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Old 02-02-2010, 01:35 PM   #1
Jack Olsen
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Default The 12-Gauge Garage

Some current pictures:


























It's a working garage:



And I do have a fancy sign for it:





I first posted a thread about my garage back in March of 2009. I called it the ‘Poor Man’s Retro Retreat’ back then because my budget for it had been low ($500) and I’d used a kind of old-fashioned color scheme when I painted it. It’s a garage I’ve liked a lot. It’s had everything I’ve needed. I’ve gotten a lot of work done in it.

So naturally, I had to go through and re-do pretty much every component in the place.

Why? Blame this board. It gets you thinking about different ideas and projects for the garage every time you visit. I know a lot of you out there know what I’m talking about.

Since so much has changed, I’m going to start a new thread about it. If that bugs you, I apologize. Click the close button on the window and move on. If the moderators don’t like it, they can merge this with the old thread. I don’t want to clutter up the board unnecessarily.

The garage can’t really be called the ‘Poor Man’s Retro Retreat’ anymore because I’ve spent too much money on it. It’s still pretty modest, by the standards of many of the garages on this board. It’s pretty humble, still -- a suburban two-car garage tucked around behind the house on my tiny 1/8-acre lot.

But by my own personal standards (I’m very cheap), it’s now a pretty expensive operation. I would guess that I’ve now put another $2,000 into the place. (It kind of blows my mind that the cost of a place like ‘The Bunker” -- which is awesome, don’t get me wrong -- would pay for my re-do and 399 other garages just like mine. But you do what you can with whatever you’ve got -- and this is what I did.)



THE HISTORY

During the 2007 Writers Guild strike, I went through my completely useless junk bin of a garage and tried to get a little organized for the first time in my then 43-year-old life. Both my wife and I write for a living, so we were both out of work for the duration -- I was understandably cautious with spending money. But on the other hand, I couldn’t work -- so I had all the time in the world. I gave myself a $500 budget and attempted to re-use or re-purpose as much of the crap filling my garage as possible, while moving most of what was left to a dumpster. Every day, after a shift spent pounding the pavement on a picket line, I’d work on it. The last touch was to paint it in sort-of-early-1960s shades of green, yellow and tan.

I was pretty happy with it.



I also built a shed for the stuff that would normally clutter up a garage as small as mine. I’d never done much carpentry, but having a garage that I could actually move around in made it easier to get a little creative with the roof lines.



And then one day I saw a sale on ceramic tile at Home Depot and I jumped into a .68/sf scheme to both tile my garage and teach myself how to set tile. It worked out all right, considering how unlevel my 84-year-old garage floor was. I ended up with a nicer-to-use and nicer-to-look-at garage for another $400 invested. (I also ended up with bigger shoulders, since grouting that much tile is a pretty serious amount of work.)



Then I joined Garage Journal. It didn’t happen overnight, but -- slowly, steadily, you can’t fight it forever -- I started to no longer see my finished garage as finished anymore.

It was just getting started.

Last edited by Jack Olsen; 10-24-2012 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

THE GARAGE ON OCTOBER 24, 2012



I’m calling it ‘The 12-Gauge Garage’ because when I built a steel-topped bench for it, I discovered Strong Hold Cabinets, a Wisconsin company that makes ridiculously strong cabinets. They claim that they’re the strongest metal cabinets you can buy. They’re rated to hold 1900 pounds per shelf. That’s definitely stronger than I have any need for in my garage (and watch out, they’re expensive, too). But the one that was holding up the steel plate for my bench -- well, it just felt good to open and close the thing. Is that crazy?

This is how it looked when I bought it.



Here it is painted and with a 510-pound bench on top of it.



I liked using that cabinet so much that I started keeping an eye out for other used Strong Hold cabinets on eBay.

With a lot of patience, and letting about 50 of the cabinets go to other buyers (I’m cheap, there’s no two ways about it), I finally lucked into a 4’ wide model for $62. This is a 760-pound cabinet that lists for (I think) $2,300 new. I snapped it up, and even got a little less cheap when I sourced a second one for $148. Then I got a Lyon cabinet for a shallower space near my metal bench (it’s made of 14-gauge steel, not 12-gauge). Including the short Strong Hold cabinet I’d already bought, I had about $600 in the four steel cabinets for my garage. It’s about 2,300 pounds of cabinetry.

Getting them to my house and getting them installed into my garage is a very long story I won’t tell here. I did document one bad day when I basically knocked one of the 760-pound cabinets onto my Porsche. (Yeah, you read that right. I ended up not hurting the car too badly, but still -- a pretty bone-headed moment.)



Did I mention that they’re heavy? Each of the doors on the 4’ wide cabinets weighs 85 pounds. They open and close easily, but it has the feel of opening a bank safe.



THE BASIC FACTS

The garage is small -- 20’x22’. I store one car in it and use the rest as my home shop. In addition to the normal home and car repairs, I do some woodworking projects and some welding projects in it. It’s not lit like an operating room. I don’t have beer signs, gas pumps or televisions in it. It’s built to remind me of working with my father in his shop in Chicago, where I grew up.



I'll take it wall by wall. In my initial clean-up of the garage, I added a fold-down table for wood projects. It had pre-drilled holes for my router table and was at the same height as the other bench in the garage so I could use it for cutting long pieces of lumber. I liked it so much that when I took up welding, I added a second, steel table for welding. Both of them fold up along the first wall of the garage so I can park my car there. But when I back the car out I can lower one or both of them for work. It’s a really handy thing to have when you’re working in such a small space.




Last edited by Jack Olsen; 10-24-2012 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

In the latest update of the garage, I got rid of the yellow paint on this wall. I’ve decided the only two colors on the wall will be the tan and the green.

Here’s the old yellow:



The back wall is the one that’s changed the most this month. Here’s the way it used to look. I had banker’s boxes on shelves made of hollow-core doors and some crooked cabinets that had been put in sometime before I’d owned the house.



The main bench I was using was pretty simple, too. A solid core door over a frame with three wooden drawers I’d saved when we’d torn a closet out of the house.



I tore out everything and put in cabinets up above the line that had been formed by a piece of aluminum up above my bench. I extended that line across the whole garage, now, with wooden cabinets up above it, mostly with sliding doors. I can keep a lot of stuff up there that I don’t need to access all the time.



Down below, I adapted both of the Strong Hold cabinets to store as much stuff as possible.





One of them now has seven wooden shelves, each holding six bins I sourced from (huh?) Ikea. I keep all kinds of different stuff -- everything from extension cords and trouble lights to hinges, casters, light switches, you name it -- in those bins. I got labels for them so I don’t have to remember where I put what.

For the other cabinet, I wanted to have vertical storage so I could store a small ladder, a broom, and hang my overalls and welding jacket up. So there’s a small space for that, and then a set of normal shelves. On the doors of the cabinets, I put about a hundred bins for fasteners. It’s still not completely sorted out and organized, but I’m getting closer.



The doors can open with plenty of extra space when the car is parked in there.

Putting in the steel cabinets let me move my main bench 30 inches to the left, which allowed me to move my tool boxes to the back wall. They used to divide the garage, and I never liked the way it looked. I also got a Harbor Freight tool box to function as the base for the bench. I painted it to match the Sears boxes.







The next wall over has my ‘compliance station,’ which is a steel-topped bench on another Strong Hold cabinet. Next to that, I’ve got one last steel cabinet, a Lyon, which I belt cut and rewelded so it would be short enough to fit in this space.



I still have the sink and a small bench that I built to surround it. I’ve left the yellow paint on those walls -- mostly because I’m too lazy to re-paint it.


Last edited by Jack Olsen; 03-23-2010 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

Those are the walls. But I also added an kitchen-island-type bench in the middle of the garage, and a new butcher-block-topped bench up front. The garage has eight work surfaces in it, now (three steel, five wood), and a ninth (a steel table) suspended from the ceiling above my car.

I stained the tops of the three main benches dark with an opaque stain and marine varnish on top of it. I’m still on the fence about this decision -- I don’t want benches that look so nice you’re afraid to use them, but I also was getting tired of all my benches being the same unfinished wood color.



We’ll see how they hold up.

I try to keep stuff off of the floor and out of plain sight.









When you’ve got a place to put everything, you can clean the whole place up really fast with something like this:



Well, that’s the basic rundown of the place. It’s not going to set the world on fire or re-invent the idea of a garage, but I’ve got to admit that I really enjoyed putting it together and I’m really enjoying getting stuff done in it. I got it all clean for the pictures, but it will get messy on a regular basis.

And, of course, I like having a place to keep the race car:



Any questions?

Last edited by Jack Olsen; 02-04-2010 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

why do you have decorated tissue paper near the sink?




Ohh, and this is one of my all time fav's.

Thanks for the new write-up and pixs

Last edited by TONE; 02-02-2010 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

Jack,

Of all of the many garages on here, when I work on plans for my garage, yours is the one I contemplate and want to emulate. That's the highest compliment I can pay you. It's a space that I'd like to work in, and a space that I'd like to have for my own. It looks great, and looks like it functions great, too. Your attention to detail is to be commended.

(Insert wise crack here about how you dropped one of your ten ton shelving units on the Porsche, to bring your ego back in check)...

Really looks great. Really.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

It's awesome Jack. I can really relate to your projects because I also truly enjoy taking "nothing" and turning it into "something".
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

Inspiring in both that I'm getting organized for the first time in my life and I'm in roughly a 20x22.

Thanks for sharing (and continuing to share) your ideas and updates.
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

Jack , I'm impressed with your set up. I'd call it a working space vs a place of lounging. My humble congratulations on your work in progress !
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:14 PM   #10
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

Quote:
Originally Posted by TONE View Post
why do you have decorated tissue paper near the sink?




Ohh, and this is one of my all time fav's.

Thanks for the new write-up and pixs
I'm guessing because it has a green box that matches the garage

BTW, your shop reminds me a lot of my local inspiration, he does things his way and they make way more sense than what other 'experts' suggest. Hey, anyone with that many woodworking and steel working tools gets my vote. That reminds me, I really need to get a new bench to mount my grinder and learn how to weld.

Props from the P-Car crowd
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:21 PM   #11
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

How's the tile been holding up?
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:21 PM   #12
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

that garage is simply amazing. i love how everything has a place and the workspace is superb. can i ask what kind of hinges you used on your drop down benches? standard undustrial door hinges? thanks
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

any pictures of the table suspended over the car?

sounds like a neat way to save space. any info on this table would b great
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:34 PM   #14
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

I like the updates! BTW, who do you write for?
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

I hearby order you to cease posting nifty creations with cool cabinetry sourced for cheap. I'm very busy here - busy, busy, busy and you are making Sulley lose his focus!
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:35 PM   #16
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

I like your repainted HF bottom cabinet. That was one of the first things I noticed. It would go right with my other Craftsman boxes. Does Sears carry that paint or is it a Rustoleum color? Nice collection of C-clamps too for a hobbyist.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:59 PM   #17
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

I'm inspired for sure. I need to get some kind of hitch-style mount like that for my grinder.

How in the WORLD did you get the cabinets in under those tight clearances and not crack any tile?

The whole place looks absolutely magnificent. Great job!
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:08 PM   #18
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

Very innovative use of space, and a great example (for guys like me) who have limited space, and how to maximize it's use.

Where do you store your woodworking materials, and excess materials?
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:22 PM   #19
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Falcon67 View Post
I hearby order you to cease posting nifty creations with cool cabinetry sourced for cheap. I'm very busy here - busy, busy, busy and you are making Sulley lose his focus!
+1
By far one of my faves. If you run out room for your ideas, I humbly offer you my garage to apply your wares.
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:40 PM   #20
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Default Re: The 12-Gauge Garage

I have always liked your garage. It inspires me every time I look at it!
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