The Dumpster Diver’s Garage – #1 Air Freight Shed

garage organization

The Dumpser Diver's Garage #1: The Air Freight Shed

by Dave Coleman

Yeah, yeah, yeah, where the hell is Project Miatabusa? I know, I know… After the death rattle, the Miatabusa got pushed onto the back burner for a few (dozen) months. Not (only) because of our self loathing for making the gear rattling error, but because all that life we'd been putting off to build the car started catching up with us. Within the Miatabusa team's downtime, one house was built, one house was bought, and one house nearly fell down a hill. These things can get in the way of progress. 

The Miatabusa is at least up to the side burner now. A new design is 87% done in CAD, and huge bricks of Aluminum have been purchased to make the next round of parts. Meanwhile, though, here is one of the strange and diverse projects that have been keeping us from finishing the Miatabusa: a garden shed. 

Yes, but let me explain… Just as the Miatabusa was making its first rattle, my woman and I finally stumbled into a house. Right place, right price, wrong garage. The house is 91 years old and has a garage almost big enough for a Model T. It has space for (and is zoned for) the Garage Mahal I really need to build, but for now I have to make due parking everything outside. So the Miatabusa goes on the back porch, the Silvia and 510 in the backyard, and only the tools park in the tiny garage. 

Garage OrganizationHow tiny? 111 x 222 inches. That's right, I measure my garage in inches. Feels bigger that way… In my first few months of trying to work out of a 171 square foot garage, it became clear that car tools, house tools, yard tools and bikes do not belong in the same place. Everything but the car tools needed to get the hell out. 

For how simple and crappy they are, factory built sheds are laughably expensive. One big enough to hold my relatively small collection of non-car stuff would be over $900. So I went dumpster diving and built a better one about $100. Yes, everything in my life IS a LeMons race…

Garage Organization

Garge organizationA certain company I am very familiar with regularly gets air shipments from overseas in these modular steel boxes. Since this company almost never ships anything back out, the boxes stack up until they get thrown in the dumpster. The dumpster is where I join the picture.

These boxes are quite clever. The corrugated steel panels are incredibly thin and light. A 67 x 27-inch panel weights only 13 pounds, and the boxes assemble from five panles (a botom and four sides) with no tools at all. Everything just interlocks and is held together with these clever corner brackets that pop in by hand. The design is so clever, so simple, and so strong, I had to put it to use.

garage organization

Combining panels from two different size boxes, I was able to make this clubhouse shape with a nice big door. 

Garage Organization

As clever and modular as they are, the boxes aren't designed to stack like this, but 14 seconds with a box of self-drilling sheet metal screws solved that problem. Corrugated panels are incredibly strong in compression, and the flat flanges top and bottom of each panel ensure loads are transferred directly from panel to panel, so all the screws have to do is keep the panels aligned. No load actually goes through the screws. It only takes 2-3 screws per panel to make the box incredibly strong.

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