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Blacksmith Shop Design

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#1 TomT


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Posted 24 December 2011 - 08:23 PM

So I'm looking to build me a shiny new blacksmith shop on some new acreage I bought. I've not had a dedicated space before, and have been stuck with either a lean to or carport for most of my time smithin', so I'm looking for what folks think is critical to a shop. It'll probably be timber frame design, since I think timber frames are bad xxx, but other than that it's pretty open. I'm currently thinking of a 30'x30' core space, but I'm not sure if I need to have the roof trusses span the whole space, or if I can allow for some posts every 8'. Ideas?

#2 HWooldridge


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Posted 24 December 2011 - 10:28 PM

The only readily apparent reason I can see for clear span is to install a bridge crane to cover the floor. That would make placing equipment easier - otherwise, posts do no harm (unless you try to swing a 20' stick of steel).

I built my shop 24x36 and used 4 trusses that I built myself to span across the short side. Unfortunately, a monstrous thunderstorm removed that roof with 125 mph winds - so my current roof is a shed type with big I-beams holding the roof purlins.


#3 njanvilman


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Posted 25 December 2011 - 06:34 AM

Always build as big as you can afford. The builder who put up my pole barn told me that his biggest complaint from clients is that they did not build big enough or tall enough. Clear span gives you flexibility as to your setup. One post effectively gives you 4 quadrants, two posts give you 6 sections. Not having to work around posts is easier. Have high sides can give you provision for side lean-to's for metal storage later. Just build an extra header into the outside walls for hanging rafters onto.

Also, give yourself at least one big overhead or sliding door. 10'x10' minimum. Should be big enough to get a loader or big forklift through. Even bigger would be better.

Layout your proposed building size on the ground with rope, and figure out a possible solution of equipment placement. Then see if you have enough room for everything, and room to work around it.

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#4 divermike


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Posted 25 December 2011 - 07:56 AM

on the other hand, posts can be incorporated into the design, used for back bracing equipment like post vices and tire hammers etc...I ran my chimney right up next to my central column, worked out fine. I suggest looking at pictures of the blacksmith shop at Touchstone.

When the metal speaks to you, the learning has begun.

#5 pete46


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Posted 25 December 2011 - 09:44 AM

Where are you located that will also have alot to do w/your design.
Heat it up... and beat the FIRE out of it!

#6 SmoothBore


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Posted 26 December 2011 - 05:46 PM

I can't imagine why anyone would intentionally screw up a 1 story shop, with unnecessary posts, when "clear span" trusses are available out to 60' or more.

I'm forever kicking myself for stopping the wall height at 10'4" when another $400 would have gotten me 3 more courses of block, yielding an extra 2' of height.

Rather than a bridge Crane, ( which would be a terrific thing to have ) ... I use a rolling Gantry in my shop, and would be lost without it.

Another thing that I wish I had done, ... is span the shop with a couple of "I" beams, equipped with Beam Trucks and Chain Hoists.


#7 TomT


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Posted 26 December 2011 - 11:05 PM

The shop will be located in Washington near Black Diamond. I like the idea of the large sliding door and the I beams for some beam trucks and hoists. I need to add some I beams into the design now :)

#8 ThomasPowers


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Posted 27 December 2011 - 12:12 PM

OK now we know location---perhaps... is that Washington State USA or Washington Australia?

Next we need to know intended use: do you mainly make knives where a small work area is better than a big one or do you make large ornamental work where swinging a 20' stick is a daily occurrence?

Propane, coal, induction? Will you have more than one set up for use at the same time? I know one professional smith with 25#, 50#, 100# LG's and then an Erie Steam hammer and a Chambersburg all around the forge and working.

Powerhammers, platens, forging presses, rolling mills?

It's kind of like me asking you what kind of vehicle I should buy without telling you if I need a dump truck or a Yaris....

BTAIM If the weather is clement than massive amounts of space is a good thing, If bad weather is an issue then having a subsection of a larger shop that can be more climate controlled is helpful.

Height is a good thing as being able to swing a stick overhead is handy.

Don't forget to factor in POWER! 3 phase if you can get it and 220 outlets for welders and grinders.

Access: can you get a large truck up to the building for unloading? A "patio" you can run a forklift around can be a bit help.

Ventilation. One of the old factory clerestory windows/vents down the middle of the building can be nice.

Future expansion: is the building oriented so you can tack on another XYZ feet of it; or build a shed roof stock storage addition?

Do you need to have a clean room for things like knife buffing and or ironwork finishing?

Security: do you need to be able to lock down the entire building hard or just a few items in a tool cubby?

Flooring: can you afford a nice thick concrete floor for all or part of the building and the rest will be ?

I was once looking through 19th century smithy diagrams and pictures and it was interesting to note the different set ups based on different product lines.
Thomas Psychotic Psychobabblonian Powers

#9 Randy



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Posted 27 December 2011 - 02:21 PM

Besides what has already been mentioned, one of the most comfortable floors I had was concrete, but the building was facing south and built into a hill side like a bank barn. Being in the ground like this kept the floor at 55 degrees so warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I never got tired from standing on it, besides the obvious benefits of a smooth concrete floor. If you can't do that arrangement there are insulations for under the concrete that will help. I should add that you should figure where you want power hammer foundations, post vises and the like and put them in before the floor is poured. Just easier. A bathroom is also a requirement if away from your home. Besides figuring where your equipment will go also plan on open space for layout of items if needed.

Have fun in your new shop!

Randy McDaniel
"We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing." Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein

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