Workshop Revamp #3: Door Build!

Posted by Nick  | 15 Aug 2017  | 2 comments

Now that we had a table to work on, we hopped to replacing the shoddy internal entrance. Ramshackle, borer-ridden, insecure, and brittle:

The “lock” was simply a chain through the tin around the frame and through a hole in the door. Fairly effective to a point, I guess, but about as convenient as a dead mouse in your gumboot.

Its other side shows its simple Z-frame construction, which was held together by an assortment of nails. Easy to pry off if someone really wanted in.

We chose to use rough-sawn material for the new door, because we thought that if we used dressed timber it would look out of place surrounded by the “rustic patina” of the surrounding corrugated tin overlapped in hodgepodge fashion.

It was a blast using our new workbench.

We pocket-holed the slats together (don’t worry, they were covered up after by a frame):

Then built a frame, which we mitred at the corners:


And another shot because workshop view, aw yeah!

We fixed a horizontal brace for sturdiness, sexiness, and to hide the pocket-holes:

And then screwed the slats to the frame:

And then… Are you ready? I don’t think you’re ready. You might want to sit down for this.

BOOM! You might be thinking “oh yeah, that’s all right I guess”, but did you know that we built this in under a minute?! Okay, that’s a lie, obviously. But still, for a brief moment you were REALLY impressed.

Here it is being held up with the old door still attached for comparison. Should last a bit longer, eh?

Then came the satisfaction struggle of demolition. Arm wrestling these haggard hinges took a bit of elbow grease:

We fixed new sturdier hinges to the door with nuts that wouldn’t un-thread if someone tampered with the bolt heads.

We mounted it, added more secure locking plates, and… hold on to your pants…


From the inside, a little planer, but a good fit (the chain was removed after):

Such a slick product ought to be demonstrated by a model…


It was also granted approval by our resident everything-inspector:

“Smells like you did a good jobs, guys. You will be rewarded by feeding me extra tonight.”

Next up is replacing that hideous ramp with an actual step:


Workshop Revamp #2: Workbench!

Posted by Nick  | 08 Aug 2017  | 1 comment

A workshop is incomplete without a solid workbench, and it was one of the first things we needed before we set out on any future projects. We designed the workbench to have a table saw on one end for ripping down ply and the like. We will also build another bench which will run the length of the workshop along one side for a drop saw and storage.

We wanted the workbench to be heavy and chunky – something that would hold up to a lot of abuse. The only timber we could source which had decent dimensions for the legs were treated fence posts. First we cut them to length as well as all the bracing, to the specifications of our 3D model. Google Sketchup has been an invaluable tool for designing a build before committing to the cuts.

We used a jig to create pocket holes for the screws, which are a lot more stable and have the benefit of being unseen.

We then assembled the frame of the lower shelf:

And then attached it to the legs:

The result resembled a cot:

We then ripped down some ply for the shelf and the tabletop, all under the dim light of an LED work lamp connected to a fifty metre extension cord back to the house. (Oh how delightful it will be once we finally have power in the workshop… Running extension cords through chicken crap and sheep shit in the rain ain’t fun.)

We used a jigsaw to cut out the corners of the plywood shelf to accommodate the legs of the workbench:

Clamped it down:

Turned the whole thing over and screwed up into the shelf so you can’t see any screws in the finished product:

We then attached the frame for the tabletop:

Screwed together two sheets of ply to make the tabletop extra durable:

Then flipped it over, clamped it down, and screwed up from underneath. As you can see, we left a goodly overhang for the top to allow work-pieces to be clamped with ease:

At this stage phase one of the workbench was pretty much complete! Just a bit of a sand…

And viola!

And then we repeated the process by building an attachment for our table saw:

We bolted down the table saw for extra sturdiness:

We designed it in such a way that the top of the table saw was a few millimetres higher than the top of the workbench, so that when we were pushing wood through it wouldn’t get stuck on the lip of the workbench. A slight fall prevents this.

We’re happy with the result. It’s basic but it’s super strong and should hopefully hold up to decades of abuse. And finally we have a work surface for the projects on our endless list of things to build. No more working on the uneven floor, bruising our knees and hurting our necks. Yus!

It was a pleasure building a new door for the workshop on our new workbench, which will be the next post in this Workshop Revamp series. Stay tuned!


Workshop Revamp #1: Powerwash!

Posted by Nick  | 28 Jul 2017  | 2 comments

This farm came with a few old haphazardly-put-together outbuildings, one of which is a carport with an attached workshop. At least we suspect it was a workshop at one point, on account of all the masterpieces of grease.

When we visited the property for the first time, the “workshop” was housing the kind of odds-‘n’-ends and mucky miscellany one might expect to find on a farm. But really, let’s be honest, it was a storage room for junk. Not anymore!

This post is the first in a series following the course of our workshop revamp. It’s not the largest of areas, but it will do for most of our DIY projects, like building our furniture. We intend to construct new doors for the workshop, replace its dilapidated window, outfit it with workbenches and tables, as well as install power outlets and lights (which will involve digging a twenty-five metre powerline trench from the house, ugh).

But first, this unloved, unclean, greasy mofo needs a good wash.

There are two entrances into the workshop. The one you see above, through which much rain comes due to the poorly-constructed doors, and another accessed through the carport (a door of equal quality, but at least sheltered).

The “deck” above needs to be replaced. It’s slimy and rotting, and there are no gaps in the boards for rain to go, so pooling water has begun rotting the interior floor. This isn’t helped by the overflowing gutter above.

Inside you can see this place has had little love over the years, with layers of oil, grease, mud, blood, shit, and general organic debris strewn throughout.

After we got the keys to this place, there was still a bunch of stuff left behind by the previous owner. Most of it was junk, but there were a few potentially useful bobs, including this here botch-welded table for a grinding wheel.

Just needs a little motor and some TLC and it’ll be a quick way to sharpen most hand tools, or remove bits of metal from various objects, which is done more frequently than you’d imagine on a farm.

The best part of this workshop is the view. A vista of rolling farmland, native forest, and tall hills is framed by the double doorway.

There’s no pictures of me foaming up this place and using the pressure washer to blast it all out (cameras don’t like that amount of water), but I can tell you it sure was satisfying stripping away the layers of grime, scum, and detritus. It’s still stained in places, like really stained, but that adds character… right?

Here’s a shot after the water-blasting:

A little lighter and now it doesn’t feel like something creepy is going to drop down on you from above, or you’re going to put your hand in tar. It was even clean enough to hide my easter egg basket without grossing anyone out! (Yes, this was done last year… I’m behind on posts, all right?)

Next up in our workshop revamp series, building a new door and replacing this shitty entrance “ramp” with an actual step:

Stay tuned!