the broken carpenter #1: A blank slate

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Blog entry by SquintyPolock posted 02-09-2014 01:12 PM 1384 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of the broken carpenter series Part 2: Little Red Wagon »

Today, I installed a light, the shop finally feels usable, and the lightbulb is dimmly glowing in my mind.

We have been looking for a house for the past year and a half and finally moved just before Thanksgiving. Moving is a bittersweet experince – leaving a place with so many memories that we made so comfortable over the past 10 years and then starting over – and the excitement of a fresh start, a new space, and a new neighborhood. Three months later, we are pretty much settled and love our new house! It’s a 115 year old frame victorian, 2 flat that has been really cared for over the years. We are fortunate to be the latest care takers of such a beautiful building, that so many before us charished. It’s a good street with good neighbors and a good community. A great move for my family.

The shop on the othe hand…

My old shop progressed over 10 years, so I had a place for every little everything and I knew where it was all located. When we moved, I put all my hardware into coffee cans and boxes and tried to stay organized. I actually shed a little tear while I was packing up the shop – that was the hardest part for me to leave behind.
As organized as I tried to be with the move, the unpacking part really sucks. After 3 months, it’s still tough to find an 1-1/2” screw – and I know I have two boxes of them somewhere! But, I am generally organized, I split the new space into a material storage area and a work area.

My new shop is located in the basement and is about 400 square feet with 7’ ceilings. The old shop was about 100 square feet with 8’ celings. The old shop was shared with the laundry room and the avacodo tree (who had to live in the shop during the winter). Although I loved the old shop, quarters were really cramped.

The material storage is about 8’ x 20’ and is broken down into electrical, plumbing, lumber, hardware, miscallaneous, miscallaneous, and miscallaneous. I found an old work bench down there that hadn’t been used in at least 10 years, so I cleaned it up and piled all my scrap lumber on it. (It took me about 10 trips in the SUV to move all my scrap lumber and plywood to the new house.)

The work area is about 12’ x 20’ and boy do I have plans for it! Lumber break down area, assembly table, general work bench, miterbox station, desk/ office, etc. Once that light went up, the possibilities flooded my mind!! I am more excited about my new space than I ever have been.

Currently, I am working off saw horses and a scrap of plywood. Not great , but certainly an acceptable bench to get things going.

I plan on using my scrap lumber to make a bunch of shelves and cubbys to get all that hardware orgazanized – my vision is the hardware store. I am going to build a partition wall to keep all the saw dust out of the hardware store and I am thinking about keeping my office in that hardware store, too.
I am going to build a big ass bench about 12’ long and 2’ or 3’ wide. I have a bunch of old tables and furniture that I have collected over the years that I plan to modify for assembly tables and tool storage. Some of the most immediate issues include:

Lighting – currently just one light.

Electrical – currently just one outlet with a lot of extension cords and power strips.

Ventalation – these 100 year old windows are all painted and nailed shut. I need to move some air through the space.

Dust collection – I don’t know what to do here. I’d like to do the full blown, balls out dust collection system, one day. For the moment, I have two shop vacs.

Heating/ Cooling – It’s about 50 degrees down there, this super cold winter. I need to put some heat in. I plan to insulate all my piping from the octopus boiler, so I know the shop will get colder. I have not decided on a heat source just yet. I don’t know what summer will bring, but I hope that a couple of ventalation fans will keep it cool.

Drainge – only one floor drain and several pluming issues that need resolution.

Security – need to complete installing window bars. The snow has that issue on hold. Also need to build a partition wall to divide my space from the rest of the basement, which the tenants use to do laundry.

Access – the stairs down to the basement are really tight. I am thinking about putting a hatch in the back porch and hoisting everything straight up and down with a gantry, to avoid the stairs. CC’s bookcase is still unfinished because I can’t get the damn thing down the stairs! I am going to have to build a dust enclosure in my living room and finish sanding it in there. Ugh.

There is more, but that is enough to list for now. It’s an exciting project to build a new shop from a blank slate. I am really stoked about it! I hope you enjoy my blog as I write about my journey to a proper work space.

Thanks for having a look. J-

-- It's all in a day's work...

3 comments so far

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3332 days

#1 posted 02-09-2014 01:40 PM

Great entry. It made me smile reading the first paragraph…I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone describe moving that way, but it captures it perfectly. Looking forward to seeing your shop come together. Good luck!

-- Steve

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3647 days

#2 posted 02-09-2014 02:50 PM

Congrats, on the new abode and the increased space for your shop!

My shop is in the basement also & is transitioning from Dungeon to Lair….
You have a lot of work ahead of you….
With a fantastic payoff at the end!
Oh wait, there is NO end, a shop is NEVER complete!!!

Enjoy the journey from basement to woodshop!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Grumpymike's profile


2480 posts in 3287 days

#3 posted 02-09-2014 06:10 PM

Being an old dude, lighting is #1 in my book … The cheapo shop lights, around $10 would be a great addition. take out the light bulb, wire in an outlet and plug in the shop lights … brighten up your world.

I moved my (basement) shop from Kansas City to Surprise Az, (two car garage) then a year later my new 24X48 shop was finished (so to speak … they are never done) and another move into the new shop … now the great challenge is I know I have a box of screws, just where are they???

I hope that you will enjoy your new shop space as much as I enjoy my new haven …

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

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