Earlier this year I decided to turn my hand-built cabin into a woodworking shop. Before becoming a workshop this was our part-time home and our attempt at living off-grid.
For years I had my workshop in my parents basement and the time had come to move on. The space had always been adequate, but the doorway and stairs getting in and out were always a challenge. Also, the desire to be above ground and working in natural light had reached an all-time high.
The idea of working out of the cabin was slow in coming. My original plan was to build a new straw bale - timber frame workshop modeled after my house. But those plans took a back seat with the exciting news of a baby girl on the way. I thought about renting workspace in town or slapping together a temporary outbuilding. Nope. The cabin is only 20 feet away from our new house and there it sat quietly – our former little home, now turned neglected guest cottage, overrun with crap we didn't need, and all of it covered in mouse shit. At first consideration its 12 x 18 size seemed way too small for a functioning workshop capable of handling casework and the occasional piece of furniture. But the thought of working so close to home and above ground took over and I decided to down-size my work instead.
I managed to fit my workbench and most of my stationary tools inside with the exception being my cabinet saw. I'm not fully convinced, but the 3 horsepower, 220 volt motor might be too much for the off-grid solar electricity that powers our entire world. For now I'm using a small, portable, job-site table saw that has seen better days – but it works.
Being off-grid has worked out so far. On days when the batteries are low and the sun isn't shining, I carve. When the sun is out, I make sawdust. The small size has kept my work in check. It's also made me reconsider the size of my future workshop which I still intend to build.
Someday I'll convert it back into a guest cottage. Maybe I'll finish the trim too.