If you are a Do it Yourselfer and looking to build a workshop in your backyard there are several options available. You can spend a lot of money building a workshop the traditional way using expensive building supplies. Fortunately, there is an alternative that is a far better and less expensive option. Discover what so many other DIYers have found as a much better way to build a workshop, a shipping container workshop. Not only will they save you money, but they will also save you some construction time as well. For this article, we put together a guide that covers the steps that you will need to follow to build your shipping container workshop in your backyard.
9 Steps to Building a Shipping Container Workshop
Step #1 Be sure that you have a suitable slab or concrete block foundation laid out for the container to be set upon. The seller will generally deliver and set up the container on your prepared site.
Step #2 Take delivery of the container – The delivery team will ensure that the container is set up on the foundation according to the details of the sale.
Step #3 Inspect the inside and outside – Open the double doors on the end and inspect the condition of the wooden floor and corrugated steel walls inside and out. Check for any damage that might have penetrated the outside of the container.
Step #4 Create large and small openings – While the large doors provide an excellent way to get inside, you need windows and other doors to allow better access to the workshop and more natural light inside. Measure and trace out the outline of the window opening and the same for the door. Using a metal grinder, cut through the corrugated steel walls following the markings.
Step #5 Install the door and windows – The windows and doors are prehung and will easily fit into the opening if cut properly. Be sure to make any necessary adjustments to the openings so that the windows and doors fit properly and seal them all using silicone caulking around the windows and door.
Step #6 Paint inside and out – Once the windows and doors are all in place, you should spray the inside with a sealer coat of paint. Do the same thing on the outside to prevent moisture from getting inside. Be sure to add a couple of openings for vents to allow air to get in and out. This will keep it from getting stuffy inside.
Step #7 Run electrical – Depending on what kinds of things you will be using the workshop for, you should hire an electrician to hook up your new building to your home’s electrical service. Then you can determine what outlets and lights that you will require inside the workshop.
Step #8 Set up a ramp – Depending on the height of your foundation you may need a small step or ramp to get things easily in and out of your new shop. The ramp could be either temporary and movable or permanent, depending on your needs.
Step #9 Set up work surfaces and storage areas – The final stage of building a workshop is one of the most important, what the inside work area will be. You will need to install all of the storage shelves and racks that you plan to use to hold all of the tools, materials, and supplies that you are going to be using in your new workshop.
What do you Need for Your In-home Workshop?
Now that you have the container shop built in your backyard, it is time to figure out what you need to have inside the shop. The list of things that you can put inside is quite extensive, but we decided to pare the list down to 15 items that we think all backyard workshops should include. You may agree or disagree with some of the things on our list and that is perfectly fine.
14 Things Every Workshop Should Have
#1 Basic hand tools – Most homeowners realize that it is important to have what is referred to as a basic tool kit. This makes it easier to take care of the small repair jobs that come up from time to time. This includes a hammer, screwdriver set, open end/box wrench set, flashlight, and several other hand tools.
#2 Ladder – A standard 6’ A-frame ladder is one of the most versatile ladders. It can be used to make it easier to get to places around the house or shop that you may not be able to reach normally.
#3 Extension cord – Having a 20’ to 50’ extension cord is invaluable around any shop. Especially if you use portable power tools or even power yard tools. If you are wanting a dedicated extension cord for yard tools you might want to consider a 75’ or 100’ extension cord.
#4 Measuring tape/carpenter square – a tape measure is a very important tool to have especially if you are planning to do woodworking in the container shop. Another important measuring tool is a carpenter square. This also comes in handy for woodworking projects.
#5 Power drill (corded or cordless) – A power drill, which can double as a power screwdriver is a very useful tool around the workshop. Whether you decide to go with a corded or cordless drill does not change its versatility. The only limitation you will run into if you are using a corded power drill is that you need to have an extension cord to use it.
#6 Hand saw – Today, the old fashion hand saw has been replaced by one or more types of power saws. However, you should consider having one of these hand saws in your shop. For those times you cannot maneuver an electric saw into certain tight spaces.
#7 Garden hose – While you might think that a garden hose is only for use outside. Well, the truth is, there are many different ways that you can use a garden hose inside the shop. Water makes a very good method for cooling down power tools, this is especially true for saw blades.
#8 Bench vise – A bench vise comes in handy when you can use a second pair of hands. It is a good idea to invest in a good, sturdy bench-mounted vise. One comes in handy when you are working with small objects and need two hands for the tool that you are using. I vise can be used to securely hold an object when you work with the object with both hands.
#9 Shop-vac – For safety reasons, it is a good idea to have a wet/dry shop vac. These high-capacity vacuums are designed to clean up a wide range of messes in your workshop. This includes sawdust, dirt, and even water that has been used for cooling.
#10 Hydraulic jack – A good hydraulic floor jack can be useful in a backyard workshop especially if you are going to be doing any type of automotive repairs on your family vehicles. These tools make it much easier to lift a car to work underneath it.
#11 Woodworking power tools – If you are looking to use your backyard shipping container workshop to do woodworking, you will need to be sure you have all the right tools. This includes a table saw, powered miter saw, chop saw, and wood lathe. Since these machines are rather large, you want to be sure that you have enough room to place them all safely inside your workshop.
#12Yard tools – A backyard workshop generally makes a good place to store all of your yard tools. This includes; rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, electric grass edgers, trimmers, and blowers.
#13 Compact refrigerator – Having a place to keep your choice of beverages and snacks is very important. So, having room to fit a refrigerator, whether it be a full-size model or a compact one that can fit on a shelf. The size depends on which you have the room for.
#14 Shop radio – listening to your favorite music, sporting event, or even talk radio is a good way to accompany all of the work that you are doing in your workshop. Shop radios come in many shapes and sizes and you can even go as far as wire in speakers throughout the shop to improve your listening experience.
Organizing Container Workshop
One of the biggest complaints written about shipping container workshops is that they seem to be on the cramped side. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to combat this in your container workshop. For this article, we put together a list of five things that you can do to make your workshop not seem to be so small.
- Make your tools mobile to maximize workshop space
- Choose a space-saving workbench
- Create a plan for dealing with scrap wood
- Paint your space
- Install bright LED shop lights
#1 Make your tools mobile to maximize workshop space – As much as possible you should look into adding casters to the bottom of your larger power tools. These allow you to move them around the room instead of having them take up a set amount of space.
#2 Choose a space-saving workbench – Space-saving workbenches are an effective way of saving space with certain types of power woodworking tools like miter or chop saws. These space-saving benches allow you to bolt your tool to the top of the bench and then flip the top to reveal a clean work surface.
#3 Create a plan for dealing with scrap wood – Having a bunch of scrap wood lying around everywhere will have a negative impact on what your container workshop feels like. So, the best way to deal with that is to come up with a plan to create a less cluttered shop floor. Consider overhead racks or wall-mounted racks for holding the larger pieces of scrap wood.
#4 Paint your space – Do not underestimate the benefit of a fresh coat of paint on the walls of your container workshop. However, the color of the paint you use will make all the difference. You want to use as light a color as you can. Whether it is one of many shades of white, a powder blue, or other light colors.
#5 Install bright LED shop lights – There was a time when all shops were built with multiple fluorescent shop lights to deliver enough light. Unfortunately, these days this is not the best option anymore. Instead, people are swapping fluorescent shop lights for the ultra-bright LED shop lights on the market today. These produce much more light and make your workshop space seem much brighter.