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Converting a Backyard Shed into a Model Workshop


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We bought our retirement home in 2018 and in so doing were forced to downsize. After renovations and a new sunroom in the back, we still had "stuff" and the only place to stuff it was a 16'x22' shed in the very back of the yard. Of course, as originally planned, this was going to be my modeling workshop but we all know how these "desires" soon go south - at least for a while anyhow!

 

We've been living here now 12 months and to be honest, a lot has taken place and I'm finally at the point (and place) to work on the old shed. Here is the starting point:

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I did add power back in June by having my electrician bury #6 wires out to the bldg. (and a newer yard equip. shed to the left) where we installed a small sub-panel which powers everything out back:

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I actually started work on the interior late last month after rearranging "stuff" so I could begin in the front right corner of the bldg. I better mention here that some of the "stuff" is all my ship model tools, parts, stash, books, plans, etc. and the rest is "our stuff" - usual accumulation of things that will never be used again!!!

 

I got power (lights) on about a month ago by re-wiring an existing GFCI/switch/Florescent fixture and then started locating receptacles on the left side of the bldg. Oh - I've already created a CAD layout that's been re-worked over the last year or so into its present layout. So, I actually have a plan to go by, albeit changes as reality dictates how things are done!

 

It dawned on me a couple weeks back that all this "stuff" needed a place to go and a fellow modeler and friend mentioned wanting to build a similar storage shed with loft. BINGO!!! Lights flashed and the word was - L-O-F-T!!! So, with his trailer to carry our loot from Lowe's, we spent an afternoon and built a 8' deep loft from side to side in the back of the shed:

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Yesterday I once again relocated "stuff" back to the left side to continue the receptacle wiring around the back to the right side. That's where I'm at now. We've loaded up the loft (last picture) with "stuff" that is NOT modeling related to get things somewhat manageable on the floor. I hope to reframe and replace the back (broken) window and add two windows to the right side of the bldg. and that will probably happen in December. For those interested, all the wiring is 12/2 and lights are LED fixtures with the exception of the 8' long original (and now relocated) florescent fixture. I've allowed in the ceiling area for expansion of lighting by putting a junction box adjacent to the 8' fixture.

 

Comments welcomed!

 

Hank

 

Edited by Hank
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Hank you could build a full sized craft in there! I toyed with that idea in a shed I recently built. I was talked out of it by wiser people than myself and went back to building models. I would assume you have thought of this but if you have not heed the following. One of our group members is/was using his shed for model building but found the humidity gave him all sorts of problems. So much so that he had to restart one project that ended up with a warped keel. He lives in upstate New York on one of the finger lakes. Hope you are putting this space under AC.

Joe 

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Thanks for the comments...so far. The Frollicky One is being mailed a box of soap with which to wash his mouth out with as his insolence will not be tolerated on this otherwise Proper Forum. Monty Python antics will NOT be allowed on this thread!! LOL!!!! (I haven't figured out how to do Smileys or I'd add one or two!!)

 

Joe - One of the factors in our buying this property was the shed itself. Didn't add/subtract in the value of the property, but since it was there, that helped make the decision. YES - AC/heating will be added next year as well as insulation in the walls and probably some type of inexpensive paneling on the inside. That's one of the reasons for redoing CORRECTLY the back window - it was framed/installed by an idiot and needs to be outta there!!

 

Continuing the voyage:

 

A couple of notes left out of the initial post - the sub panel is wired for 50amps with 6 slots. I have 15A going to the equipment shed (lights/recept) and the remaining here in the workshop for lights, receptacles, and eventually HVAC. My intent is to keep things simple and most, if not all my model power tools can be run off a single circuit. I will probably put a 20A CB on that circuit and that should work out well. I've thought about a built-in vacuum system and will discuss that with another of my modeler friends who has a nice shop in place and is knowledgeable about these systems.

 

When we renovated our house last year, the old laminate flooring was removed and is stacked in the front of the shed - I didn't take a count of how much is there, but hopefully, enough to do the floor in the shed and that will save a bundle! Not exactly my favorite color (dk. brown) but the cost can't be beat!!!

 

Exterior-wise I plan to build a 8'x8' front porch and remove the old ramp which doesn't match up with the new double door unit that was installed early last summer (2018) to replace the rotted out original single door. Next spring/summer will also be the time to paint and later next year perhaps re-roof with proper eaves, etc.

 

So, it's one step at a time and eventually I'll be back building models - here's a couple other up to date photos of the shed/shop and also one of it's primary occupants once it's finished:

26218599_Relocated8Fixture_1.thumb.jpg.cd1c81a3f48bfe8cc008c58bc7f2662d.jpgExist. 8' fixture relocated. No further overhead lighting planned at the moment. 

1598617817_PEACOCK_1-resized.thumb.jpg.8d76fb2c476102813d8aa874d2e1ab07.jpgSloop of War PEACOCK will be one of the primary residents of the bldg. once the shop has passed it's builder's trials!

Tomorrow afternoon (after the bird has been consumed) I hope to get out and get a bit of caulking/sealant applied around and under the front door unit. Time permitting, possibly some further electrical work, as well.

 

Hank

 

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I think I've built five shops over the years. I've never been able to complete one, though. They are always a work in progress. My latest is 1,500 square feet, 30' X 50', with one "clean" office room in it. It used to be a commercial cabinet making shop on the property. It has 440 VAC three-phase commercial power running into it. I'm now framing another room in it for an office and library with a sink and fridge hook up so I don't have to walk back to the house to get a cup of coffee or a cold drink. It's rough in places and needs some upgrades, like a new barn door and upgraded LED lighting. All in good time, I suppose. Every guy needs his "cave." If you have any ideas on how to keep everybody else in the family from piling their junk on the workbenches and everywhere else there's a flat surface, please let me know. "I get no respect!"

 

Sounds like you have it well in hand, although that Peacock may end up chasing you out of there! I'd keep it in the house and save the shop space for shop work. If I had a case like that in my shop, it would only be a matter of time until I'd pick a two-by-four, carelessly turn with it, and put it through the glass! :D

 

I'll pass on a few thoughts which may have occurred to you already. 

 

Make friends with a local kitchen remodeler and have them save you some kitchen cabinets and counter bases. There's no better way to get shelves and bench tops with lots of nice storage and the drawers and cabinet doors keep the dust out of the storage areas.

 

Make provision for running plenty of electrical outlets (one every three or four feet - within arm's length of each other) to the front of your workbenches. Outlets just below the workbench are where you want them for using corded tools. People always seem to put them on the walls, but then you have cords all over your bench top working area. 

 

Be sure to run com cable out to the shop if you aren't on a wifi. It's really nice to have stereo and television and an internet hookup for a computer. 

 

Put all your stationary power tools on heavy duty lockable casters. That frees up huge amounts of space. They can live pushed together against the walls and only need to be rolled out to the center of the shop when needed.

 

Build overhead racks beneath the rafters to hold your lumber.

 

Scrounge a small wood stove. You can use it for burning scrap off-cuts and it will keep things warm and cozy in the winter. Importantly, solid wood fuel stoves dry things out very well. Dry is good. Warm is good. It keeps the rust away.

 

Have fun!

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Good Morning Hank;

 

I wish you all the best with your shed conversion, and many years of happy modelling!

 

I have to say that to almost anyone living in England, the idea of a 'garden' as big as yours is unthinkable. So much space! I know America is a big place, but you seem to have half of it in your back yard!

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

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what a great opportunity to get a super workshop I am sure it will be fab. I am moving house in 3 weeks time and for the first time ever wont have a space/workshop to use from day 1. So looking at getting something built ---the only issue is size-- I keep going bigger my wife constantly scaling back my plans LOL....

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Indeed a great opportunity Hank! No doubt you ll end up with a fine shipyard.

 

You might need to revisit your lighting. I converted my single garage to a shipyard, it has brick unpainted walls and no ceiling. 5m x 3m approx.

 

I installed what I thought was massive lighting. 4 double fittings, 5 feet each fluorescent, overall 8x52W concentrated only at the first half of the space.

 

Not enough. I installed an extra 4 double fittings, 6ft each this time. Brighter but for the detailed work I do I could use even more. If I could paint the walls white there would be no problem.

 

Also, it is important for light to come from all directions so there will be no shadows

 

Vaddoc

 

 

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Wow! Great responses - Thanks. Mark P., Ian B., and Druxey - with little spare space in the house, the shed was central to purchasing this property and making it all work. The size is about right given that the loft has taken the storage question into account and what's left is mostly modeling stuff which will be accounted for.

 

Vaddoc - I'll indeed keep the lighting in mind as things move along. And anything added will be LED as it is much longer lasting and brighter with a smaller cost of usage.

 

Bob Cheek - Good ideas, one and all! One thing we have nearby is a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store which I have both taken things and also bought some items - 2 cabinets for my small home shop in my garage (only for household work). I check them regularly for stuff I may need. My realtor is also a remodeler and I get tips from him on items for sale that might come in handy! On the elec. receptacle locations - I may have to consider your points of placement - I was going with them located just above the workbench height, but I do see your point about cords all over the bench, etc. I'm not that far along that I can't modify the locations, etc. I have locations every 4 feet apart right now although they may need the aforementioned adjustment. I am planning on a small AC/heater unit or possibly a small mini-split system for HVAC. And I have been thinking about my 2nd computer being wired to the shop - haven't decided yet as my CAD program is on this one in the house. I do have small fridge that will go in the front of the shop in a small "sitting" area with books/models, etc. I am not planning on adding water supply at this time; trying to keep it to the basics. Will keep an eye on PEACOCK, but she is destined for the shop or ????

 

Once again,  thanks all - I'm glad to see the interest in this topic!

 

Hank

 

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Before you continue with the bottom, you need to finish the roof over the loft.  Trying to get insulation and some type of panneling, or drywall up will be much more difficult if there is "stuff" in danger below you. It would have been better overall to have done it before the loft floor was installed.

 

In my shop I added an additional row of studs on the inside walls and put in a double layer of insulation. This has greatly reduced the heating and cooling costs. Mine is 16X30 shed. My rafters were 2X6s and I double insulated the roof by screwing 2X2s to the bottom of them. so two layers of R-13 batts give me R-26, top and sides.

 

I also made provisions for a half bath, as I've gotten older I find I need more frequent use of such, and having to go back in the house disrupts the work. It will also be easier to wash my hands if they get paint or something on them, rather than again going to the house, with the added risk of transferring said stuff to the house doorknobs or interior.

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I highly recommend spray Insulation as it will heat and cool much easier with little leakage.  Also agree that you should do as much as possible before moving in as working around items is dangerous, slows progress and can damage things (I know from experience).  As a mechanical contractor I highly recommend a mini split which it appears you have already thought of!  Also, install your cabinets before your flooring that way you won’t waste flooring material under your cabinets.  As others have said you can never have enough outlets!  Best of luck!

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Geoff, Ron, & David,

Thanks for the comments and suggestions! The rafters are 2x6 throughout and yes, it would have saved time/effort to have insulated prior to stowage, but I'll have to possibly retro that part of the loft area later. I'll consult my realtor/renovation guy regarding the insulation and what method/type to get the most bang for the buck! I do plan to do the floor cabinets prior to any final flooring to save on that also.

 

I double studded the walls where the exterior panels joined as the original shed builder did a ****-poor job of aligning things. Now, all joints are glued/screwed together and I'm foaming all joints from the inside (on the ladder inside doing that tomorrow a.m.).

 

The comments given are seriously being taken into account. This is one of the great features of a forum - various opinions on how to accomplish a task using the best methods others have found to be tried and true!!

 

Hank

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6 hours ago, Hank said:

Habitat for Humanity Re-Store which I have both taken things and also bought some items - 2 cabinets for my small home shop in my garage (only for household work). I check them regularly for stuff I may need. My realtor is also a remodeler and I get tips from him on items for sale that might come in handy! On the elec. receptacle locations - I may have to consider your points of placement - I was going with them located just above the workbench height, but I do see your point about cords all over the bench, etc

Thanks for reminding me about the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store! We've got one nearby. I meant to check it out when I first heard about it and then forgot all about it!

 

I didn't mean to suggest you "throw the baby out with the bath water" on the electrical outlets. Put some on the wall above your benches, too! Putting them on the front of the bench just below the lip of the bench top as well will give you the flexibility you want. Bench top power tools plug into the wall outlets and your corded hand tools can plug below the bench top. The last thing you want is a Dremel tool cord plugged into the wall fetching up against the rigging of your model on the bench when you are focused on what you're doing with the tool and pull the cord just a little too far!

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Bob, Vaddoc -

 

Thanks for the further ideas/advice. Yes!! a fire extinguisher is in the plans! Bob, I will add the receptacles to the front of the work bench (others just above are already in place) as these can be wired in between the others already located. Good idea, by the way!

 

Depending on weather this coming week, it's either continue inside or work on new front porch deck, etc. But, either way SOMETHING will get done!! Also, going to see MIDWAY for a 2nd time - if you haven't seen it - DO SO!!!

 

Hank

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Looks good except I would have built my Model Shop where you put your yard equipment shed and used the building in the back 40, for yard equipment and tools, running 220 out to it would have been done when the 120 was ran. You are getting older and the walk back and forth will be good exercise but soon you will be wanting a half bath and a fridge with counter and deep sink in your shop, the shop here was built with a water heater and shower and used regularly while we were running cows and farming. Don't need to run water now, but would be wise to build with the fixtures in place with it's plumbing or at least frame it in with service water and drainage lines in place, all running to an outside hookup. Don't know if you are on a public sewer system or not, but unless it is deep in the street, flow will probably be by pump or a septic tank and drain field will be required. Because of the expense, might be worth considering switching buildings, so utilities in the house will be close. Whatever you do it will be yours to enjoy and it looks like you are going to end up with a nicely finished building you can call yours.

 

Edited by jud
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Mark, Jud - thanks for the additional comments, ideas, etc.!

 

Interior walls - I am considering some form of light colored wood paneling or OSB painted white. I am trying to do this as economically as possible, so trying to avoid the work and cost of drywall finishing, etc.

 

Jud, your "workshop palace" is way past what I'm envisioning at this point. You make good points re. getting older, etc. but at this point keeping things simple is the order of the day.

 

Hank

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When I see the acreage and the barn-sized shed and then read the word 'down-sizing', what should I say with a 2 m by 2 m workshop-corner in my study/office ... ?

 

BTW, someone above suggested to put the flooring around cupboard to save flooring material. Not sure that is terribly wise, because you may want to have floor-insulation all the way through and perhaps the flexibility to move cupboard etc. around, if the original design turns out to be not so handy.

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Wefalck,

 

Thanks for your comments. Down-sizing involved the house, not the shed. Unfortunately, the shed has become part of the down-sizing - not part of the original plans! Regards the flooring, it depends on how much of the old laminate flooring I actually have to work with. It's currently buried under "stuff"!!!

 

Hank

 

 

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Hank,

Really looking good. Do not let the Missus see how much room you have back there, tell her you saw some snakes and not to walk back there.

Close to Christmas and she would think "we have downsized Love, would that not be a nice place to store all our yard art for Easter, Christmas, and Halloween. There's enough room there Dear for all the gardening tools, pots, chemicals, and pesticides for my flower garden I want to build. There is so much space you can have that little area in the corner for that modeling thing you do. Thanks Love."

 

Its like a little sniffle that turns into full blown pneumonia overnight. :wacko:   

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PopDavid - So, I'm NOT alone in this type of situation.....GOOD to know!!! You, of course, failed to mention that the real reason you want the covered and lighted walkway was because of Bigfoot, possibly lurking in the woods nearby, just waiting to snatch your latest ship model out of your hands and play with it down at the lake. LOL!!!!

 

Moab - NO 2nd floors!!!! Been there, done that!!! There's actually a story about having a bed near a working area, but I'll leave that for a later time. It is 154 steps from the current shop ramp to the edge of my deck, so not that bad. Of course in the cold rain.....THAT could present a problem!!!!

 

OK, so I just came in from 2 1/2 hours of more wiring and receptacle installation in the shop. Several replies ago it was suggested that I make sure some of the elec. receptacles are positioned on the outside of the workbench and I agree. So, I've provided a lower recept. at the right side of the bench in order to plug in a power strip which I'll install on the front frame of my workbench which should suffice for this need. I've found one with 8 outlets and a 6' power cord, so this should work excellently in the center of the framing. I'll do the same for the bench running down the right side of the shop (continuous bench along back wall and down the right side wall about half way). I love it when a plan comes together!!! Didn't I just quote Hannibal Smith from the A-Team?????  LOL!!! The replacement window for the back wall is on order but I am still looking for like windows but narrower for the right side. If only the studs had been spaced properly from the git-go!!! Oh well, it's always something!

 

Hank

 

 

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Hank,

 

You probably already know this, but just in case, here goes.  A big enemy is going to be rust, especially in a high humidity environment like the southeast.  Rust bloom can form on unprotected steel surfaces in hours. Even in our cool summer climate with low humidity here in Minnesota (where we don’t run the AC during much of the summer) I have had trouble with rust forming on tools in my basement workshop.

 

I would therefore suggest that insulation and AC, or preferably a heating/ cooling heat pump be at the top of your shopping list.

 

Roger

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    I was reading about your shop remodel and realized that all of my outlets were on the walls except for my main modeling table which has a power strip mounted on the right leg of the bench.  I hadn’t thought of doing it on my heavy duty bench until I read Bobs’ remark. 

100_4230.thumb.JPG.edbd65bc34d02a64d42a48fc0f3c3834.JPG

 

    So I went down to the shop right away (before I could forget) and installed a power strip on the right side to remedy my omission. 

100_5884.thumb.JPG.c41fef64a4b76e665e2baef7d2400751.JPG

     I have had problems previously with cords getting in my way, and was surprised that I didn’t think of it myself.  I may install one on the left side later if I find the need.

     Being wheelchair bound, every piece of equipment in my shop is on casters to make it easier to clean the shop when necessary. (And to chase down some of those small items that always seem to dissapear underneath, where I can't reach them!!)

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Druxey - Ah yes, I'm just a 73 year old naïve SOB!!! 😭 But....I'll get over it!😁

 

Roger - Thanks for the tip - the HVAC situation will be addressed well before any UN-packing occurs!!!

 

BetaQDave - Very nice shop!!! Yea, I really appreciate all the comments to date - all very good advice and well worth looking into in the very least. I have a couple short strips on my current garage workshop for just those very reasons!

 

Hank

Edited by Hank
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