Wood Shop Makeover Part 1

We’ve had cooler weather lately, and so its been a good time to start ripping out the walls in the detached garage I’m converting into a wood shop. After three years of  no human activity on the property, the animals have taken over. Remember the war on nature I posted about earlier? I’ve been able to get rid of the mice in the shop by setting numerous traps and bait stations, and so now it was time to get rid of their nests. We found more than we bargained for!

Behind the walls we found a whole ecosystem of yuck , a network of tunnels and nests and rodent activity that must have taken a long time to construct. It was a rodent hotel. Kind of impressive, really. They had chewed up much of the insulation, repurposed it and had even started in on the electrical wiring. One little guy didn’t survive his bout with the electricity, but I’ll save that image for your imagination. Think of a strip of bacon left on the grill too long and you’ll get the point.


It was a complete gut job, from wall to ceiling. Once the insulation was removed, I was able to see that the interior wood was mostly in good shape. There was some damage to the studs where mice had gnawed and clawed and in some cases even chewed through the 2x4s. Some dry rot too on the lower footings. I also discovered there were no sub walls, meaning its the old siding on the outside of the building and nothing else. Some of the siding is rotten and chewed through, which probably led to water getting inside, and pulling those areas will be the next phase of this project, replacing with OSB and new siding.


It wasn’t just insulation and rodent nests we found behind those walls. As we pulled down the back wall we uncovered this huge bird nest. The baby birds tumbled out with the insulation, right on my son’s head! My wife put them in this box hoping they would survive, as mama bird was nowhere to be seen. This was the first of three bird nests we found, but it totally deserves the prize for the biggest one I’ve ever seen.Look how it was stuffed in there!


Once we got down to the bare walls and ceiling, I mixed up a solution of bleach water and sprayed the heck out of everything twice. Rodents leave trails of urine and feces everywhere they go as a means to lead other mice/rats to sources of food or shelter, and their nests are prone to disease and toxins. All I can say is the shop smells a lot better now that everything is gone. Now we can start remodeling.


This electric panel has its day coming soon. I think its safe, but it looks ugly. I’ll put more outlets in and address the lighting. I’ll have to address the concrete floor where its beginning to crumble. But first I’m going to seal the walls, the foundation, address the siding and replace the door with one we brought from Oregon. It would also be nice to have some kind of heating source for the cold Iowa winter months. There’s a 20 year old furnace in the back corner of the shop, but it doesn’t work and I need to figure out how to get rid of it. More to come on that stuff later.

What about those birds? Did they survive?

We had our own pet birds for about a week. They squawked and banged around in their box, and then once they got the hang of flying I’d find them in the rafters whistling. After a couple days of that, they were gone.

It’s all good. Everything leaves the nest eventually.



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