Lee Shuwarger's 60 sq. ft. shop in Colorado is, by necessity, the model of efficiency. The small space requires Lee to think through the workflow of a project from start to finish. More importantly, his shop requires him to carefully consider tool choices and usage because it doesn't use electricity from the power grid.
The shop occupies a concrete slab that originally supported a greenhouse, so the size of his shop was limited by the area of the slab. Lee framed the walls and roof himself, sheathing the exterior with T1-11 siding. In the temperate Colorado climate, Lee saved on construction costs by omitting insulation.
With no electrical power run to the shop, Lee designed and installed a system that generates electricity from the sun. Two 150-watt, 12-volt panels on the roof paired with a 100-amp, 12-volt deep-cycle battery make up the heart of the solar-energy system. A 120-volt inverter connected to the battery supplies a conventional power strip.
Almost all of Lee's tools rely on battery power. These include a 40-volt tablesaw and an 18-volt miter saw he stores in his garage to save space. When he's done for the day, he plugs the batteries into a charger that hangs beside the window, near the power inverter. The noticeable lack of a bandsaw and drill press has never been a hindrance to building projects. "The tools I do have are perfect for what I need," he says.
The only three AC-powered devices include the battery charger for the cordless tools, a Bluetooth speaker, and a 5000-BTU air conditioner. Lee says he has never depleted the 12-volt storage battery.
The main source of light comes from 12-volt flood lamps and an LED rope light strung across the rafters. A single window and the open door contribute some natural light.
Lee's knack for efficiency carries over into storage space and work areas. For example, the wall framing creates nooks and crannies for his collection of battery-powered tools.
A small cabinet with a drop-front door, above, sits in one corner to serve as a desk where Lee can work on plans for his projects.
He also installed a fold-up workbench, above, made from 2-by material. When it's not needed, the bench folds neatly against the wall, saving precious floor space.
The wall adjacent to the desk houses a lumber rack. Below the lumber rack, a pegboard panel keeps a variety of tools and accessories at hand. Larger pieces, like sheet goods, reside outside the shed, stored along the back wall.
Lee is perfectly satisfied with his tiny workshop. It allows him to combine his two hobbies of woodworking and solar energy.