Advice on Workshop Walls


I’ve set up several workshops from scratch, and I’ve studied a lot of modern shops and how they are put together.

If you get to frame your own walls, I recommend a couple easy modifications that can make life easier. First, when framing, add blocking throughout so you can hang heavy cabinets with ease. For the wall between the shop and the office shown above, I’ve added two layers of blocking at 71” from the floor so I can hang a nail cabinet and a second supplies cabinet on the back wall of the shop.

Also good to consider: You don’t have to use drywall/wallboard. In my current shop in Fort Mitchell, I sheathed the studs with 1/2” OSB instead of drywall. It cost a bit more, but it was worth it. Thanks to the OSB I can pretty much put a screw anywhere for light-duty hooks and pegs.

I didn’t bother to tape the seams. I just hung it and painted it.

The secondary benefit to the OSB (and not taping it) is that shop maintenance is easy. Whenever I want to add electrical circuits or change their voltage I remove the screws for the OSB panels and do any electrical and plumbing work behind. Then I rehang the OSB. You can’t easily do that with drywall.

OSB is also much stronger than drywall. I used drywall on one wall of my shop and it has gotten beat up and penetrated (accidentally, I swear) a bunch.


Today the storefront was officially christened as a workshop. John and I moved the first workbench and tool chest there so I can build the transom windows. That was a major step for my psyche.

— Christopher Schwarz


About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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43 Responses to Advice on Workshop Walls

  1. wadewoodblog says:

    This is really great, that looks like an amazing shop.

    I just bought a house, and before I read this article, I was a little concerned that the OSB covering the garage walls wasn’t ideal. Knowing it’s a positive thing is much better for my psyche. Thanks.

  2. captainjack1024 says:

    Congratulations, the place is really coming together nicely. (Hee hee… “accidentally”…)

  3. Scott Albert says:

    Looking great Chris! Do you plan to share or publish your transom window building? That’s something I’d love to learn.

  4. The place is looking fabulous. What’s your go-to solution for dealing with those uneven floors, especially for benches that might get moved a fair bit? Shim as needed?

  5. skiroy56 says:

    Might I suggest 5/8″ T111 instead. I personally prefer the look of it and you can still screw it on the studs for removal later if the need arises. You could even install it horizontally for a different look.
    I installed it in my shop and as you stated when you want to mount something on the wall just pick the spot and do it.

  6. Is your new place the location for the Lie Nielsen event I received in the mail today?

  7. Paul Smith says:

    Sure is looking NICE, Beautiful bench and chest
    de Paul

  8. There’s just too much space in there. Gonna need a stuffed leather lounge area.

  9. Thomas Hoyt says:

    Are you going to add insulation in the walls?

  10. disneytodd says:

    Are you going to add sound proofing in the walls of the spider cave to maintain the zen like hide out.

  11. kendewitt608 says:

    Just love it and wish it was mine !

  12. ballisticman says:

    Put insulation in the interior walls. You can have privacy for business meetings and prevent listen to some classical or rock music in disparate rooms or even take a nap as you guys are no longer spring chickens. Costs you almost nothing now but the long term bonus for you will be majestic. Take it from one who has several noisy hobbies…

    My chisel project in collaboration with Master Tool Maker David Jeske and the outstanding efforts of Randy Johnson of Johnson Woods in Strawberry Point Iowa who provided the museum grade walnut for David’s best work.

    Let me state I love your blogs. If I lived down the street I could save you much angst. You seem to be able to follow times arrow correctly. Nice to see learning by doing. If you ever come to Hudson Wisconsin you are welcome. We have a large and cluttered home. You can stay but you will have to cook and do chores. With five bedrooms bring a friend and give me your opinion.

    I was in the weapons business but now swords into plow shares. I sponsor what I can but I admire your openness. Would we be closer in age you can be my muse. Not stated lightly.

    As mentioned to Dave Jeske and Konrad Sauer I am honored to be in the presence of leaders.

    Some of my greatest productions…my granddaughters.

    So. What did you do this week, eh?

    Sent from my iPad


  13. fitz says:

    Yay! It looks like a shop!

  14. ballisticman says:

    So be ashamed!

    Sent from my iPad


  15. shaneswoodshop says:

    Just watch out using osb as a covering for interior walls. In some area code doesn’t allow it unless it’s covered with drywall.

  16. tpobrienjr says:

    The space is beginning to look quite grand! OSB is a good idea.

  17. Shop looks great! Is that a Saddleback Leather briefcase I see sitting on the bar?

  18. blefty says:

    My Dad and I built a workshop at my house in 1997. It measures 16′ by 20′. I used OSB for the 20′ walls and heavy duty pegboard for the 16′ walls. It has worked well. I don’t use the pegboards for pegs as much as it’s just really easy to find studs when I want to hang cabinets, etc. And like you say, the boards are easily removed.

  19. tombuhl says:

    Great thoughts for shop treatments. Your rehab/build brings a big grin to this old mug. Thanks.

  20. richardwootton says:

    I love how the color of that Cherry bench top slab has darkened! And a hearty congrats on the christening!

  21. tsstahl says:

    I think I’ve been hanging around here too long. I was in the second row at WIA when St. Roy knocked off a corner of the bench. I’m also pretty sure that is the screw and plywood version of the ATC. It seems I’m officially living vicariously through the blog. Hopefully I’m wrong and can reclaim my sense of purpose. :). Place looks great!

  22. charlie says:

    You should try Feng Shui to find the perfect spot for your bench. There are a lot of hidden powers in the universe and since the bench is a center of creativity, you will need to harmonize the forces of qi.

    I wish you good fortune in your new adventure.

  23. Tenwinkle says:

    Feng Shui and St Roy. It’s official: you have gone from having fans to having disciples. If someone starts building a cross out of reclaimed white oak salvaged when the local high school football stadium was torn down, run for cover. Fast!

  24. Stopping air movement at the seams in the exterior walls will significantly reduce energy usage . Thin foam weatherstripping might be easier and cheaper to install than caulk.

  25. charlie says:

    Roy Underhill has some cool light fixtures at his school in N.C.

  26. Beautiful shop!
    For my basement shop, I lined the cinder-block walls with studs and blocking similar to your blocking in the above pic (left some room for air to circulate behind wall.) I covered the walls with ship-lap knotty pine boards finished with orange shellac. I hung each 6″ pine board with three deck screws: one at top, one in the middle and one at the bottom. It is easy to remove one or more of the ship-lap boards to modify electric, etc. Also easy to screw anything to the wall just about anywhere. I love the ambiance of the wood walls.
    I do envy your beautiful white pine floor!

  27. Brian Clites says:

    Given the deep color that this cherry slab has taken on, it looks like you have given up some ammo for criticizing folks who use Purple Heart for their bench tops 😀

  28. Hey Chris,

    Congrats on the new store/shop/office. Lots of hard work, but in the end it will all be worth it. The blog is great. I know it is a tremendous time drain to maintain. Please keep up the great work. I look forward to the posts every week.

  29. studioffm says:

    Getting there fella! Having a nice place to be, and to work, is an important thing for a creative person . You set a good example.

    see you soon
    david savage

  30. Kevin Thomas says:

    Isn’t that Katie’s bench?

    • It is. She’s letting me use it down there until we get my big French one to the store.

      Also, she will be working at the store on weekends, so it will be a good place for her bench.

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