The need became apparent when my wife Kat convinced me that a garage should be used for parking cars and not for man-projects. Our first Montana winter here confirmed she was correct. At first, I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew. But then, how do you know how much you can chew until you take a bite?
About this time last year, we started clearing and leveling the plot for what would become my 24x24 foot shop. I wasn’t really planning on doing it myself. I got a couple of estimates but they were way too high even before lumber became more valuable than gold. I once built a dog house though, how much harder could it be?
The guy grading our driveway was able to push over the trees onsite with his excavator and sort of level what would be the pad. Have you ever used a gravel compactor? It takes six inches of gravel and ‘compacts’ it to four or so. It also shakes the connections of your bones and has a tendency to want to run sideways. It’s a skill set I hope I don’t have to use again.
The idea was to use the 6x6 beams I hacked out of cut larch trees on the property and then put 2x6 walls in between. I started building the walls in October but Mother Nature has a cruel sense of humor. An early October snow put things on hold temporarily. But soon the sun returned and stick by stick the building began to take shape. I was doing this myself, under supervision of our dog Hercules. Individualism is fine but there are times when two or three are much better than one. Times when an extra set of hands are not only welcome but necessary. This became evident when I tried to hold both ends of 16-foot long 2x10’s in place and nail it at the same time. New Montana friends came by and the roof rafters and sheathing went up quickly.
Once the roof was on and the building covered, the rest of the work proceeded at the speed of a 64-year old retired guy who had never built a building before. Screw by screw, nail by nail the shop/man-cave began to look like a building. I wanted it to match the house, so steel siding to window level and then wood above that. After rapping it in plastic came the exciting part, it was time to work with magic. Electricity is magic you know. Maybe someone understands it but I don’t. You also never know if you’ve wired it correctly until you flip the switch and the lights either go on, or, things get interesting. The lights went on and the stereo soon followed.
After almost a year of trips to the lumber yard, taking the Lord's name in vain more than once and ‘persuading’ long, heavy pieces of wood to cooperate, the exterior is done. The interior will be an ongoing work-in-progress as I figure out where to put tools and my easy chair.
How do you eat an elephant? One board at a time.