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I’ve been using my 12 inch miter saw clamped to a bench, and using a 2×4 clamped to that same bench as a part support.  It worked, but it really sucked.  I needed it all squared away.

I also had a second problem in that I don’t have a lot of shop storage.  So I decided to hit two birds with one stone, and create a great miter bench with built-in storage.

My first step was to design the thing in Sketchup.  Let me take a brief moment to sing the praises of Sketchup.  I really love this program.  I use ViaCad for other 3-D design, but when it comes to woodworking, I keep returning to Sketchup.  It has a short learning curve, it is intuitive, and it is darned easy to use.  It does have problems, it is not as precise as other CAD, y

ou are not going to get tolerances in the thousandths.  It doesn’t offer physics that let you rotate parts together to see how they work.  But for woodworking, or even designing a greenhouse, this program rocks!  If you want to learn more, check out the Sketchup website.

So here’s a snapshot of my Sketchup drawings.  First there is a basic cabinet carcass.  Then, I bolt the carcasses together, and screw on a tabletop frame.  Then I add two layers of 3/4 inch MDF to create a flat surface on top.  (Click on the images to enlarge them)

After I installed the insulation, I installed the interior walls.

Interior trimThe rest of the garage is lathe and plaster over the wall frame – this is the way my entire house was constructed way back when.  The original garage burned down and was rebuilt in the early 1960’s, and lath and plaster construction was used then too.  It is difficult to fasten things to a lath and plaster wall.  Stud finders are confused about where the studs are actually located, and the laths can be pretty solid at times making it difficult to tell if you are putting a lag bolt into a stud or into a lath.  I’m used to using nylon drywall anchors, which are much easier to install for shelves that will carry 10 to 50 pounds.  And with drywall, it is easier to tell where the studs are too.

But this is a woodshop, so instead of drywall I just installed more OSB as the interior wall.  I installed the OSB with the smooth side presented to the shop, but even so the OSB texture stands out.  Still, it’s a woodshop, and I really didn’t want to spend time taping and mudding a drywall.

I then used standard pine 3/4-inch primed trim boards to frame my window and the interior frame of my doors.  I held them in place with 18-gauge brads from my nail gun.

Interior paintI trimmed the exterior using primed pine molding boards, framing the window, doors, and the entire new wall to hide the transition from stucco to the new wall.  I used my nail gun to fasten the exterior trim.  The brads held very well in the stucco and the concrete fiber board.

Next up I spackled in all the holes and gaps that I cared about.  I used the “pink stuff” spackle.  Then I called it a night.

The next day I spent an hour sanding the spackle smooth, and cleaning up the resulting dust.  Then I prepped for painting – mostly by cleaning up dust and dirt so I wouldn’t kick it up while painting.  Again, I called it a day – I waited to start painting so the dust would settle.

The next day I started using an interior / exterior latex paint for my new wall and trim.  I used a white eggshell sheen.  The white matches the exterior stucco, and the sheen allows for good light reflection inside the shop.

It took 3 coats of paint to cover the OSB.  Parts of the OSB seemed to “seep through” the latex paint – probably due to the glue used to hold the plywood together.  If I did it over again, I would either first seal the OSB, or use Kilz primer over it first. Something resistant to the materials used in the OSB.  But still, 3 coats on the interior OSB seemed to do the trick.

The exterior concrete fiber board was already primed an ugly yellow-brown color.  It took the paint willingly, and it only took two coats to give it a very acceptable appearance.

exterior paintThe primed pine trim started out white – and painting it white hardly seemed to make a difference except to change the sheen a little, and to hide imperfections.

Then finally I painted the wooden door sill a battleship grey, using paint that is designed to be walked on.  After that paint dried, I sealed the door sill using a pure silicone grey-colored calk.

Tonight I’ve started the process of moving my bench up against the new wall, under the window.  I’ll put my tool chests up there too, and sometime this week I’ll add some overhead cabinets.

Also, I’ve planned to add an outdoor garden shed for my lawn mower and other garden tools.  It will go up against the new exterior wall, between my new window and the property fence.  Then I’ll be able to evict the lawn mower and other outside tools from my woodshop!  I’m looking forward to that!  I’ll post images of that when I do it.

I’ve created a photo album of images that I have taken during this project.  You can see this album here.

Once I got the fiber-cement siding installed, my next step was to install my double doors.

Doors - seen from insideThe first thing I did to start this was to install a 10-inch wide, 80-inch long, 1/2-inch thick piece of redwood across the door sill.  This sits on top of some Dow Sill Seal, and is bolted to the concrete.  The framed double doors sit on top of this door sill, so there is about a 1.5-inch tall door sill barrier between the inside and the outside, which should keep water sprayed on the driveway from running into the shop.

Let me detour here for a minute to talk about my fear of water getting under the wall, and what I’m doing about it.

The bottom of my wooden sill doesn’t sit on concrete.  It sits on a closed cell foam sill barrier made by Dow.  This barrier sits under the house wrap, and protects the bottom of the sheathing plywood.  Aluminum flashing sits on top of this, and the fiber board sandwiches that too.

As a final measure, I lay a thick bead of pure silicone calking along the bottom of the wall, sealing the bottom of the aluminum flashing to the concrete.  Hopefully this will also prevent splashing water from invading under the new wall.  I’ll be on the lookout for leaks and moisture!

Doors seen from outsideInstalling the double doors was a chore.  If you get the frame out of true, the doors will jam.  If you get the frame out of level, the doors will not be balanced, and will swing open or closed.  The best thing to do is to follow the instructions and work slowly.  Wendy helped me set the doors in place, and then I spent the next 2 hours making sure they were perfectly level and true before I screwed them into place with 4-inch screws.

I then bolted the bottom of the doors sill plate through the wooden sill plate and into the concrete underneath, using countersunk flat-head concrete screws.

The doors swing open and closed easily, and a light push causes the doors to completely shut.  I’m pretty proud of that!

I then started installing exterior trim around the doors, the window, and completely around the edge of the new wall, hiding the intersection of the old stucco wall and the new fiber cement siding.

Interior framingBack inside, I used Dow “Great Stuff” gaps & cracks expanding foam between the new wall and the old wall, and in the gaps around the windows and doors.  This stuff is pretty amazing.  It sprays like a viscous fluid and immediately begins to expand, filling in any sort of gap.  Dow recommend that you use protective clothing and gloves when using their product – this is because if the product gets on your skin and hardens, it is NOT COMING OFF without taking a layer of skin too.  I… uh… learned this through experience.

I also learned that this stuff will find its way through cracks that you didn’t know were there.  I’ve had to spend some time cleaning up due to this.  Luckily, when dry this foam is a lot like Styrofoam.  It is hard, easily cut with a blade, or scraped away with a scraper or chisel.  It can also be sanded.

InsulationAfter taking care of the gaps, it was time to add insulation to the walls.  I took some time thinking about this – the garage heats up quickly in the winter, even when the garage door was just a big hunk of aluminum.  During the summer I plan to use a swamp cooler to keep my woodshop comfortable, so the R-rating is not super-critical to me.  What I’m more concerned about is noise.  I don’t want to bother my neighbors if I decide to use the table saw after 9pm.  Add this together with the fact that I hate working with fiberglass, and the solution I came up with was recycled denim insulation.  This material comes in 15-inch wide panels, and a single bale of it was more than enough to insulate my entire shop.  It is soft and fluffy, and easy to use.  It is easy to tear into the sizes that you need to use too.  While installing it, I wondered where they got the denim that they recycled.  Did they haunt second-hand stores?  Was any of the material once used by Daisy Mae Duke?

To be continued…

It was still Thanksgiving weekend, a 6-day vacation for me, and the day after I framed the woodshop wall, I started sheathing it.

Adding weather barrierI used OSB plywood with an APA rating of 24/16 to sheath the external wall.  As I added plywood sheathing, I didn’t completely cover the window or door openings, and used a router with a straight bit and guide bearing to cut out the windows and doors.  That worked very well, and it also covered me with sawdust!

After the plywood wall was installed, I took the front edge of the Dow Sill Seal (I mentioned this in my last post), and folded it up – over the bottom edge of the plywood – and stapled it in place.  The idea here is to keep splashed water from hitting the bottom of the plywood and wicking up into the plywood and causing rot to occur.

I then used two layers of weather barrier from Jumbo Tex on top of the plywood, and folded the edges over the window and door openings.  The weather barrier also went completely down the wall, over the sill seal, to the ground.

And then I was ready to install the window.

Did you know it is possible to install a window upside-down?  I had no idea that could be done!  Learn from my mistake!

There is no “Up” or “Down” or “Install this side up” on the window, or on the window packaging.  I looked hard for them!  Finally I shrugged, and figured that it didn’t matter, and installed it.  And then finished installing the fiber-cement siding on top – so that’s the way the window is going to stay now!

As a hint for you, OPEN the window.  When open, you should be able to lift the window up and out of its track.  If it is upside down, it will tend to FALL out of its track.  I’ve added a strip of wood to the track so it won’t fall out when I open the window – but it is most definitely upside down, and if anyone asks me where my blunders are in this project, I will happily point this out!

sidingSo… when I installed the window, I next added the adhesive-backed, 6-inch wide aluminum flashing around the window.  Water flowing down the wall will not go between the window and the weather barrier now… instead the flashing will divert the water around the window and down.

I also installed the aluminum flashing along the base of the new wall.  The idea is for water and moisture to run down the wall, over the flashing, and to the pavement below.

After that was finished, I started installing the exterior siding.

When I first started this project, I wanted to make a stucco wall that blended into the existing stucco, making the whole thing look like it had always been there – like one unbroken wall.  I quickly realized that stucco is a difficult project, and that people who do stucco well are artists of their profession!  If you do stucco for a living then I’ve got to hand it to you.  It looks very difficult!

But stucco works very well in direct sunlight in the Central Valley weather here in California.  The summer conditions are brutal here.  Plastic disintegrates, asphalt melts, wood warps and dry rots.  It’s terrible.  So instead of anything that just wouldn’t last, I chose fiber cement panel siding. This stuff is great!  It’s basically concrete walls that you lift into place and screw to your underlying wall.  It is hard, and impervious to the Sun.  And yet you can still drill it, cut it, or even use a router bit on it!

Make sure you wear a mask or respirator when cutting fiber cement panels.  Cutting the panels generates a lot of silica dust.  If this dust gets in your lungs it is seriously bad news.

I cut panels to shape using a 4.5-inch grinder with a masonry blade attached to it, and I fit them to the door using a router and straight bit with guide bearing.  There was a section over the eve of the door that didn’t get covered by a major panel, so I cut a piece to fit that gap.

The panels are held in place with standard interior / exterior wood screws.

To be continued…

I took a couple of extra days off for Thanksgiving so that I could spend some time working on my woodshop.  My goal was to remove the garage door from my detached garage, and replace it with a wall, double doors and window.

Several months ago, I found a great deal on a framed double-door set that had been ordered online by a Home Depot customer, and then returned for some reason.  Home Depot was happy to give these to me at a large discount, just to get them off of their shelves.

The double doors are steel, and are very secure as-is, without any sort of future enhancements.  (They will get those enhancements anyway!)

sill plate

So Thanksgiving weekend I started by detaching the garage door.  I wish I had photos of that process, but I was excited to finally get started, and forgot to do so.

The garage door is all one piece of aluminum, so after I removed them from the hinges, my brother-in-law and I had to carry it away.

Removing the hinges was a challenge, and one of the hinges slapped my hand pretty hard during that process.  I learned to use cargo straps to crank down on the hinge springs so that they would release without hitting me.  Seriously, the tension on these springs made them VERY dangerous!

Frame buildingOnce the door was out of the way, I started the process of making the sill plate.  I used pressure-treated 2x4s as my sill plate, and drilled several holes through them for some “Red Head” concrete anchors.  I then snapped a chalk line across the garage, and used the pre-drilled holes to mark the place where I drilled holes in the driveway concrete.  I then laid out some Dow Sill Seal, and laid the sill plate on top, and bolted it down.  I made sure it was level, using wedges between the sill seal and the sill plate to make it all level.

CAD drawing

I had used Sketchup CAD, along with some detailed measurements, to create a CAD drawing of my wall frame-up, so I would understand how everything was supposed to look.  I then based my wall frame on that CAD drawing.  The drawing was based on the recommendations for framing a house.

Let me take a moment to talk about this – in houses, the sill plate sits on the edge of the concrete slab, and the house sheathing protects the sill plate from the elements by extending past the sill plate, allowing water to run off until it drips at a level below the grade of the slab.  When you’re replacing a garage door with a wall, you have two possible ways to go.  The absolute correct way is to tear up the connection between the driveway slab and the garage slab, and make the garage slab support the sill in the same manner as a house would do.  You would need to reduce the grade in front of the garage to allow for runoff, and you’d cut back the driveway so that it doesn’t interfere with the garage slab.

Frame in place

My driveway seems to be a single unbroken slab that goes all the way into the garage.  Making a change like this would require a lot of demolition.  So I didn’t go that route.  This leaves me with the challange of how to make sure rainwater, or water from my garden hose doesn’t seep under the sill into the woodshop, and doesn’t rot out my sill plate.

This is why I used treated 2×4’s for my sill plate, it is why I used Dow Sill Seal too.  I also used 6-inch aluminum flashing with a rubberized self-adhesive seal to flash the entire bottom of the wall… but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So I spent the day measuring and building a wall frame, laid out on my flat driveway.  Then I got everyone together to raise the wall – that’s because a wall frame that is 17.5 feet long is HEAVY!  But we got it raised, and set on top of the sill plate.  The fit was perfect!  And that was completely due to multiple measurements and CAD design.  I know a professional contractor could have done the same thing in a quarter of the time with way fewer measurements, and still came out with a quality wall – but I’m just a do-it-yourselfer, and I’ll take what I can get.

Closed for the nightI tacked the wall into place with some 4-inch screws, then spent another hour using 4-inch lag screws to bolt the frame into the existing garage wall.  I also used 3-inch lag screws to fasten the frame to the sill.

Then I put a tarp across the whole thing and called it a night.  (Well, mostly a tarp.  It wasn’t quite long enough.  I used an old sheet too.)

To be continued…