Critter-Proof Storage for Workshop

We have some.... critters... that like eating and defiling things in the basement. I have a small workshop upstairs in a closet, but the downstairs workshop is a much bigger area, great for larger projects. A lot of my materials are foam-based, which the critters love. This project is a two-parter:


1) Create a sealed storage/workshop space

2) Protect the exposed bench from animals


 

Update:


Current Status: Lights installed, added extra animal protections.


Lighting:

We decided to use LED panel lights that mount to the ceiling and provide a nice even light over the whole area. We had gotten one installed previously, and looked for a similar model.

We couldn't find an identical one, but we did find panels with adjustable color temperature and identical brightness for the same price. They're meant to be mounted in a drop ceiling, but also include mounts for a traditional ceiling. Unfortunately, the ceiling in our basement is just the floor, and it's only 3/4 of an inch thick. That meant we couldn't attach the lights directly to the ceiling. I first tried to drill diagonally into the support beams, but the scrap wood we were using was incredibly brittle and split instantly.

I figured we could just brace these pieces against the floor joists with more scrap support pieces. So I added a support to each side, and relied on the small amount of screw sticking out of the back of the main brace to stop the panels from moving. The screws we used were purposefully about 3mm too long, allowing them to dig into the ceiling (but not poke through) and stop the panel from moving.


The mounting system was difficult to work with. They seemed to be designed for more permanent installation, so I had to bend the retention tabs out of the way to allow us to install and remove them for test fits.



Wiring:

There were two light fixtures already installed, but since we no longer needed them we decided to remove them. They were also connected to a light switch, so perfect for our needs. We ran wires from each socket and split them between two panels each, using junction boxes (lids on order) to keep the splices safe. It was simple but the stiffness of the wire and tight bends I had to make from awkward positions made it time-consuming.


Animal Proofing:

We added chicken wire behind the connection point for our electrical service panel outside. The wires indoors run behind this area and into the service panel outside. There are some openings that we suspected animals were entering through. Some evidence we found confirmed this. We sanitized the area and added chicken wire to stop further entrance, along with a few pieces of wood for further reinforcement.



 

Past Work


Current Status:

The wooden box part of the storage area is done.


Here's a picture without the left wall
Front view from the workbench

You may notice the wooden pieces above on the support beams-those are to block gaps from the roof of the box, the little guys love to jump onto the bench.


All the pieces are connected to house and floor supports. The house was built in 1902 (and since then earthquake retrofitted) so nothing is square. This posed some unique challenges when trying to make the box square and level.


This is all inside of the basement. This also made this project far more difficult-we had to cut the wood outside and maneuver it through a nonstandard door at an odd angle to get it past that vertical support beam. The position of the house supports (as seen in the far left in the first picture) combined with their varying distance from the box made us only able to add a few support beams on the bottom. Had the house been more square we could've split the larger pieces in half and carried them inside far easier.


Future Plans:

The next steps are sterilization of the area and the addition of a door. I plan to use magnets situated along a wooden bar connected to a sheet of thick fabric/rubber/plastic (just something strong that won't be chewed through) that snap down on the bottom to seal it and the top to keep the cover open. The exposed workshop also needs sterilization and the addition of chicken wire to close holes, with a potential ceiling-hung door to stop animal entry.


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