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Retrofitting an Old, Rundown Barn Into an Awesome Work/Storage Space Answered

Hey guys. My family just began work on a farm we bought two years ago, and soon I'll move into a new house there. The property has a huge barn (not an animal barn) that served as the central building for an old cowboy camp and a vacation home. It's cool to me because it was built by one man over sixty years ago using power line posts, some lumber, and good, old-fashioned DIY ingenuity. It's survived several floods from the river that flows only a hundred yards from it and building code since. Now, though, it doesn't serve much purpose other than sheltering a tractor built 63 years ago and providing a home for mice and birds. The place is also full of the previous owner's junk that's strewn about. As the work continues, I hope to bring the building back into glory as a very useful workshop to build many great projects that I never could inside my family's one-car garage. Storage is also an extreme necessity in the barn, and I'll need lots of it in a minimal amount of space.

I plan on using my workshop for metalwork, electronics, woodworking, and mechanics. What is yours used for?
What kind of solutions have you made in your work spaces and storage areas?
What is interesting about them?
Please comment; I'm sure we'd all like to hear your stories.

The barn now has a new roof and concrete floor.


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9 years ago

Oh, would I love to have a space that big!

The first thing I'd do is make sure it is protected against flooding. Then, go in and install a good electrical system - 240V at least, for running big machines and welders. Use conduit or shielded cable to protect from mice.

As for storage, big deep shelves and bins works really well. The bins will prevent mice from getting at the contents (or building homes inside).

Store tools in cabinets where they are protected from dust. You can build cabinets under the work surfaces, or use separate cabinets, or both! Pegboards are a convenient way to store hand tools, and keep things tidy, but they take up a lot of wall space. Consider storing them in an organized tool box, or maybe stack the pegboards several layers deep.

Have at least one big work table that is accessible from all sides, set at a comfortable working height. If possible install several outlets directly onto this table for plugging in power tools, so that you don't have cables and extension cords snaking across areas you're likely to be walking through.

Lots of light is important, too. Install full-spectrum lights over all the main work areas.

If you have room, also put in a little lounge area where you can sit back, relax, and mull your ideas. Sometimes it helps to separate yourself from the work a bit.

At least, that's what I'd do. ;)


9 years ago

For months I went to Restore Habitat for Humanity local store and bought doors, cabinets, file cabinets, paint, supplies, windows at greatly discounted prices. Flooring...etc. I scoured the garage books from the library and ordered the very best ones to actually keep for more ideas and dreaming...
I googled, I searched youtube and instructables for ideas.
I went to barns and noble and looked at ideas in their books...
One could go to auctions.....
One of the ideas from the garage books is to put things on wheels so you can re arrange easily for different projects. We put a whole set of kitchen cabinets on casters...I bought some casters also online from Amazon.