Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Need A Man Cave

I was watching this show on the DIY channel called "Man Caves" yesterday. Tony Siragusa hosts the show and they do some really off the wall stuff for a bunch of famous guys. Now, I don't think Tony is going to be stopping at my house anytime soon, but it did make me realize that my garage is in desperate need of TLC.

First off, my garage is supposed to be the coolest place at my house. It is 20x20 feet of real estate that I can call my own. Nothing Lindsay owns is in there right now. It should be a place I want to spend my free time doing projects and just hanging out. But that isn't happening. Somewhere between my garage and all my random junk, it became a depository for a bunch of crap that I can't seem to get rid of.

I have wheels, junked axles, yard equipment, a worn out table, lawn chairs, random tools, boxes of stuff I didn't want to trash (but never use), gasoline, and a 7,000 lb roadblock called a pickup truck in my garage. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Duh, that's where all that stuff goes!" I know, but it just feels as though my garage isn't as useful as it could be.

Now, I'm not going to put stupid crap like weird wallpaper, or reclaimed pieces of galvanized roofing on the walls, or even weird lighting. All I really want is a clean space with a splash of color. I want something that can be heated in the wintertime so I'm not freezing my digits off when working on stuff. I want something that can be cooled in the summertime because if it's 90 degrees outside, it's 190 degrees inside. I want something that can exhaust fumes and smoke from sparks to keep my safe when working inside. Lastly, I want something that can handle more than 60 amps total on a 120 volt panel.

I've all but given up on the idea of tearing my garage down and building a new one. Times are tough and money is tight. So, in order to get the most bang for my buck, I need to work with what I have and make what I have work. So, what do I have to work with?

If I took every last thing out of my garage, I'd have 3 walls, a ceiling, a floor, and a garage door. Okay, not much I can do about the garage door. I think it is going to stay. Besides, it's 16 feet across by over 7 feet high, which is enough to accommodate all vehicles but one: my 8 1/2 foot tall Ramcharger (which will get taller). I've pretty much written off ever trying to park that thing in there. I'll have to figure something else out for that. On the north wall, there is a door at the back corner of the garage. For some reason, the person who built the work bench put it on the east (back) wall in such a way that if it was a perfect rectangle, you wouldn't be able to open the door. Why didn't they just put the work bench on the other side? I'll never know, but I think that is a good place to start.

Work bench: I need a strong one. I'd like a metal one, but unless a 240 volt welder is on Santa's sleigh for me, I don't think I'll be getting one. I can easily make a sturdy wooden bench out of 2x4's and a durable top, probably a big slab of oak or something. I intend to anchor it to the floor, however, instead of the wall. Anchoring a table to a wall is bad news because every time you beat on something on the table, the force is exerted on the wall as well as the table. The table needs to be strong enough to support a heavy vice (which I have). I want it to be about 3 feet wide by about 8 feet long. That's plenty of table to work with, and it gives me 24 square feet of workspace off the floor. I might even consider and L-shaped bench on the corner. Behind that wall, I want some sort of pegboard that I can use to store commonly accessed and odd shaped tools that don't fit well into my toolbox. Things like my drill, grease gun, large wrenches, and other odds and ends can reside there. Underneath the bench, I want an open space that has a shelf, so I can store things like jack stands or bottle jacks. I also want 12 volt outlets on the wall directly behind the bench and outlets in front of the bench. The outlets in front are for safety because I won't have cords crossing my work surface. This is especially good if you are running grinding or sawing implements.

Storage is always a concern in a space as small as this. I still want to be able to park a vehicle in the garage to keep my yard from looking like a used car lot. Besides, I like parking my work vehicle inside to keep it safe and secure from prying eyes. Out of sight, out of mind. So, I need to keep the middle area clear of obstruction, so a vehicle can park smack dab in the center. I can always pull it out if I need to space. I don't like parking on one side or the other because it makes it difficult to access the wall closest to the vehicle. So, the middle stays clear. That means that I have a U-shaped area to work with as far as placing of the bench, storage units, cabinets, shelves, and large tools.

Access: I want access to the man door easy. I don't really want anything there that interferes with fully opening the door or getting out of a vehicle without hitting the door on something. If I go to get into the vehicle parked inside, I want to open the man door, and be able to walk to the vehicle and get in without tripping over a bunch of junk. I also want the north wall clear enough to walk from the back to front of garage when loaded.

Electricity: The garage has it; barely. Instead of the antiquated knob and tube entrance, I'm going to go the direct burial route with 240 volts to a 100 amp panel. 100 amps ought to be plenty for that small space. Branching out from that, I want plenty of outlets so I'm not hunting around or running long extension cords every which way.

Insulation: What's that? Yeah, the insulation in my garage is non-existent. You can see where previous owners have tried to put up some sort of inner wall, but with nothing behind it but air, it isn't doing much. If this garage is going to stand a chance of staying warm or cool, it needs insulation and nice drywall inside. A ceiling also needs to get installed. It'll keep the area I'm trying to cool or warm smaller and more contained. An attic fan blowing out should keep excessive heat and moisture at bay. That and a couple of roof vents.

Floor: Well, I just don't know what to do about that. It was smoothed over really sloppily and I fear putting concrete over it because it will crack. I might just stain it and say the swirl is for effect. I doubt anyone will notice.

Paint: I'm thinking a blue tone color on the walls with a white ceiling will look great. The blue I'm thinking of is kind of neutral and shouldn't clash with my tools and tool boxes. We'll see. Heck, I'd be happy with just a wall.

I'll also need to get a shed for somewhere else in the yard. I don't like storing gasoline and lawn equipment in my garage. The lawn equipment is just plain dirty (even after cleaning) and gasoline is explosively flammable. I think a small investment in shed mean a better payoff in the end because my garage will be safer, cleaner, and less cluttered.

Okay, so it's a simple list. Update the wiring, throw on some sheet rock and add a heater for the winter months. Oh, and give me a place to park my vehicle after I come home from a long day at the office. Then again, I was never one to want too much.



  1. I have 2AWG wire that is buriable quality on ebay. Kinda overkill, but couldn't hurt.

  2. Overkill is my middle name. How long is it?