China Garage

China Garage

From Feb 2011 until present I have been living in China.  When we (my wife and I) picked a place to rent within our budget, we had a few must haves: Oven, good kitchen, and a garage!  A lot of the places in Shanghai do not have a garage, or its an apartment, and there’s just a parking garage, which are only good for vehicle parking.

We looked at a number of places, and quickly narrowed it down to this place, it is a Villa, so it is connected on each side to more housing, but we have 4 floors of space.

1st floor: garage and entry area with a tiny bathroom and storage room.

2nd floor: Living/dining room, bathroom, and large kitchen with an oven.

3rd floor: Master bedroom with bathroom, 2 smaller bedrooms and another bathroom.

4th floor: Tiny bathroom, open floor plan with vaulted ceilings.  Perfect for storage and my hobby area

In our shipping container, I brought a lot of tools with, as I knew that tools in China were either A: expensive or B: not available or C: cheap but really crappy.

Since voltage over here is 220V 50Hz, I bought some large transformers to bring with…. for the garage, my main one is a 5000 Watt transformer!!!  Why so big you ask?  Well, along with a lot of hand tools, I also brought my small 110v MIG welder!  Yup, it pulls 20A at 110v, so ~2200 watts.  For continuous operation, you should have at least double the capacity, hence the 5000W transformer.  I also brought a small air compressor, but I don’t use it much.  Between the noise of the compressor and the noise of an air tool, I think it just makes too much noise in a small space with neighbors on both sides.

Here’s the floor plan of my garage:

China Garage layout China Garage rotated


Other people have their cars parked in the garage, or fill them with junk, but I have tools and projects!!!

Here is where I did all of the work on the China Trike project, click for more information on that build.



This is also where I keep my Chang Jiang 750 Sidecar motorcycle, and do the work on that to keep it operational.

Chang Jiang 750


I’m working to improve my sheetmetal shaping skills so I made a Tuck Puck, made a small shot bag, and bought some hammers, Ballpein, plastic face, and wood head.

I’m also working on building a small English wheel to do some further learning on, read more about that here:



Tools I’ve bought in China:

Circular saw for cutting plywood

Sheetmetal nibbler shears

A few miscellaneous hand tools, but not many!

I needed a small belt sander for grinding metal and wood.  I initially looked at buying one in China, but they were expensive!  An equivalent 3″x48″ with 6″ disc sander was double what it sells for in the US, and it was crappier quality!!!  So while on a home visit to the US, I stopped in at Harbor Freight, and bought the little 1×30″ belt sander which also has a 4″ disc on it.  Packed it in the suitcase, and brought it back to China!

Kind of ironic that it is cheaper to buy something that was originally made in China, shipped by boat to the US, trucked across the US to the midwest, bought it in the US and paid tax on it, and then brought back to China!

Here are the reasons why:  17% VAT tax on every item bought in China.  Makes that 6% sales tax that we pay seem like nothing!  Many of the companies that make tools, household appliances, clothing, cookware, etc (everything you can buy at Walmart/Target, etc) have an export-only license, so everything they make is put on a container ship and exported.  That also means those items are NOT available in China.  We also bought a blender in the US and brought back to China for those exact reasons of the belt sander, cheaper AND better quality.  Have done the same thing for air filtration devices.


Here’s some pictures of the inside of the garage:

IMG_7154 IMG_7155 IMG_7153 IMGP5741 IMGP5742

I laid down the laminate flooring myself in order to protect the tile floor from my welding spatter and grinding sparks.  I noticed that the grinder with cutoff wheel was actually burning into the surface of the tiles, and since this is a rental I didn’t want to suffer any consequences when we finally move out someday.  So I found the very cheapest laminate flooring I could get at B&Q (similar to Lowes or Home Depot, but with less selection).  It cost me around ~$125 for the flooring.

003 002 004 005