Construction Progress


Oct 16, 2009 - The first ground is broken for the footing of the front wall.

Jan 14, 2010 - The foundation is poured and the dirt has been wet and compacted for the slab to be poured.

Jan 19 - Small rocks have been broken over the dirt, and the rebar grid is set in place to be welded together.

Jan 19 - The plastic vapor barrier has been put down under the welded rebar. The plastic looks suspiciously like a pool, but I assure you it's all work related! :)

Jan 19 - The big day! The slab is poured, finally being finished at 10:45pm.

Jan 23 - We're underway making blocks for the shop! The first two half-days of block making yielded about 1,000 blocks. I'm guessing about 11,000 to finish the shop.

Nov. 29, 09

Here is the revised floorplan we're currently working from. There is more open space, and the layout is a little less compact than the first version - but I think that will make it more work-in-able. We also gained a lot of extra workbench space, and given that we'll have many projects going at once, that seems like a good idea.

The only difficulty I see with the new layout is that the chop saw feed table is only 4m, which means that cutting any less than 2m off of a full 6m stick will require the stick hanging out the shop door with the finished piece on the right side of the saw. However, since we'll store our drops right by the saw, odds are if we need to cut a small piece, it won't come from a full 6m stick anyway.

So, the only open question left is this: The i-beam that I had sketched in to support the chain fall is only available in 6m segments. As you can see in the diagram, that won't get the job done now, unless we put a pillar 1m away from the wall to support the other end of it. That seems like a giant waste of floor space and will create difficulty no matter which end it's on. We can of course buy two sticks of the i-beam and weld another 2m onto the initial 6m, but I'm not sure if it will be strong enough to hold all of that weight, and also not sure how it could be welded in a way that would allow the i-beam trolley to smoothly pass across the weld. If the seam were in the side of the shop by the drill press, that might be ok though, because I don't think we'd need it to travel that last couple of feet.


Oct. 16, 09

We've decided to change the shop location slightly in order to get some more floor space and also leave some more parking space in the youth center. The change was a great idea by Nilton, the guy who is actually building the thing. We're basically shifting the building 90 degrees so that where the right side wall would have been, now the front wall (with the big door) will be. The change uses some space we didn't care about to avoid having to kill three big eucalyptus trees and saves some space we did care about, the area where the cars park.

Here's a pair of images overlaid to show the location change. The area that has been dug up is where the big doored wall will be (aka the front of the shop, which now opens out into the grassy space instead of the shelled path.)

The clinic shack was a temporary thing anyway, and now that it will need to be moved in order to make the shop, we get to change the shop dimensions in a way that wasn't possible in the previous location. The shop's exterior size will change from 9m x 5m to 8m x 7m. The change nets out to about a 30% increase in floor space, which is pretty sweet. The only difficulty with the new size is that the internal size is 7m x 6m and we'll be working with and cutting 6m long pieces of steel. We might have to redesign the floor plan a little to put the abrasive saw on an angle that will let pieces that are being cut hang out the big door, but I think that will solve the problem.


Aug. 7, 09

One of Jason's side projects has been planning for and stocking a small wood/metal shop. We've got lots of big ideas for various projects for the shop - everything from steel doors and windows to hand powered water pumps to rice threshing machines!

At this point, we're in the planning stage. The shipping container bringing most of the equipment will be here within the month. We've found a place for the shop to live, and gotten a rough idea of what it's layout could look like. When the rainy season ends we will break ground and start building!


Here is the chunk of land in the youth center that the shop is going to sit on.


This is the diagram of the way the shop is likely to look. The purple dots line up roughly with the purple dots on the ground in the photo.

In the spirit of crowd participation, I'd love any input from the guys out there (ladies are welcome to comment as well, if you have enough interest to have read this far down the page... :) about ideas you have on how things could be best arranged. There's lots of "man shop" experience out there and I'd love to get input before it's too late about how you have laid out your shops and what has worked well or not!