Workshop dust collection

As with any space that is being built from scratch, systems (electrical, HVAC, etc) are always the starting point. The workshop got an extra system: dust collection. It’s a series of PVC pipes that ring the space and connect to a heavy-duty suction machine.

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It’s kind of hard to tell what’s what in the photo above, so here are some handy arrows.

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Dust collection in a workshop is important in terms of cleanliness and health. This space has zero outside venting so it was critical.

Besides the vacuum itself, the system is mostly built from 6″ PVC DWV pipe and fittings (which are remarkably hard to find.) Aaron started by creating a trunk line with one run for each side of the workshop. He used 45 degree angles for better air flow.

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PVC can be glued, but he opted to use the same brand of pipe to ensure things would sit snugly. The screws give a little extra security and can be removed if the system needs to be cleaned out.

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Here’s the trunk line in place.

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Blast gates section off the air flow. They keep the air running in one direction and to one tool to ensure maximum suction.

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These parts don’t fit perfectly with the PVC pipe because they’re made for metal piping that costs twice as much as PVC. Obviously, PVC is much more economical for home workshops. The blast gates just need a bit of a hack. Aaron wrapped the fitting of the blast gate with electrical tape to give it a good seal.

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Once the blast gates were in place on the trunk line, he extended PVC around the left side of the room, adding a wye connector at each tool. These connectors offer better air flow than a T connector because of the softer angle.

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Every tool comes with a different type of hose to attach to a dust collection system. Aaron created custom adapters to reduce the line so that each tool’s hose could connect.

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He continued the install by running PVC across the space and down the right side of the room. This required some funky angles thanks to all the things on the wall in this area.

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Here’s the full line installed, just waiting for tool attachments.

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Here are some of the tool attachments in action.

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Everything gets sucked back to the machine and collects in the bottom bag for easy removal.

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So far the system works great on most of the tools, except the miter saw, which is an older tool. We’re blaming the tool, not the dust collection and Aaron is working on an adjustment for that.

As with most systems, this one was super necessary… but not super glamorous. What’s on your summer reno list? Anything more exciting?

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The workshop is DONE!

This post has only been THREE YEARS in the making. But first can we talk about foot injuries and one-man construction crews? That combo really sucks… like drinking wine after brushing your teeth. It doesn’t make anyone happy. So it’s been unintentionally quiet here (and literally quiet at the firehouse) as Aaron’s foot heeled. He’s back in motion again and chomping at the bit to get projects back in flight for the living room/dining room redo.

Just before the foot injury claimed two months of his life, he finished the workshop and put it instantly to use to build a pantry for the new trailer… because he (ok… we…) can’t leave well enough alone. Now it’s clean and ready for its’ debut on the interwebs!

We already told you about dropping more power into the space, framing & painting, adding a window and lighting the place up, but there was more work to be done before this space was finished, including a bit of building and installing the dust collection system. (More on that last bit in the next post.)

First Aaron built a wall in the back of the workshop that he covered in pegboard to provide much needed hanging storage.

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Then he built a table for the miter saw.

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Finally he created an out-feed table for the table saw.

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Ok – are you ready for the grand tour? When you come down the stairs, now you see this:

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The slated plastic door helps keep dust contained in the workshop (and is really fun to walk through).

Once Aaron started laying out the workshop he realized how small it was relative to the amount of tools he wanted to put it in. So instead of going in the workshop, the lockers we’ve been hoarding are just to the left after you come down the stairs. They’re full of materials like painting supplies and extension cords. (If you’re not familiar with the layout we’re after, check out this post and it will make more sense.) Eventually this walkway will get more finishing touches.

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Once you stop into the space it looks like this!!

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The finished miter saw table has storage and a charging station below. Overhead a reel and hose make it easy to connect and use air-powered tools in the workshop without moving the air compressor.

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On the opposite wall, the router table is tucked to the left (and on wheels for easy relocation) and the table saw and out-feed table dominate the room. This was strategically placed under a floor drain that dips low enough for Aaron to smash his head into.

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The out-feed table also has storage below.

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Moving left to right: a workbench, air conditioner, the dust collector, the finished pegboard wall, disc/belt sanderĀ and jointer.

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Here’s the view from the back.

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It’s been a long time coming, but it I think it was worth the wait. This space is amazing! Aaron has already used it for a few projects, and it’s a revelation not to have sawdust in our living space or be required to scoot around pieces of wood that have been painted and are drying. But, really, what I love the most about the workshop is that everything has a home… that isn’t my (future) dining room floor. There are all these little moments that make my organization loving heart so, so happy.

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And because I’m sucker for a really good before and after. Here’s a look at 3+ years ago vs today.

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We bought another trailer

I’ll preface this post by saying that it’s been a weird couple of weeks. That title is not something I expected to write anytime soon, because we already own a sweet, vintage trailer. So let’s dive right in.

About two weeks ago, we took advantage of some really nice weather to do some work in the extra lot. Although we hired some Craigslist labor to do the first major cleanup, the lot was still littered with half of a tree, a pile of bricks and SOOO many sticks. We pulled out the chainsaw to take care of some of the larger pieces of wood and started a controlled brush fire (file that under things I never thought I’d say).

At some point in the course of the day, Aaron hurt his right foot. It wasn’t a “Bang! Ow!” situation, but more of a “We’ve been recouping on the couch and my foot is really starting to hurt” and the next morning “Seriously, my foot hurts.” And that’s been the status for a few weeks. We’ve gone from crutches to a walking boot, which I have helpfully named “Das Boot” because everyone needs a daily Beerfest reference – right?

All of this foot pain caused us to cancel our first camping trip of the year. So that Friday instead of enjoying nature, we were stuck at home and Aaron was making his usual Craigslist rounds. He stumbled on a 2010 R-pod camping trailer at a fantastic price.

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Before we go any further (because you obviously know that we bought this R-pod trailer) it’s helpful to have a little background about our current trailer. When we bought it, it was supposed to be a relatively quick, interior-only redo that would give us veritable hotel room on wheels. Then the firehouse happened and that project came to a screeching halt as we tackled all of the incredibly necessary projects here (like building a studio so we could keep our photography business going… ya know, little things like that). Now we devote all of our tinkering time, money and energy to the firehouse and we need camping (and owning a trailer) to be as easy as possible. So we knew that eventually we’d want to change to a modern trailer.

The deal on the R-pod was so good and our current trailer is pristine, therefore worth the most amount of money right now. So we’re making the switch. Function beat form and we’re selling the rebuilt Trailblazer.

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It’s a little bittersweet, but it feels like the right time to do it. So if you know anyone in the market, feel free to share this Craigslist post.

In the meantime we’re hoping Das Boot will finally allow Aaron’s foot to heal so he can put the finishing touches on the workshop (I think I’m literally only waiting for a counter top to be screwed down before taking “after” pics) and keep forging ahead on the living room/dining room redo.

The controversial fire hose lights

One of my favorite moments on our House Hunters episode is when we see the fire hose lights. Our realtor, Ted, comments on how cool they are. We awkwardly look at each other while trying to think of something to say that won’t offend him… because we hate the fire hose lights. Instantly and forever.

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Don’t worry if you love them, as Ted does, you’re in the majority. I would say 90% of people love them… maybe even 95% because I assume some people who like them might hold their tongue after we explain our distaste.

They’re just too kitschy for us. “Oooh – you’re in a firehouse and you have fire hose lights.” Blech! I’ll give the guy who installed them a pass because he IS an actual fire fighter. We’re not.

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They were destined to come down since day one, and with the downstairs renovation ramping up, it was time to see how exactly these lights were constructed. All we knew for sure was that each pair of yellow hoses had a bulb of some sort and the white hose housed an HVAC line.

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We suspected that the lights were part of a track lighting system. The lights were clearly suspended from something and that’s the only way we could envision safely hanging them. We’ve actually had several people email us offering to buy these lights when we take them out. Each time I’ve explained that we really don’t know if there would be anything to sell once we dug in. We were right about that… but oh so wrong about the construction…

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A few weekends ago, I helpfully offered to start taking down the patchwork of drywall that makes up the ceiling in the cube. Then, not so “helpfully,” I couldn’t reach the ceiling while standing on the ladder that fit in the cube. Aaron obliged my curiosity and agreed to take down a panel.

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That led to another and another before he exclaimed, “This is so much worse than I thought!”

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Pulling the ceiling revealed a curious network of cords… that looked a lot like extension cords… Odd…

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Closer inspection revealed that they were in fact extension cords that led to two power strips that were plugged into an outlet.

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I understand that not everyone who reads this blog has an in-depth understanding of electrical, but those who do will surely realize the clusterfuck that we uncovered. This is at least six different kinds of wrong. It’s NEVER OK to put a LIVE ELECTRICAL OUTLET behind drywall. Never. Period. This is why electrical codes exist! Because shit like this can cause a fire or get someone injured or killed.

The rest of the lights are made with an under cabinet puck taped to an extension cord. In other words, just as unsafe as the rest of this mess.

We were so flabbergasted by all of this that all we could do was laugh… and be thankful that we never turned those lights on anyways. Oh, and, hey we scored two new power strips!

So the definitive answer to anyone who had hopes of buying the lights is “Sorry, we can’t be responsible for possibly burning your house down.”

Things are looking up

That’s a really silly title. Can you get rusty at blogging? Because I might be. Suddenly a month has gone by! We’ve been working on SO many different things, but haven’t had anything to show for it yet. It’s not our normal MO, but when some necessary parts for the basement workshop had to be reordered, we decided to dive into the the first floor reno, which I detailed our plans for oh so long ago.

Although 2015, felt like a bit of a lost year in terms of visible progress on the firehouse, we kicked off this renovation with some key features routing electric for the basement sub panel, adding windows, and finding and installing our fireplace.

We’re back at it and into some of the really boring/incredibly tedious/worth it in the end, projects that will get the room ready for paint. First up: patching the dining room ceiling. Hence the title of the post. Although, really, Aaron is the one who has been looking up. Get it? Ha! … Sorry.

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This is definitely one of those projects that we waffled on. Was it worth it? Would it make a difference? Could we just paint over the rough spots to make them blend in? That is what we opted to do in the studio.

But the dining room felt different to us. While we love the industrial look, we worried in this space it would just feel unfinished. Also we have so many things going into the space that we want you to notice. It would be a shame if the ceiling detracted from that.

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The ceiling in the living room was previously repaired (and painted black) which also made us lead towards making the change. (That ceiling and the duct will be painted white when the time comes.)

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So we decided it was worth the time to fix the ceiling… even though that means in the end you WON’T notice the work. The project itself was more labor and time intensive than expected, because isn’t everything in a renovation? Aaron started by scraping off the loose bits of plaster and patching the numerous holes. Then he carefully layered on 150 pounds of mud.

The result was so worth it! (Says the person who did none of the work.)

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It’s nice to have a clean slate in here. We’re working on a few DIY light fixtures that will give some much needed light to this space.

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As I mentioned, we’re ping ponging between projects a bit. Lately, we’ve been sourcing wood slabs for the dining room table, and Aaron is in the basement this week installing the dust collection system. Updates should get more frequent as we start crossing things off the list for both spaces!