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Progress On My New 12'x16' Shop / Pole Barn

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Hey Guys,


In the better interest of procuring a little more comfortable working quarters, I decided to start spending some of my "fun money" on materials to build a little 12'x16" pole barn to get some shelter over my setup.  I've been blacksmithing for a few years (maybe 2.5 or so), and living with Oklahoma weather, I was definitely interested in investing in something that would make it more practical to work when I want, regardless of weather.


So, having a few days off from work for the Christmas/New Year holidays, I decided to spend some time with my dad building this barn.  I live on some family land a little north of Tulsa, OK, and my dad is an experienced barn builder who loves projects like these.  We've been having a great time building this shop so far!




This is a picture of the spot that I began building my pole barn on.  For the last year, it has pretty much just been home to a few broken down riding lawn mowers and a car that I haven't driven in a couple of years.  I took this picture a few minutes after I started scraping the grass off the "pad", then I remembered to take a picture.




The slope that I'm building on is a little steeper than ideal, but I did the best I could with the equipment I have available (CAT 304.5 mini excavator).  What I couldn't fix, would be addressed with the limestone cuttings (we usually refer to them as "tailings") to level the floor. I went ahead and staked off a 12'x16' shape, although it has actually been used more as a guide to keep the building square.  So far so good.




Started digging post holes with a digging bar and post hole diggers. There is something to be said for the relaxation that is found in manually digging post holes.  I did a lot of this after work at night.




Having a work light (and close enough proximity to electric with a 50' extension cord) was helpful.




I drew up a plan using Google SketchUp (to make sure the proportions would look good) and worked out a list of materials to buy.  I received some Lowes gift cards for Christmas, so I bought lumber there.  We hauled the lumber out to the truck and loaded it up, then my dad started laughing. I said, "What's so funny?" He says, "I guess you better go back in and by some concrete." I guess remembering in the parking lot was better than remembering at home.




Starting to shag lumber out to the pad; getting the posts set up in their holes.  Traditionally, building barns and fences, we've set the posts in wet concrete the best we can, then tie them in with rails. Solely for the purpose of trying something new, we dumped half 80 lb bags of concrete into the holes, set them plumb, and tied them in.  This seemed to work well.  After that, we tamped the dry concrete down and put water in the holes.




An "exciting" shot of us setting the posts. That grumpy ol' redneck makes a heck of a model.




Using my uncle's tractor to pick up some limestone tailings that he bought to aerate his soil.  I traded him some work (fed his sheep and re-fueled this tractor).  I came out good on the deal -- he's a good guy.




Tailing floor put down and raked.  I thought it would set up a little more firm, but no big deal.  It will be a step above working on hardened gravel, either way.  I also went ahead and put up the mid rail (before watering the concrete in and tamping). The nearest side (broad side) would be removed and replaced with 2x4's cut to length on either side of the 8' door.




Another picture of some more completed framing.  My daughter just turned two and she has been a real joy to the family.  When she comes outside, work temporarily stops so her and "Pappy" (my dad) can play for a little while.  She was fairly intrigued by the floor material, which she ran back and forward on (inside of the footprint of the framing) and exclaimed "Funny!"




Getting a little further into the framing.  The roof was a "learn as you go" sort of thing for me, although that isn't how I prefer to learn.  I've built many structures with my dad, but every one is a unique experience.




Last picture of the day.  We'll get back to work on the upper framing tomorrow, then hopefully it will be time to get siding and roofing on.  I'll be using 1x6 oak siding (from a local mill -- cheap at $100 for a 160 piece bundle of 8'-12' boards), then regular galvanized corrugated 12' sheet metal for the roof.  Thanks for reading!


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Hello VW, i live 40 miles south of OKC. Might I suggest providing some kind of roof insulation, at least a ceiling with ventilation between it and the roof. Even with a 10-12" ceiling radiant heat from the sun beating down on the shop this summer will be unpleasant to say the least.
Other than that I say it looks great! Give the screenings time, water and foot traffic will make for a nice hard, but re workable floor. Moving stumps, adjusting working heights etc are much easier.

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Thanks for the advice!  I was actually doing a little bit of eyeballing on how I will install some soffet vents, if it is convenient.  Once the siding is up, I will begin working fold-down ventilation ways into the equation on the north and south walls.  I can already tell this place is going to get hot this summer, although I have nestled it well among some 20+ year old hackberrys on the south and west sides.


I looked up your location one time out of curiosity and noticed that Bradley is just a few miles west of Lindsay; I go there often for work.  I actually ate at the Pizza Hut on the west side of town for lunch recently.  Cheers [How do I call you? Charles, Chuck, Mr. Stevens?]


EDIT: Mr. Stevens -- I just realized I may have misunderstood the premise of the question about ventilation at the roof.  Anyways, I understand now, and yes, ventilating the shop will be an point of interest now, if not by summer for sure.

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Paint or cover the roof with the most reflective material available, including white paint if that is all that is available. Next leave LIVE AIR open space between the outer roof and the ceiling. A fan to move the hot air out of that space is a good idea. Insulation is a must for both hot and cold weather.


Great looking building. Is your chimney going through the wall or the roof?



You have any plans for expansion yet?

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Glenn -- thanks for the advice.  I'll have to at least cover the roofing with some white PVA primer as insurance as inexpensive as it is.  I do expect this little building to get toasty as early as late spring.


Also, since I'll be running 110v service to this building, I'll plan to use my shop fans as well.  They move air well. 


My chimneys (for my wood stove and coal forge) will go through the walls.  I have some tentative plans for their exact locations, but I prefer not to nail those plans down until I absolutely have everything laid out where I want it, so those will be installed in the near future.


With regard to plans for expansion, the general plan is to make due with this structure until further expansion is required, at which point this structure will be used as a side shed for the center section of a barn.  We've built other barns this way and it has been extremely convenient.  I don't see that necessity popping up any time soon, but I prefer to be prepared as much as possible and for that I have no qualms about letting that shape the structure that we're building, so long as I'm content with its appearance for now.

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Any reason not to put sauna tube or a 5 gal pail filled with concrete with a bit of rebar sticking out the top with a hole drilled in the bottom of the post?  At least that's the way Dad had done his outbuildings.  Keeps the posts from rotting off.  Either way looks like a heck of a good start.

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From OK to BC: Thanks for the question and the kind words! Around here, we've always set posts in holes at 24" (whether fence posts or for pole barns) without issues from rotting or heaving. My cousin (nextdoor neighbor) has a 30'x60' barn with posts set the same way with no issues, built 29 years ago. So put simply, we continue to set posts in a manner that has proven successful here (so far) and obviously without any reason to change, we haven't adjusted. Now granted, my cousins dad (across the street) has a big oak barn built by some local Amish people who built a ~36" tall "stem wall" out of cinder block where the sill plate is mounted to the top of the cinder block wall, and they all say we should expect it to last across generations which I deduce (from details I don't list here) to span past 125 years. Of course, their timber framed posts that DO go into the ground are at least 16" across the cross section (where they go into the ground), so I'm sure they will rot to center after my own life.  Whew! I could go on a tangent about how long I could guess differently treated timbers will last! 

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One item to check out for the roof insulation that has become very popular among pole barns here in the NorthEast is called "Double Bubble" insulation.  It is sort of like bubble wrap, two layers between foil layers.  It is rolled out over the purlins, stapled to them, then the galvanized roofing is applied over it.  The screws just pierce right through.


I had it put on an open end pole barn roof that I use for wood storage and parking my trucks.  Prevents condensation dripping, and does make a huge difference on a sunny day. 


You can get it from most suppliers that provide the sheet metal, and it is available from Amazon too.  For the size building you are doing, it is relatively inexpensive.  I would not build a pole building ever again without using it.  Many buildings here have it in the walls too, as a first layer before more insulation.

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To add to the above, you can also get a special foil tape to tape all of the seams.  It works very well and gives you a nice layer that does not sag and open up.  Best bet is to get the seams over the purlins.  You might have to adjust the spacing of them to match the insulation width(if possible).

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We have used your method of installing post for over 40 yrs and haven't replaced a post yet. Granted our early posts were creosote protected. A friend inspected some posts in a large horse barn he has for sale and found them in real good shape after 40 yrs. In Vermont they go down 4' of course!

Nice looking shop here, my new one I managed to get 16'x20' will outlast me.

Love the picture of your daughter there keep her coming she could be your best assistant. My daughter worked in Tulsa in the ER at the big Hospital, Catholic one, forgot the name, pink or some odd color for a few years after going to school in Stillwater. Now in MO.

Temperatures are all in perspective. 25-40F is decent working weather, now -25 to -35 is a different story. Have had jobs where we had to be out in it and snowmobiled at -50 once. Can't imagine how long it would take to warm up my anvil after it has had a weeks worth of -25 nights. Haven't hit that low yet this year but end of March will be a lot nicer after we are done Maple Sugaring.

Enjoy your building.

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njanvilman -- Shame I just read about this double bubble insulation, right as I am putting my last two sheets of tin on the main part of the roof.  I've never seen that before but that sounds like something I'll be thinking about while I'm baking in the shop this summer. I'll have to swing back by the roofing/siding section of Lowes when I go back tomorrow, if not just to see if they carry that stuff, for future reference. Anyways, thanks for the good pointer; I'll remember it next time me and my dad build a pole barn.


notownkid -- I sure hope my daughter takes an interest in occasional manual labor!  The hospital you're talking about is St. Francis (I was born there and so was my daughter). Unfortunately, I've been in that ER a few times, as well. OSU is a good school.


Anyways, took just a few pictures today.  We wanted to get all of the roofing put on today, and we got pretty close, but we'll have to finish it tomorrow. Today was a big ticket day at Lowes with buying the tin and 1x4s for the roof ($372, with a couple of other items).  On deals like that, I prefer to use my Lowes credit card, because they offer a 6 months/no interest deal on purchases that high, and I do an automatic payment on that.  The card has an otherwise outrageous interest rate.


Here's a picture of my dad trimming the 4x4 posts down.




Below is a picture of the corrugated galvanized tin roof. Because sheet metal is so expensive, I chose to go with this product, although it is flimsy, cheap crap.  We put lots and lots of self drilling self tapping screws in it.




Picking up tools for the evening. We got a lot done today despite it being a nasty, muddy mess outside.



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For future reference:  1.  My first pole barn roofs had 5/4 x 3 purlins.  Now I only 2" x 4" , kiln dried.  A bit more expensive, but the screws do not back out as the wood dries, and they are a lot stronger.  I put them on 24" centers, so as to use the 48" double bubble insulation.  2. My first buildings had some used, some Agway roofing.  Now I only use what is called galv-alum sheets, cut to length at a distributor that specializes in metal siding and roofing.  They usually have a 30 year warranty, although I will never live long enough to worry about that.  3. I always fill in the spaces on the corner posts and by the door openings between the horizontal nailers with 2x4 material.  Prevents denting and push ins in those areas.  A good way to use up lots of cutoffs.  Having the space around the door filled in gives you more options for hinges, hasps, etc.


Your building should serve you well.  You will have the problem soon of "not big enough".  My pole barn builder of my big building told me that is the biggest complaint he gets.  No matter how big he builds, the clients always wished they had gone bigger/taller.  Use your building in good health.

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Outstanding! I love pole barns - they are about all I'll build these days.

With regard to poles, I'll share a trick I learned from a Mexican rancher about 30 years ago - which is to simply set the poles plumb and tamp them. I haven't put Sackrete in a hole since then - but I do drill to 3' with a PTO driven auger. The moisture drains away and the poles don't lift when the soil heaves. There is a cedar post fence a couple miles from our place which was built in the 1920's and it was set the same way, i.e, no concrete.

I like your floor - good choice for a forge shop. Mine is the natural caliche we have here and it's pretty dusty in the summer - puffs with every step unless wetted down frequently.

My shop is 26x40 and as NJA said, it is too small. I'd love to double the footage but am sure that would just fill up again. About the only thing I would change is to add some skylights to the roof.

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njanvilman -- 1. Purlins were the big "what if" question on this build.  We looked at 5/4, 1x4 PT (which we ultimately ended up using), and 2x4 were considered, as well.  As much as I dislike being constrained by budget, I opted for the 1x4x10' as they were less than $5 per board.  I'm hoping this will help keep my costs below $1,000. They're on 24" centers. 2.) That galvalum stuff is nice looking! Lowes had one style of it, but I've seen numerous profiles available locally.  Yet another part I wish I didn't have to cut corners on, cost wise. 3.) As you can see in the pictures, I have plenty of short scrap.  Guess I'll be finding places to add it in!  Thanks for the good pointer!


HWoolridge -- Thanks for the kind words. We typically use concrete as insurance and go heavy on the small diameter hole with tamping. At least on my projects. My dad is very opinionated on this topic. With regard to outgrowing the footprint of the shop soon, I hopefully have made proper accommodations to be able to expand either way. My goal here was to build as big of building as I could right now, and I certainly did that.  Hopefully my 2 year old can grow while being fed on ramen noodles (joking.) If I have to make this shed into the first bent of a longer run, it will work.  If I have to make this shed into a side shed of a barn, it will also be okay. 


L Smith -- I've made accommodations to be able to frame out north and south windows (of the large variety) to help facilitate good airflow. Good to hear other people making use of that!

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Charles, lol. Takes me less than 15 min. To reach pizza hut wit DB and a cart.
The issue with the roof is the sun will heat it up to, say 140-50 deg. So now you have a peice of hot tin radiating heat dowm on you, its the same thing that makes tents with out a fly so misrably hot. Like a tent, adding a fly (or a cealing, insulation even the mylare bubble rap) makes a big difference. A 4x100' role of r11 steal building insulation costs about $100

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I use all metal roofs on our buildings and colored Green now, I know it would way too hot for you folks in the south but out biggest problem is getting snow loads off the roofs as fast as we can and a little sun on a green roof and it's gone. We have 6 months of snow concerns and 2 months of summer that resembles yours. Our rafters are 2 x 8 unless a shed then 2 x 10.

Love the pictures keep them coming. St Francis Hospital I thought that was right but thought it too pat as I had a back operation 5 yrs. ago at a St Francis Hospital in Hartford CT. OSU did well by my daughter in the Fire Safety course now she in mine and industrial safety in MO. a long way from Home in Vermont.

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Corigated and architecual steel rooves are great, durable, shed snow and look good, just nor all than good as a shade structure and they tend to drip condinsation in the cooler weather. Their is a prodict that is a thin sheat of foam with mylar on it (same as some of the windshield sunscreans) that is comonly uesed here on horse barns and such to provent condensation and reflect the radiant heat from the roof deck. Just take a themomiter into your atic on a warm day.

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You are well on your way to a very nice shop Brother . As well as one you and your Father have built Together it will be a memory etched in time you shall never forget each time you get to forge in the shop . anyhow it is looking very good and thank you for taking the time to share it with us here on IFI .


Best Regards & Many Blessing to you Brother


Ret, Sgt Robert Yates

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Robert Yates -- Thanks and God bless you. With regard to building something with my father, I thought the same thing yesterday. It's good to be able to have common interests with him and to be able to build something like this.


ThomasPowers -- I'll consider that.  I was actually considering framing in and cutting out (the siding) to make a large window that flips up to open on each end (north and south) to facilitate airflow during the summer. Especially since I it will get so hot under that tin roof. Just remembered that I do have some good young hackberry trees that will make some good shade during after noon.

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Wanted to upload a few pictures of my barn as it stands right now.  Over the weekend, we made a trip back to Lowes for more SDST screws for the roof and the final few sheets we would require.  I grabbed a couple of 2x4s to run span the rails vertically on both ends (short sides) of the structure.  That has sturdied up the whole building quite a bit for now.  From experience, I know that it will not be truly 100% solid until I get siding on it.


Speaking of siding, the place that I was going to be 1x6 oak boards (green) said that they sold out of the original stuff that I had heard about (161 8' boards for $100) and that the current bundle they were offering was $300.  As much as I feel like this guy is trying to scam me, that unfortunately seems like the cheapest option STILL, if only by $100 or so.  It isn't much more to step to plywood, tin, or hardy board for that matter.


So, in summary, I was glad to get the roof put on.  We went ahead and tacked up some 4 mil plastic sheeting to hopefully keep the elements off the framing a little for now.  I can also go ahead and get my tools in there now, too, which is definitely a plus.




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