The 12-Gauge Garage
Now that you have seen the video you may be more curious about Jack Olsen’s garage in Los Angeles, California. The 12-Gauge Garage is its name, and it even has its own website. Jack sums it up best and you can read more in his words below. Be sure to check out his website, 12-gaugegarage.com and his build thread on Garage Journal.
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“Well, I’ll grant you that a website for a garage is strange. And my place definitely isn’t in the same class as Jay Leno’s or Bruce Wayne’s. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of nicer, bigger, better-equipped garages out there. My place is on the small side, even for a two-car. But my property doesn’t have any room for a bigger garage, so the trick has been to find ways to make the most out of the limited space.
Which is probably why my 20’x22’ shop has resonated the way it has with other car guys. It’s just a two-car. It’s within reach of a lot of guys with a garage sitting next to their house. My budget for the whole thing—benches, cabinets, tile, even the lift—was under $3,500. So the things that it does well are the result of my work and patience, not the quantity of cash that went out the door to make it happen.
It’s a working shop. I use it to do maintenance on my track car. I learned to weld here. One of my first big projects was a wrought-iron fence for my front yard. I do basic carpentry projects for the house in it. The 911’s engine got rebuilt here. I used the garage to make the garage. I also fix broken toys for my kids. The point is, it’s a good, multi-purpose space.”
“I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly skilled. But I am persistent and probably more willing than most to try things that I’ve never done before. With the garage, that started with teaching myself to set the tile for the floor. More recently, I learned to mix, pour and form concrete for the hydraulic lift. I don’t always get it right, but I’m not afraid to ask for advice, and I’m willing to tear stuff apart and do it again (and again) until it’s where it ought to be.
So welcome to my shop.
I call it the 12-Gauge Garage because of the Strong Hold cabinets. They’re the strongest storage cabinets commercially available—each shelf is rated for 1,900 pounds. I don’t need that kind of strength at all. But having them is one of the benefits of hunting down deals on second-hand industrial stuff instead of taking whatever Sears or Costco is covering with plastic diamond plate and calling ‘heavy duty.’
The Strong Hold cabinets are American-made out of 12-gauge steel, which is about an eighth of an inch thick. You close one of them and it feels like you’re shutting a bank vault.
There’s one thing I’d like to be clear about: I don’t have anything to sell. I don’t even have many tools or products I’d recommend—certainly not ones that I bought brand new. In fact, the ‘garage approach’ I’d encourage is to think about one-of-a-kind solutions to your particular storage and work-related needs.
Stuff comes out cooler when you make it yourself and it only has to meet one guy’s design criteria. My lift is flat and covered with tile. It disappears into the floor. It wouldn’t work for most cars. My flat-bellied 911 happens to fit on it perfectly, with its drivetrain and exhaust all accessible because it’s a rear-engine car. So for me, the idea of using a flat-topped hydraulic lift table instead of a conventional automotive lift made sense. An off-the-shelf Bend Pak would definitely work for more guys and more cars. But I found a cheaper path that is uniquely suited to me and my car. That’s the kind of thinking I like most.”
Photos and text by Jack Olsen