I'll add a few pics, and then ask some specific questions in another post below.


  • suite117.jpg
    64.8 KB · Views: 41
  • suite117loft.jpg
    53.4 KB · Views: 39


New Member

OK, here's the floor plan I have drawn up. The vertical black partition wall, about 1/3 over from the left, is the wall between the old and new units.

The office partitions defining a space (shown with the 1x1 floor tile grid) in the upper left hand corner of the new unit were already there, and the door is in. The proposed furnishing of that room is not too important to me right now.

My main concerns are:

Does this look like enough space to get around the router? (use the 1x1 grid to help visualize scale)

should the compressor and dust collection be closer, or would it be equally OK, for either (or both) of them to be further away?

Does having additional sound-proofing around either (or both) seem to justify the expense of building a room?

Does venting exhaust heat straight up 24' seem like an appropriate solution, as opposed to moving the compressor toward the roll door?

And for a few questions that may be more specific to Multicam, I've drawn a little keypad on the upper right corner of the router (in my plan view) which is the direction I would typically approach the router from. The opposite end shows what I assume to be a "home" position for the gantry and behind that, on the wall, the box I've drawn there represents the control box. This was sort of how I think Dan had his machine set up in a corner, although he had much more room all along what shows as the top edge in my drawing.

If anyone can give me some thoughts on the specific placement of the router, this is one of the most critical decisions, because I want to leave it where I put it for a long time. I think Dan had his fairly close to the wall on 2 edges, and I would like to push mine further into the corner too, unless there are good reasons not to. I believe the Multicam set-up manual they sent suggested 4' on all 4 sides, but I don't know if that is really needed, if one is short of space.

On a related question... I had never really considered a second floor installation, but this second floor is overbuilt to an incredible degree... so even though I hadn't planned to give that any consideration... I might as well throw the idea out there to learn what any of you experienced router owners know about the feasability, or lack thereof.

Almost as important as the proposed location of the router (arriving in 6 weeks) ...the location of all the electrical work is something I will be doing in advance, possibly as soon as this coming week. Once I have a new 100 amp panel box installed, I will put in a seperate "disconnect" box for both the router itself, and the vacumm pump. I believe these should be close to the control box, but wasn't sure if the pump needs to be right there too, or if it could be in the soundproof room I was considering.

Any feedback on these considerations would be most appreciated. I'm still needing to do some more research, but starting this thread seemed like a good first step. (If anyone is interested in a closeup of the floorplan, I posted one here:


New Member
I'll bump it again tomorrow when more people are on-line... but I'll try once this afternoon too...

I really hope to get some words of wisdom from folks that know more than I about what I'm getting into.


New Member

When we got our router, we put a 24' x 24' addition onto the main shop and that seems to work well for us. A comment/observation about your floor plan - you might want to consider access to the router with sheets of material. I'm not sure about the Multicam, but loading ours with full sheets is easier if you have a clear path to the end of the table, rather than lifting the sheets over the Y axis rails, if that makes sense. Your plan shows that path might be a little cramped? We had ours originally close to a wall, but now it is more centrally located and having access all round is definitely a bonus.

Pro Image

New Member
Doug I really don't know about the router part.....But I might can help you on the compressor part.......You will be alright with the venting on the compressor or none at all.......My dad's garage has a 25hp compressor and it is in a back room and never gets hot enough to worry with.........You room should be fine with the compressor and the dust collector.........


New Member
Thanks Dustin... 25HP, that's a pretty goos sized compressor, if my 7.5 hp, 80 gallon one is any indication.

I'm not sure about the Multicam, but loading ours with full sheets is easier if you have a clear path to the end of the table, rather than lifting the sheets over the Y axis rails, if that makes sense.

GVP, thanks for your input.
I've received a few replies elsewhere & by email... and I'm already thinking I will swap the compressor/dust collection corner, with the router, so I will have a straight shot from the roll door, towards the router.

If I understand you suggestion, it sounds like your router table sits lower than rails on both sides. Mine seems as though the only obsticals I might have to lift sheets over is the small keypad, and of course the gantry, but I'd never expect to do that.

Here is a pic from Multicam's site:


  • pf.gif
    35.4 KB · Views: 28


New Member
Doug I would be very concerned about that compressor and 20HP vac pump in that small space. Thats 26HP of motors that will pretty much run constantly, in a small space (insulated) in a hot climate that will generate a lot of heat. The exhaust air from the pump is very warm, too. I would rethink that. Plus, a big three phase motor will wear out prematurely in a hotter environment (or so I am told by my local motor shop).

Also, 20 hp vac pump? What are you planning to suck down? I have a 10hp and there's nothing it wont pull down. A friend has 2 multicams, one with a 5hp vac, the other a 3.5 and they both work fine.

i think the spacing around your machine will work, we're tight on space too and get by ok with it.

Put the vac pump starter switch near the control panel for the machine, it will save a lot of walking.

Piping for the vac pump will decrease vac volume with increased distance and number of turns, and if you do a long vac run take static control precautions. Little particles of dust making it through the table, passing through a long PVC pipe to that closet may cause a huge static buildup. Your vac pump should also have a filter canister, mine is about 18" in diameter and 30" high.

I'm sure there is more but that what I have on my mind now


New Member
27.5 actually... and I'd like to think it will run constantly, but in reality, I expect to spend the better part of a year building up a more steady stream of router work...

..but, yes I do want to rethink anything that is not properly designed. I do plan to vent the heat from BOTH of those devices, and to ground the dust collection system against static. I didn't realize the vacuum system might need that too... but I will look into that. I did figure some loss of power occurs over distance... and limiting the number of 90 degree bends was addressed in my manual.

As far as the 20hp, vs. the 10 hp pump... the trainer from Enroute that was teaching part of Dan Sawatzky's workshop is a mechanical engineer type of guy, all the way... and worked with a router manufacturing company, before working on router equipment now with a software company... he said "DO NOT LET THEM TALK YOU OUT OF THE 20 HP MOTOR" I was just taking his advice on that. It's a 2-zone table too.. so I can focus that power on only one half, for smaller jobs.

My understanding is the large pieces will hold down with less effort.. but the extra power helps on the small stuff.

Regarding this comment "Your vac pump should also have a filter canister" you mean the vacuum hold-down? ..or the dust collection? I do plan to have the type of dust collection system with a filter, but I'm not aware of the vacuum hold-down pump having one.

Here's a pic of similar equip from another shop I visited. His dust collection is just out of the pic on the left. To the right of that is the vacuum hold-down pump, without any large canister like you describe. The small CPU shaped box on the floor is the air dryer for the compressor.


  • equip pic.jpg
    equip pic.jpg
    63.4 KB · Views: 22


New Member
a monday morning bump...

hoping to get my electrician in today to go over our list of plans, for getting some serious work done some time this week...

I need to make some final decisions soon. I'll be posting a modified floor plan shortly, based on feedback so far.


New Member
well, the bulk of the feedback thus far... both here and elsewhere, has helped me see how small my big new space has become.

I've redrawn the floor plan to show the suggested 4' clearance on all sides, and removed tool shelves, and work benches to accomodate this.

It is clear that a lot of substrate storage will be required, above and beyond what I already deal with.

The new floor plan shows my panel saw remaining on the first floor, and a vertical storage rack I will build.

Everything else will go up on the second floor, where I had begun to realize some of the additional workshop tools and benches would need to go. There is a stairway on the other side, and a doorway will be added, to cross over. Large items could be passed up, or hoisted up, because the first 12' x 12' section inside the roll door is open, with the second floor set back.

Here's the revised plan:


  • floorplan117rev4.jpg
    42.4 KB · Views: 36


New Member
I'd put the office part upstairs, unless customers pop in now and then. Keep the tools downstairs. Do you want to be schleping work upstairs all the time??

Just do the office/design stuff up there, keep manufacturing on the lower level.


New Member
I've been schleping work upstairs for 11 years now, and NO, I don't want to...

...and I hoped this shop expansion would be big enough that I didn't have to anymore... but it seems like that is not to be.

Regarding the corner office area... it was part of the renovations done by the previous tenant, and paid for by me, in my negotiation to take over their space. In the last hour though... even though I just spent time and money laying VCT floor tiles, and repainting that room...

I wonder if I should just knock down those walls & have a larger room for this new workshop?

regarding customers popping in... yes, we get at least 4 or 5 a day. The existing shop is adjacent to this new space though, so even if plans change, I don't need an office in this space. here is the entire first floor plan of the 2 units:


  • 116117.jpg
    57.6 KB · Views: 24


New Member
If the customers can keep coming in to your old space then I'd consider ditching that extra office area and make it production space.

what's the upstairs plan look like?


Doug I have pretty much the same setup. A 5'x10' table with 20 hp vacuum hold down and dust collection system sans auto tool changer.

The 20 hp hold down is correct for your table. I wont go into the details but it is. It's also the one part of the system that makes the most noise and needs the most sound proofing.

Below are a few photos of my table, nothing fancy just functional. I ended up building an enclosed room around the vacuum pump and I can't begin to say what a difference it made to the decibels it was putting out before. Deafening is the best description that comes to mind. Now I often forget its even running.

The way you have your table situated should work well. You will rarely need to walk around the sides of the table but if you have a little spare space, take it.

Happy routing...


  • CIMG1341.JPG
    301.6 KB · Views: 29
  • CIMG1342.JPG
    324.1 KB · Views: 37
  • CIMG1343.JPG
    272.7 KB · Views: 30
  • CIMG1344.JPG
    314.3 KB · Views: 28


New Member
Thanks Bob!

Jiarby, here is the second floor plan. Nothing planned yet on the new side, but the tool room at the far left is where I want to move my laminator & trimmer and tables for print finishing and mounting.

I may continue the second floor in that missing corner.

Just out of curiosity, while I'm exploring ALL the options... does anyone think I could put the router up there, if it's on 4x12 beams, and 2x12 joists at 16" on center? it's pretty damn strong!


  • 116117SECONDFLR.jpg
    40.9 KB · Views: 31


New Member
I got some more valuable opinions by email.

I'm going to anonymously paste that information here, in case others could benefit, to keep it all together for my own reference, and on the chance other may wish to comment on these comments:

You mentioned your neighbor is a recording studio? I would get prepared for issues with your neighbor. The low & high frequencies, and decibel level of all the equipment on at the same time is hard to describe unless you work with it for a couple of weeks.

I see a material loading pinch point at the room corner turning into your router. You'll want to single man sheet load at some point and the thinner sign foams will snap if you try to juggle around too many corners. I cut more volume of 3/8" MDO than foam but if I had to do it again, I'd leave a 4x8 loading area fore & aft my machine. Those doing much higher quality or detailed work may not see load/unload time as an issue. I can only agree with Multicam and others recommending 4' around. There are service, cleaning, and material hold down issues you will not see for months until you need the space to move.

I'd strongly suggest investigating anti vibration mounts on all your equipment. You've got the best opportunity to get things controlled now before installation. To give you an idea, I'm running a 2hp single phase spindle and I can hear the bit cutting 20lb HDU outside my building up to 50' away. I have little to no insulation or sound proofing. The high frequency pitch from the dust collector can be heard even further. We'll be upgrading to a 2 stage Cyclone collector at some point.

If your going to run HDU without dust collection (needed for deep reliefs), you may even want to install sweeping vac pickups at floor level. I cannot stress cleanliness enough. I personally believe there is little difference between HDU dust and asbestos. Both are harmless and inert, until your body tries to remove them.


New Member
Get the biggest vacuum motor you can. We cut alum. also and the cutting fluid makes a mess of your hold down holes which leades to less hold down.

I used to work in a shop that had a 8X10 room with a 4x8 router in it. It had cement walls and ceiling it was kinda like a bunker. The loudest part was the compressor, with the echo. The vacuum (atleast with the sabre) way just a whooshing noise but the motor yikes!

Also I know on the sabre the control panel can switch sides. I suggest doing that if you can to get it out of your way when loading.

Dont put it on the second floor. Picture yourself hauling EVERYTHING you need to cut upstairs. NO FUN!

Also if you havent you should get the Dust collector option. This goes around the spindle head and sucks it up straight away.

Hopefully there IS a BIG difference between HDU and asbestos dust! Otherwise ME SCREWED!!


New Member
I would agree on the noise issue that will develop with your neighbor. Although these guys usually will plan ahead for sound.

I am not sure what kind of production you are planning, but we do fine loading from one side(other side is against a wall).

Keep a clear path to the dust collection(you will be lugging somewhat heavy bags from here).

Think about a clean room for finishing. Factor in some ventilation for this too. No matter how clean you keep your router room there will be dust.

Oh and Have Fun!


New Member
Thanks for all the great replies. I'll be reading through this during the next week or two of decision making & will post pics when the monster has landed.