My Workshop

Until I was divorced I had my workshop in a one-car garage. That didn't leave me with very much room, especially when she wanted to put her car inside. After my divorce I had to move into the ghetto for a little while to recover psychologically and financially, so my workshop had to be packed up and stored in my dad's barn. But last year (2001) I bought a 30' by 24' unfinished garage with a 16' overhead door, a service door, and 220 volt 100 amp service. Oh yeah, there's a detached house, you know, three bedrooms, etc.

The garage needed a little work though. It was framed normally (not a pole barn type of garage), and the roof was framed using rafters and ceiling joists. The first problem was to strengthen the ceiling joists. I did this by putting king posts in the center, and added some framing members to part of the ceiling so I can do some lifting, like engines. Then I took the 1/4" OSB (Oriented Strand Board) out and put two rows of 1/2" plywood in the attic.

The electrical system needed reworked also. Whoever wired it ran the 110V runs to the receptacles in the ceiling, and they dropped down to the receptacles and then went back up to the ceiling with the wire. This put too much extra wire in the system for me. My brother, Marty, ran the 220V line for me, since I don't fool with 220V wiring.

I also insulated the walls and ceiling, and then drywalled and had it spackled. Then a coat each of primer and white paint, with an end result of (drum roll please):

View of left side of workshopView of right side of workshop

Click on an image for a larger view.

Look at all those lights. Eleven fixtures, ten two-bulb and one four-bulb. There is a total of 960 watts of light, or 1-1/3 watts per square foot. I don't think my house is that well lighted. The lights are sectioned into 'banks.' The five fixtures on the left, in the shop area, are all hard-wired and are turned on using toggle switches on each fixture. The four on the right in the rear are all operated from a switch at the service door, and there are two above the garage door on another switch at the door.

Shelf for storing stuff

One problem with any workshop is where to store all your stuff when it's not needed. So I built some 1' x 4' shlelves out of 16 gage sheet metal at work. There's 24 square feet of space including the floor underneath.

Workbench for the shaper and lathe

Working our way clockwise, here is the bench with my shaper and lathe on it. Each of the machines I've built are mounted to a board (except the drill press), and the board is mounted to a bench. This makes it easy to move things if I need to. Notice the pan under the bench. I keep a couple of those around to catch chips that come off the machines. Having these on the floor makes cleanup easier, and I take any aluminum chips and put them in cans to remelt. I'll take a can, like the 'cheese in a can' cans, pull all the plactic and rubber out, cut out the top to remove the plastic insert, and fill it with chips. Then I cut the top and smash it down to close it. Hairspray and soda cans work also.

Workbench with grinder and vises

Here is my regular workbench. Notice the clock above the bench. (Did I mention that I'm not a good photographer?) The grinder was left at the first house I bought, and one vise was my grandfather's and the other was my uncle's. Other than that, there's nothing exciting here.

Bench with mill and scroll saw

My mill and scroll saw are on this bench. And to the right of the picture is my drill press (not shown). I made an angle iron frame to mount it to so that it would be at a more ergonomically correct height, and to free up some workbench space. The drill press on the floor is one that my brother's father-in-law was going to throw away. It needs a spring to return the spindle and a chuck key. And no one can have too many drill presses.

Bench with belt sander and band saw

Another non-descript bench. The same guy that was going to pitch the drill press was getting rid of the band saw also. I'll have to make new guides, and a piece that closes the table around the blade, but that's all. And another shelf on the wall. Can't have too much storage, can we?

Green sand molding bench

Now we're getting to the interesting stuff. This is my molding bench. It's 2' x 4', and has about 200 pounds of green sand in it. Under the bench are the molding flasks. And yet another shelf. This one has my riddle (for breaking up the sand); various sized sprues; tools for cutting gates, rapping patterns, and venting molds; and other odds and ends that are needed to make the molds. I also have a fire extinguisher (I hope my insurance agent notices that).

Sand pit for foundry furnace

Here is where all the casting is done. The pit is 44" x 96" and has 3" of sand in it. I made 1" thick insulated panels at work to protect the walls from the heat and any possible spills. Each panel overlaps the next panels so that no metal can get between them. The hood is 4' x 8', and is attached to a sleeve that goes through the roof to an exhaust fan. With the high temperature difference between the ambient air and the furnace, I don't think I really need a fan, but putting a no-loss stack only presents problems when the weather gets cold. Making a damper that will close so that no cold air will fall into the garage, but is easy and convenient to operate, is a pain in the neck. This system has an automatic backdraft damper that the fan opens when it turns on.

Well, that completes the tour. It's tempting to say "Ya'll come back now, ya hear" but I won't.

Updated June 16, 2002

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