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As a city dweller, I’ve often looked with envy at the spacious outbuildings of my rural friends and relatives. Horse barns, potting sheds, root cellars, equipment garages — plentiful, enclosed, and private space is the one thing that makes me envy those who live beyond the end of the bus line. I think often about what I could make if I had a room of my own: a purpose-built, well-equipped space in which to create.

Apparently I’m not alone in these thoughts. Homebuilders commonly offer two-, three-, and even four-car garages for new homes. But all that space isn’t needed simply to shelter the family Chevy. It’s needed to keep pace with the explosion in DIY projects and their concomitant material and tool requirements.

Randy Nelson, president of Swisstrax, a manufacturer of workshop and garage floor products, says that garages are quickly evolving into more than simply places where people keep their cars. Installation of the company’s special-purpose floor tile in garages and workshops is booming.

“[Spaces for making things] have just about doubled in the last ten years,” says Nelson. “People aren’t just stuffing junk in their garages any more. It’s become the male domain, the place where they can do their work and have their tools.”

There are scores of books providing advice on setting up a wood shop or metal shop, and many others that describe setting up specialty areas such as a paint shop, a photography studio, or a chemistry laboratory.

But what I wanted was not a single-purpose workspace. I was seeking the ultimate, multipurpose maker’s workshop: a versatile, flexible space capable of handling nearly any project I could think of — from building a cedar-strip canoe to compounding fuel and oxidizer for a rocket engine, from soldering a Minty Boost to developing a model ornithopter.

This series of articles details the creation of a modestly sized yet state-of-the-art maker’s workshop, which I named the Barrage Garage.

This installment covers the design and construction of my Barrage Garage, and the considerations behind its doors and windows, floor coverings, and other infrastructure. The parts that follow describe the equipment inside it, such as workbenches, machine tools, hand tools, and my own space-saving tool storage system.

William Gurstelle

William Gurstelle

William Gurstelle is a contributing editor of MAKE. The new and improved edition of his book Backyard Ballistics is out now.


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