Shed – my biggest hack

A couple of years back I decided that I needed a bigger workspace.  At the time I was in a room 2.4 x 1.8 metres.  I started by looking at all the sheds of reasonable size; I wanted one 5metres square.  I found one online and made the recommended foundations out of 100mm thick concrete.  while digging the hole to lay the concrete in I injured my left hip to the extent that I couldn’t walk even a hundred metres.  This slowed my progress considerably.  I still managed to get the foundation laid and set but it took me quite some time.

When I went to the website for my chosen shed it was quite a lot cheaper.  You might think that this was good.  Very wrong:  The flooring was now 15mm thick rather than 25mm, the walls and roof were 12mm thick rather than 22mm.  I looked around but all the good sheds were 5 figures so I designed my own.

My shed has:

  • 100mm insulation all round: walls, ceiling and floor.
  • 22mm t&g roof.
  • 25mm t&g floor.
  • triple glazed polycarbonate windows.  Facing north so I don’t get too hot in Summer.

You could hold a party on the roof if you didn’t fall off.  Heating is a 2kW fan heater which, if the outside temperature drops to 0C needs to be on for less than an hour to bring the temperature up to 20C from the 14C that it dropped to overnight.

The inside of my shed I have partitioned off to provide 4 spaces:  The dirty workshop, the electronics workshop, the computing workshop and the stores.

The dirty workshop is for all the sawing, drilling, routing, painting and anything else that smells or creates a lot of dust.

The electronics workshop has a reasonable lab PSU, soldering workstation,  200MHz oscilloscope and a few other desirables.  I also inherited  a reflow oven. There’s a 3d printer in there too.

The computing workshop has two PC’s and a couple of Pi’s .  The main PC has a 4k primary monitor and a smaller secondary monitor.  The second PC is really for doing anything risky but still has a pair of monitors.  The Pi4B is currently connected to a 24″ monitor

The stores – what a mess – I keep throwing stuff out and rearranging it but I think it is a lost cause.  I’ll keep at it though.

I also have a 2 seat settee from which I can watch Netflix on the 4k monitor if I want.  I rarely do though.

How I did it

I first bought all the materials

I then laid the foundations

The chickens liked that!

I then built the main frame.

and built the frame for the walls.  The 18mm OSB is not just cladding but provides rigidity instead of using cross braces.

The main framework is now finished and the joists fitted.

The roof boards.

Insulation.  Foiled insulation cost twice as much so I bought some catering boxes of foil and applied it separately.  You can see the roof is now finished as well.

Cladding.  I used loglap.  Expensive but looks good.

The floor is also insulated.

and the ceiling of course.  I couldn’t manage the OSB on the ceiling and I found a cheap source of pine cladding.

The finished shed and decking in front of it.

The dirty stuff workshop

Computers and electronics.

I like it!

After building the shed I needed power and Internet.

I ran 60Amp armoured cable alongside the fence and into the house where I connected it to the main consumer unit on it’s own fuse.  I was a bit put out when I found that you had to bury your cable 50cm down but when I read further I found that if you are putting it where there is no traffic you don’t have to bury it at all.  That was a relief; I didn’t fancy digging a 25metre long trench.

At the shed end I have 6 way consumer unit consumer unit with fuses for:

  • lighting,
  • computers
  • lab bench
  • workbench
  • external socket
  • spare.

The lighting all works through a 12V power supply so that I can use LEDs directly.  I have completely lost count of the power sockets; from where I’m sitting I can see about 20 and I know there’s a lot more in the computer desk.

Internet connection is 1GHz supplied through 3 CAT5e cables from a switch connected to the router in the hall.  I only have one cable connected.  The other 2 are spares and for experiments.  At the shed end there is an 8 port switch connected to sockets around the computer desk and the lab bench.  One wire runs to a Wi-Fi AP.

As my whole family is technical and everybody has at least one computer of their own there is also another 1GHz 8 port switch in the house.  This is connected to TV’s and games consoles as well as computers.

The only thing missing is water!  I’m a lousy plumber so even though I’ve got enough blue pipe to connect to the house I’ve not done it.  I used the rest of the pipe to run the Ethernet cables in.

Conclusion

Overall I am very satisfied with my shed.  It keeps me warm in Winter and coolish in Summer.  There is space for most things in all the areas.  There times when I would like a little more room but they are few and far between.  Apart from plumbing I have all the facilities I want.  I have plenty of light; sometimes too much as the windows face the back of my house which is white and south facing. I can sit in comfort and read or watch a movie on the monitor.

If I did it again I would get the foundation slab poured and the roof torched on professionally.  It would have cost a bit more but also save me a lot of grief.  I would also have spent less on the cladding; most of it is not visible and was not worth the expense.

Postscript

Several years on and the shed is still doing well. The doors have moved a bit and I’ve had to trim them to stop them jamming but that’s the only maintenance needed so far.

it’s quite fun hearing the birds and squirrels running about on the roof.

I wish the neighbour didn’t have petrol everything: mower, strimmer etc. – noise pollution. If I had room 101 then petrol garden tools would go in it.

The view from the windows is good; I can watch the birds at the table and enjoy the flowers and trees. Sometimes the birds fly into the windows but they’re flexible enough that neither bird nor window come to any real harm.

With the computers on the shed seems to be about 8C warmer than outside in Winter. I may need to boost the temperature to comfort level with a fan heater for an hour when it gets really, really cold outside.

Everything works well but I wish I had more well-placed power sockets; my equipment uses about 30 permanent ones and a further 10 or so for transients.

I installed a good wireless AP which I connect to my ‘phone and laptop.

PPS

I now have 3D printing, CNC router and an SMD oven.
The CNC Router needed sound proofing: I tried my best but it’s still very noisy. Levelling a CNC router is a lot easier than a 3D printer – you just carve a level bed out – lovely. I’ve carved out out a few PCB’s; one even went in the oven.
I use the 3D printer mainly for making housings for my projects. It’s very good; all the holes exactly the right size and in exactly the right place.

CNC routing and 3D printing are not for the faint hearted; you can spend many unhappy hours making adjustments

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