Window on the world

About once a year I like to do a major shop improvement. Well, itís about that time again and Iíve got the itch.

Iíve converted my two-car garage to a full-time woodshop. (I treat the garage door as a fourth wall and almost never open it.) Short of designing and building a freestanding shop from the ground up, I couldnít be happier. Well, yeah, I could be. I want a window.

I want some natural light in there. I want a way to bring in a nice breeze on mild spring and fall days, and a place to perhaps mount an air conditioner in the heat of the summer. And most of all, for lack of a better way to put it I want a way to remain in touch with the outside world on those days when Iím spending 10 hours in there. I went in there on a sunny morning the other day and had no idea that rain had moved in two hours later Ė meaning I never knew itíd be a good idea to go back into the house and close all the windows until way too late.

The installation itself isnít the issue. Iíve installed windows and doors before, but those were all in new, open-stud walls. Thatís easy, since everythingís exposed and you know exactly what youíre dealing with, and nothing else is inside the wall to get in your way. But I have no idea whatís inside the wall Iíd be using (I have just one outside wall), but since my houseís main breaker box is in a corner of that wall, Iím going to guess thereís tons of wiring in there.

Thatís not insurmountable. My dadís an electrician, and between the two of us Iím sure we can work that part out. But the other factor is that the subcontractors who built my house did a lot of, uh, ďcreativeĒ things in places where they thought no one would ever see them. No telling what surprises might be waiting behind that drywall.

So for now, the project seems a bit daunting. And, at the moment, frustrating. Itís one of those situations where you have the knowledge of what to do and how to do it, but thereís a big unknown in the middle of those two things. Makes me nervous.

And if thereís anything I donít like being when Iím in the shop, itís nervous.

Till next time,



  • A.J. The only solution to your delemma is to just do it! Take a hammer and whack that beautiful new drywall and get it over with!! Once you do that much the rest will be a cake walk.

    Let there be light!


  • Vern Tator says:

    Years ago I had a shop simular to yours, it had an office but the bulk of the shop was a big closed in room. I put glass panels in the garage door. It was a 5 panel door and I changed 2 of them to glass. Wow, what an improvement. Always wished I’d done it sooner. As a bonus feature, tt really inproved my attitude at work. Today I have a much smaller shop, but when I changed the carport into a shop I put in operating windows and a garage door that is all lites. It’s small but it’s mine and I love working there.

  • Nancy Kroes says:

    I’d be excited to tear into that project. I don’t know what I’d do without my full wall of windows, facing south, overlooking an alfalfa field where the deer (over 80 of them), but not antelopes, play. I do sometimes wish I had more wall space, but would not trade my window wall for it.

  • Jim says:

    Come on! The inside walls are drywalled. Pick your spot and open up the wall with a zipsaw or a poke saw and utility knife. If it’s a bad spot, move on with what you’ve learned. Replacing drywall is way easier than any of your woodworking. Once you’ve found, or rewired/replumbed to create a clear spot, four #10 nails will mark the location on the outside.

    Serious tip. Don’t commit to the window size or shape until you’ve opened the wall. It may be easier to adjust the window than whatever you find in the wall.


  • Ed says:

    Your project sounds like a fun challenge. Good luck and do keep us posted.

  • Morris Trent says:

    Look Up ! Many skylites are able to be open , thus they will eliminate the hottest concentration on air in your shop . As for the natural lighting the skylite will allow for more light all over the shop . Hope this will allow yet another alterative .

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    I thought about some skylights, Morris. But I’m concerned that everything in my attic might fall out if I add them.

  • Randy Walker says:

    I live in a house much like what you describe. Personaly with that kind of concern about the workmanship behind the drywall, I’d rip it all down just to make sure there arn’t any suprises. Then I’d put in the window of my dreams knowing that there won’t be any suprises down the road. It also gives you the opertunity to make sure the insulation is what it needs to be.

  • Chuck says:

    AJ nervous over a little thing like poking a hole in a wall? Nah – I don’t believe it!!

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