So when all was said and done at the end of October last year, I had this beautiful new garage. Smooth concrete floors, a real garage door that goes up and down with the touch of a button, etc. Smells like fresh pine, looks great. Fantastic.
Now what? The average new small two car garage is just a box, manifestly unequipped for woodworking or even storing garagy stuff. Even the two electrical circuits need improvements. As I might have mentioned, this whole project was unanticipated so it wasn’t like I could do much in the way of customization during the initial construction. A stock garage yes, but one I could customize. Where to start is the question. Consider this was November already, leading into the coldest winter in many years. Hence why this would have to be a long term adventure, something that would develop as time, money and my own sensibilities towards woodworking come along.
How about lights? For the outside, I found these easy to install, low cost barn lights. The big box stores have some great stuff, but only if you look hard enough. They don’t have those nasty globes that trap bugs and discolor plus bulbs are simple to change. Real bulbs. None of those hideous CFL’s. Inside, I am keeping it simple. Can’t say I like florescent bulbs, both because of the color and the space they take up. In keeping with the barn lights, I found barn light reflectors that screw into a standard ceiling outlet. At the same time I replaced the plastic garbage that the electricians installed with good old ceramic fixtures. I also extended the lighting from two to four bulb receptacles. The reflectors dramatically increase the light by directing it down and not up into the rafters. The garage is now bright and pleasing inside and out without any florescent. True color rendering too. Total cost: about $75.
For the moment I am working off two 20 Amp power outlets. When I decide on a more permanent layout I will extend those runs but right now it’s no big deal. An overhead roll up extension cord means no part of the garage is out of reach. We would all like to have dedicated 220 and a sub panel but I honestly have no need for it, even though it would be nice to switch the table saw to 220 and draw less amperage.
When planning the garage, I did ask for a slightly higher roof pitch. The old garage had seven foot sidewalls which mean you could reach up and easily touch the bottom of the joist. Hanging light fixtures would then be about 6 1/2 feet. You can picture how many times things got whacked with a board or sheet of plywood. Storing things above the rafters was limited and difficult. The new garage has 8 foot sidewalls standard and the difference is like night and day. Combined with the higher roof pitch, the upper reaches of the garage are great for storage. Before bringing anything back from the rental storage, I installed two sheets of 1/2 plywood, dead center. The builders had asked me where I wanted the extra cross ties we had ordered and I had them double up under where I wanted the plywood. No need for 3/4 inch plywood, which my back is thankful for. Remember, this is a one man show. If I can’t lift it, I can’t do it.
The lesson is pay for a higher roof pitch. You get a lot of space for your dollar. If I could have, I would have asked for higher sidewalls. That is another great investment if you plan and are creative. Costs much less than giving the garage a larger footprint, considering the cost of concrete. I have an 8×8 storage loft with enough headroom to almost stand. I deliberately left the rest of the rafters open to store boards, pipes, etc. The majority of the seldom used garagy stuff is happily and neatly out of the way.