(part 1 of 6)
My workshop (called Shed 2) was the first major project after my retirement in early 2003 and I am relying upon it to serve as the home base for most my projects for at least the next twenty five years. I designed and built the shop almost entirely by myself, and it was very satisfying project. I only hope that some of my future projects will be as rewording.
The shop fits well into my city suburban lot, leaving room for a good sized vegetable/herb garden, decks, patios, flowers, shrubs, and even some grass. The building blends into the neighborhood, and I liked the roof and colour scheme so much that, in the autumn of 2005, I re-shingled and re-painted the house to match the shingles and paint on the shop.
One constraint was that the wall close to our neighbour’s house had to be low and could have no windows. The restriction was turned into a feature by having a large roof overhand protecting storage racks on the 40 foot wall (33 foot workshop and 7 foot adjacent garden storage shed).
The interior space of the shop is 431 square feet which sounds like a lot to non-woodworking folks, but when you have to fit a lot of benches, machines, supplies, and tools into that space, it fills up quickly. The main way to combat this is to make almost everything in the shop mobile. The building’s outline makes the best possible use of the limited space and, furthermore it fits our odd-shaped lot well. The shape of the shop is what I call a “squat T” having a squarish middle section with wings protruding to either side at the top.
The middle area is approximately 16 feet by 16 feet with a cathedral ceiling that peeks at 10 feet. This section, coupled with the double doors at the front, provides sufficient space for the manipulation and processing of sheet goods and lumber.
The “relaxation” alcove contains, a wood stove, some easy chairs, a chalk board, and a drafting table. It feels quite different than the rest of the shop and is a great place to relax. My grandchildren and I particularly like reading stories here in front of a roaring fire.
The remaining wing contains benches, parts storage bins/drawers, and hand tool storage.
The shop was designed so that two people can work together on projects. Mobility and distinct work areas are the keys to this. I want my shop to be a place where friends and relatives feel welcome and I very much enjoy working with others. As a child, I was always welcome in the workshops of my Dad, my Granddad, two of my Uncles, and one of my Aunts. Together, they instilled a love of woodworking in me that I, in turn, passed on to my two daughters, and now am starting to pass on to my grandchildren. From some of the photos of the shop interior, you can see that little children have already been contributing art to the walls. Several joint projects with friends, children, and grandchildren are in the planning stage and three are currently underway.
I have had a workshop or access to someone else’s workshop forever. The first one I could call my own was a distributed shop occupying the closet, storage locker, and balcony in the apartment we rented after Margaret and I were married in 1966. Since then, we have moved many times and lived in three different countries. Each of our homes has always had some sort of shop. All these shops had good aspects and bad, but the worst thing was always inadequate tools and lack of good organization. The later meant that, even when I had the right tool or part, I often could not find it. Finally, I have the shop of my dreams, with all the tools that I need (well there is always something new that I want but that is not the same as “need”) and, even better than that, everything has a home and I know where everything is!
So, with a good layout, good tools, good organization, and good friends and relatives to share it, my woodworking shop is perfect for me. May I continue to have the good health to enjoy the shop for many years to come!
Below is the site plan of our lot as it appears in the building permit for my shop. I subsequently got permission to expand the shop with a wing to the north-west (the top left in the diagram), but the shop building remains in the spot that it occupies in the original diagram.
Here are some pictures of the exterior from different perspectives:
From the back yard gate:
From the East:
From the north-east:
From the north-west looking over our neighbour's fences:
And here are the ramps that fit over the steps to move large stuff in and out of the shop:
The funky art on the inside of the double doors (and throughout the shop) is courtesy of my granddaughter Isla who was 4 when she decorated the place.
Its name is Shed 2. I carved this sign that hangs over the single door:
That begs the question: Where is Shed 1? Shed 1 (also called The Shed) :
is located at Pellow’s Camp about 1000 kilometres north west of Shed 2. Shed 1 is a combined workshop, bunkie, and storehouse that I built about 15 years ago. Here are a couple of photos: