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Jack Olsen's Garage - This Guy's Garage

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Jack Olsen / Los Angeles, CA
Don't freak about the German car in the picture. We assure you, Jack Olsen is every bit the car crafter any of us around here are, he just happens to prefer cars with an engine in the trunk. Besides, his garage is just too good to pass up. Four years ago, this was your average, '20s-era-construction, two-car garage with a random collection of cabinets, a cracked concrete slab, and a couple of square feet of workspace. Jack is a screenwriter who suddenly had extra time on his hands during the Writer's Guild strike in 2007. He used that time to completely transform his garage into this neat and orderly workspace that is a model of efficiency. The floor plan is only 20 by 22 feet, and yet he's managed to fit thousands of square feet worth of tools and equipment in it. It's even more impressive when you consider that Jack's only spent about $2,500 on the whole thing, buying lots of used equipment and doing some Dumpster diving, too. Let's have a look.

For more details on Jack's garage and his race car, check the forums at GarageJournal.com

A. These are two fold-up work tables hinged to the north wall. The one closest to the door is a steel-top welding table. Jack spaced the hinges out about an inch from the wall so he could mount clamps and holding fixtures behind the table while it was folded up. The second table uses a general-purpose plywood surface.

B. Jack's wife chose the interesting green hue, which is just Sears Weatherbeater exterior latex paint Jack applied with a roller. That means it's affordable and easy to repair in case something gets chipped. We dig the cool art deco look it lends to the garage.

C. There are several steel cabinets lining the walls of Jack's garage. The two in front of his Porsche are 800-pound (each!) Strong-Hold cabinets he bought used on eBay. He cut off the legs so they would fit under the wood cabinets hung from the ceiling and rolled them into place on a series of dowels. They contain hundreds of small parts stored in plastic bins from Harbor Freight. Jack bought the short cabinet on the right near the toolbox from the same eBay seller for $62. On it, he mounted a 510-pound, 1-inch-thick steel plate, and that's the surface he uses for things that need a lot of physical persuasion. Each of the shelves in these three cabinets is made from 12-gauge steel and able to support 1,900 pounds. The Lyon cabinet (with the phone mounted on it) is only made from 14-gauge steel. Jack also cut off its legs and sectioned an additional 4 inches out of the bottom half of the cabinet to fit it under the cabinets. A beltline of 4 by 1/8-inch aluminum runs between the floor cabinets and the ceiling-mounted cabinets.

D. Tools are stored all over the place, but very few are where you can see them. In addition to the three Craftsman toolboxes and the Harbor Freight 43-inch tool cart (painted to match the Craftsman boxes), Jack has hidden storage compartments under workbenches and mounted up in the dead space between his garage door track and the ceiling. In addition to the drill press and bandsaw on his benches, Jack also has a Millermatic 211 MIG welder, an oxyacetylene rig, a table saw, a chop saw, a tubing bender, half a dozen angle grinders, and a portable bench grinder and anvil he mounts in trailer hitch receivers bolted under one of his benches and again in the wall near his folding welding table.

E. The phone is a 1951 Western Electric model 354 rotary-dial telephone, and it works perfectly.

F. Jack made the table in the foreground with square steel tubing, topping it with a butcher block from Ikea. More butcher block can be found on the table in the center of the floor. The stain is a marine varnish, and the rubber mat is to prevent stuff from slipping off. Look carefully and you'll notice that all the workbenches are at the same height.

G. That's about $300 worth of Home Depot ceramic tile on the floor. Jack decided to go that route because he didn't have the budget to pour new cement. "There's a lot of patching cement under there." He's happy with the tile because it cleans more easily than bare concrete. It has held up to some hard work as well, including an engine swap in his Porsche.

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