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A website about how I set up my old, small, two-car garage for metal fabrication, carpentry and automotive work.

Taking a Step Back

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Click on the image above for a huge version of the picture.

Before I go into too much detail, let me mention a few big-picture decisions that I’m very happy with. One is the decision to tile the floor. My pad was too uneven and damaged for epoxy, and after 83 years of neglect, it looked pretty terrible. But I stumbled on some ceramic tiles on sale at the Home Depot for .59/sf, and made an impulse purchase. Then I nearly destroyed the suspension of my poor old Jeep carrying the stuff. Then I gave myself a crash course in tile setting by, well, Googling ‘Tile Setting.’ The key with a floor like this is to apply thinset to both the undersides of the tiles and also the floor itself. You can’t have any voids under the tiles or they’ll be as brittle as bathroom tiles. But if you set the tiles correctly, they’ll be (in many ways) stronger than the concrete they’re sitting on. I’ve rolled jacks, dropped tools, used jack stands and dragged 800-pound cabinets over these tiles. They’ve held up fine. They were cheaper than epoxy and they can hold up to any chemical you can pour on them. Even dried-on oil-based paint comes off with a quick swipe of a razor blade. I hadn’t originally planned on using tiles for my flooring. But I’m very glad I did.

Painting the place is also one of those things that’s often put off (and then forgotten) with a garage. I chose a tan for the walls and then a green color that reminded me of an early-1960s machine shop. I don’t know if I got it right or not, but the color helps keep the garage from looking too cluttered. It’s one of those hard-to-quantify things, but it’s like the tile: I appreciate it every time I’m in the place.

And the same goes for the lighting. Not just that I used inexpensive task lighting where a lot of guys opt for wall-to-wall T8s. But I put the four lighting circuits on motion-detecting switches, which means I never have to even think about turning lights on or off in the place. If I come in carrying something heavy, it doesn’t matter. They come on as I walk in the door. And after about 15 minutes after I’ve left, they simply turn off. Just about all of the lighting is CFL bulbs, which I found with low enough color temperatures so that the place still feels like it’s lit by incandescent bulbs.

Next: The Curved Steel Bench