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Workshop Overhaul

Sometimes I take before & after photos of a project—and wish I hadn’t. That’s because the “after” doesn’t look much better than the “before.” But I rue not having taken a before picture of my basement before converting it into a workshop. If you remember what the basement of the creepy guy in “Silence of the Lambs” looked like, you’ll have a pretty good visual image of the “before” picture. The after looks much better.

The whole project-like most-started innocently. One wall of the basement of our 160 year old house was a mishmash of crumbling brick, cinder block patches and concrete chunks. I furred out the wall and installed 1×6 tongue and groove pine paneling to clean up the look. That involved removing an old set of shelves and clearing out a pile of stuff that had sat there since we moved in 10 years ago. The completed wall looked so good that it made the adjacent wall look shabby, so I installed tongue and groove on that wall. And around the room I went until all the walls were covered.

The floor, which was a quilt work of patches and holes, had to be leveled with floor leveling compound. And of course that had to be covered with tile. And so on and so on.

At one point it became clear that the rickety old workbench the previous owner had installed had to go. The doors were falling off their ancient hinges and the deep drawers were inefficient. Which brings me to the point of this Blog: The workbench top. “Work top” is probably a better term than workbench top, since this is the area I use for assembling and gluing up, not planing and hammering.

The work top area was big and awkwardly shaped, so I did what all good woodworkers do: Improvised. I bought a couple of boxes of discontinued maple flooring and started splicing and herringboning the pieces together. These next photos show how it went together.




And of course, I needed a place for my miter saw, so I created this little curved nook to accommodate it. The curve looks cool and prevents me from wangling my hip bones on the sharp corners.


So far, so good. The prefinished top is easy to keep clean and the maple provides a solid working surface-though it doesn’t take a hit as well as other maples. Pretty soon the workshop will stop being the project and start being the place where projects get done.

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