How to build a rocket workshop (part 2: the defenestration)

Defenestration (n). The act of throwing someone or something out of a window.

Artwork of the Defenestration of Prague, circa 1618
a classic and memorable defenestration

In particular, the Defenestration of Prague in 1618 involved some angry folks tossing several government officials out of a window from Prague Castle. Generally, when you have unwanted guests and you’d like them to leave, the preferred approach is to drop subtle hints that you need to wake up early the next morning, or start cleaning up. Maybe turn on a vacuum if they don’t get the hint. A forcible ejection through the window can have the immediate desired effect but may ultimately lead to a long and terrible war (in that case, the Thirty Years’ War).

Speaking of forcible ejections through the window, many things can go wrong when building or using a workshop, and I named each phase of my shed-to-workshop project after a small sample of them. In this “defenestration” phase, I’ll add windows to the shed.

Shed with window added on side
taking this shed to the next level

First, I had to plan a bit: how many windows? And how large should they be? Of course, I want to maximize light, and my initial answers were more windows and bigger windows, respectively. But more windows cost more money and are significantly more work to install. And most importantly, there’s only so much room inside to actually use or store tools and equipment, and windows eat up some otherwise useful wall space.

Two windows seemed sufficient to really open up the space and provide ample natural light. I thought one on the side and one on the back wall made the most sense.

A shed would typically have pretty small windows, too, something like 12×24 inches or maybe 12×36. Larger would always be better, but then again, I didn’t want the windows to look ridiculously oversized on such a small structure. I ended up going with two windows that are each 24×48 inches.

The walls here are just simple plywood, so after the initial planning was done, this project required:

  • measuring and cutting away the plywood rectangles where windows would go;
  • cutting some wood and framing the window; and
  • installing the window itself, along with some flashing.

Overall nothing too crazy, but a decent amount of work. I did have someone help me with this project; I’m ambitious but only mildly handy, and certainly not an expert.

View of shed interior with new window in rear wall
let there be light!

And this is the finished product! It’s amazing how much a window or two can transform a room. It looks like a completely different space, flooded with light. It even feels bigger, and is the type of place I wouldn’t mind spending an afternoon working on a rocket build or some other project, especially in the spring and summer once the weather gets nicer.

On to the next step: replacing the plywood shed doors with a real door. Something to help class it up, maybe with some glass to add even more natural light. And a handle, ideally, to open and close this door. Maybe I’m going too far? One can always dream.

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