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workshop overhaul Feb-April 2008
This was was my "cabin fever" winter project. I've wanted to upgrade the basement for a while and one day in Feb. I finally decided to go for it.
Sometimes you don't realize how hideous something looks until you see the "before & after" pics--yes below is the same space!
Step 1:  start clearing the room.

This revealed some mortar between the bricks that was in need of repair.

Notice the one and only light fixture.
After vacuuming the ceiling of cobwebs, I borrowed a friends industrial-strength power sprayer.

This got into all the nooks & crannies post haste. I spent more time cleaning the sprayer than it took to paint the ceiling.

As you can see it shoots plenty of particles into the air. I did this step first so I only had to tape off & cover the window. The walls & floor wood be painted later, so overspray didn't matter.
As you can see it would have taken quite a while to hand paint between all the floor supports and ductwork.

The original color of the raw wood was very dark brown. You can see the difference in the prior picture.
There were several places that needed to be "tuck pointed"--the process of replacing mortar between brick.

I went around the room and marked each area with chalk.

When I found loose grout areas I ran a screwdriver in the gap to get rid of the sediment and create a good solid gap for the new grout.

                     < New grout.
Just grab an old scrap piece of wood, pour out a pile of mortar, make a hole in the middle of it, add water a little at a time & mix until it's like frosting.

I had never tuck pointed before. This article I found on the web taught me everything I needed to know, including tools I needed to pick up.

The grout is dirt cheap. I spent about $30 on tools.
Scoop some mortar on the trowel and smush it into the space with the tuck pointing tool. That part is pretty easy. The harder part was doing the vertical spaces.
It's not hard. It is time-consuming and tedious---probably because it was my first time.
Before the grout sets up simply brush the grout lines knocking off the excess and leaving smooth grout lines.
Next phase: painting

Painted the walls with a primer designed for basements called UGL Drylock Waterproofer at Lowes.

It was so thick it was difficult to apply to the walls. Slater & I actually spent an hour or two just painting in the grout lines with smaller brushes ;-(

I used an exterior grade latex paint to go over the primer. The wall color is actually yellow, even though in all the pics it looks flesh-color.

SANDRA painted the floor when I was away for a weekend ;-) We used Seal Krete Epoxy Seal from Lowes. It comes in 1 gal containers and is color-customozable. Great info on Seal Krete site.
Electrical upgrade:

Neither of the TWO original outlets (one on each wall) were grounded and again there was ONE light fixture.

My friend Scott graciously offered and did a phenominal job of rewiring!

We installed the 4 outlets seen here and two on the opposite wall. Of course Q showed up to help us on one of the 2 evenings we spent on this ;-)

We also installed 8 four-foot 2-bulb fixtures all wired to one light switch.

Scott did a great job of showing me how to wire outlets---it was a great learning experience.

The electrical was one of the biggest expenses of the project:

$110 for 8 fixtures at Menards. (sale price)
$150 just for electrical supplies. (I do have a surplus of wire for future upgrades)
Plan your work; work your plan

This is the rough plan for how the new workbenches would go together.

I'm very visual, so making this in Microsoft Word with the draw toolbar helped.

Lumber used:

4 x 4 posts
2 x 6s
2 x 4s

Big problem:  VERY uneven floors!

Dan loaned me his laser level (yellow thing on tripod) which gets my "most valuable tool award."

I taped off on the floor (blue lines) the outline of the benches and placed the 4x4 posts where they would go. (I initially cut them all longer than needed from a 12' 4x4.)

Then I went around & marked each post where the laser hit it. The slope in a couple sections was so much that I first cut the bottom of the post to match the floor (Thanks Dan for showing me that trick.)

Out of 18 posts I only ended up using ONE shim!

Here's a bench in progress. This is before I put the 2x4 supports around the base.

I used carriage bolts to tie the long 2x6s to the posts. I did add an extra nut (not pictured) to each bolt to keep the nuts from loosening over time.

You can see this post is numbered. They were all numbered when I marked them using the laser level since they were all different lengths.

I kept a diagram taped to the wall of where each post went.

I found Menards hardware prices to be better than Lowes. Also Menards lumber quality seems to be superior to Lowes.

TIP: Be sure that the 2 x 6s are not higher than the 4x4 posts. The posts are the primary supports for the top.

Here I am building two seperate benches with a small space in between.

The space in the middle will be a shelf for my compound sliding mitre saw. The shelf will join together the two benches to form one large bench.

All of the benches are LEVEL. I am very pleased given the reality that the floor is so radically uneven and sloping in places.

Should Stanley I-Beam pay me for this product placement?
Benchtops are on. Mike got me some great 1 1/2" solid doors rescued from a dumpster worksite that I cut down for the top.

I made a frame from 1x1 stringers to hold a pegboard backsplash. Also added a 1x1 along the back so boards wouldn't bump into the pegboard.

PLUG: That's the Makita Compact 18v Lithium Ion battery drill. It's awesome! Great power in lightweight compact design. Batteries recharge in 15 minutes.
Pegboard installed. A great way to create accessible storage for all kinds of tools.

Will paint them to blend into the wall later.
The edge of the doors (top) look a little rough. I'll pick up some "mulliun" trim to clean it up.

Lag bolts (don't go all the way through---it's like a screw on steroids)

carriage bolts (go all the way through & have a nut on the other side)
Nothing like an air nailer for putting on trim! Great gift from last Father's Day.

Now that looks better!

I'll tack this into place to position my first trim piece. That way I know my 45 degree mitre corner is tight when I make my measurement.
I placed the shelf for the saw so that the bed of the saw is the same heighth as the benches.

I can slide large boards from one side of the bench to the other. I can cut 12' stock on either side of the saw without having someone hold it or having to prop it up somehow.

After I took this picture I cut pieces of subfloor to go under both sides of the bench for storage---like you see here under the saw.
All I did to the doors (tops) is sand them with an orbital sander and apply one thin coat of polyurethane.
Here's the bench design along the other wall. This is just one long bench--just short of 12 feet.

Since this bench is so long the top will have to be two-pieces.

I decided to put in a 2x6 to make a larger surface for the two pieces to come together.

I used L-brackets to secure the tops. It's easier to secure them now before placing the top. Place them slightly lower than flush so you can draw the top down to the posts.
The closet doors on the above left pic will be the top for this bench. When we moved in our house, we bumped out the closet to make it a walk-in. Now one of the windows is in the closet & one is in the bedroom. The doors had been sitting in the garage waiting for a project like this ;-)
First I glued the two 4'x8' doors together to make for a solid 1 1/2" counter top. These are great old 3/4" plywood sheets--that means very stout!
Then I used 1 1/4" screws about every 10" to pull / hold the two pieces together.

I used a circular saw to cut it to size. I made sure to notice the saw "tears out"* on the "up" side you're cutting---so I cut from what would be the underside of the counter top.

(*You can see some "tear out" at the bottom of this pic)

As I drew my cut lines, once in a while I had to remove a screw that was in the way and move it over slightly.
Here's an ancient vice Q scrounged from a neighbor. Tape it off and spray it with a high quality rust-oleum paint and "voila"--new vice ;-)

Now I have a permanent space for my band saw, drill press, and scroll saw with workspace to spare. And plenty of handy outlets for them.

This bench is considerably lower than the bench on the other wall since the workspace of these tools is several inches off of the countertop.

History Homage:
Everett Mason & his wife Myrtle lived here from 1937-1991. He was a shop teacher for Kokomo Center Schools. This is a pencil holder he had made. I thought it deserved to go back in the shop.
All in all, I am thrilled with the result.

It was really amazing how dramatic paint and lighting are to a basement space. It's definitely energized Sandra & I to "de-dungeonize" the rest of our basement.

If you want to see it firsthand just pop over anytime. We love company.

Dollars and cents
For the first time I decided to keep a detailed log of every expendature of this project. It was interesting to how much those misc. trips for this & that add up.

But in the end our out-of-pocket was $299.47

Thanks to:
Mike for the free doors
Scott & Q for free electrical skills
Sandra & the kids for painting the floor
Bob for loaning the sprayer
Dan for loaning the laser level

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