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

The Center Island

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My garage has a support pillar smack in the middle of it. This would be more of a pain in the neck if I parked two cars in it. But with only one car going in, it allows me to anchor a work surface that’s a little bit like those center islands you sometimes see in kitchens.

And speaking of kitchens, the top is from Ikea. It’s a 40”x72” piece of birch butcher block. I notched it so it could wrap around that annoying center pole. Now it doesn’t extend too far into the area where I stand while working.

Always watching on Ebay, I scored a pair of used Vidmar cabinets for a base. The only problem was that they were only 30” tall, and all of the work surfaces in my shop are the same 37” from the floor (it makes cutting long stock easier when you can support it across multiple benches).

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I did two things with the extra space I had to fill. Up top, I put in some 1”x2” strips between the cabinets and the butcher block so I could slide in long pieces like dowel rods or thin bar stock. I was also able to feed some of the extension cords for the tools on the adjacent table in the same space, keeping them out of sight.

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Down below, I set the cabinets on a base made out of 2x4s turned on their sides. This gave me space for things like cheater bars and pipe clamps. I hinged one of the trim pieces so it could swing out for access.

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I’ve got an outlet strip on the center column. But the really useful electrical hook-up is above the island: a power reel. I don’t care how many outlets you put in your walls, this thing is almost always the first choice.

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You might notice the fixtures on the ceiling beam: CFL bulbs in $5 Home Depot trouble lights.

Here’s another view. The two pendant task lights up above the bench are from Ikea also.

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And that clock? Well, I’d seen two-faced clocks used in schools and train stations -- and thought that would be a good way to have a clock I could see from most parts of the garage. The real ones go for too much money, even used. So I got clever and just bought two inexpensive battery-powered wall clocks. I bent a piece of aluminum for a mount and got them to hang back-to-back.

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Next: The Suspended Nightmare