Workshop Revamp #4: Steps!

Posted by Nick  | 02 Jul 2019  | 2 comments

This is a throwback to a couple of years ago when we tore out the old ramp to our workshop door and replaced it with a step. Here it is in all its glory before we took a crowbar to it:

We had recently built a new door for the workshop, but the old ramp just didn’t match, especially with its stylish (read: haphazard) “tread” someone had created by dancing a drill bit back and forth across the boards. It doesn’t show in the photos, but the angle of the ramp was quite steep, which always made you feel a little uneasy carrying an armful of powertools down it. It also came out a little too far into the carport, making it that much more difficult to store things behind it. Goodbye.

Once the boards had been pried off, we were confronted with a problem: The space under the workshop was lower than the gravel floor of the carport, and whoever built this place had used iron sheets to retain the gravel, which as you might expect, had long since corroded and collapsed under the weight. We needed to first retain the area where our new step would go. If we didn’t, the gravel beneath would continue to sink, especially since the step would be right on top of the problem area (which is maybe one of the reasons someone chose to put a ramp in, avoiding the issue).

With a hefty sigh, we began digging out the large stones from beneath the door, which was an effort done by hand – you can’t use a shovel on aggregate of that size.

I then had to crawl under the workshop to make measurements for some timber so we could reinforce the collapsed section under the door.

I tried to pull the old iron away as much as possible, but it was corrugated long-run, which ran along the length of the carport, so was buried by the gravel.

With the help of a drill driver in an awkward crawlspace, I attached some lengths of timber to retain the area by screwing them onto the wooden piles beneath the workshop. It wasn’t pretty, but it would all be back-filled and covered by the new step anyway. Most importantly, it would do the job.

We filled the hole back in and screwed the old buried tin onto the reinforcing timber, to stop it from slipping.

Now that that was done, it was time for the fun part!

We chose to use pocket-holes for a tidy look (no screw heads visible on top of the step).

We attached it from underneath directly onto the wall of the workshop, so it wouldn’t move under the forces of repeated stomping.

Then we attached the face-plate, and viola!

Much better, yes? Looked more suited to our new door, too:

Most importantly it didn’t budge, and took up far less space.

Since we’re on the topic of steps, another one we needed to build for the workshop was inside. Strangely, the workshop had been built with two levels (we’re unsure why). The height difference between the levels was awkward (about forty centimetres), and there wasn’t a step to join them.

We decided to make quite a deep step, so stepping out felt natural. Eager as ever to put our tools to use and get familiar with them, we got to work.

A corner clamp is very handy for these sorts of builds, especially with mitred corners:

We attached the frame of the step to the floor, once again employing our favourite method of attachment, hidden pocket-holes!

We put a support at the centre of the step, too, for added robustness and so the step wouldn’t bow in the middle over time.

All that was left to do was cap it, and then boom, we’d made our lives a little easier.

Retrofitting is always tricky with wonky floors and whatnot, so such projects require a lot of behind-the-scenes forethought and take more time. We try to see projects like this as lessons for when it comes time to renovate our cottage, which will demand a higher standard of quality from us. Good thing there’s no shortage of projects like this around the old farm to hone our skills with!

2 comments Leave a comment

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Noice mitred corners! You’re a pro!!!


Haha, not much skill required if you have the right tools!

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