Monday, February 15, 2010

How many academics does it take to raise a shed?

I mow my tiny prairie grass lawn three times during the summer, and the other 362 days of the year, that big ol' lawnmower takes up valuable space in my wood shop--as does also the leaf blower, weed whacker, wood chipper, Walu's spare commuter bike, assembly benches, and various other sundries rarely used but needed often enough that we don't want to get rid of them.

I've wanted a tool shed to house all this junk these seldom used items for fifteen years, but I could never make up my mind about what kind to get or where to put it. Should it be a kit, or should I build it from scratch? Should it be wood, or metal? Or given that I already have a backlog of chores to do, maybe I should just pay someone else to build the whole thing. And if someone else builds it, where should it be located? Should it be in the southeast corner of the farm? Behind the wood shop? Which direction should it face?

On and on the argument with myself went, and all the while I kept tripping over Mr. Mower, et al., in the shop. I finally decided to do something about it this year, however, after I got a kerosene heater on the advice of David of Montana Wildlife Gardener, who has an impressive wood shop of his own. David is able to heat his shop quite nicely with a kerosene heater, even in the frigid winters of Missoula. I've been trying to heat mine with an electric radiator, with less than satisfactory results--not the least of which is that I blow a fuse every time I fire up the table saw without first turning off the heater.

The problem, however, is that the kerosene heater has an open flame, and there sits that gasoline-powered lawnmower, with the can of gasoline right beside it, and all the other volatiles on the shelf behind that...

Therefore, in the kind of comedy of events that always seems to play out whenever I need to do one simple, little thing, I had to build an entire tool shed in the backyard before I could heat my wood shop.*

So the weekend before last, I made up my mind to make up my mind, and went down to the hardware store and bought a small shed kit. Here it is on the back of the trailer, on Thursday:

Fortunately, things dried out on Friday, and then on Saturday, on a nearly perfect Lubbock winter day, two neighbors and Walu helped me put it up.

Kurt stopped writing long enough provide youth, skill, and muscle:

Jorge was there, in spite of a nasty cold, to provide muscle and brainpower:

Walu took a break from his books to provide dry wit and muscle:

And I was there to supervise and take pictures (no photo). Oh, and of course, to provide tools. (I did do some "real" work, but the guys did all the heavy lifting.) Here they are putting up the gable:

I spent some time earlier in the day leveling the site, and Kurt and Walu dug up two unnecessary shrubs that were in the way; after that the actual shed-raising went surprisingly quickly. After only three and a half hours of hammering, we had the base, walls, and roof up. Then on Sunday I finished the trim and put roofing felt and metal drip edges on it. That was easy enough to do by myself, though it felt like an entire day of step aerobics, what with all the up and down on the ladder.

Here's a photo of where the shed is in the process now:

All that is left for the outside is the corrugated tin roof and some paint (that's not a finish coat on it in the photo--the kit came factory-primed). The inside will get some shelves and brackets for hanging tools. I also might put in a salvaged window that I've currently got stashed away...and taking up space in the wood shop.

All of this, of course, just goes to prove that despite rumors to the contrary, academics are good for something.

Oh, and one last thing: With this project, the trailer has now paid itself off entirely in delivery fees saved.

*I am faced with a similar quandary inside the house. For 17 years I have lived without a dishwasher. This is because our house was built in 1942, and the size and configuration of the kitchen reflects that--there is no space in which to simply slip one in. So before I get a dishwasher, we'll have to do a complete kitchen remodel. Which we have been putting off for 17 years.


  1. congratulations on the shed, but more importantly congratulations on making more room in your shop! That is how my garden tool closet came about. I am impressed, I can live with out a lot of conveniences, but not a dishwasher. Get one. It will make your life better.
    Thanks so much for the mention in your post- I'm glad I was able to help, your blog and garden has inspired me for a while.

  2. Woohoo! I have to say though that if you add a window and some shelves, the place begins to sound more like a writing shed than a tool-shed. I've always thought a writing hideaway in the garden would be wonderful....

  3. I had to laugh about the whole build-a-shed and renovate-a-kitchen thing. I do exactly the same thing! It even extends to gardening. Nothing is simple. But yes, academics can be good for some things. :-)

  4. WHEW! Sometimes I think I must be the only person in the world who is capable of procrastination for years, even decades. Fortunately there seems to be a club.

    Think of the dishwasher in terms of saving energy and water. I understand a DW can outdo doing dishes by hand (in terms of saved energy and water) as long as you fill it completely and turn off the hot air dry cycle.

    I'm with Susan on uses for that new shed. Sounds like it could be a lovely place to hide out and write, read, nap, hide. :-D Just a suggestion - how 'bout adding some gutters, down spouts, and a rain barrel or 2?

    Given enough time I bet your blog commenters will be able to come up with many more ideas just for you, :-D

    Lindy in AZ

  5. David--Ditto and vice versa the inspiration!

    Susan--It would make a nice writing shed, but fortunately for my storage problems, my study is a dream place to write. :-)

    Jean--Isn't it amazing how the simple projects grow and grow and grow...

    Lindy--I've read that about DW, and it is certainly one of the reasons I'm seriously considering biting the bullet and going for the remodel. The other reason is that I hate washing dishes.

  6. Nice shed - now you have to decide on a colour!
    It is always the way - you get something new and there is never a handy place to put it. This applies to kitchens and gardens.

  7. If you add enough windows (and a skylite or 2) to it, you can just turn it into a greenhouse;-)

  8. I haven't visited for awhile but heck, I miss your blog! My husband belongs to your rare species - academic - and he is quite useful. Lately, I've even got him to hold a shovel. Dare I say that he might make a gardener one day.

  9. Susan, Love the shed and think getting help as you did was inspired. We traded a suburban for a combo storage shed and mosaic studio. I don't miss the suburban at all and the family man loves it...he has nine children~~Imagine that!

    We had a portable dishwasher for years...Fortunately there was a corner to roll it into. Do get the kitchen and have fun with the design.


  10. GET OUT! What great fun y'all had and how wonderful it looks! I am exactly like you in that I have the "renovate the kitchen so that my espresso machine will fit" thing. Love it! I haven't seen your blog in 4ever what with being gone and looks wonderful and I just love, love, love how you write. Mmmm...warm shed.

  11. Nicely done!

    As for the dishwasher, we use ours once a month or so. It just doesn't make sense for 2 people, and the rinse & store routine doesn't make sense to me. Of course, since we have a dishwasher we must use it occasionally so the rubber parts don't dry out. Go figure.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.