Ventilated, Lighted Shop Pit

"When I put up my new shop I wanted to make it easier to change oil and work under my vehicles," says Larry Brown, "so I built a pit that's 5 ft. deep, 4 ft. wide and 16 ft. long in the floor of the shop. Now I can stand up when I work under a vehicle and actually see what I'm doing."

Brown used 2 by 6 rough-cut boards to form the sides and ends of the pit.  The concrete walls are about 4 in. thick on the bottom and 6 in. thick on the top, reinforced with scrap steel. In one sidewall he made inset pockets that are 6 in. deep so he could install recessed fluorescent lights.  "I've seen a lot of pits where a trouble light is all a guy has to work with, and that's not very bright.  I put those fluorescents in, painted the walls white and it's much brighter than any trouble light," Brown says.

 For ventilation, which is important in pits to remove CO2 gasses, Brown ran a 4-in. pvc pipe from the ceiling of the shop down a side wall of the building and into the pit. The pipe is connected to an old furnace fan that blows air from near the ceiling down into the pit. One switch runs the fan and lights. "The ventilation system does double duty," Brown says. "It takes the chill out of the pit on cold days, and keeps fresh air coming in when I'm down there working."

On the floor of the pit Brown laid pieces of 1-in. thick metal grating, material that's normally used for stairs and floors in manufacturing plants. "It isn't slippery, my feet stay dry and if I spill anything, it's easy
When he isn't using the pit, Brown can cover it with 2 by 6 rough-cut boards that lay on top of the pit walls and level with the shop floor.

"This pit isn't anything fancy," Brown said, "but it's probably the best thing I've ever spent money on. It sure beats laying on a roller under a jacked-up vehicle."