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Thursday, May 17, 2012

How To Build a Workshop With Seven Telephone Poles and An Old Boot

After our son Allen used telephone poles to support the lean-to  part of his new shed last year, 2011, my husband put out the word that he would be interested in acquiring some old telephone poles. We soon had  seven telephone poles laying on our driveway......

Now all we had to do was find a way to use them, right? 
We decided to build a stand-alone workshop at the end of the driveway. Excavation for the new building was soon under way. 

Before long we had a sort of telephone forest in our yard!

We set the telephone poles in concrete, plumbed them and supported them in position until the cement dried. 

Then the floor joists went in.

And a building started to take shape.
Note: The walls were constructed with pallet wood; we had to make the side units in two parts so as to use those short pallet boards.

The roof went up next....

Ah! With a roof over our heads we could now turn our attention to finishing the inside of the new workshop.
Note: The pink post-its on the walls mark where the electrical wires traversed the room.
I installed every bit of the insulation in the walls; Will helped me insulate the ceiling.

There's Will, helping his dad cover the ceiling with particle board.

We covered the insulation with plywood - another recycled part of our new building.

For the walls, I mixed several buckets of paint that we had left over from other projects, and then we trimmed the walls with beautiful wood. 

One of the boards we used to cover the walls had a smooth surface, to I marked off an area to use as a chalkboard. A little chalkboard paint and the thing was ready to use.

We were running in front of winter the whole time we worked on this new building. We managed to get the workshop under cover before the worst of winter hit. We had a very mild fall - this was fall of 2011 - and I tell people that the weather was nice through December of that year . . . . because of my prayers, 'Lord, please please help us get this building done before the snow hits' 

We built a 16-foot-long workbench, and hung tools and added shelving, etc, to the new building.
The wood for the top of the workbench came from pallets. We don't know what kind of wood it is; all we know is that it's hard wood, and that it's beautiful. 

In an effort to integrate the new building into the landscape, we added two trellises to the north side of the workshop. 

The window went in last; we chose to add the window after the building was done. Did I mention we were in a rush to erect this building before winter set in?!

Oh, oh! I almost forgot to explain how we used an old boot in this project. Well . . . .
When it came time to run the electrical wiring through the walls, we had to find a way to route the wires around the telephone poles. Right? Son Bob came up with a solution: He grabbed the router and dug holes across the fronts of the poles, creating deep ditches in the wood. It was my job, after all was said and done, to come up with a way to hide those ugly scars. 
So I thunk and thunk on this, and I finally hit upon an idea: Why not cover those ditches with felt . . . . from an old boot. And while I was at it, I decided to encrust the felt with beads. 

The felt that lines boots is very thick - perfect for my needs. I spread hot glue onto the felt and sunk the glue-laden felt in piles of beads. I then hot-glued the felt to the channels in the telephone poles. Phew! It worked. 

The End
Er, should I say, instead, The Beginning - the beginning, that is, of many more project to come.....
Have you done anything creative lately?


  1. I also thunk on what to say! So I decided to say just 'byoootifull'! You would not have thunk of these telephone poles or any wood poked into the earth had your area been termite infested, as it is here.

  2. Here here! Or is it hear hear? Darned English language...but this is nothing but good 'ole hand-on American ingenuity and resourcefulness. Everyone should do so well with their resources!

    -Adolf Hitler (just keeding)

  3. Thanks, Adolph, er, Tony! You made my day.....

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  5. Just what I want to do; however, HOW did you put the poles in the ground? And how deep?

    1. I just re-read this article, to refresh my memory, and found that we built the workshop in 2011 - 7 years ago! The details have become a bit foggy, I must admit! As I recall, we dug the holes at least 2' deep, put some concrete in the bottom of the holes, then dropped the poles in, plumbed them, surrounded them with more concrete, then put temporary braces on them to hold them in place till the concrete dried. It was not difficult to do - hats off to our sons who rushed over to help. But here's the thing: After the building was up, my husband commented that he'd never do that again, never use telephone poles again. And here's why: The poles taper along their lengths, so we had to shim every board be attached to those poles, to achieve plumb. I have been thinking about this lately because someone just gave our youngest son six 10' telephone poles.....and I find myself suggesting to him that he use the poles as ballast for the floor joists only, and NOT keep them tall, not use them for the actual wall going up. Hope that makes sense. In that way, he could make his shed with the poles as his foundation only, in a sense, and build his new building from the joists up, with new wood, thus circumventing the tapering problem we encountered. Poles in holes, with concrete, then cut the poles off at joist level and use new wood from there. The idea of the poles is to avoid a traditional foundation, so to cut them off at joist level accomplishes that goal......without using the poles (also) for the walls, if you see what I mean. Thanks for your comment. Hope this was informative.

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