Garage vs. Basement
A shop needs plenty of lights, ventilation, and heat. It also has to be far enough from living areas so your pad doesn't reek of wax. (You'll only have to contend with your usual smells of fetid garbage and mystery rot.) A space as small as eight feet square will work, but a 12-by-14-foot space is ideal. Basements are better than uninsulated garages for heat, but garages have better ventilation. Your call.
If you have the square footage, create an island workbench in the center of the room to hold your vises—that way, your buddy can be scraping while you're waxing. At one end, cut a six-inch hole in the top of the bench where you can easily push wax shavings into a bin below. Small space? Put the bench against a wall. Quick Tip: Building your shop from scratch? Put a few electrical outlets in the ceiling over your work space. That will keep power cords from your iron and rotor brush out of the way.
Go Ahead and Vent
Install an exhaust fan, like the kind in your bathroom, to direct fumes outside. Opening a window isn't ideal. Not only will you freeze your ass off, but waxing cold bases is a good way to trash them.
Use a Rubber
Concrete floors are bad for your back. Throw down some rubber mats—the anti-slip floor covers restaurants use. They're an inch thick with holes punched in 'em. A 36-inch-square mat costs about $20 at Home Depot. Or use the interlocking kind.
Store wax, scrapers, files, and other tools in old kitchen cabinets or drawers in the island. If your bench is against a wall, put pegboard up to organize tools. Set the hooks high enough off the table so you don't lose work space.
Drill sets of quarter-inch holes along a two-by-four. Slot dowels into the holes with wood glue, and hang skis by wedging the tips between the dowels. Make sure each set of dowels is at least 18 inches from the last to keep bindings clear of other skis. Or build a simple box using plywood and two-by-fours. Cut slots into the top and bottom plywood to drop your skis into. Leave the sides open so meltwater can evaporate. Make sure the box bottom sits several inches off the ground.
Place a mini fridge under the bench. Mount a bottle opener on top.
Tips provided by Kevin Burke, 40, a partner at Carney Architects in Jackson, Wyoming. He has designed home ski shops for clients as well as for himself. His home shop is currently in a heated space in his garage, where he also keeps a fridge stocked with PBR and Stellas.
Learn more by heading to your local specialty ski shop and asking the techs if you can check out their workstations for more ideas.