As an architect, Frank Howarth knows how to design, and he put his skills to use in building his 1,247-square-foot shop. Originally a deteriorating indoor pool, Frank's shop occupies the pool's original hole in the yard, which helps minimize its overall height. The tallest walls soar 16' inside, but the floor rests 3' below the surrounding yard. The only downside is getting heavy equipment in and out of the shop. "When I moved in equipment," Frank says, "I rented a skid-steer loader, but a forklift would have been better."

Frank likens his sloped-roof shop to a toolbox with a partially opened lid.

While the exterior of Frank's shop may look mid-20th-century modern, you may feel like you're stepping back in time when you enter. Frank loves older woodworking equipment; for example, his 1948-era 36" bandsaw. Nevertheless, he's incorporated 21st-century touches. Plenty of natural light floods the shop, and in-floor dust ducts keep everything tidy—a good thing, considering Frank, an accomplished videographer, shoots many videos of his projects and his shop (see To create a video-friendly environment, Frank built sound-deadening ceiling frames that reduce echoes so he can record audio right in the shop. "I stretched burlap over wood frames," Frank says, "much the same way one makes a canvas for painting. Then I put batt insulation behind the burlap and hung the panels. It's a quiet shop!"

Plywood-covered walls make it easy to secure anywhere the cleats that support cabinets, shop-made pegs, and other fixtures.