The final size I decided on was 1800 sq. ft. Yeah, that’s big! I actually balked and second guessed myself after we received the estimate from the contractor. Sure, more space is nice, but at what cost? I then asked for a second estimate, bringing the shop down to 1500 sq feet, which is still huge. As you might expect, the savings just weren’t that substantial. By the time you get over 1000 sq. ft., the price per sq. ft. is really low, making it very difficult to justify down-sizing. So I bit the bullet and stayed with my original choice of 1800 sq. ft.
You know I can remember my very first workshop, and the very first power tool I ever bought when I was nine years old. Well, I have still have it, doesn’t work anymore but it lasted for 20 years, and I bought it from a mail order catalog for $11.41. I’ve held onto it all these years, because I knew I would find some special place sooner or later that it needs to rest. Well here’s a nice spot right here, I think that’s where it’ll end up.
Using six pipe cleaners, you can make your own skeleton. Bend one pipe cleaner into two for the backbone. Twist another around the bottom of the backbone to make into the legs. Do the same for the arms. Join two pipe cleaners and twist them around the backbone leaving some space forming a ribcage. Ultimate Small Shop Woodworking Twist the last pipe cleaner for a head and glue on some eyes. Hang with a rubber band for a bouncing effect. Your kids will love making Halloween crafts with pipe cleaners. But be careful when cutting and keep them out of their mouth. Going trick or treating? Why not make a special jug to collect candies? Cut off the top two inches of a gallon milk jug. Soak to remove any labels. Paint orange. Once dry, paint or stick on eyes nose and mouth resembling a Jack O’Lantern. Use fluorescent paint for a nice effect. The jug can be kept for future reuse. Using glue and food coloring, you can make a see-through painting. Paint a Halloween image onto a piece of plastic wrap. Before the mixture dries, put another piece of plastic wrap on. Cut it out and hang it in front of a light source for a see-through effect. You could also frame the plastic pictures using wood or cardboard if you want them to be longer lasting. Make some hand printed spiders. Ralph Chapman Ultimate Small Shop Apply black paint to your palm and 4 fingers leaving out the thumb. Place palm onto a piece of paper. Turn the paper 180 degrees and print again making sure the palm overlaps. Add some wiggly eyes using either paint or sticks. This is suitable for even 2 or 3-year-olds. Make your own blood. It is less expensive than buying ready-made blood from the Halloween shops. It’s not difficult; all you need is Karo syrup and food coloring. While you’re at it, why not make some slime using glue, water, and borax powder. This is an advanced Halloween craft, so take your time and be careful. Using apples, you can make dried, shrunken heads. Peel the apples and coat with a mixture of lemon juice and salt to prevent browning. Carve out a face of eyes, nose, and mouth. Do not worry about the finer details as they will probably be lost when the apple dries. You can use whole cloves for the eyes and rice grains for the teeth. Let the apples sit out in a warm place for about 2 weeks. If you don’t have 2 weeks, you can speed up the drying by putting them into an oven on the lowest temperature for about 45 minutes and then dry out naturally for the next 2 days or so. Ultimate Small Garage Clock Shop Once dried, they shrink and deform into weird and scary looking faces. Says Angie Maroevich, “You don’t have to spend a fortune on commercial Halloween supplies to have a great party.
Of all the LED lighting options, puck lights are the most difficult to install. You’ll have to run wiring behind the ceiling/walls for each light. And you’ll need to cut a hole with a hole saw to recess the lights into the ceiling. But with some preparation and care it's not too difficult. We have full instructions for installing LED puck lights in our epic electrical post.
When Julie Owen bought Cocobolo Interiors in 2008, she set about adding more contemporary items to the Armonk, N.Y., shop. But with only 3,000 square feet, she struggled to figure out where to put her expanding line of furniture, lighting fixtures and accessories. Her solution: create sections within the shop and arrange the furniture the way customers might imagine it at home, using low bookcases and folding screens as dividers.

In addition to sheer power, look for a model with a built-in thermostat so you can set it and forget it. This convenience feature is well worth it so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing mid-project to manually turn your heater on and off to maintain your desired temp. A good garage heater will mount to the wall or ceiling to save space and will come with a durable housing and full safety screen to keep dust and wood chips from reaching the heating elements and starting a fire.


Other than that, you can’t have too much light — especially north light! — and you want accommodations for all the electricity you can imagine. Ceiling fans are a must. A good dust collection system is good, too. Don’t forget to plumb in for compressed air. Do NOT use hard PVC water pipe for compressed air — ever. If/when it breaks or ruptures, it explodes into tiny sharp glass-like shards. I know firsthand. I’ll tell you about it some other time. Think balloon popping!
We don't have a Dometic CFX-50 in our van, but we wish we had gotten one for our build. This is a great little fridge that many vanlifers happily own. It’s rugged and durable, and it keeps your food cold for less money than many of the other fridges out there. It also has a nifty side-open lid, which makes it a lot easier to open with a lower clearance.

Once you know your top priorities, you can start thinking about the space each element can take up and where it should go. It is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together when you're working with a small space, so don't get frustrated if it doesn't work out right away. And know that you'll likely have to make some sacrifices. Play with a few options, and choose the one that works best for your situation.
We think that insulating your van’s floor is worth the minimal extra cost it adds to your build. The best floor insulation is ½” XPS foam board due to its high r-value per inch and its compressive strength. But a layer of Reflectix will add some insulation while taking away less headspace. We used Reflectix, but if we did it again we’d go with the foam board.
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