Friday, May 22, 2015

Workshop Remedial

Le Corbusier, is famous for proclaiming "the house is a machine for living in".  Our ranch home has certainly influenced my life. As I addressed it's shortcomings, the house helped me develop values, learn skills and even played a role in finding my spouse.  How all this took place would not have been possible without a space that I could use as a workshop. Thing is, though, that while it led to a home that we're very happy with and which provides a great setting to pursue our interests and loves, the shop itself has been a bit of an ugly duckling. I hate low ceilings, lack of good ambient light and particle board all of which my shop possessed in abundance. This is the space back in 1995 when it was in escrow.

The shop/storage area is under a second story addition. It is 24 x 24 and divided into 4 sections. The photo shows the main section; two doors allow access to 8x12 ft and an 10x12 rooms. The first was used as a small work area and the other as storage (below)

 The main initially was a man-cave sort of area; the owners from whom I purchased the property used it as storage. The main area had two small windows. There is an additional area 6 x12 which was used as a garden shed. That purpose makes sense as it opens directly to the back yard. However, it wastes it's exposure to sunlight.

The floors had vinyl tile floors, particle board paneling, dropped acoustic ceilings, aluminum windows and particle board cabinets. Ouch.
The initial remedial interventions were to get rid of the acoustic ceiling in the main area and replace the aluminum windows with vinyl windows. The window on the long wall was covered over with a pair of stained glass wood windows as (my idea of a) window treatment and for insulation. It and the adjacent 8x12 area served as my shop for the next 18 years or so. The other two areas served to accumulate stuff, some needed, most eventually categorized as junk, during this time.

DW being a PNW native noticed a small wet spot on the upstairs south wall three years ago. I foolishly ignored it as it was not increasing in size. The reason it was not increasing was that it was traveling further down and eventually created a leaky shop ceiling. Good news: led to replacing a noisy and leaky skylight upstairs with one twice as large which made for much better headroom with a much larger ceiling opening. 

Getting back to the shop project; the above space is relevant because the shop's drywall ceiling had significant water damage. While getting rid of the acoustic ceiling in the mid 90's improved the shop ceiling height, I recurrently ideated ways of improving this further and rather than repair the drywall, going to an exposed joist beam would improve the "lacking headroom" issue.  As most of the shop area is under a second story, options are pretty limited. There is a 5ft area that has a flat roof only facing East that I thought about, but was dissuaded from consultants as practically implausible due to joist orientation. I settled in tearing down the drywall which I installed 16 years ago. That would let me put recessed LED 1x4 panels between the joists and raised the ceiling areas b/w the joists.  For insulation my initial plan to use solid panel insulation was changed to fiberglass rolls after learning the price difference. I was going to use plywood sheets between the joists, but found some steel panels at my local salvage that I used instead- no painting, sealing or dealing with seams. The price was reasonable as well.
DW had developed an interest in my shop after I began to share the area with our latest addition to the cat census. Like our prior addition, this was a cat squatter.

DW agreed that, given the known belligerence of our # One Son (Ernie) and the new kid, it was best for Andy to stay out of the house.  The cat still needed shelter from bad weather and other meaner, bigger critters, thus I have a new shopmate. DW also  developed an interest in dust management (see 4/18/14 post) and the general livability of the space. Given my hatred of particle board, it was ironic that it covered the walls of the shop and the cabinetry was made of the stuff. 

So, before we could even think about what then new was going to look like, emptying the shop and storage area and gutting the interior needed to take place. Storage space is valuable and necessary, but it also the case that it's a coffin for stuff. Between drywall removed from the ceiling, removing everything that's particle board (bears repeating that I despise particle board), and applying the rule that if something has not been used in more than a year, it needs to go,  Below is a pile waiting to go to the dump- multiply by six - and counting.

The exception to this is wood left over from prior projects; most woodworkers seems to need to keep a varying amount of supply on hand. 
Another challenge is that the shop still needs to be functional in order to do the work needed to rehab it. When moving tools and supplies, keeping things organized and accessible is proving to be a challenge. Fortunately, yet another small accessory area has come in handy. By getting rid of 3/4 of what was being stored, re-using some of the shelving and cabinets from gutting the shop area, I was able to make a temporary home for materials and tools.
Once gutted, DW was able to see what I could not adequately verbalize. Lack of good ambient light was my workspace's most significant problem. The space where my mitre saw and band saw were previously stationed could not be used without artificial light. It also served as a kitty litter area and bike storage (see above). The main area needed artificial light except if it was a sunny day and even then only from morning to mid-afternoon. I thought that by opening the previously closed off garden tool shed area to the shop and adding windows to the East wall would solve the lack of daylight problem. DW further suggested to bump out the East portion to add to the area that has the most sun exposure. Once the area was gutted, it was evident that it was quite spacious. So, why add square footage? Well, the low ceiling height would limit the height of the windows I could use and it would likely still be hard to get in daylight. This is the South view presently with morning ambient lighting-still kinda dark. I also had begun looking at internet sites for ideas for layout and found that most of the shops seemed to have even more workspace area than mine.

The hope is that by bumping out the South wall 6 feet and raising the ceiling height in that addition, we'll be able to, by taller windows and possibly skylights, introduce more light into the workshop area. The other areas below will be storage, bike garage and kitty bathroom and feeding areas as there are no windows there.  Here are before photos of the two rooms

And at the present stage

To be continued...

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