lack of power supply to shapping shack

I’ve recently moved house, bad news is my workshop was attached to the old place good news it the new place comes with a large garage which I can use and as I’ve never really done what can be called production work its more than sufficient for my needs.


However its not attached to the property and does not have its own power supply. As it’s rented I can’t get it hooked up to the grid.


It’s in a group of units under flats (not mine). Between the garages and the far wall of my back yard is a small access rd that leads to similar units at the rear. 


So I’m wondering what my options are and it’s left me scratching my head.


So far I have:


1) Make do without lighting and power tools for the most part limiting work to day light hours and shape/sand in the back yard, then there is weather to contend with which would limit shaping to the summer and adding the potential of piss off the neighbours. 


2) Run an extension lead from the house, over the back wall, and small access Road to the garage, This seems the easiest but may prove hazardous. Maybe I could minimise this with some sort of cover or ramp??


3) Buy a fuel powered portable generator, which is likely to be very noisy (once again pissing off the neighbours) and expensive.


I know there are plenty of back yarders out there that have had to deal with similar problems, but I guess I've been spoiled in the past so any input would be welcome.

honda 2000i I have one it goes 8-10 hours on a gallon and is super quiet.

Remember that you can fry you planner motor, or other electric motors, when run on a lengthily distance of cord not of adequate wire gauge. Im sure others here can explain the science behind this one but I don’t have a good understanding of it.

I’ve used one of the honda2000’s for work and will second it as being quiet compared to most other commercial/backup type generators i’ve been around.  you could even build a little box outside to tuck it into and muffle the sound it makes so you could still work late-nights without bothering anyone. It does seem wasteful buring gas if there’s some way to hook up power instead, but how long is the wiring run to hook it up?

If you do run an extension cord definitely put a little ramp over it for the road.  For up to 100’ under 5 amps at 120VAC a 16AWG extension cord should be okay for a few fluorescents and most power tools as it will still deliver just over 115VAC to the garage.

Or for a more permanent solution of running wiring out there yourself.  Get a piece of pvc longer than the road and big enough to slide a garden hose into and use that to make a little tunnel under the road then run some more permanent wiring through the tube.  You can use the same trick to go under the back wall too.  Buy an extra circuit breaker and hook it up to the breaker box in your house.  Use either appropriately gauged wiring meant for outdoor use or run romex inside a conduit and make sure no one’ll be mowing the law or digging around back there to zap themselves.

Here’s a link that will be very helpful in trying to figure out what sized wiring you need:

use their voltage drop calculator to make sure you have enough juice left in the garage to not burn out your tools.


Depending on how long you plan on staying a generator might make more sense since you’ll be able to take it with you when you leave.




2) Run an extension lead from the house, over the back wall, and small access Road to the garage, This seems the easiest but may prove hazardous. Maybe I could minimise this with some sort of cover or ramp??




I'd go for a variation on the above...but run an armoured cable from the house...dig a small channel across the access road on a quiet day and fill it back up with cold press tarmac...if you get caught by the authorities play dumb and say you thought it woulld be fine if you made good and if noone pics up on it then everybody is happy...just remember to wear a high vis jacket when doing the ground work and let your belt out a notch or two....




How many feet is it from from your house to your shaping shack?

As Jesus says, the real make-or-break question is how far you have to go. As I suspect you may be running your tools and such on 220V, that would make a difference in how heavy a wire you would need to use. But a 10% voltage drop would cook your tools, sooner or later.

 Also, just how difficult is it to get from your new place to the garage? If it's not too far, something like might work well for you, just run it out and then wind it up again when you're done. Similar here:

hope that's of use


oopps double cliked the button and posted same comments twice

Thanks guys.

Its only about 30ft, not much further than the last one, I’ve already got an industrial wind up extension lead long enough, yer I run on 240V, my main worry is the rd.

The last shed was wired up as kick-Knack discribed with conduit to the house, not sure I’d get away with digging the road up though, if i were in the country no probs, but its concrete and in a residentail area, also we are only renting so I can’t do any modifications to the house. I’ll give it another look but I think thats out of the question.

I think I’ll get a cable ramp or matt for the rd part, its a really quite rd so I’ll see how that goes, if It causes problems I’ll look at getting the honda genie.

Cheers again guys.

There you go, Woody. Those cable ramps, look kinda like little rubber speed bumps, those should work for you and they're fairly cheap. And that distance , especially on 240V, shouldn't be a problem. I might not bother with enough ramps to cover the whole road, just some that'll cover where car wheels would go.

Chances are nobody will be taking a lawn mower down that road with the engine going, especially as you're going to be working nights and all, and you're just trying to keep the cord from getting abraded/torn up by car tyres. And if one of the neighbors needs to plug his Black and Decker car polisher or such in some day, well, that'll help with that neighbor issue -

Just as a bit of information for people in general, I tend to think of the tables of voltage drop vs wire size and such as a starting point. You lose a surprising amount in the plugs, the connections and such, they get corroded a little and suddenly your expensive tool is starting to smoke and screech - best to go with the heaviest extension you can afford.

'Cos it's a little silly to save ten bucks on an extension cord and fry a $300 tool, no?

hope that's of use


hi woody i had the same problem when i was in a city.

i got round it by checking with the other garage owners as to whether they had electricity in the garage, one had so i paid him £5 a week to use it so didnt have to have the cable across the road



How often are you building boards, are they for yourself or others?

It’s possible to do it all unplugged, it’s just a lot more work. I shape most of the boards I do without power tools. It’s a lot harder, but I’ve skinned PU blanks with rasps, cheese graters and hand planes. I use a variety of 2"x4"x18" lumber and belt sander media. I cut the belts and staple them to the wood, and I have 2 different grits on 1 board. I found some metal food graters that have a convex surface, and they take the foam down really fast. EPS is easy to shape without power tools. You’ll be amazed at how fast 30 grit sanding media and cheese graters eat through EPS foam. Surforms with the slightly rounded blade work great for removing foam fast.

The 2"x4" lumber and belt sander media will work just fine to sand the board once you glass it.

I think your biggest concern will be good lighting. The right lighting really makes it easier to get a good shape.