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Multipurpose Smith Shop

Night shot of garage tool shop.
Outdoor lighting invites you into a cozy workshop. The welcoming 8×16' porch area also serves as an additional work area by swinging open the doors that comprise one end of the shop.

Night shot of garage showing lighting.

Floor plan.


When Chris Smith moved into a 200-year-old Rhode Island home, his only option for shop space was a damp basement with 612 ' ceilings full of ductwork and plumbing. After putting up with this for a couple of years, Chris and his father-in-law, Bob Reynolds, built a stand-alone shop to fit available yard space. 

The resulting shed includes an 8' porch, leaving a 16×16' enclosed space. The 8' bare-stud side walls and an open ceiling beneath the 16' roof peak provide plenty of storage area, including overhead. 

View inside garage shop.
Open ceilings and wide double doors create the illusion of a much larger workspace without feeling cramped.

The porch sees a lot of use. When the weather cooperates, Chris swings out and secures the full-width double doors, extending his shop space onto the porch. Many of his tools rest on mobile carts he wheels in and out of the shop as needed. Chris designed the carts to match his workbench height for added flexibility in configuring his work area.

A wall in shop with lots of tools.
With his benchtop tools on mobile carts, Chris can rearrange his shop to suit the project at hand while taking advantage of the 8×16' porch area, if needed.

Wall showing combination of garden tools and woodworking tools.
Ample wall space provides many options for storing garden tools and recreation equipment on French cleats, between wall studs, and in the eave space above the wall.


Chris’s shed also stores lawn and garden equipment and recreational items. He hoists and stores kayaks and bikes between the rafters. Shovels, rakes, and other garden tools fit on racks hung on a French-cleat system he uses for most of his wall storage. Cleats on the walls behind the workbenches hold his woodworking tools. Chris finds the cleat system easy to reconfigure as his needs change or he acquires new tools. 

Wall with lots of custom holders for holding up tools.

Hammock hanging in front of shop, on the porch.
Green-painted faux doors disguise the full-width nature of the real doors. The porch provides a sheltered spot for a hammock when Chris wants to relax and unwind.

A 100-amp electrical subpanel in the shed supplies power, but Chris went one step further: He added a connection for a small generator that supplies power to a few vital circuits in the main house's electrical panel in the event of an outage. 

Chris is a minimalist when it comes to heating and cooling the shop, using a box fan in the summer and a space heater in the winter. He went without insulation to maximize the storage space available. However, Chris added one important amenity to the porch: a hammock. He takes advantage of it “when the projects dry up,” he says.

Chris Smith standing in his shop.
When Chris isn’t working his day job for the state government, he spends quite a bit of time in his shop, kayaking, or tending his garden.
 

Night shot of garage tool shop.
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