Total garage shop makeover
How it all began… All I wanted to do was throw some insulation between the rafters and call it good. That’s been the plan for every summer I can remember. But, well, I ‘m a woodworker and it’s hard for us to leave well enough alone.
If I was going that far, I thought I should do something about the rotting gap-prone doors. I figured most of my heating dollars were being spent there anyway. And if I was going through the trouble of installing a walk-out door and pair of carriage doors was I really going to be happy with a cold concrete floor? Of course not.
But adding a raised floor would mean that the low ceiling joists would get even lower, so why not raise the ceiling while I was at it? By the way, I have never been happy with the meager lighting so now was the time to fix it. And if I was going to insulate the walls (and why wouldn’t I?) I wanted to address the issue of not having enough outlets…
And so went the thought process every year. The idea of one small improvement leading to an unending parade of others until it became so overwhelming that nothing was ever accomplished.
Until this year.
|More on Building Your Dream Shop
• Set Up Shop on a Budget
• Fine Woodworking Shop Tours
• Tour the Ultimate Garage Shop
• Wiring a Garage Shop
• Dream Shop in the Woods
Shop makeover for the sake of some hand tools
The breaking point was a set of carving tools. I had purchased them while making a lowboy (that’s another story), and my first thought was that I’d have to keep them at work so they wouldn’t rust in my unheated home shop. It was then I asked myself if I was going to get serious about my home shop or sell my equipment and let it fully revert to it’s former life as a garage. I chose the former. Fortunately, I had no idea how big of a job lay before me.
Upcoming magazine feature
You can read about my journey in the Tools and Shops issue due out this fall, but it won’t tell the real story. It will have some nice pictures and beautiful illustrations and hopefully a lot of information for folks who are looking to improve their shops. But it will tell you to simply make some doors, add a floor, insulate the walls and roof and maybe raise the ceiling while you’re at it and you’ll have a great shop… true enough, but it’s not the whole story…
Hard, mean, nasty, sweaty, dirty job
The bigger truth is that it was a hard, mean, nasty, sweaty, dirty job. An unending list of tasks that seemed to multiply just as the end was in sight. I’ve spent so much time at Home Depot they gave me my own orange vest. I started in April and took the final photos at the end of August, but there’s still some work left to do. After every stage I’d think “that was easy enough, but now comes the hard part…” But then, I’d spend a few sleepless nights working out the details and find a way to make it through that stage as well.
Of course each step meant new tools, unfamiliar materials and a sometimes steep learning curve. The work was hard, exhausting at times, but fun. It’s a nice change to work on a larger scale with not-so-tight tolerances to meet. One challenge was to ignore the woodworker in me that insisted on measuring drywall cuts in 1/64’s.
My extreme garage makeover. I replaced the old roll-up doors with carriage doors in one bay and a walk-out door in the other. A comfy plywood floor, high ceiling, and white walls with plenty of light make for an a nice place to work. It also didn't hurt that I bought a shed to house all of the non-woodworking items previously cluttering the shop.
I'm working on the carriage doors here, but it gives a good idea of the former work space. Yikes.
The T&G plywood floor rests on pressure treated sleepers glued and nailed to the concrete. There's rigid insulation between the studs and 6 mil poly over it as a vapor barrier. I was actually able to install the floor in a day. I rented a powder-actuated nailer for the job.
I didn't go into how I raised the ceiling joists in the article because it probably won't be relevant to most of the readers, but I'll share a few pictures here. I started by screwing 2x4s across the joists to support them while I cut them. I marked the final length and correct angle on the end of each joist and cut one at a time and raised it.
Here I'm raising the joist to it's new location. I screwed a 2x4 along the rafters to give the joist a secure perch while I lifted the opposite end in place and nailed it.
A cordless framing nailer was a big help. Another smart rental. Between the framing nailer and the powder-actuated nailer, my arms and wrists really took a beating.
The only job I hired out was the spray insulation under the roof and I'm glad I did. I priced out the DIY spray kits and there wasn't much of a savings. It's certainly more expensive than fiberglass batts, but it should do a good job of eliminating air flow which is a big culprit in heat loss. The heating bill will tell if it was a good move.
It's good to have friends in high places. A drywall lift doesn't hurt either. Patrick McCombe (right) not only edited the article, but was also my chief technical consultant and electrician on the project. He talked me into using 12 ft drywall sheets. They were cumbersome to carry, but they eliminated a lot of seams to tape. Matt Kenney (left), normally a hand tool guy, is a mad man with drywall screws.
I went with a double-layer of rigid insulation on the cinder block walls. I installed the first layer cutting around electrical boxes and conduit. I installed the studs flat against the first layer and placed a second layer between them. The idea was to isolate the studs from the cinder blocks to eliminate a thermal bridge from the locks to the drywall.
This is how my driveway looked for most of the summer.
The shop is only 20x20, but I wanted to carve out a nice corner for bench work. A lot of stuff that went into storage during the remodel never made it back into the shop.
One big igloo cooler. A folding ladder provides access to an attic with less head room, but much more storage space than the random boards that used to span across the open ceiling joists.