Preparing the Workshop

Having recently moved into my townhome, the garage was fairly empty to begin with, so I didn't have to store, sell, or otherwise throw out a bunch of stuff, which was nice. It was also sheet-rocked and insulated which saved even more time. The below photo is my before shot (click on the photo for a larger image). I've managed to misplace my after shots, but when they turn up I'll be sure to upload them.  (Note: 2 years later I have yet to find those missing photos.)

Garage Before

The first thing I did was to remove all the miscellaneous shelving that the previous owner had installed and patch up all the holes in the sheet rock. Then I primed and painted the walls and ceiling white, which took way longer than I imagined. Good thing I didn't choose painting as a career. Next I installed (4) 4 foot fluorescent light fixtures on the ceiling so that I'd have plenty of light. There were two incandescent light fixtures in the ceiling already, so I didn't have to do any electrical work other than swapping the fixtures for power outlets.

I wasn't going to get off scott-free (what does that mean, anyway?) with all electrical work, however. I planned on purchasing an air compressor, and most of the larger ones I looked at ran on 240 volts AC, and my garage didn't have a 240V outlet. I discovered that there was 240V wiring running over to my dryer, but since the dryer was gas, it was not energized. All I needed was to install a 20 amp circuit breaker in my panel, splice into this wiring, run it out to the garage, and install a NEMA 6-20 outlet. Once again, this took longer than expected, but the finished product looks pretty professional in my opinion.

What workshop would be complete without a good work bench? I thought about this for a long time, and went to Home Depot a bunch of times trying to figure the best work surface that didn't cost a fortune. One day I was talking to a coworker about this, and he mentioned that his neighbor had some bowling alley lanes, cut up, in his yard. Sounded like a good future work bench to me, so he managed to cut off a 44" by 8' section for me. I had a friend with a truck help me move it... good thing, as it weighs a ton (not literally). Another friend helped me build a support frame out of 4x4s, then lift, mount, and fasten the surface to the frame. It all worked out great, and the total cost was only about $50.

In between all these projects, I was buying tools.  Below is the minimum required tool list from the SQ2000 construction manual. I have obtained nearly all of these tools at this point, as well as a 6.5 HP Craftsman air compressor and a host of pneumatic tools.  The compressor is a great asset, and I would encourage any would-be builders to make the investment.  Regardless of the ability to run pneumatic tools, just having the air gun is a great asset for removing dust and such.  The only drawback is noise--not that it bothers me, but since I live in a townhouse I worry about disturbing my neighbors.


Sockets (SAE) 1/4 inch drive as a minimum; 3/8 inch drive for engine work.
Wrenches (SAE, open end and box end) At least one set of both box end and open end wrenches is required.
Torque Wrench Final torque settings of bolts.
Screwdrivers (Slotted and Phillips) General use.
Pliers General use.
Clamps At least 4 large C-Clamps will be required; 24 inch pipe-type joining clamps are also very desirable.
Power Drill General drilling. Note you will need to drill 5/8 inch holes when mounting the wings. You will need both fractional and numbered bits.
Jig Saw and Blades General cutting of foam and glass. Buy an assortment of blades for both ferrous metal, non-ferrous metal, fiberglass and wood.
Sander Sanding of foam, glass and surface cleaning of metal.
Belt Sander 1" Delta or Makita belt sander is recommended. An air tool equivalent is a straight sander that takes 1.5 inch strips.
Razor Knives and Blades Knife trimming of glass and minor trim work.
Micro-Stop Countersink Tool This tool appears to be a luxury, but one slip of a countersink can destroy a very expensive part. Buy a set of piloted bits, as well.
Coping Saw General Cutting.
X-Acto Knife Set Precise cutting.
2" Sanding Drum for Hand Drill sanding operations in restricted areas.
Files You will need a large variety of files to complete this project. As a minimum, invest in a 12 inch mill bastard file, several mid-size files, and a 6 inch fine file.
Stanley Surform Tool This tool is available in 6 and 12 inch sizes. Get both. You can make a straight trim faster than any file.
Decimal Rule General measurement. A 12 foot tape, supplemented by 6,12 and 24 inch decimal rulers with straight edges is desirable.
Levels A four foot length bubble level is the minimum; a digital one is recommended. Digital units such as the Smart Level are now available that read down to tenths of degrees, accuracy than can’t be achieved with a bubble level.
Straight Edge Six foot length.
Water Level This is actually about 10 feet of Tygon or clear acrylic tubing filled with colored water.
Plumb Bob Establishing level lines and vertical lines.
Framing Squares You will probably want several Framing Square sizes; 6 inch for interior work, and a 2 foot one for less crowded areas.
Aircraft Tubing Flare Tool Used to perform 37 degree flares, which are the aviation standard. DO NOT USE AN AUTOMOTIVE FLARE TOOL. These are 45 degrees, and will result in eventual leaking.
Nicopress Swage Used to swage Nicopress fittings. An expensive lever tool is available, but the less expensive block type is acceptable.
Gloves Latex or Vinyl Required for use in epoxying and when sanding or filing fiberglass to avoid dust.
Dust Mask Required for when sanding or shaping fiberglass to avoid dust.
Supplied Air Breathing System Required when spray painting. Also, highly desirable when sanding.
Scale Required to weigh resin and hardener. Preferably should read in Grams from 1 through 2,000.
Scissors Used for cutting fiberglass. Obtain high quality ones intended for this purpose, and keep them sharp! Wiss model 20 W recommended.
Brushes Obtain an assortment of at least 100, 1 and 2 inch brushes.
Mixing Sticks Mixing Epoxy, Flox, and Micro. You will use at least 500 of these.
8 and 16 Oz. Mixing Cups (At least 150) Mixing Epoxy, Flox and Micro.
1 Box Plastic Squeegees Used to position filler materials and work resin into fabrics.
Duct Tape Holding parts in place for bonding
1 Rotary Blade cutter for cutting glass cloth (Optional) Used as an alternative to scissors when cutting glass
1 jar skin protector Applied to your hands and arms to keep epoxy from sticking.
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks Used to quickly make non- structural bonds. Typically holds parts while structural attachment is performed.
3" Wide Roller Used to force glass layers together to speed up wetting out process, and reduce resin content of lay-up.
Soldering Iron Soldering wires. Preferably with a thermostatically controlled tip.
Crimp Tool Select tools consistent with the crimp parts/series you have selected. Crimp tools can be specific to manufacturer¹s connector series.
Wire Cutters Wire cutting.
Wire Strippers Wire stripping

It was June, 1998 now, and the workshop was basically complete. I bought another free-standing storage unit and put up some more shelves, including one over the work bench with a rod to hold one roll of fiberglass. I considered building an enclosure to hold several rolls of fiberglass, but decided it would be better to keep the idle rolls inside the house. I only use one weave at a time during layups (generally) and keeping the other rolls in the house will keep them dust- and moisture-free.

Soon the kit would arrive and I could focus my efforts on building a plane, instead of building a workshop...


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