How I built my shop

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Blog entry by wdkits1 posted 04-16-2009 10:20 PM 1407 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I went into business back in 1993 I had to move from my 8×10 shop in the back yard to a space I rented for $350 a month. I had recently gotten an order from Leichtung workshops for 440 of my Intarsia Project kits. The space I rented was a 750 sq. ft metal building in the middle of an industrial park and I knew that I didn’t want to stay there forever. The kits sold well for several years but it turned out to be a seasonal thing with the most sales being between October through March. I was still working my full time job as an electrician foreman doing commercial work in grocery stores and shopping centers so the rental space would sometimes not really pay for itself during the slack months.I would still go to the shop and draw new patterns and make new kits for the next season and build a few pieces of furniture, all the while honing my woodworking skills and techniques. I decided that the time had come to find a place to call my own if I was to continue with the woodworking. I began making a list of all the things that I would like to include in a new shop. I wanted to be able to build it myself relying on the experience that I gained from building log homes in North Carolina. When I grew up in Maine I loved the spaciousness of old barns that we used to play in as kids so I wanted to build a timber framed structure. I didn’t want a concrete floor because of back and knee ailments associated with years of working on concrete floors doing electrical work plus I wanted the crawl space to run the electrical and dust collection under the floor.I also wanted high ceilings and an upstairs for extra storage space.The place that we found to build the shop was for sale and the location was perfect. A 2300 sq. ft ranch on 1.3 acres at the end of a cul-de-sac with wetlands to the left and RR tracks behind and 2 empty lots to the right that wouldn’t perk Perfect!!. We bought the house but because of county ordinances I was limited as to the size of the footprint that the shop could be so I designed it to be 20’x 38’ which was smaller than I wanted but I could make bigger by having the second floor. I drew up some plans and specs for the county and all went well. So here is the pictorial sequence of the building of Mike’s One Man Shop. I started by building a scale model.

The model really helped during the material take-off of what was needed to build the shop.

I laid out the footings and rented a mini-backhoe to do the digging.

Big Day—pouring the footings. Hope I measured everything right

Free bricks, free sand and free mortar. I laid the piers off the old school way using a water level. First time I laid brick but had seen it done plenty of times. Not rocket science!!

Next sequence—-Let the building begin.

-- Mike --

8 comments so far

View johnpoolesc's profile


246 posts in 3330 days

#1 posted 04-16-2009 10:47 PM

that’s a great time for any woodworker.. the scale model thing is unreal.. i drew a picture of a large cracker box and went to lowes

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 3879 days

#2 posted 04-16-2009 11:20 PM

WDKits, I can’t wait to see the progress on your shop. I love the model. Good luck with it.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3731 days

#3 posted 04-16-2009 11:30 PM

Congratulations. This is an exciting time for you. You’re a little larger than my 24’x28’ “Workshop in the Woods”. Are you going to use the second floor for wood storage?

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3618 days

#4 posted 04-17-2009 12:52 AM

looks like a good start!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Peik Löf's profile

Peik Löf

115 posts in 3342 days

#5 posted 04-17-2009 01:24 AM

Looking forward to seeing more pictures :D Many more i hope

-- My signature is awesome.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3528 days

#6 posted 04-17-2009 02:15 AM

Which part of NC did you build log homes in? Like the model of your shop you made.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View wdkits1's profile


215 posts in 3323 days

#7 posted 04-17-2009 02:26 AM

Hi Jerry I Lived in Roxboro but most of the log homes that I built were in Hillsborough. Also did a couple on Lake Gaston.

-- Mike --

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3528 days

#8 posted 04-17-2009 12:26 PM

OK, I just thought you might have been a builder in the Jefferson/Boone area of the Appalachians. Lot of log homes up there. When I had my cabinet shop in W Jefferson, we built a lot of cabinets for log homes.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

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