Garage Workshop Transformation #1: A Loooong Way To Go

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Blog entry by John Steffen posted 04-26-2010 04:03 AM 2227 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Garage Workshop Transformation series Part 2: The Ultimate Tool Stand »

Today marks a good day to start documenting my garage’s change into a work space. My table saw finally arrived. It has been sitting in my dad’s machine shop for a few months. While it was there he built a rolling base for it. My dad and I (mostly my dad) spent the day wiring up the garage for the 220 needed for the saw.

So here it is…
The Garage

To call it a mess at this point would be a gross understatement. When we moved in the fall it was a catch-all for things we couldn’t find a place for. Over the winter I had it cleaned once, but a few hurried projects without heat meant it ended in an extensive state of upheaval. You can’t see in this picture, but there is another garage door out of the frame to the right. The door on the left goes to the back yard.

I have a lot of good plans for this summer. I’m going to clean everything out, and get rid of all of the current built-ins. I want to insulate the walls, doors, and ceiling. I’m going to start putting up walls, though I’m not sure exactly what I want. I was thinking birch ply with vertical trim strips (like wood siding). There are new built-ins I want to build too.

We’ll see if I can just get it insulated for this winter… any bets?

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

11 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3844 days

#1 posted 04-26-2010 04:17 AM

John, I see a lot of potential in your space. It looks like you will have plenty of room to maneuver around in there and the window is a plus as well. It is going to be interesting to watch the evolution of your shop.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Woodcanuck's profile


128 posts in 3023 days

#2 posted 04-26-2010 04:22 AM

Nice sized space.

Do you plan on putting in any kind of permanent heating system? Winters in Toronto probably aren’t too much different. I closed off about 14’x18’ in my garage for my shop and heat it mostly with an electric oil-filled radiator and spot heating with an electric overhead radiant heater. These help a lot, but it’s still pretty chilly.

One big big big difference was covering the floor. Standing on the cold concrete just sucks the heat out of you, leaving behind some nasty aches and pains. I put a layer of dricore panels down and some rubber 2’x2’ interlocking squares (the thin stuff, not the kiddie foam squares). This helped out a lot…it’s far from perfect, radiant heating in the floor would be a nice luxury…but I suspect running it would get pretty expensive.

Some day, I may graduate to an enclosed radiant heating system run on gas, but not until I win the lottery.

Good luck with the shop….it’s a fun time setting it all up….so much so, that I seem to re-do it on a regular basis. :-)

-- Ian - Life's a game, if you don't play, you can't win.

View John Steffen's profile

John Steffen

218 posts in 3077 days

#3 posted 04-26-2010 04:43 AM

Ian, I am planning to put in some heating, though I’m not sure exactly what I want to use… This winter I had a radiant propane heater, though I’m not sure that would be the best if I start doing more things that involve fine dust and/or finishing fumes. I had considered an outdoor wood-burning stove, as I can fuel that with hard work and some trips out to my dad’s (he has 40 acres of forest and a good dozen chain saws). I’m also considering electric options since I can have multiple, and they don’t generally stink.

This conversion is a permanent-temporary solution… I have a second garage that belonged to another house that has since been torn down (I own two lots). It’s in really bad shape, so once it falls down I’m wanting to put up a Morton building of some kind and move my shop to that.

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

View dbhost's profile


5723 posts in 3254 days

#4 posted 04-26-2010 04:53 AM

Is that a ping pong table I see folded up there? I bet that could be used as a finishing table with some plastic over it to protect it…

With a little organization, some electricity, some insulation and drywall, that is going to be a GREAT work space!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3979 days

#5 posted 04-26-2010 05:59 AM

Dude…that is like a blank canvas…I can see a great shop in that space


View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3087 days

#6 posted 04-26-2010 12:35 PM

I wish I had that much room. ( i’m jealous)

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View John Steffen's profile

John Steffen

218 posts in 3077 days

#7 posted 04-26-2010 12:44 PM

To be fair, The first stall (nearest) is still going to be the home to my fiance’s car, and in the winter I would like to park my truck in the second stall. My effective working space is 19×22, but with both vehicles, it drops down to 10×22. I would like to be able to contain everything in that 10×22 space and be able to work in it with the freedom to back my truck out if I need a bit more room to work.

And yes dbhost, that is a ping pong table. That thing takes up so much room, I’m probably going to put it up on Craigslist next weekend. I would put it in my basement, but even fully disassembled it won’t fit down the stairs :(

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3081 days

#8 posted 04-26-2010 01:06 PM

With some creativity, you should not have any problem containing everthing in that 10×22 space. That is close to the size of my shop which unfortunately also shares space with my kids bicycles to trip over as well as some other junk that always seems to end up in my work space. The most challenging thing to deal with will be dust control so that your vehicles don’t get completely covered with dust if you try to work with the vehicles inside. When you insulate, I highly recommend installing some sort of insulation on the inside of those garage doors. I have one garage door in my shop and it made a huge difference in the comfort level in the winter after I insulated it. I used foam insulation board, cut to fit and then held in place using construction adhesive. It isn’t high tech and it isn’t pretty, but it really helped to keep out the cold this winter. I got the idea from

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3190 days

#9 posted 04-26-2010 07:28 PM

I like how you have two roll up doors on hot days the breeze can blow though.
This could be a great work space.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View Woodstock's profile


253 posts in 3310 days

#10 posted 04-26-2010 11:18 PM

I’ve been doing the same thing here except my shop is only 10.5×18 feet. I put in a 2×4 frame & 3/4” ply floor to get off the cracked concrete floor which helps with the cold & old joints in my legs. My biggest problem is there are too many tools to fit in such small place with no real place I can expand into. (I have to go outside to change my mind….)

You should have a ton of fun building up your shop. Keep us posted on the progress.

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

View Michael J's profile

Michael J

103 posts in 3230 days

#11 posted 05-12-2010 08:52 PM

I insulated my garage this past winter in hopes of getting heat out to my detached garage. It was a pain doing the rafters (wanted to use ceiling for storage), but finally got it done just in time for spring. The last step was to install the heater which I did a lot of research on before making my purchase. If you have a gas line and want the most efficient heater, I would strongly recommend an infared heater. I chose a SunStar infared radiant heater which worked out great. The benefits to infrared is that it eats everything in your garage including the slab and that in turn gives off heat, rather than having hot air sit up in the ceiling. It’s also helps minimize heat escape when you open the garage door. While it’s more expensive than your typical forced air heater, the cost savings should almost pay for that difference in the first year.

-- Mike Minneapolis, MN

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