Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Basement Workshop - Under Construction!

06/18/2012 - Today, the kids and I started renovating Our Basement Workshop.  The room does double-duty as a display area for our collection, so we like it to look nice.  The thing is, it rarely does.  So we're putting some serious effort into spiffing things up.

A lot of the clutter in the room is stuff that is designated for one of two really large dioramas we've been planning for well over a year.  Diorama building might seem like an odd way to clean up a room, but I think that once we have them well underway, there will be less lying around to pick up.

We started by installing some 'under-the-shelf' lighting in the two designated diorama areas.  I've been hoarding the lights for a while, but hadn't yet found the drive to rip things apart for the installation.  Once the lights were installed, Adam and I set about giving the shelves a good base coat of white paint.  Most of the shelf area will be covered by the diorama display, but there will be some parts that aren't and we don't want those to be too much of an eyesore!

In between coats, we started working on sorting through the clutter stacked and stuffed everywhere in the room.  We also took a few minutes to patch the tiny little crack in the wall behind the workbench.  Since moving into the house, this is the third time we've patched in this area of the basement wall and each time we've improved the condition.  Since our last attempt (two years ago), we've had some really significant rainfalls, but only a small trickle of water leaked in.  I'm hoping that this last patch does the trick!

06/19/2012 - The top shelf is too close to the ceiling to be of much use, so we normally use it for storage.  There is a Millennium Falcon and some other Star Wars ships collecting dust there for the moment.  The next shelf down is the Rogue Squadron diorama I finished a few years ago.  We spent some time today removing everything from that shelf, dusting and replacing them.

We paused work for a little while because Adam wanted to take some photos of his Star Speeder 1000 in the hangar bay.  Once we finished with that, we replaced the rest of the diorama and moved on to the third and fourth shelves from the top.  The third shelf will house my 1983 G.I. Joe Headquarters, while the fourth will feature my 1985 G.I. Joe Transportable Tactical Battle Platform. The third shelf was given a 'floor' of back construction paper.  The third was textured using joint compound.  Once it was dry, we painted the whole thing a nice deep sea blue.  Finally, we dry-brushed the blue with white so that the ridges in the texture would catch the white and look like waves.  The background for the third and fourth shelves was created using a roll of printed cloud paper from Michaels.  For the third shelf, we painted some random landscape at the bottom.  For the fourth shelf, we added some water.  

11/05/2012 - Today, we began the serious work.  The shelves we showed off back in June are going to be closed off with an old sheet and the rest of the stuff in the room is being packed up and moved out!  That's right - a SERIOUS renovation.

Roughly half of our basement is 'finished'.  However, Our Basement Workshop is located in the unfinished portion.  During our renovation, we intend to build a wall to close it off from the rest of the basement and hang a drop-ceiling.  Once that is done, we'll re-paint the entire room and find a nice carpet remnant.  Only then, will we put all of the toys back in place.  Adam and I worked for a few hours today and managed to pack up all of the Star Wars toys, with the exception of the ships hanging from the ceiling.  This will likely go back up after the renovation is done, so I will just pound in a couple of temporary nails for them to hang from near the laundry area.

11/06/2012 - More packing. Unfortunately, packing isn't very much fun and I keep getting distracted by the toys in the room, new project ideas and the Interwebz.  <Sigh>  This is going to take a while.

11/20/2012 - Still more packing.  I finally got all of the loose figures removed from the shelves and bagged (individually) with their accessories.  The shelves they were displayed on have all been taken down and set aside.  They'll go back up once the room is finished.  The loose figures that are displayed in large dioramas will likely stay where they are.  The Pit can be rolled out of the room and covered with a sheet to keep the dust out.  Putting wheels on the bottom of that thing really seems like a great idea now.  The recessed wooden shelves will also be covered with old sheets.  I'm not sure yet whether I'll remove all the stuff currently on those shelves (I should, but my laziness may win in the end).

Sadly, I have decided that much of the Castle Destro display will not return to the Workshop after the renovation is finished.  I love the display, but it takes up far too much room for too little display space.  I will be coming up with something different for my Iron Grenadiers.

11/21/2012 - More packing...

11/24/2012 - More packing.  Why is this taking so long?  Because it's not very much fun.  And we keep getting distracted with things...

11/29/2012 - Almost everything has been packed now.  The workbench is covered with tools, but that won't change during the renovation (it's likely to get worse).  The displays on the recessed shelves are going to stay put for now for a couple of reasons. First, I'm running out of places to store things while we work on the renovation.  Second, I'm planning to make some serious upgrades to all three of them after the rest of the room is done, so they'll be pulled out eventually anyway.  The plan is to simply hang an old bed sheet over the front of the shelves to minimize the dust while we're working.

12/01/2012 - I bought all of the building supplies for the wall today.  I can't pick up the building permit until Monday morning (12/03/2012), but we'll be ready to go as soon as we have it!

12/03/2012 - I acquired the building permit today and got started with the framing.  I almost managed to get it all finished, but ran short of time.  Tomorrow, I'll have to secure the last two studs and mount the light switch to its new location.

12/04/2012 - I finished off the framing and got the door hung.  This is as far as I can go until the building inspector approves my work.  Once he does so, I'll be able to start hanging drywall.

12/05/2012 - The building inspector approved everything, so now we're on to the drywall.  Progress was limited today, as my daughter was home sick from school. Still, my son and I managed to hang all of the drywall inside the room.  Adam was proud of his contribution and wanted to get in the progress photo!

12/06/2012 - Today, we hung the last two pieces on the outside of the wall.  Tomorrow, we hope to begin applying the joint compound.  Adam likes the fact that applying joint compound is referred to as 'mudding'.  :)

12/07/2012 - As planned, we got both sides of the wall taped and mudded today.  There was also a small crack in one of the basement walls that we applied elastomeric patch seal to.  It's been several years since we had a substantial leak in the basement, but the crack behind my workbench is usually good for a small puddle once or twice a year.  I'd like to put a nice carpet remnant in the room when we're finished, so I want to get the leak shored up for good.  Once the patch seal is dry, I plan to reapply.

12/08/2012 - Today we applied more of the patch sealant to the wall.  We also sanded the drywall and found two areas that needed more joint compound.  After applying it, we left it to dry.

12/09/2012 - We sanded the two areas we touched up yesterday.  The walls look pretty good!  We also took the door off the hinges to get it ready for painting.  The door had to be trimmed to fit the space, so we needed to use a piece of wood to fill the hollow space left at the bottom.  It worked out well and we left it to dry.

12/10/2012 - Today, we painted the inside and outside of the new wall.  While we had the paint out, we also painted over the areas where we applied patches to the cracks in the concrete walls and touched up any other paint flaws we found around the room.

12/12/2012 - I managed to find time to cut the trim to be placed around the door frame.  The trim is pre-primed, but the door and the door frame aren't.  So the plan for tomorrow is to prime the door and frame when I get up.  If they dry quickly enough, I'll let Kate help me paint them when she gets home from school.  We have two cans of 'mossy green' paint that were purchased a few years ago for another project, but somehow never got used. So we plan to use that on the door and the trim.

12/13/2012 - First coat of paint on the trim.  Kate has decided that painting with a roller is far more fun than using a brush.  Sadly, a brush is far more appropriate for these pieces...

12/14/2012 - Second coat of paint on the trim.  I think we should be able to wrap up the wall/door portion of our renovation tomorrow!

12/15/2012 - We got all of the trim up and it looks pretty good (if I do say so myself).  I also installed the doorknob, so the wall and door are now complete.  I'm planning to use Christmas funds to pay for the ceiling, so it will be a couple of weeks before we make any more progress...

12/27/2012 - Today we visited Home Depot again and bought all of the materials to install the framework for our suspended ceiling.  The first step was mounting the wall angles all the way around the perimeter of the room to help support the frame.  We ran into a couple of snags due to it being the first time we'd done anything like this.  We also had to make an extra trip to Home Depot after breaking the masonry bit we needed to drill into the concrete walls to attach the wall angles.

12/28/2012 - Here, Adam is reviewing the 'ceiling plan' we had devised prior to beginning the installation.  Adam has gotten pretty good at supervising and pointing out my errors.  ;)

Today, we finished installing the perimeter and got started on the framework.  Lag screws were drilled into the overhead beams and the wire was attached to them.  The main T's were then suspended from the wires.  After the main T's were up, it was a simple matter of installing the cross T's that connect one main T to the next.  Prior to starting this, I had expected all sorts of problems getting the ceiling level, but to my surprise, it just seemed to take care of itself.  Installing the grid was not particularly difficult, but once again we ran into some 'first-timer' problems - nothing terrible, but the kind of thing that made you shake your head and cost you time while you went back and corrected your error...

Once the framework was finished, I moved the lighting so that it would line up properly with the openings where I wanted it.  The lighting had all been installed and hung by the original homeowner.  When he put them in, he drilled holes through the overhead beams and ran the wiring through the beams.  This was pretty efficient for his needs, but it didn't allow the lights to be moved more than a few inches.  So, in order to position them properly, I needed to disconnect two of the three lighting units from the junction boxes, move them and then re-connect the wiring.  Adam proved to be instrumental in holding the spotlamp while I did the wiring tasks.

12/30/2012 - With the framework finished, the only thing remaining was to buy the ceiling tiles and drop them into the grid. The whole family ran out to Home Depot and picked up the tiles.  The tiles toward the center of the room were installed, as is.  But all of the tiles around the perimeter of the room had to be trimmed to size.  Happily, they were easy to trim and the whole process took maybe 90 minutes.

12/31/2012 - The entire room got a new coat of paint today.  It's amazing how bright it is in there!

01/01/2013 - This evening, I repainted the floor in the room using an epoxy paint designed for garage and basement flooring.  The directions indicate that I need to wait 24 hours before walking on it and at least 48 hours before moving any furniture around.  So, I closed and locked the door with the intention of waiting a full two days before venturing back into the room.  Better safe than sorry.  The last step will be to lay down the carpet before moving the shelves and dioramas back into the room.


  1. Woo! That looks fantastic! I look forward to seeing that in person.

  2. Wow, you need a building a permit to install a basement wall? Looking good so far!

    1. Thanks, Loc!

      Sadly, yes - my municipality requires a building permit for darn near everything. I can probably put in a crushed stone footpath without one, but three years ago when I decided to put in a ceiling fan? Yep, needed a building permit. :)

  3. Dang! I prett much do whatever I want here. I built two 12x12 decks connected with a bridge in my backyard, the only thing I had to get was HOA approval. I just did laminate floors in two rooms and have stuck ceiling fans and exchanged fixtures through out my house over the years. You should move to Texas.

    1. I'll let the wife know of our impending relocation. ;)