Beginnings of a New Workshop

Posted on April 7th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Opinion,tools by Julian Edgar

Today it’s been rather hard to concentrate on work.

Instead of the sounds of birds, my home office has been filled with the noise of an excavator working in the front garden. The roar of the diesel; the grinding of its scoop teeth on rocks; the clatter as the driver changes buckets.

After living in this house for about eight years, I am finally having a decent workshop built. The shed is going to be (I hope) 14 metres x 6 metres, a huge area of floor space for my pan-brake, lathe, mill, bandsaw, oxy acetylene – and all the rest of the gear.

That equipment currently resides in the space under my (elevated) house – but that area is not weatherproof and has low ceiling clearance. It’s also not anywhere near 84 square metres in size…

The excavator is smoothing and levelling, creating the pad for the shed. It might be in the front yard but the unusual shape of the block actually tucks it into a space scarcely visible from the road, and on an area of land we seldom – if ever – used. The block is steeply sloped so quite a lot of earthmoving work is needed: today another level was scooped out for a shed rainwater tank, a rock retaining wall was built, and an area was built up and compacted.

Last week the work began; tomorrow I am told that 16 metres of rock retaining wall will be built.

This evening I have for the first time been able to walk around the level and firm surface, looking at the space and thinking of what it will be like to have sufficient room for a decently equipped wood and metal working workshop – and to have plenty of room for a car or two in there as well.

Like, there will be enough space to take on a major car restoration project – or even build a car from scratch. Both are of more than passing interest to me.

In preparation for the new workshop, I’ve already started to pick up bargains. In the office in which I am now working I am accompanied by 15 high pressure discharge lights; somewhere else in this room is a box of new eBay powerpoints and light switches.

I’ve also been buying mechanical equipment – stuff that at the moment I don’t even have the room to install, let alone use. So there’s the new (second-hand) metal shears, the new (again second-hand) power electric hacksaw, and the eBay lot of Dexion angle I bought the other day to form part of the shelving.

Soon, perhaps when I have final council approval, I might start steering scale cut-outs around a paper plan, working out the best positions for the machinery, shelves and workbenches…

3 Responses to 'Beginnings of a New Workshop'

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  1. Geoff said,

    on April 8th, 2008 at 9:25 am


    You should consider using Google Sketchup to plan your shed layout. I had a play with it recently and it’s quick, cheap(free) and very useful for what you are doing.

    Also, don’t write anymore about your shed; you will make others jealous.



  2. Mal Land said,

    on September 18th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Julian,
    I’ve been reading your Workshop articles with some interest.
    I designed my house around my workshop. It includes a shallow pit, enough for me to sit under my cars & drain oil, drop gearboxes etc.
    Can’t install a hoist not enough clearance above.
    I’ve some comments to make about illumination and insulation.

    Firstly the illumination…
    Sounds to me that the tube fittings you tested were older fittings with no reflectors which doesn’t help with the illumination levels at the work level.
    And the tubes you used were triphosphor? And if so what ballasts are in the fittings? If they are rated at 36W then you’ll get max output and life from the tubes.
    I have 6 “bays” in my garage delimited by 5 steel beams that traverse the 8.5 metre width of the garage. Each bay has 3 x twin 36 watt fluorescent tube fittings with diffusers.
    My illumination level is ample. Well over 500 lux, and I’m not using triphosphor until the existing tubes fail..
    A problem with compact fluoro’s is their warm up time >30secs, and therefore illumination level is low until they reach operating temp.
    The other problem with compact fluoro’s is their life is shortened if they are switched on for a short duration and then off again.
    I considered low bay fittings prior to installing the fluoro’s but found them inadequate for the job – 3 metres floor to soffit.

    Secondly, insulation…
    I’m surprised you’ve installed none – especially with the Qld summers… And the heavy rain fall, the noise under the roof will require ear-muffs.
    An alternative cooling method would be to install some vents at high level at either end of the shed, but they would have to be fairly large to allow the volume of air flow required to assist in keeping the place cool. Or, Whirlybird units near the roof apex.

    Thanks for your interesting articles.

    Mal Land

  3. Mal Land said,

    on September 23rd, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Just read your article regarding power to your workshop.

    There are some bloody rip-off merchants out there!

    I’m an electrician myself and the prices quoted for some of the materials are rediculous. Three phase outlets & sockets + higher current single phase outlets are expensive but some quotes were well over double the trade price!

    Mal Land