“Mantown” – Shop Tour

Shop Tour - Submitted by Mike from Pittsburgh, PA
Added on October 8, 2008

It all started in Aught-Five, when my lovely wife and I decided it was time to add on to our 3 bedroom colonial. With two little girls and a whole lotta Fisher Price stuff, we were starting to feel cramped. So I took advantage of my very handy retired-architect dad and we built ourselves a 1,100 sq. ft. three-story addition. During this project, I managed to reserve a 12’x12′ plot of space in the basement that has since been dubbed Mantown.

Mantown is on the cozy side and has a very low ceiling. But I put in double doors that open out under the deck. This allows me to get things in and out easily and to cut larger items on the table saw, which rolls into place when I need it. The doors and window also give me plenty of natural light to work with. I even thought ahead and had the window made with tempered glass, for when I accidentally put a pipe clamp through it. Also, rather than drywall, I put pegboard up directly onto the studs, an idea that seemed great at the time, but frankly I’m starting to think pegboard is overrated.

Mantown has a long way to go before being complete. Tool-wise, I’m just getting started. Delta 10″ contractor’s saw, Delta drill press, and a Makita sliding compound miter saw are the major tools. I also have been doing a lot with my Kreg pocket hole setup. The wall containing the miter saw is pretty much temporarily thrown together, but I’m working on a master plan for it to improve storage, utility and all-around coolness. I’m also planning to incorporate a router table into the right side of the table saw and am debating dust collection options while currently using a shop vac connected to the tools wherever possible. The alcove next to the interior door is handy for storage as well, though I had to make sure to position the shelves at the right height to allow a 8′ board to be cut on the miter saw.

Despite the size and small tool collection, I’ve been quite productive with the space, mostly building what needs to be built for the addition. In the pictures you can see an entire built-in unit and new fireplace mantle, made of a combination of ply and pine with a tile top (and, okay, Dad helped). My most recently completed project is a student desk and bulletin board for my eight year old daughter, with love from daddy.

I’ve started work on built-ins for our home office, and have so far put together a desk for my lovely wife, which will eventually become a full wraparound suite of cabinets once we get rid of that gawdawful wallpaper (and yes, a gadget station included!). The desk was actually one of my first projects, during which I learned things like paying attention to grain direction, book-matching panels, and how to stain wood correctly (all after the fact, of course). Building the desk was also a strategic move on my part to convince said lovely wife that Mantown is really “all for you, honey”. So far it seems to have worked. Wait till I tell her I want to knock out that wall behind the miter saw and make it bigger!!! I appreciate any commentary, especially suggestions on how to turn my 7′ ceiling into a 9′ ceiling.


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