My Corner of the World #1: The beginning

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Blog entry by sry posted 01-27-2009 05:57 AM 1400 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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My wife and I bought our house on the east side of Cleveland in spring 2007, and this past fall I was granted the rights to a small corner of the basement to use as a shop. I’ve been slowly transforming it into a more respectable work area. I’m going to try to keep track of what I’m doing/have done, in hopes that others can either benefit or steer me off the wrong path if I start to stray.

DISCLAIMER: This is lagging behind real time by a few months, but I should be caught up shortly. Please excuse any verb tense errors :o)

So without further ado, here’s about where I started:
Basement wall before
The especially observant of you will notice that this space is pretty small. I have about 2’ to the left of the picture before running into the furnace, and on the right I run into the laundry area. Of course, even 100 square feet is better than 0. I’m kicking myself now for not having a picture, but there used to be a massive shelving unit in this corner. There’s a piece of PVC on the floor that used to run around the perimeter of the shelves and serves as a drain for the sprinkler system I didn’t know I had until I chopped through it with a shovel.

After removing the rest of the wood, rerouting the pvc, attacking the wall with a wire brush, and several coats of dry-lok paint, I arrived at this point:
Basement wall after
So I think we’re on the right track here, the space seems bigger and cleaner just with a simple coat of paint. If only everything were that easy.

At this point, the plan is to put the workbench on the left wall, and my current miter saw stand (plywood on saw horses) on the right wall.

Planned improvements:
  • Tool wall on the left wall above the workbench
  • Better miter saw stand with lots of storage for the right wall
  • Clamp rack on the right wall towards the corner
  • Better lighting and outlet selection. Thankfully I’m within easy reach of 2 different 20 amp 120V circuits, and 1 30 amp 240V circuit (although I don’t think I can fit anything big enough to need that kind of juice). Currently the only outlet in the area is the one that was on a vertical 2×4 in the first picture, and I’ve rotated up to the ceiling for the second picture.

Next time I’ll post some pictures of the rest of the basement and a floor plan.

11 comments so far

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3448 days

#1 posted 01-27-2009 06:16 AM

Your off to a great start. There are many here working in sthe corner of basements. It builds character. Put your tools on mobile bases and wheel them into place when you want to use them. I’ll bet your innovative gene will kick in and ideas on how to utilize a small space will ooze out of your pores.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 3869 days

#2 posted 01-27-2009 06:55 AM

Yes sir, a great start and I like David’s suggestions…let the workbench be the solid start and then put wheels on other tools and accessories…and who knows…somebody may let you have more space….or ANOTHER SPACE in the future. Good Luck!!!

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3785 days

#3 posted 01-27-2009 12:33 PM

This is a nice start. One of the biggest drawbacks to basement shops is that they tend to be somewhat dark. Painting the walls, as you have done, will help with the lighting issues. Keep us posted on your progress.

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

View lew's profile


12017 posts in 3718 days

#4 posted 01-27-2009 05:15 PM

Welcome to the world of basement shops!

Here’s the plan. Thank the wife often for the space… listen carefully for any project hints… pick a project that she really wants AND requires the purchase of at least one new tool… place new tool slightly over the current “boundary”... repeat as often as necessary until you have occupied at least half of the basement. Then squatters rights are on your side :^)

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

View sry's profile


147 posts in 3571 days

#5 posted 01-27-2009 05:46 PM

Fantastic ideas, lew. I’m already getting pretty good at picking projects to justify new tools (“yes dear I really need the $200 drill press to finish the $20 clocks”)

I just have to make sure that I don’t push too hard too fast, or else I’ll wind up contributing more to the “and then the fight started” thread…

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 3531 days

#6 posted 01-27-2009 07:43 PM

LOL – I know that one Steve! I’m rounding two grand and heading upwards for a cutting board and a pair of serving trays for my nieces wedding gift… And my Lady Wife has an ever growing project list for me. (I quote; “Spend what you want, spend what you need, but we are getting our money’s worth out of these tools”.)

Space in our garage is pretty much non negotiable however…

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4062 days

#7 posted 01-27-2009 08:34 PM

Before I read anything, I saw the first photo and thought, “He needs to use some Dry-Lok on that wall!”

Good choice for brightening and protecting the wall and area, especially in Ohio.

I think that you are going to become the king of working in a tight space. Guess what? Most guys with bigger shops just have more crap and are more disorganized in a larger space. You can function in a small space if you are disciplined.

Have you been to Case Western Reserve to check out the Frank Ghehry addition on the building down from the art museum in Cleveland?

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View sry's profile


147 posts in 3571 days

#8 posted 01-27-2009 08:43 PM

The first time I saw Gehry’s building (just before I started undergrad at Case) I thought it was in the process of being torn down, as did my father, who works for a big contractor and sees these things all the time. Although I’m not a huge fan of the exterior, the interior is really quite beautiful. There are also some interesting quirks about it, like the flooded basement from sprinkler system pipes that were run just under the metal skin without insulation, or the sidewalk that has to be closed every winter because the roof concentrates and funnels snow into an icy avalanche.

So far the Dry-Lok is working beautifully, although I’m now noticing that the rest of the wall (which was originally white) was apparently painted with normal paint and is seeping a little. Always one more thing to do…

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4062 days

#9 posted 01-27-2009 09:40 PM

“Quirks” Yes this is a good way to describe the issues with Gehry’s architectural wonders. I love the intellectual stimulation that I get from his designs, but my background is in structural remodel and repair and I can usually see potential problems with a lot of designs. Still, I love looking at.

Concerning your house, one thing I wondered about was the drainage issues. Do you have proper drainage to get water away from the house so that it is not being deposited to the foundation straight from the roof? Usually the type of stain that I see on your wall is the indication of a drainage problem.

By the way, I am originally from Centerburg which is located in Knox County, Ohio. It is a small village about 30 miles northeast of Columbus on Rt. 36. I live in Billings, MT now but I did quite a bit of work back home over the last 5 years.

I also had a friend that moved from Billings to Avon as a manager for Costco Wholesale. He has worked at both locations, at Avon and on the east side of Cleveland.

My brother developed all of the Cord Camera properties in Cleveland.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3762 days

#10 posted 01-27-2009 10:07 PM

Steve, I also live on the east side of Cleveland. Good luck with your new shop.

-- making sawdust....

View maugust's profile


20 posts in 3912 days

#11 posted 09-03-2009 05:05 PM

I live in Eastlake, not too far away. Good luck with your renovation.

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