Project: Toolroom

So here I am in a new place, with new space, but no place to work! No workbench, no tool storage, no shelves…. I was sad. So I started plotting, and made note of the 8′ x 7′ room off the garage here….

It was cluttered, a little messy, but it had potential, and, the best part, no one was concerned about me turning it into my lair… mwaahahahahaa… oh, wait, uh, I mean, a tool room. Yeah, definitely a tool room. Also, storage.

I mulled it over for a week or so, and came up with a couple of key concerns:
1) Whatever I build needs to leave the water heater accessible so it can be repaired or replaced without tearing out what I built.
2) Nothing can be built in front of the electrical panel. NFPA code says the 36″ in front of the panel must be clear at all times.
3) I need to be able to store small, medium, and large things without having to fight with them.
4) I don’t have a lot of space to start with, so i’ll need to keep things small.
With those things in mind, the plan came together very simply; shelves go on the right, and a workbench on the left.

Once i’d salvaged the materials and got everything to one place, I started by moving some crap out of the way, and building the workbench. I decided to maximize the space I DO have, and I built the workbench right out to the door trim, as big as I could go. The scrap piece of sub flooring fit perfectly there once I ripped a few inches off.


For both the shelves and workbench, I simply mounted blocking to the wall, attaching it to the studs through the sheetrock, and then setting the boards on the blocking. Once the boards were in place, I cut legs to fit each height and installed them from the bottom up.


The top shelf is maximum depth since it’s above everyone’s head, but the rest of the shelves are a little shallower to balance the depth with the space in the room. I can walk, turn, and have a second person in there comfortably without feeling claustrophobic, and the bottom shelf being even shallower allows me to have space to move taller things like buckets or tools out of my way when I need to, giving me some flexibility.

The purpose of this room is primarily for storage, but having a workbench in the space is nice to be able to make small repairs, and have a place to leave projects while they dry. Adding an oil-filled heater to the room allows me to keep it warm-ish in the winter, which means I don’t mind working in there when it’s cold outside, and my power tool batteries will appreciate the warmth, too.

All told this project took me 6 hours; 1 hour to measure and plan, 1 hour to gather the materials, and four hours to do the actual work. I provided the screws out of my stash, and I already had all the tools I needed, so my total cost out of pocket was $0.

I’m looking forward to cleaning it up, getting it organized more, and adding pegboard to the wall above the workbench. I think i’ll add some shelves above the battery shelf as well.

Floating Trim Shelf

So here I am, walking in and out of the house everyday, looking at all the stuff I keep by the front door, and thinking to myself, “I don’t like all this crap sitting here in a pile”.

The mess

So I get this wild idea to build a little shelf to sit on the trim piece. A couple of key points here:
1) I don’t want to damage the trim in any way.
2) I don’t want anything permanently affixed to the trim/wall.
3) I don’t want anything freestanding taking up more floor space.
I make a little space on the porch, gather up some stuff, pet my helpers, and start goofing around.

I come up with an idea of putting one large board on top, a small spacer board under it to match the thickness of the trim, and then a third board at the bottom to match the depth of the trim underneath. In my mind, this thing will just slide right onto the trim, and not fall off because the bottom board prevent the whole thing from ‘tipping away from the wall’, which means it can’t fall (physics and sh*t).

So I cut, I build, I tweak, I fiddle…

and eventually I get to the part where I can test the thing out!
Now, I tested it with just the center mount in place, but I didn’t snap a pic there because I was too excited with my results. I tweaked it some, added side supports, and stuck it back up there.

I decided I liked it, so I took it back outside, sanded it down, then brought it back inside, put it up, moved it around a bit, and finally got it how I liked it.

I got done with it, cleaned up my mess, put my stuff away, and pondered on the shelf for a little bit. Digging through my ‘junk’, I found some hooks I liked, added them to the shelf, and then fiddled around it with a little more. Eventually I ended up with this:

Took me less than an hour, using scrap materials and leftover fasteners from other stuff, and that included time to pet the helpers, get a drink, pause and ponder the sky, and of course find my tape measure that I just $%^&*(*&^% had RIGHT HERE.

I did sand it down nice and smooth with 80 grit, just to take the rough edges off, so there’ll be no splinters or unpleasant touches.
Were I more interested in a nice finish for myself, i’d fill in all the little imperfections with wood putty, sand it down with 80 grit, then 120, then 150 grit before painting, OR, I would sand it down with 200 grit and apply a stain finish.

As you’ve seen with my other projects, the ones I do for myself are all about function, and little about finish, because I just need stuff that works.
Next up is to see how my house-mate reacts to it (they were asleep the whole time I was building this!).

Just for fun, but it works…

As an aside to the Mock Wall project, I threw this together quickly, both because I love having a whiteboard up, and because it was there.


I gave myself bonus points for:
1) Using scrap materials (wood pieces),
2) Not damaging the whiteboard in any way, and,
3) Not permanently fastening ANYTHING that needs to be repaired later.

On that last note, the wall the whiteboard blocks are affixed to is a temporary wall, put up due to a missing picture window in the space beyond. 🙂

The mock wall

I’ve been known for creative, sometimes interesting (read: Wild) solutions to everyday problems, but this particular project was a personal pleasure for me, and something I designed and built myself. I love building things, but this little wall made me very happy!

This is a mock wall, 8′ high, 12′ wide, built half of 2×4 framing, and half of 2×6 framing. It’s purpose is to give us a place to mock up the new water management system we’re using on the house we’re rebuilding, and let all the contractors collaborate on how exactly each material and layer fits with the others.


The background here is that i’m the Owners Rep in this project (one of several services I offer!) and i’m handling a wide variety of tasks with the intention of keeping this project on track.

Being an Owners Rep is similar to being a Project Manager, with the key difference being that i’m assisting the owner in handling/managing things, not working for the construction company. This means i’m specifically looking out for the owners best interest (something I always did as a General Contractor or Handyman) and handling the day-to-day tasks and decisions for the owner. Among the many benefits to the owner that I bring to the table are, my extensive background in construction, my high attention to detail, and my vast organizational skills.

Some days are more fun than others, but this wall has been a centerpiece of sorts for me in this project, and I like it. 🙂

Tower Time

‘Twas a beautiful, sunny day in Georgia, and the sunshine found me around a hundred feet up in a tower. Some fellow Amateur Radio operators and I teamed up to resolve a weak transmit issue with a local repeater system, and while I freely admit that the rest of the team did all the technical work, I was the only who got high on this mission ;P.

All kidding aside, there were a couple of interesting parts to touch on. The first one, as my faithful readers will have guessed, is safety. I am aware that many thousands of people have climbed a tower in the past, perhaps many times, without all the standard safety gear, and it’s ‘been fine’. Whoopie. Rule #1 is safety, so I was there in full ‘battle rattle’; harness, with suspension seat, helmet, toolbag, and assorted doo-dads and gizmos to help me stay tied off to the tower. I recommend you always use all of the required safety gear, and a little more than when needed, because it’s not fun to get your radio system up to snuff on the tower, only to not be able to play with for a few weeks or months while you’re a body cast.

The second part i’ll touch on was the key issue here: Water. Water had gotten into the connector between the hardline and the jumper. I know, I know, ‘But what about the sticky tape stuff that seals up the connections???’ Yes, what about it? Well, it was on there, and it was sticky, but it still let water get inside. Fun fact: Water will always find a way in, eventually, so the best way to handle this is seal it up as best you can, but leave a way for water to drain out. In order to facilitate this, I set the connection up in a vertical fashion (see pictures below) and the sealed it up to the edge of some heat shrink tubing on the jumper, leaving the tiniest little path for water to drain out, should it ever find it’s way in there.

Lastly, i’ll touch on one of my favorites: Quality. Yes, it took more time for me to clean everything up before putting it all back together. Yes, it took more time for me to line everything up just right so the antenna is vertical, and is blocked the least amount by the tower footprint. Yes, it took more time for me to wrap the tape down and up, instead of just one pass. But you know what? It’s worth every minute spent on it, because that antenna will be up there for a long, long time, and the extra 20 minutes I spent on quality work is a big part of that longevity. In this vein I would urge you, too, to take the little bit of extra time needed to do a quality job, the first time, and every time.

The connection from hardline to jumper is veritical, with the hardline coming in from the top. This helps to prevent water from getting into the hardline.
The first of two layers of the ‘sticky stuff’, you can see I aimed to overlap it 50%, and got it right most of the time.
Keeping an eye on that bottom level, lining it up just right with the bottom edge of the existing heat-shrink tubing on the jumper.
The second layer went on nice and tight.
All wrapped up nice and tight!
I wrapped the vinyl tape around, first layer sticky side out, second layer sticky side in; this helps keep the sticky off the stretch tape beneath, and makes a better seal. It’s also well-secured to the tower so the chafing or banging don’t cause issues.
The antenna looks good out on that standoff, doesn’t it?
The view from up there is great, but not to die for. 100% tie off, stay safe, and enjoy many more days!