The 12-Gauge Garage is owned and built by Jack Olsen. Jack is a screenwriter who suddenly had extra time on his hands during the Writer’s Guild strike back in 2007. He used that time to completely transform his two-car garage into an incredibly neat and orderly workspace.
The floor plan is only 20 by 22 feet, and yet Jack managed to fit thousands of square feet worth of tools and equipment. Due to this, the garage is a true model of efficiency.
Concept and costs
Jack Olsen’s property didn’t have any room for a bigger garage, so the trick was to find ways to make the most out of the limited space. He bought second-hand industrial units (hence the ’12 Gauge’ name after the steel they’re made from) and has transformed and reused the material in several ingenious ways to create a total of 10 benches with different features.
The entire garage was built on a budget of just $3500 and before Jack started out, he hadn’t welded, laid tiles, mixed concrete or anything at all.
Jack’s vision was to create a calm and efficient workshop where everything has a place. He painted the cabinets because they didn’t match and wanted to create a personal place for himself where he would enjoy working on everything from his Porsche 911 to welding metal fences and carpentry.
12-Gauge Garage special features and fun facts
1. Jack’s wife chose the interesting green hue, which is just Sears Weather beater exterior latex paint Jack applied with a roller. That means it’s affordable and easy to repair in case something gets chipped. FYI: the color scheme is also the one used by NASA in the control room used for solving the problems for Apollo 13…
2. There are several steel cabinets lining the walls of Jack’s 12-Gauge garage. The two in front of his Porsche are 800-pound (each!)! He cut off the legs of the strong-hold cabinets 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.
3. 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.
4. The phone is a 1951 Western Electric model 354 rotary-dial telephone, and it works perfectly.
5. 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 in order to cater for working on longer pieces across tables.