Glenn

Building and designing a shop, the best of the ideas

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Let us start with a simple pole building

 

 

This basic design is good as it is expandable. You can simply add to either side as more room is needed. You can also add to the front now making it a peak roof rather than a slant roof. 

 

Put drains in the floor to take away any spills or to get rid of the water when cleaning the floors.

 

Orient the building for light and a good cross wind to ventilate it during the summer. 

 

Put anchor points in the floor so you can tie off and pull things into the building or around inside the building as needed.

 

Electric should be a main breaker box at the main entrance. Flip the disconnect on and you have electric for the building, flip it off and all electric to the building is off.  Do not use the breaker as a on/off swirch, get a real disconnect.  You can put a small breaker box parrell to the main breaker if you want outside lights, security etc.

 

Wire the building so that the work areas can be turned on or off as needed.  Use separate switches for each areas lighting, add flood lamps aimed at the work area so you are not working in your own shadows at the grinder, mill, press,  etc.  The lamps should be to the sides of the work area for good cross lighting.

 

Put these lights on a switch near that work area also.   Wire the building with Conduit so you can make changes easy later.  Some day your 120 volt welder may be replaced with a larger 240 V, so you can now just add or replace with new wire, and its a fast job for the upgrade.  It is suggested to use a separate breaker and circuit for each heavy electrical draw items.  Today you think its ok to share but later if you have  a different project may pop breakers.  Run several electrical outlets (more than you need) and put them on separate breakers so if there is a problem you can just switch to the other circuit.   Also use 20 amp, no need for 15 amp recepts in a shop. The breakers cost the same amount, and wire cost for 15 to 20 amp is so close, why limit yourself.  Consult a licensed electrician, even if you are doing the work yourself. safer to ask the pros they will know things you have not thought of.

 

Floor should be comfortable to the feet. Concrete, gravel, wood blocks, etc all work, some better than others. Walls can be protected by heavy drywall, concrete board, sheet metal etc. Anchoring angle iron to the floor and then the side wall to the inside of the angle iron will help keep the area fire safe.  Once again get a bid from a licensed pro,  estimates are free, and also they will think of things we did not, in some cases their bid may be about the same price to hire them as to do it ourselves.

 

If you have the option put in a heating system for the floor. This will keep your feet warm and also heat that area of the building.

 

Draw up a diagram of the tools needed and where they will be located, forge, anvil, power hammer, etc. This will dictate where the chimney is to be placed.  mark out the property before you build,  spray paint marking the placement off walls and benches, as well as setting boxes for the machines and see first hand, you may wish you have an extra step or two, which you can add in now,  after the floor and walls are built it is more of a problem to add.

 

Make the ceiling high enough to clear all the tools, have room for a overhead hoist or jib crane. You may not need it now but a 6 foot ceiling will certainly hamper you later. plan for ceiling exhaust too.

 

Depending on the size of the building, you may want to install a bathroom and shower. 

 

Consider catching rain water from the roof for shop use.

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The most straight forward approach. Perfect. I guess it helps that I did both commercial and residential electrical at one point. I'm going to use this to as a guide line when I build mine once the wife and I move out of this over zealous HOA binded neighborhood.

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I'd strongly suggest those who are serious about building a long term shop do a bit of future planning right away at the beginning. I see plenty of people who are in a rush to get into their new shop and figure they'll worry about some things later, or they don't have the funds at the moment to do everything they want.

 

Some things really need to get done right away at the beginning. Radiant floor tubing in the shop is a big one. It costs very little to install when they pour the floor, usually just the cost of the tube itself and maybe some labor if you don't tie it to the mats yourself. However it's almost impossible later without ripping out the new floor. Also radiant floor isn't fond of anchors or heavy loads, so planning a bit to run the tube around areas where you know you plan to need anchors, like interior walls, power hammers, floor lifts and so on saves headaches later.

 

Pouring the floor up front can also be a big saver. When there are no walls to work around and the building isn't shading the pour, a nice flat slab is a breeze. Do it later and you add all sorts of costs for the extra labor to wheel it all thru the building, time to hand finish it up against all the walls, and the wait time so you can get on the slab to work it without sinking.

 

Same goes for water and electric. If they are excavating for footings/slab, it's not a huge deal to open up the trench for water/electric while the machine is there so you can drop in some conduit, even if you don't plan to use it right away. Always add at least one spare at the time if not more, you might later want to run gas to the shop or more power and the job is so much simpler with some extra conduit run.

 

 

I can keep listing dozens of things to plan in advance for, but the big thing is to get important things like frame openings for later windows and doors in right at the beginning even if you don't have the money to do the whole project. You may not be able to afford to finish off the interior right away if you add some of the framing changes in at the beginning, but you'll be money ahead by far in the long run if you do.

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Build for your *LOCAL* environment!  It was 107 degF when I got off work yesterday and last winter I never got beyond a wind breaker and a sweater; however last summer we had a week of 112+ degF temps. Radient heat in the floor is a waste of money but putting in a honking big swamp cooler can really help!  Last year my shop's area got 4.5" of precipitation *total*  catching it for the shop was not much of a help compared to letting the mesquite tree on the west side have a bit more water to encourage it to shade the shop.

 

The "perfect" shop in Alaska would probably be a terrible shop in Louisiana.

 

I like to look at local "vernacular" architecture and see how they dealt with local conditions and then make modifications that modern life has brought in. 

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Yep Thomas, where we live thick insulated walls for keeping the heat outside. Personally I like the alternative construction techniques; Earth been, rammed Earth, straw bale, etc... Use Mother Nature to make you comfortable since it never works out when you try and fight her. Here is a pic of my current smithy. I plan on adding a third wall soon. Not worried about the piddly amount of rain we get, but more for blocking the winds.

post-9835-0-00810700-1401945634_thumb.jp

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If I may be so bold as to add something to this great list. Drywall is nice for the house and maybe the office as well, but for a shop I would suggest something like chipboard (not near the forge of course). This allows for adding shelves "anywhere" later on or hangers for hoses or tools. Paint it white and it will reflect the light well and make the whole workspace brighter. Unfortunately I learned of this idea right after drywalling my shop so its a do as I say not as I do type thing.

Glenn presented some great idea's though and I'm going to try to implement some as I finish out the wiring and so forth.

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I agree with the pole building; except for the 4 utility poles my 20x30' shop has no wood in the construction above the ground. Less worry about a hot piece flying off somewhere.  ProPanel and self drilling self tapping screws makes construction within the range of most shop morlocks.

 

How about a lift point or two?  I have a nice sized chunk of structural steel going across the front of my shop that I can lift a 30# champion hammer from.

 

Roll up doors---you will probably want a good sized door for access and ventilation.  Roll up doors don't then get in the way overhead.  Another type would be sliding barn doors---for hot areas you might even want to make half of each wall a sliding barn door to be able to max out openness in the summer.

 

Porch: a covered area with a gravel floor can be very nice to work in if you need more room that "inside" allows you.

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If you're going to do much arc welding you want a section of the shop with walls painted something relatively dark, certainly not white. White's too reflective and you'll get flash burned from reflection. Portable welding screens are always good to have around, especially if there are others in your shop. The only down side to the screens being they get in my way and I hate tripping.

 

Outside of the flash burn danger white or other light reflective paint is a GOOD thing, especially as you get older. WE all need more light as our eyes age, I have clamp on floods and work lights I put so I can see.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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just returned from visiting a friends spread on Lake Sinclair, GA.  he has the "garage-Mahal" a 3-bay garage with 2nd floor apartment.  pretty sweet. 

 

Many excellent suggestions from Glenn, DSW etal.  Hopefully i will get the opportunity to put them into practice after retirement.

and I've never understood why hot water running in tubes in the floor is called "radiant" heating.  radiant is more like this:

 

post-41149-0-94093700-1405343547_thumb.j

spaceray-heater.bmp

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because as the liquid in the tubes heat the floor, the floor becomes the radiator for the heat.  Even with a draft it helps warm us. and I thought about it but passed for my 200 sq ft limit I had for my shop (local codes)

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I agree with glen on a lot of this information. ( and all the above posters) My last place was a loafing shed. I loved it for what it was worth out of the rain. I nailed up weathered boards to break the pattern (theft) of my Lincoln trailer mounted 200 welder from view. The dirt floor and interior poles served me well. BUT if you want a shop with elect and water and everything else Plan Ahead. Not worth the headache of trying to fix it later. Plan it for your location and future growth. Money ahead in the long run!

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If you are planning on adding power hammer(s) or other equipment bigger than a drill press, you need to plan for how those items will not only gain access to the shop but how they will be placed. I put an overhead I-beam with a hoist and trolley inline with the door and have dropped a heavy lathe and shaper under the beam without difficulty. However, I have to drag equipment to any corner that's not in line with the hoist. A better solution would have been a bridge crane to access any part of the shop instead of the single beam but I built the roof too low - so now I live with a less convenient setup. Moral of the story is to plan ahead.

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because as the liquid in the tubes heat the floor, the floor becomes the radiator for the heat.  Even with a draft it helps warm us. and I thought about it but passed for my 200 sq ft limit I had for my shop (local codes)

more like conduction/convection into your feet and room air, but whatever, it has momentum now.

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I tried something and it worked out pretty good for once.  I setup the heavy, but not anchored down items in my shop so that they can be moved with a pallet jack. It helps that I have concrete floors and some elbow room.

 

 

For What its worth.

Russell

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I tried something and it worked out pretty good for once.  I setup the heavy, but not anchored down items in my shop so that they can be moved with a pallet jack. It helps that I have concrete floors and some elbow room.

 

 

For What its worth.

Russell

 

That's how my shop is set up, I have gozintas in the floor for amongst other things so I can anchor jumpy things down. My 50lb. Little Giant would go a walking if she weren't plugged into a gozinta.

 

The good lord gave us great big brains and thumbs so we could invent things like pallet jacks and engine hoists, I wouldn't want to get on the big guy's bad side by not using both my brain and thumbs.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Give yourself as much elbow room around the shop as you can. If you have a clearing you want to put the shop in, and have the property to push it back, do so, having enough room for trucks to turn around, and guest parking is a thought as well. Trees are nice for shade, but a sufficient clear fire zone is a must.

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Wow, some really good ideas n advise here. As I am presently building my dream shop, n everyone needs to give indepth thought to whats been stated.

I moved here thinking I'd have a shop the 1st winter n its goin on the 3rd without a shop. Yet, its coming along very slowly n being built by a good friend n family connected contractor. N noooooo they don't give me a break on price, but I wanted them to build it old school way. 

Will have R38 walls n R30 doors out front n they've just come out with those doors. Awesome, as I live in the north woods of Michigan now. I don't miss the Wyoming wind much either.lol

I do miss the grizz n wolves encounters some, cuz they added excitement to my ole hide some.Smile N I admit too, I was too crippled up to be campin out in bear country with dogs riding on my 4 wheeler. But God had other plans for my life n sometimes a guy needs some distance from earlier days,,,

Yet, getting back to shop talk. I too agree whole heartedly that planning is critical as it will cost more later. An if you can't fund your plans, rethink them. I have seen more than one friend make such mistakes n regretted what they did or didn't do at the time.

I have 6 220v heavy gauge outlets n one to run a hammer is the largest cable I've ever seen installed outside of a military fob. An install a heat sensor vs a smoke detectors n have them wired into your home system so to aid early detection.

An yes, I know of several shops that have burnt to the ground due to such neglect n most of us metal junkies live outside the city limits.

As this is my 1st n only shop I have ever had in my life, n has taken most of all my assets to finish it. Yet, that was what I wanted to do as I feel the markets are being artificially manipulated presently n have great concerns not to be another victim as in 2008. N highly advise everyone to rethink where their assets sit currently. Cuz its going to happen n if you don't know rex84, best inquire n educate yourself as needed. As we will see that enacted n there's nothing you nor I can do about. Gods hand can change the outcome yes. 

Anyhow, returning back to earth,,, Do give shop deep thought n plan a place for a hammer as you never know? I know I personally can't stand at a anvil for more than 10 mins without painful aches.

So thats why I need one, n yes there are many like it, but this one is mine. It hits on a dime n gets me lookin towards dinner time.

Having in floor heat is a necessity in my book for living in the northern country here. Not sure about havin tin roofs, but guess thats what a bobcat is for. An expect to have snow piled in front of your doors after each storm passes bye.

N you can not, have too many outlets n have some in ceiling as well so to provide work stations n keep walkway clear. N the older ya get, the more you'll love it,,, N one added safety measure I have done is to route from 1 100 amp service into shop to another by hammer n beinh my work area 90% of the time. I had a additional 100amp service box added n have a throw handle nearby that shuts down all 220v machines n many 110v outlets instantly. N havin kids n grandkids someday perhaps, I'll be more relaxed. Yet they won't be messin with pops tools without me anyways. But they like I was, you can't guarantee they won't n I don't want any I wished I would've,should've n could'ves moments in the future. An safety is important in the shop, especially workin alone,,,

Placement of shop beanches n work tables I perfer to have mobility of those n gas forge as well n adjustable heights doesn't hurt none. As then I can coordinate when n where I need them as job demands differt tasks n positions. N most of that are personal likes as such. As I've known one guy that work from his lap n only had a square chunk of steel he dug up somewhere. An did amazingly well considering.

Well, enough of my thoughts,,, Thanks for the advice n look forward to meetn ya all someday. Anyhow, best get goin here,,, Ty

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I'm kind of stuck on the insulation of celings and roofs. The fact that the sun heats the roof and the roof radiates heat down on you means your shop can be hotter than the serounding air temp. This is the same thing that happens to tents with out a fly. Aluminum, unpainted or a parisal roof are also options, as the alluminum reflects most of the radiation from the sun, and a parisal roof is assentinaly two roofs, the bulding and then the detached vented roof.
One will also find that locking weels or tall legs makes sweeping up a lot easier.
And finaly, drywall is good stuff. As it dosnt burn, so even if you put up 1/2" OSB, cover it with drywall. If you go with coragated sheet steel like we did, back it with drywal if you have a wood frame. I you have a shop fire, it just might be the difference between smoke damage and a compleat loss

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My German friend told me of a heat system they use over there. It is a carbon fiber mat that is electrified, and goes under the drywall, floor tiles, etc. You can drill, or nail through it ,and it still works, unlike a water system that will eventually leak or possibly get damaged. He also represented a heating company that sells a wall hanging heater that uses infrared, but unlike the one above it only gets to 203° F on the flat surface making it very safe. The infrared still heats the surfaces very well. The one I liked was for a bathroom which also doubled as the mirror, so no fogging.

For really cold climates I would still look into Earthen structures with reall thick walls.

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