Building The Woodshop

Now that we’ve moved and were mostly settled in I thought it would be nice to tell the story behind my woodshop you why did you want to move it’s time to think about schools for the kids and I wanted a bigger backyard for them and a quieter Street we’re kind of on a busy street so they were getting older and ready to play outside I thought we started looking around and see what else is out there and also you were growing your shop I saw this is a way to get a much bigger better shop than my basement.

The problem was we found we started looking was it’s really hard to find a house in the city that had a shop right even a yard big enough right a yard big enough to have a shot try to get creative when we were house hunting to see what else we could find that maybe could be potential shop or this listing came on the market it had all the things we wanted and it even had a indoor pool but the pool didn’t work so the thought was we could use that structure as the shop.

Right we’re actually excited about this broken pool I thought we could just put a floor over the pool and we have anything each time we got a bid to fix the structure it got more detailed and a contractor knew more about the problem and the bid kept going up it got to a point where it was cheaper to just tear it down and build the new structure right because the roof ended up being to be rotten and there’d been a fire in the back we decided since I said everything else we wanted we decided that we would take it and tear it out and we’ll shop in this place it was gonna be really simple yeah or so we thought yeah so I had to get access to the back yard where the full structure was right because when I said the neighbors in minute pool was built 30 years ago they had to go through the neighbor’s driveway to get in the backyard.

This wasn’t real straight access but a cliff with boulders there so we had to move these boulders over the side and create a retaining wall and I’m able to refloat the side yard to make a driveway the original plan was there’s a circular driveway that went through a cardboard so we eliminated one and one side of that circular driveway had to be removed to create this new drive down to the backyard right she’s also just nice be able to get things to the backyard and to be able to get things to the new shop once we had that access we could demo the pool in demoing the pool I managed to save the roof beams and decks from the roof what you use them for the roof deck I made into the planter boxes for our garden he planted a garden next to that new driveway because it was this nice sunny flat area now then as we were filling the hole from the pool with gravel I realized we could solve two problems by sinking the shop into the ground we could give the shop a lot of nice ceiling height and we could keep the view from the house.

So that the the shop would block the view because it would be lower in the in the ground so we ended up digging out the space with a shop instead of filling in the hole and then we spent that summer coming up with a design we somehow thought we would just move in and the shop would be built a few months later and like most projects yeah it was like a good over good year and a half later so the meantime the shops had the two older temporarily stored under the carport waited to move them up inside some of the basement somewhat laundry room and a couple were in the living room for a real good conversation starter do you have disk sander in the corner of your living room I enlisted the help of my good friend Ben who is also an architect and he has his own firm which is called design department and he helped with the design and construction.

So that summer we came up with a design for the shop we really wanted something that would work with the design of the house which is a simple mid-century modern 50s house so we ended up with a shed roof above a nine-foot wall and between the wall and the roof is a band of polycarbonate panels which let light in and then within that 9-foot wall there are two big doors and four vertical windows and below the nine-foot wood wall there’s a 34 inch concrete stem wall which goes down to the floor of the shop I did some renderings of what it would look like because I was excited about it it matched the house fairly well this is the North elevation as the main study door I liked the idea for the shop that it’s a tool box with the lid slightly open.


This is the West elevation which also has a big sliding door in the section we can see a few of the interior ideas one of the thoughts was to make a datum at 34 inches above the concrete floor should be the height of the stem wall which would correspond to the height of the table saw and to the height of my rolling cart and to the height of any new workbench that I make and to the height of the cabinets along the wall this would give me a work surface that’s even with the outside ground level so that the work sort of stays at that 34 inch height another thought was that the walls would be plywood and I would have a 1 foot high strip at the bottom to put all of the power in I would run all the wire in that 1 foot section and all of the outlets and the power connections for the tools would be within that one foot strip and the other idea in the section is that the clear stories would let in a lot of daylight and make a well-lit space which would make me happy this is the plan it’s basically just a rectangle.

I didn’t want to do any kinds of other rooms I just wanted to make it all shop so there’s three doors here here and here and there’s four windows along the walls and one at the end and the dust collection runs in the floor so we cast 6-inch pipes into the concrete slab this drawing shows them only going out into the middle but they actually run all the way across this point it was time to start building something here we’re laying out for the footing and getting a gravel base and compacted we ended up moving where the building was going to go by 2 feet both in and in the north south direction so I moved it a little closer to the house so we’re digging out a little bit more of the hole you starting to make space for the footings and starting to put in the form work for the footings so there’ll be a footing at the bottom of the concrete stem wall this is the formwork for the stem wall and then we port stem wall and we had a concrete barge in a huge mud puddle it was one of the wettest falls on record and we started to do the two long walls it was a little bit tricky because of the height of the stem wall that couldn’t build the wall right on the ground I had to prop it up and sort of build it in the air almost like building a deck with choices and they came out early one morning with a much bigger crew and tilted the walls up and next the trust has started to go.

We talked about using a crane to put the trusses in but they turned out they were light enough they could just be lifted into place by hand the trust that we got from the manufacturer had to have a four-foot piece attached to one end so that we can have the cantilever over the western end of the shop but having this kind of trust with the hang the trust from the top plate which meant that we could have a very thin and even profile and the form starts to take shape and the skin starts to go on so there’s the cantilever there’s some pictures from the roof of the house you can see how muddy it is I cut out the holes for the windows and I made the windows they’re wood with a double pane piece of glass the very simple it’s just a wood frame and I did all the trim the siding went on they did a very good job in the siding it’s very even very straight the polycarbonate Ben and I’d put on because we were very fussy about it we actually had a little blog custom-made to go between each polycarbonate panel at this point the outside was mostly done you could really start to get a feel for the inside space next the floor went in that was the last thing done by the contractor we put down a vapor barrier and a six inch metal screen became a porter floor.


Kevin inspected the concrete the concrete was sticky they did a very nice job before it’s very flat first me they stayed quite late that night hand trowel whole store to get the permit finalized we had to finish the landscaping so this is a series of shots of the evolution of the backyard once the contractor was done I did the interior the first thing to do was the wiring and the first thing with the wiring was to get the lights in so that I could work at night and have some light out there next I put in the insulation and did the sealing and I realized I was going to have plywood walls and a concrete floor and loud machinery so I needed to have something in the ceiling that would soak up sounds so I made a series of burlap panels with that insulation in them and those are my ceiling panels and they help to soak up the sound in the shop and they actually work quite well this narration that I’m doing right now I’m doing in the shop and you can hear that it’s a very quiet dead space I put up sound board on the eastern wall to try and help mitigate the sound towards the neighbors so you can see how the wall has gone together there’s a 34 inch concrete stem wall at the bottom then there’s a 12 inch strip of power supply and then there’s two 4-foot sheets of plywood which makes a nine-foot wood wall.

Then above that is the polycarbonate one of the main design principles of the building was that it’s all laid out on a 24 inch grid so the studs fall along that 24 inch grid and the doors and the windows all fall within that pattern for the windows there’s no headers because they fit within that 24 inch pattern and that also means putting up the plywood sheathing on the walls is very easy to because I didn’t have to cut very much and the ceiling follows that pattern as well where I have an 8 foot strip between the lights and the lights are 2 feet wide and it all falls within that 24 inch pattern this is the wood storage the tool layout I worked on for the to layout the area near the door is for material prep so the wood storage rack is there and the big radial arm saw is there for cutting pieces to length and the jointer and planer are in that area for getting wood straight and screwed and ready to be used and the big ripping table size there so this gets the wood ready for the central area which is where the bulk of things get done and it’s centered around the smaller table saw and the future work table and all of the smaller machines ring that area so this is shaping pieces and glue.

Ups and sanding and doing the general woodworking in the shop and towards the back of the shop I have two more specialized areas one area is the wood turning area is that sort of its own thing and then next to that is the metalworking machines which I haven’t done as much with as I’d like but at some point that’ll become something so it was moved in time so I did on two separate days I rented a skid steer with forks on the front and I found that works great for moving heavy tools around I like that the shop is sunk in the ground it keeps it cool in the summer but it is a little bit of a pain getting heavy things in and out of the shop the last thing to go in was the big bandsaw the next thing we did we poured the slab in the front of the shop and it was Calvin’s birthday so he was quite excited about it there’s no curb so I can roll things in and out next I started the dust collection Nagata and I got a clear view that’s collected quite nicely I like that it’s a kid I could customize it something for me so i built a closet for it to go in with a big best bit the dust duct work runs a long with Eastern wall and then goes down into the three berry dust pipes that go under the slab.

They come up in different points within the shop I brought the cabinets from the old shop that the radial arm saw sit on so they’re now on the eastern side of the of the shop and hold the radial arm saws and the dust collection runs behind the radial arm saws under the work surface the last thing to go in was the French cleat system which I have all the shelves and a bunch of hooks attached to it’s nice because I can move things around I’ve had this shop up and running now for about a year I’ve been making things here and I feel like I got sort of half moved in or 75% moved in and then really just wanted to get to the woodwork so this is this is how the shop exists at the moment and it’s a little bit of a mess and it’s sort of mostly moved into but it works what I like to do is do a second article to this article that’s more of a shop tour and almost more importantly I’d like to make that shot tour based on what people who’ve seen this article would like to see more of so if there’s anything that you’ve seen that you want to see more of or see or see in more detail or or sort of fully understand how something works ask me in the comments and I’ll do a second article that will be based on what people want to see and not so much just what I want to show so that’ll be more fun so thanks for reading you.

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