More building….(part one)

We made a nice workshop a few years ago. It is good. But then I filled it up. And that, too, was good because I prefer to ‘work’ outside anyway and being cooped up in a little building does not appeal to me very much. That semi-claustrophobic quirk of mine was also okay in the circumstance because I had also built a nice, large work deck alongside the workshop on which the tools would be used — only a few feet away from their normal resting place. Workshop plus deck makes for a good workspace. Level, open workspace is good (especially if you live on a 30 degree slope).

But man is man and if one tool is good, then two tools are better and, after awhile, that maxim changes to: If twenty tools are good, forty tools are better. And so it goes. I now have more tools than I have space – inside and out! For the last few years I have had to place my bigger tools outside on the workspace deck….the ‘work’ deck now accommodates the bandsaw, planer, table saw, chop saw, a 2800 watt and a 5500 watt generator. I have those six, good-sized tools outside and at least four more good-sized tools (sand-blaster, air compressor, welder, alcohol-producing still) that are still making the workshop feel crowded inside. I really need to have more room to store more tools and none of them on the workspace deck because the workspace deck is supposed to be for the actual working!

“Hey, Sal…? Got a few days?”

“If it means more construction work then the answer is NO!”

So, the other day I started to build a deck extension and a smaller shed for the bigger-tools by myself.

After the first day, I said, “Hey, Sal, got a minute to hold one end of the tape?”

Sal came to watch at first and then . . . lend a hand with the tape. And then . . . and then, well . . . we have been building the new ‘space’ together every day since (except for book club and Sal’s sewing class at the school). Whatta team! One thing is very clear: we are an older and slower team and, despite our experience, we are no better than we have ever been – which is to say, barely adequate.

In keeping with being adequate (in a Green way) we are recycling some old wood. As most readers know, getting in supplies is one of the frequent and always larger challenges of living OTG. Getting in the wood means so much more out here. Firstly, one has to get in the firewood by salvaging logs and doing what one does to eventually get warmed by them. Secondly, one has to get in any needed lumber and fasteners so as to build things and things always need building it seems. Thirdly, one has to pay barge services and lumber yard delivery fees for remote island deliveries and so it is almost double the cost when prices are normal. And prices aren’t normal in the lumber business right now. The cost of materials has tripled in some cases and doubled across the board.

OTG’ers (generally speaking) are also kind of inclined to salvage and re-use and ‘make-do’. Yes, part of that is the result of reduced income but a large part is also that the ‘old board’ under the house with 3/4 of it’s life still available is a lot easier to access than by way of the nice Building supply-lumber-town-delivery-barge process. If the old board will still do the job, we re-use it. Old boards can increase in perceived value, too (especially as old men diminish in their own time) . . . the board does not have to make the 30 year rule anymore.

And I have some old boards. Over the years – when I rebuild a deck or a set of stairs or something – I save what might be used again in a pile of mismatched lengths, widths and uneven thicknesses. I have a mix of old store-bought two-by boards (1&5/8″ thickness) and also some locally-milled old boards (varying to almost 2″ in thickness but usually around 1&3/4″). I keep anything over 14″ in length because ‘blocking’ between rafters, joists and walls requires that. Actually, I am on 24″ centres this time so the minimum length to save is 22.5″ ….but you get the principle.

So, I run the old boards through the planer and square new ends. This allows me to see how much rot or ‘bad wood’ is in the board. It’s really quite interesting. Most of the old 17 year-old, rough-cut, locally-milled wood is even better than new store-bought! An old board 7 feet long will still span six feet (I have joists on two-foot centres for the shed floor) and so I can cut it to the right length and examine the ‘core’ from both ends. Surface planing it a bit also gives me another look at it and helps bring all the different thicknesses closer to one another. I am making the shed floor with reclaimed boards. Yes, I am oiling them. That is saving me well over $500.00 not counting the time, the purchase, taxes, delivery and the barge. Given that the average shed of this size (not counting the stairs to the ground and underside, deck extension, railings, workbench and Cedar siding) costs ‘on average nationally’ around $5,000 (more like $8,000 today) to build (more than my car cost) and that my final tally will be around $2,000, utilizing reclaimed wood went a long way to reducing the cost.

And oiled, old boards-for-flooring looks pretty funky and is perfectly adequate for a storage shed.

Part Two will follow eventually but that requires more wood. I need about 100 square feet more of treated 2×6 to finish up plus some 80 sft of tin roofing. But, like everything we do, it will get done. Key word: eventually.

5 thoughts on “More building….(part one)

  1. Dear JDC,
    What size joists did ypu use for your shop. We will build one also,in the near future I πŸ™ , so am curious.
    Reusing lumber is a fine plan. Much life left in it usually, and the cost of new is ridiculous. And as ‘normal’ returns their normal profits do not. Robbery I say! I see an overpriced sawmill in our near future. Thankfully we have the trees! And the time to work on them.
    At least Life on the Island is grand throughout!πŸ™‚πŸ˜Šβ˜ΊπŸ€©πŸ˜Žβ€πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦


    • Out of an abundance of caution, I have always opted to use 16″ centres. For floor joists, I follow the ‘guidlelines’ and so, if the span is between 8′ and 10′, I use 2×8’s. At the 10 foot span, I use 2×10’s. But a light shed is a smidge different. There is very little weight and no second storey. I went with 24″ centres this time and I spanned 10 feet with 2×6’s. This build is NOT for grand pianos and a Pavarotti but it would still take one of them. The workshop was done more conventionally. If I had to do it all again from scratch, I would build a shop three times as big as I have (12 x 16). Five hundred plus sft is what I need. But, to be fair, the shop is insulated and has a peaked roof. The shed will be uninsulated and have a shed roof. So, in effect, I am adding 64 sft to my existing 192 sft but the construction of the shed is lighter and cheaper. A long way of saying: intended use is a factor.


      • Thank You!
        Nice guidelines!
        We are in need of a 2nd floor-ish,as we are desperate for some storage space AND the little woman wants a spare sleeping possibility… πŸ₯΄


    • I have taken to putting large Husky black bags over the tools that are outside and, while it does NOT stop all the rust, it is manageable and much less rust is formed than if I did not. I am hoping this little shed will also help. Also, every now and then, I take a wire brush and clean some tools up. Then I wipe ’em with an oily rag. To be frank, unless the tool is lying on the ground for weeks (that has happened) the rust is not really an issue. A little bit of rust is rarely a limiting factor for a tool. My own rustiness is much more of a factor.


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