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Building the Woodshop: Part IX - Some Misc. Stuff

The speed of construction slowed dramatically after I had to go back to a full time position with a local firm. My shop hours were reduced to just a couple of hours of productive work a week, and since winter was on, it was also quite cold and daylight was limited to weekends... The exterior was buttoned up enough to get by until spring, and I still wanted to get the permit signed off on before I had to spend the money to extend it... As it is, I'm getting very close to having these updates be live... I think that there's only 2 or 3 more entries before it is.

Before I do get there, this is a good opportunity to go over some miscellaneous "stuff" - things that I haven't gone over directly but should be... I'll use this opportunity to touch on a few different subjects I hadn't gotten to earlier, or that don't fit well into the narrative.

My main goal after getting the roofing on the building was to get the inspector to sign off on the building. To get him to, there's a few things I needed to do. Before, I concentrated more on getting the shell up - now was time to add a few structural items to stiffen the frame.

Knee Braces

The main structural beam I built was not made to span the 12' distance I currently had it set at. I needed to add the knee braces I originally intended to reduce the span. The columns and knee braces are actually a leftover of my original idea for a timber frame design - they worked so well structurally, I kept the idea. The knee braces effectively cut the span of the beam in half, from 12 feet to just under 6:

Main Beam

I could do that because the beam is tall enough in the air to allow headroom below the knee braces - the lowest part of which joins the column at about 7'-3" or so:

Knee Braces

A closer view:

Knee Braces

Each beam is notched into the column and beam 1/2", and lag bolts provide some flex, though they aren't technically required. A potential drawback to having columns like these might be that they "get in the way" and obstruct clear floor space - simply said, some prefer a more open floor - but the plans I have for the space use the two columns as part of the design for splitting up the space. More on that later.

While I was at it, The shed roof out back was in need of the same treatment. I added knee braces to it as shown in this diagram (north end view):


Side (east) view:

back bay 1

Here's the braces for the shed roof:

Knee Braces

A closer view shows the treated 4x4's used better:

Knee Brace

You'll notice on both that there are Simpson ties - those are there at the request of the inspector. He wasn't as schooled in "old school" as myself, and didn't trust the old ways. Oh well, no biggie to add them, and they will paint over just fine.

Chimney for the Wood Stove

Two things I forgot to mention that I did before the last entry - roofing - was the addition of a chimney and the electrical hookup. The chimney was fairly straight forward - a cap, some class A chimney pipe, and a roofing sleeve whose purpose is to insulate the pipe from the surrounding material:


The main rule of thumb for chimneys is that the stove and any un-insulated pipe be a minimum of 18" from anything... and the chimney must be capped and extend 2 feet above anything 10 feet around it. In my case, it makes for a fairly tall chimney that requires lateral bracing:


Heating is an entire thread of it's own, though - one best covered in it's own section, so I won't go past showing what I needed to do to get the roof in. One of the remaining entries will cover the rest, which includes a wood stove, a 5 ton heat pump and air handler, a couple of baseboard heaters, and how they were all installed...

Main Electrical Hookup

Next up was getting the electrical main panel hooked up - not complete wiring for now, just to get the panel installed and energized. The electrical inspector was a very helpful fellow, letting me know how to properly install the meter and panel, all while not making me feel like a complete idiot - after all, I'm no electrician, but even with having two brother-in-laws that are, I can't afford them so wanted to do it myself! First was to install the meter and mast. The mast is basically a 2" galvanized steel conduit with a special fitting on the top to keep out the weather. The bottom of the mast goes directly into the meter. The wire I used was three runs of 2/0 copper, with a 1/0 ground, run out the top of the mast about 16" or so for the electrical company to tie into.. I also needed to put in a pair of ground rods into the ground outside the building into the ground and tie the panel via the ground wire to the rods.

Here you can see the panel (at a slightly later stage):

I added additional studs to this wall so I could install the panel directly behind the meter, giving me the shortest distance - you can see the conduit above the panel in the photo above. You can also see several cables below, that I will fill you in on in the next installment or two. One requirement to get the panel energized was to hook up a single circuit and light, which I did. Unfortunately, the light was supposed to be directly over the panel, so I missed on that one and ended up installing two circuits. Both will be abandoned later, but it got through inspection and I now had power. After, of course, greasing the power company a cool $400.

More Concrete

Last up was to get the driveway poured out front poured. It was early in the spring, and I hired the same guy who had poured the foundation. I gave him three slabs to pour - the one out front of the shop, the second in front of our garage, and a third small equipment slab to hold the heat pump outside the east wall. Simple, eh? I guess that the area of gravel outside the front of the shop and the explicit instructions I left with him weren't enough. He was fast, I grant him that. Day one, he rented a skid steer and leveled the area for the slab. I left for work in the morning, and get a phone call early in the afternoon that he's finished. By the time I get home, he and his crew are gone, and I'm excited to see the new slab - until I look at it. He's completely ignored a full 8' by 24' section you can see here in the photo where I've laid out some 2x's:


I had told him the approximate square footage I wanted, and he had ordered enough concrete for that area. When he realized he had too much, he lengthened the form for the driveway out front of the garage until he had used it up, instead of putting it where it was supposed to be, which was in front of the shop. Sheesh. The only reason I had him pour the slab in front of the garage was to make sure I didn't get banged for a under minimum load from the concrete company. While he did an OK job on the slabs, the problem was now I had a driveway for one and a half cars out front of my garage, and my shop was missing a third of the slab I had wanted in front of it. When he refused to own up to his own mistakes, there was no way I could afford to pay anyone else to do the work, so I ended up having to pour the thing myself:


Of course - now I had to pay a minimum charge for the concrete of several hundred dollars more than it was worth, I had to do the work myself - though I did get my brother to help out with the pour but with a broken shoulder from 2 weeks previous he couldn't do too much.   The main loss for me, though it cost a lot more money than it should of, was time....  The whole reason I had hired it out was so I wouldn't have to use up my own time on it.  With my limited time available to work on the shop, this set me back at least a good month, because it took me just as long to set up for this slab as it would have had I done all of it myself.

When I ordered the concrete, the truck didn't come from their local plant - it came from another over 40 miles away. The driver had gotten lost and spent 45 minutes looking for my address - IN THE WRONG TOWN. By the time he got there, the stuff was an hour and a half out of the gate and already setting up. It's been twenty years since I poured any concrete, so my skills are a little rusty to begin with - anyhow, I finally got it poured, though it doesn't match the adjacent concrete in the least, nor is it the prettiest job in the world, and I was now much angered - it will have to do. The faults in it server to remind me just how much I hate dealing with contractors. When you find a good one - hang on to them. They are an increasingly rare breed these days.

Next up - finishing up the exterior! Coming soon.




Looking good, that is gonna be one fine shop.
Good for you, you certainly deserve it!



Hey Leif, 
I love how you share so much of what you do. Great pictures and verbage to go along with them. 
I can indentify with so much of what you are doing there. I too did my own electrical wiring while not being an electrician. And the frustrations and rage when it comes to trying to depend on so called capable contractors. I thought all the shlocky contractors had flocked to Lake County here were I life, but I see at least one of them made it north to your county.
Your concrete looks good from this angle. Look forward to a couple years from now and you won't even notice all those little mismatches in color etc.
Take care,
PS...I hate that code thing. I realize why you need it, but that's no reason for it to be written by a first grader. *smirk*  


I appreciate the encouragement!  It's getting to be a chore to get out there, I've been at it for so long now.  I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, though! 

I'm still wiring away, going quite slowly right now as both spring is here (outside time!  That and helping others out keeps me from my appointed rounds in the shop) and the money is short right now.  Had to put new tires and a tune-up on the Dodge and found out when repairing the leak in the power steering got into and fouled up the engine wiring harness, which now needs to be replaced - and it isn't cheap. 

but back to the wiring... I've gotten all of the power runs in, and a good chunk of the light runs - probably another couple days worth of time to finish it all up.  My brother-in-law has been helping me out quite a bit, and fortunately for me he's a retired electrician.  So at least it's not like I'm flying blind.

 I will post about it when I get there - like I said above, I'm nearly live with the updates.

Thanks again!