A Room of One’s Own

It is fascinating to glimpse another’s private space. I love it when bloggers feature their hobby rooms. Two I know well are Eric the Shed’s eponymous structure and Lord Ashram’s House of War.

For the majority of my adult hobbying life, I have been limited to a small desk and a packed closet. I do have my own Shed which houses my carpentry workshop, but sawdust and clutter preclude hobbying there. For about two seconds I thought about adding a second story, but that would have looked ridiculous. Instead, I elected to add another room on the back. My wife was unexpectedly enthused by the prospect, as it meant myriad hobbying accoutrements would exit our abode.

Here is the Shed in its original livery on a snowy morning in 2013. Note the patch (bottom front) owing to repairs from a termite infestation. (This Minnesotan transplant to the American South did not yet properly respect the power of the ‘mite.)

The addition would be 10 by 20 feet, have a shed roof, and would fulfill one of many dreams by replacing the shingles with tin. Construction would occur over my a brief (5 week) summer vacation from school. I sketched my dream in my journal. At some point, I wrote that it would take me a week.

I also have a graph paper computation notebook in which I usually plan scratch-building. Here are the initial plans for my 1:1 scale project.

It is imperative that I write, draw, and think about big projects multiple times in order to figure out how to proceed. I built the original Shed 15 years ago with my father’s assistance. I’ve constructed other similar structures solo — an 8×8 foot playhouse on stilts for my sons and another on the ground for my chickens. However, I had never added on to an existing building. This would involve making a new foundation so that the floors would be even; removing the original siding from the back; removing the windows and adding a door. The biggest challenge would be marrying the addition’s rafters to the existing roof.

The Shed’s foundation was made by digging trenches, filling them with gravel, and laying 6×8 pressure treated skids in them. As my backyard slopes downwards, the addition’s foundation would be above grade. I constructed a set of cinder block piers (extending below our meager frostline) on which to place 6×8 skids. I employed left over shingles as shims because, despite knee- and hand-breaking effort, the 15 piers were not perfectly level to one another …

My poor, expensive deer leather gloves following many days of handling blocks.

Floor joists were next. I employed 2″ pink foam between joists for insulation — a first for me, as previously I had only used it to make wargames terrain. I didn’t manage to photograph that, nor much else from here on out.

Subfloor and then wall framing began. I planned to reuse the two windows from the rear of the Shed and add an interior door communicating from the workshop to the new room. I measured, measured, and framed those rough openings precisely. I had vague memories, though, of my father explaining how double hung window sashes operate — something about how they need a little extra space to flex when opening. At any rate, I can’t now open the windows by hand and have to jimmy them open with a pry bar. Oh, well …

If it hasn’t yet been clear, I am a one man crew. I completed the entire project solo. Save, I will say, the dire day when I did the roof. My younger son helped me hoist the plywood decking.

My one week project consumed all five weeks of my break, working all seven days of each from 10 to 12 hours. During one of hundreds of trips up and down the ladder I tore the meniscus of my left knee, which later required a cortisone shot. Half-marathon training (another of my many hobbies) was put on hold for a time.

Below you can see the new roof line. The pitch on the addition is a leisurely 2:12 (which means that over a span of 12 feet, it rises 2 feet). Steeper pitches are particularly important in places that get a lot of snow, as it could pile up and sit there all winter, and potentially leak or cause a cave in. This is not a problem in sunny NC.


 Your humble correspondant tacking up siding.

This side still needs a little work. The door to the addition will, in warmer days, be painted the same red as the trim. I plan to redo the double doors to the Shed with same T11 siding as the addition to tie them together.

I apparently only photograph this building when it snows.

The big window (below) its strategically placed over my hobby desk. From inside, it looks over an azalea (which just bloomed stunningly) and our muscadine grape arbor.

Frankenstein in face-paint.

Aside from various details, my Hobby Shack is complete. I used an oil-filled radiator to heat it this winter. I’ll get a window air conditioner to keep cool this summer. I’ll devote another post to the interior.

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