Pipe Essays, Uncategorized

The DadsPipes Shedquarters Project Part I – Planning

It’s Easter Weekend, a time of renewal and rebirth and a definite sign that Spring is finally upon us here in Southern Ontario. It seems appropriate, then, to make the first of a series of posts about a project that will impact DadsPipes considerably over the year to come – a new “Shedquarters”!

We moved to our current house last August. It’s a great house and a nearly perfect home for our family of four – well located in a small town, walking distance to essential amenities, a decent commute to my wife’s job and only a few minutes drive to three larger urban centres should the need arise.

Why only “nearly perfect”? There is currently no dedicated space for my pipe repair and refurbishing workshop. At the moment, I’ve wedged a few tables into one end of the garage to serve as a temporary home to my drill press, buffers and ancillary hand tools necessary for the resurrection of hard-smoked estate briar, meer and cob.

This is my current work area. I’m mid-project at the moment, so the table is a typical mess of tools, supplies, towels and dust. Somewhere in there is the pipe I’m working on….


This setup has allowed me to work on pipes all winter in relative comfort, thanks to a 5000 watt garage heater I installed in the Fall, but there are a few significant drawbacks. For starters, all the heat disappears for about 30 minutes every time my wife pulls her car in or out. I also get to share the space with a few sometime malodorous garbage cans, and the reality of new-build garages is that there is not enough square footage for both my worktables and my car, which has, by default, lived in the driveway all winter.

With no room inside to build a workshop, the obvious solution is to build a new, stand-alone conditioned space outside of the house. A bit of research provided essential info like the maximum size of outbuilding I could erect without a permit, and the minimum setback from the lot line I had to maintain. Rules vary widely, so be sure to check with your municipality if you’re considering a similar project.

Armed with the specific regulations for my area, I made several rough sketches to see what variations in shape, size and internal layout might provide the best solution for my needs. Speaking of needs, the list is actually quite short:

  • enough workbench to house the necessary power tools
  • a desk area to act as my main work space
  • electrical service sufficient for power tools, lights, heat in the winter and AC in the summer
  • a source of water – useful for cleaning pipe parts and wet-sanding pieces

In my younger, fitter days, I would have had no problem ordering a pile of lumber and building a shed myself from scratch. With my current physical limitations, however, this is frustratingly out of reach. Thankfully there are several local companies that build and deliver outbuildings.

After a bit of looking, I settled on a 10 x 10 “utility” shed from Old Hickory Buildings. If anyone is looking for a shed, bunkie, or hunting cabin, give their website a look. I especially appreciated their online Build & Price portal, where I could experiment with the size and shape of my proposed building, insert doors, move windows around, and even add in things like workbenches and shelves.

After a bit of playing around, I created this 3D model of my new Shedquarters, colour-matched to coordinate with the house – gotta look good, after all!


Another helpful online planning tool, believe it or not, is the IKEA kitchen planner, which lets you punch in your room dimensions, wall height, place windows and doors and then furnish the room with IKEA products. I used the planner to test-fit different cabinet and workbench layouts into my space – very helpful for those that need a visual reference!

Screenshot (1)

The side of the shed with two windows is south-facing to make the most of the natural sunlight. The opposing wall faces the rear lot line, and will house an air conditioner in the summer months. The “kitchenette” area will include a sink, a self-contained RV-style water system that feeds the faucet from a water jug under the counter, a bar fridge for cold drinks and probably a kettle or Keurig coffee maker.

The rear wall will be the main workbench area for drill press, buffers, sanding station, bench vise, etc. I also plan to integrate a shop-vac dust collection system to keep things tidy. The left/south wall will be my main worktable, with storage for all the supplies and materials I reach for during a restoration.

I’ve paid the deposit on the shed building at this point, and am (impatiently) waiting for April showers to pass so I can get the foundation in place. More on that, as well as the actual shed installation, in Part II.

Stay Tuned! Until next time, Happy Piping!



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