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Evolution of a shop


In May of 2012, Lynn and I moved into a house we bought in the northwest part of Ukiah, CA. One of the main attractions was a 20' x 40' x 12' high, former RV garage, attached to the downhill side of the house. This was to be my next shop space, and we had already agreed that this time I would build the shop first. In addition, I know exactly what I want to build in this new space, which helps me in setting up the work space. My intention is to build crystal and wood, geometric structures as experiments in Intentional Technology.

Documenting the process helped me deal with the staggering magnitude of choices and decisions. It helped to see that it was actually worse before, meaning that there really was progress. This series starts in April, 2012, before we made the offer, and runs through October, 2012.

We closed the deal and took pocession in May. At that point we arranged to have all the "stuff" stored in Port Townsend moved to our new home in Ukiah in early June. My tools and wood were a large part of the load. I prepared the shop space as seemed fitting before the arrival.

There were some benches and storage existing in the space, but they were poorly built, and in the wrong places.


I removed everything and salvaged all the material, to expose the block wall and the floor.

I sealed the concrete block, and painted the floor.


On June 6th the movers arrived, and unloaded all 20,000 pounds in one day. The piles were stunning to the point of despair!

Based on influence by James Krenov, and with several shops behind me, I had decided to wall off the east end to be a 12' x 20' bench room, to be less dusty, and insulated for climate control. The long side of the shop is due south here. Ukiah gets too hot some summer afternoons, but always cools off. In the winter it is cold and wet. I had marked off enough space before the movers arrived, and in this void I started building.

I finished insulating the east wall, finished the drywall, and built the bench room floor with rigid foam panels (about R-10) between nailers for the plywood. The result is solid, but gives more than the concrete. I painted the plywood, but was unsatisfied with the final surface. Home Depot introduced me to floating vinyl flooring. The result is easy to clean and durable. Installation was satifying.

I immediately moved all the stuff that would eventually live in the bench room into that relatively finished area. This was the first of many moves, shifting piles from one area to another, like the puzzles with only one open space, leaving room for new construction.


The south wall has a bench supporting both a chop saw and a radial arm saw. I had just gotten rid of a radial arm saw in Port Townsend, and moved into this garage, where there was a radial arm saw waiting. I took it as a sign. I had the wood angle brackets from my shop in the garage on Gise, in Port Townsend. The brackets allow clear storage underneith.

The summer sun pounds on the west wall of the shop. The big RV roll up garage door is metal and radiated like an oven too hot to touch. I added rigid foam panels on the roll up, and fiberglass batts in the wall framing with noticable improvement.


The northwest corner of the shop became the lumber storage area, with a sturdy rack for plywod on edge.

As places were built for materials, space opened up more, and the saw bench was completed.

By this point I was picking final placement for the various power tools, and it was time to begin wiring the shop. A 30 amp service already existed, but was too small for my desires, which include a welder eventually. I planned to have a new 100 amp service wired in. But I decided to do all the inside work myself. Since the drywall was already installed, I used surface mount conduit everywhere. I ran the pipe, and then built the bench room walls around it.


This is the first piece of wall, which allowed me to build a bench for the lathe and drill press.

After another shuffle, the north wall of the bench room was open to install more conduit, a water line for the sink, and an air pressure line for the eventual spray booth.


After that the rest of the bench room wall was framed, and drywall hung at the floor level.

I hired an electrician to do the 100 amp connection from my box to the main panel. Money well spent. But first I had to deal with the existing situation on the outside east wall of the house. In the left most picture you can see the main water line running through the wire rack frame, and then drooping all along the side of the house. The shelf under the window was rotten and had rotted a line through the siding where it had been attached. Plus, the gas line was poorly secured. In the middle picture, the debris has been removed and the water line has been buried. In the last picture the siding was replaced and painted, and a new double pane window was installed.


The next day the power arrived!

I finished the rest of the drywall, painted it, and finished wiring all the breakers.

I had framed in a beam for a large storage shelf on the north end of the room. Underneith, in one corner is a set of shelf units.

In the middle of that wall I installed a cold water sink. The right hand corner will be a spray booth, about 3' cubed. I plan to spray lacquer for the work I want to produce.

With the major pieces of the bench room constructed, I turned to the larger machine room. The corner by the stairs organizes all my construction hardware and nails. The side bench will be sheet metal work, and the compressor lives underneith.

There was a very large desk in the house when we bought it. I remodeled it into my table saw out table.


I removed some drawers and built heavy duty sliding trays. The near one stores the planer, and the other holds the small thickness sander.

I was beginning to get down to finer details. One shelf unit is for solvents and paints, which will eventually be a locker. Four drawers left over from the big desk organized my plumbing and electrical parts for the first time. My "C" clamp racks fit in along the saw wall.

In Port Townsend I purchased a dust collector. It is a modest wall mount Rockler unit. I can plug into the line over the door for suction at the saws or the router table. Another line connects to the table saw. While not perfect, these systems help keep the dust under control.

I need more light as I get older, and I put extension lamps at the various key points, on the workbench, the lathe and the main desk. I like the 6500 kelvin lamps now available.


The machine room is getting more organized, and there is more floor showing now!

Now at the beginning of November, this space is ready to function as my shop. As always, the final tuning will be ongoing. As I use this space, subtle improvements will be required. Other than a welder, I don't forsee any new major tools. While this is the largest shop area I have ever owned, it is barely able to contain all I currently have. I suspect this enforced constraint will be good for my budget. However, I am very excited to see what will come out of this space. It feels like it has a lot of capacity for induging my creative impulses.