It has been very quiet around here….too quiet (just to roll out that Dead Horse Trope). Unfortunately, unlike the movies, I have no idea if things will suddenly burst into action or not.

I’ve been getting quotes, checking them twice, working out who’s naughty and who’s nice.
Been comparing shed manufacturing companies, and my local retail franchises, and there are big differences in some areas (such as attitudes, willingness to work through designs etc), and very little in others (such as available design options, and cost). I’m not mentioning company names here- this isn’t a name and shame.

I took one design back yesterday to one company, and wanted to see how much cheaper it would be to not do an American barn, with all the doors I originally planned, and go with an Aussie Barn- much lower design, no mezzanine, minimal doors and the price barely changed- about $1000 cheaper.

So this says to me that the decrease in height of 1/2 a metre across a 9 metre length of shed, (total about 12 m2) including all the support beams that decrease, and all the insulation, less 9m in guttering, the cost of a 10 m2 mezzanine, less 3 personal access doors and 2 windows, all added together is only $1000. The erecting cost was unchanged. Wow. Perhaps I should take the American barn, and add an additional 1/2 m in height, more mezzanine, more access doors etc etc. Would the price go up only another $1000? And no difference in erecting cost?

When I queried the lack of difference in price, the response was “I’m only quoting what the software tells me”

I was looking at decreasing the design to minimise cost- I thought I would make a lot of compromises to see how much difference it would make. Very disappointing.

So I then looked at what I could get if my total project budget was capped at $10k. With me erecting the shed, and without even factoring in the cost of lighting, I could not replace what I previously had (which we know was becoming unworkable). You don’t know what you had until it is gone.

I am finding it very difficult to find things to write about, as you would have noticed in the decrease in output. And all this back and forth is very draining. However, without a shed for Stu, there is no Stu’s Shed. And that is not an option I enjoy contemplating. It is a very frustrating situation.

9 Responses

  1. Stu, I share your pain. I moved from a home with a 12×12 shed on acreage to no shed for 2 years. We are only just building again now.

    Have you got a men’s shed coop nearby? I am sure a lot of your readers don’t have access to a shed an might like your insights into how these local community groups offer a space for men to create.

    Might take away some if the angst of neverending back an forth with companies.

    • Hi Scott,
      Going from 12×12 to anything smaller would be very hard indeed, especially to nothing! 12×12 would be a dream.

      There is a local Men’s Shed, and I queried about it a couple of years ago when they started – I was looking to offer some free courses or demonstrations of different items or techniques.

      Unfortunately, like many Men’s Sheds (I contacted 2-3 at the time, when I still had time to offer), they only apparently consider retired men as being in need of the community of Men’s Sheds – they only met on week days, and times during the working day – there was no consideration for anyone still working.

      Sadly, it really tainted my impression of the organisation – those organising them were typically retired, and that was the demographic they were interested in supporting.

      Same goes for a number of clubs as well – the majority of activities, courses etc are during the working week.

      It seems woodworking is expected to be for older men only, despite claims to the contrary- yes, all are welcome, but only a particular cross section of the community are able to attend. I’m sure this will prove to be an unpopular perspective of that organisation, but all I can say is this “gentlemen, prove me wrong”.

      I have no doubt this will not be the case across the board, and to those groups that genuinely do support the wider demographic – more power to you.

      The lack of availability of community resources has been part of the motivation for me to be as self-sufficient as possible, with the machines I need and the skills to use them.

      • I am glad you hear you had a similar experience with respect to men’s shed. I have found exactly the same attitude in my local area. The local men’s shed is also associated with a community garden and the same limitations on meeting times an classes.

        We are looking forward to the house build, I will be sharing the shed with a little bit of storage so I will be investing in a decent vacuum system. I have found your videos on the dust removal to be a great guide for my thinking.

        We are even splashing out in some in slab heating and a second hand free standing wood heater to make the shed more confortable in the winter months.

        Good luck with the shed planning!

      • Ouch, Stu… I am sorry to hear about your negative experience with Men’s Sheds. I am sure that our small group of merry woodworkers at Foster would be very, very glad to have you as a guest at a time that suits you.

  2. Stu,

    Sorry to hear about your shed woo’s. Have you considered culling equipment. I moved to a unit a few years ago and am still trying to get my head around shop equipment. Most of my gear is currently portable/hand held. Living in a unit has brought other considerations like noise and the ability to store gear on shelves at the end of the garage between jobs.

    I recently bought 3 gorilla work platforms. 1 is good enough for small jobs and as a basic working space. 3 will support a 1.2×2.4m sheet of plywood nicely for cutting up. Then when you don’t need them they fold up and stack nicely in the corner. I will be making some sacrificial tops for them sometime….maybe.

    I am currently looking at buying a Band-saw as it should suit most of my cutting jobs and be quiet, a Radial Arm Drill Press and new air compressor (a quiet one).

    While I would love a Torque work centre I don’t have the space to have one sitting in my garage.

    A co-worker is just starting to get some tools together as she wants to make a few things around her unit like cabinets and outdoor storage boxes for the balcony. She asked me what gear I was using and what I could recommend for a starter. I have suggested a battery powered drill circular saw and jig saw. Like me she grew up in a house with a well stocked shed but due to the cost of property in Sydney and the time wasted commuting we have both found ourselves living in apartments.

    So my question then is if you have limited space. Say 25m² with a maximum height of 3m (ie a single garage or spare room) and you had to store your gear in that space and work in it what tools (hand / battery / mains powered) would you have? Noise is also something that I consider to be important.

    As a man of experience (that’s You) what would you look for in small shed tools? Like the ones I have mentioned.


    • Hi Greg,

      There will be a cull, without question. I have already eluded to that with a mention of a sell off of some tools (and Torque, Jet and a number of other brands were flagged as being on the chopping block). There will also be a more general cleanout – only those things I specifically want to have in the new shed will go in there. If I don’t want it, it will be sold or thrown.

      I have quite a commitment to the large machine workshop – it appeals to the sort of woodworking I enjoy, and my background in engineering (and perhaps the Naval background – ever seen a small ship engine, especially on 100m long ships?!)

      On the other hand, if I was setting up specifically with a small shop in mind, there are two directions to go, each equally valid. You could either go the handtool route, set yourself up with an Anarchist’s Tool Chest (aka Chris Schwarz), or head down the Festool route. Sure, that will draw a lot of criticism, but nothing beats the compact storage and quality tools in the Festool range. Perhaps add a Walko Workbench, and you could work incredibly compactly, and quietly.

      Obviously battery powered tools are another route, I prefer corded options when I have a choice.

      If you are working with limited resources (space, time), then boost the quality, and you won’t feel like it is as much of a compromise.

  3. Hi Stu

    I can only empathise with your current frustrations.

    I was also a little surprised to hear about your experiences with the local ‘Mens Shed’ groups, given my step father is an organiser for his local group in a town north of Bendigo. During stays with him & Mum,
    I’ve been a guest at his Shed a few times, always coming away impressed with the resources available & the willingness of those with skills to pass those skills on to those less knowledgeable.

    I’ve always put the lack of younger members down to fewer being available in the town, however on reflection I guess the same situation you have encountered, seems to apply in this case as well.

    I find that quite disappointing for a couple of reasons:

    First, the philosophy behind the ‘Mens Shed”, is supposed to be to encourage participation by men (sometimes lonely or disenfranchised), of all ages in activities of interest, in a community of shared knowledge.

    Secondly and more importantly, with so many people such as your good self, having a genuine passion for their hobbies of choice and a real willingness to share their skills & expertise with the many who are interested, it really is a great shame that these organisations do not show more willingness to tap into such a vast resource.

    With regard to smaller work spaces, machines & benches on mobile bases would also be a good way to adjust your gear to suit your needs and to pack things away when your requirements change.



  5. Stu:

    Why not just build the darned thing yourself? You could document the build here, and I’m sure you could comment on some pretty interesting tools and provide building advice, etc. Planning is key. A friend of mine and I built a shed for him on a 13′ x 13′ slab. This made the build rather complicated. If we had built a 12′ x 12′ shed, it would have been so much more simple. The one advantage I see in building it by yoursefl (besides saving some money) is that you could build it to fit your space properly. You would not have to worry about dead space along the property line. You just need a couple of buddies to help you out.

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