The Chronicles of Woodworking in a Can #2: The Chronicles of Woodworking in a Can (continues 2/27/2009)

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Blog entry by cmckerliesr posted 02-28-2009 01:29 AM 1387 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Chronicles of Woodworking in a Can Part 2 of The Chronicles of Woodworking in a Can series Part 3: Can Wood Glue Freeze? »

Hi All!
Well I know it has been some time since I last wrote about what is was like working inside the can. The temperature, space, so forth. So, I thought I should quit making excuses and sit down to give you all some more information.

First, let me tell you that I have been doing a lot of work inside the can. I installed some recycled kitchen cabinets and set some 3/4 inch MDF on top of them, making an L-shaped work bench or surface that is 18 feet long and the L at the end measures 4 feet if I remember correctly. I’ll have to check it again and get back to you on the exact measurements.

Not long ago, I attempted to install some upper cabinets for some added storage of course. I say attempted, cause it did not go well. I had some Grab-It construction adhesive and put it on some of the metal ribs to affix some 2 X 4’s to the walls. Then I was going to screw the cabinets to the 2 X 4’s. In my mind and in theory this was a good idea. It still is really a good idea, but let me explain what went wrong.

On the tube of the adhesive it says that it should not be used below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It turns out, that is not only for the ambient temperature but that of the material you bonding as well. What happened was, the night before it had been in the 20’s. That day it had warmed up to about the mid 50’s. I did not think to check to temperature of the can. After all, I was comfortable not to hot or cold and it had been above 50 for a couple of hours. Before anyone asks, no the can is not in the shade it gets direct sunlight over 80% of the day. In any case, I had already placed layout lines on the inside of the can where I wanted to glue the 2 X 4’s to the wall. I was confident, since this is how I had attached two pretty heavy fluorescent light fixtures to the ceiling, each holds 4 bulbs. I put the adhesive on the wall, pushed the 2 X 4’s onto the adhesive a let it set. I was busy doing other things, when I heard a loud crash. I looked, and the 2 X 4’s had fallen. After a few choice cuss words (yes, i picked them very carefully. After all I learned them from my father), I tried to find out what went wrong. It was not hard to figure out, once I actually touched the metal. While the ceiling was heating up nicely, the walls were not. It was real easy to tell that the walls were not above 50 degrees. So for now, I have put this off till warmer weather comes around.

In the mean time I had built a tool caddy unit on the end of the bench and I am real glad of that. It has been a real help. Although I do have some more work to do on it and the actual caddies themselves.

I’ve been fortunate. I mean I would not put this out in the middle of the desert and attempt to work in or around it. That is unless I put an air conditioner and or heat inside. I have great air flow, and while it can get quite hot and cold around here. I am able to regulate the temperature inside to my liking just my opening or closing the doors and by how I dress. I have not had to put on real heavy clothing or any that restricted my movements or cause some sort of snag hazard during the cold times. The most I have had on, was a t-shirt, an insulated flannel shirt, jeans, and of course boots. That was when it was in the 30’s or so, we had a little snow on the ground. Anyone who lives around Raleigh or points south knows when I mean, it was earlier this year.

I can hardly wait to get another can, so that I can join the two together to make a real workshop with some space in it. Don’t get me wrong. I like my single can. I like the space I do have. But you always want more, and a little more space would be appreciated.

I will continue to update you all on woodworking in a can. But I think it time to list a few things to consider and ensure you do before you or anyone else runs off to buy their own can. Do I recommend it? Heck, yeah, the cost per square foot is CHEAP. I spent $1800 and that included delivery. You figure it out.
Things to consider and more:

1. Ensure you have prepared a level landing pad for the can.
2. If you do not have room of a container truck to drive up in the area where the can will be placed;then, get estimates for a crane to lift it off and place it on the landing pad.
3. Pay attention to the climate and how the sun will hit the can throughout the day.
(My theory is: If the roof and at least one wall will be warmed by the sun throughout the day, then it will get really warm inside. I base this on the fact that my can is oriented east to west. But due to terrain, the sun can not heat the doors, only the roof all day, and the rear wall in the afternoon till sundown. I am sure that if I had orientated the can differently allowing a side wall and the roof to heat up in the morning hours, and to roof and other wall to be heated in the afternoon hours things would be different.)
4. If necessary install heat and or air into the can.
5. If you can use heavy duty Grab-It Construction adhesive to first mount supports to the walls or ceiling allow it to dry for 12 hours, then attach cabinets or lights to those supports. ( I just do not see any good of drilling holes all over the can.)
6. Put some real thought into painting your can, well at least cover up the ugly. They are the ugliest looking things, until you cover it up.
7. Like any shop or building plan your electrical, dust collection, and any other things you want or need to install.
8. Get 2 good hefty pad locks. Each door has handles that can be and in opinion should be locked. OK, have at least 1 lock. Sometimes I do a little over kill.

While I have most of this list done, I am working on some things. Money you know. Like currently, I do not have the shop wired. I am hanging an extension cord inside the shop with multiple outlets. I run another extension cord from the house and plug it into the cord in the shop. I hope to fix this soon.

Well I have written enough for now. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them.

Warmest Regards to All!

-- The Man in the Can, Craig M. North Carolina

4 comments so far

View lew's profile


12055 posts in 3750 days

#1 posted 02-28-2009 03:26 AM

Other than the construction adhesive problem, sounds like things are really going well. I must admit, when you first started talking about using the container, I had some doubts. Glad you proved me wrong.

Keep us posted!!!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4094 days

#2 posted 02-28-2009 05:21 AM

I had wondered how things were going with woodworking in the can. I snickered pretty good when I saw the post tonight, I just love the title.

I will continue to be following your adventures of woodworking in a can.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3520 days

#3 posted 02-28-2009 03:40 PM

Sounds interesting. You should try using subfloor glue(construction adhesive, not the liquid nails crap) instead of grab it. It will glue anything together permanently.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3707 days

#4 posted 02-28-2009 07:49 PM

Looking forward to future parts!

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

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