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I Forge Iron

Advice and constructive criticism needed on new shop set up

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Hi! About 3 years ago I quit my job with the intention of working full time as a Blacksmith and turning my hobby in to a career. I spent a year studying at the Blacksmith college in Hereford then started setting up a shop while working part time to pay the bills. As I have progressed I realise how little I know and as mistakes crop up constantly and prove very expensive both in terms of time and money. I was hoping If I go through my set up so far someone might spot something I’m doing wrong or could do better and give me some tips.  





The shed is just over 7 meters long and just under 4 wide, made of a very flimsy corrugated tin wrapped around a frame ( I have already bent it a few times by leaning on it or banging on it with something). Its built in a former military base, you can see how close the houses are, I am slightly concerned I may have a few complaints when I start churning out smoke and using the power hammer. I have the power hammer installed but am still trying to get the VFD to work properly ( I only have access to single phase). I am also trying to install the chimney at the moment, I went through a long design stage trying to work out ways to brace it to the shed so it won't blow over but after doing a trial run I have now decided that its strong enough as it will be seated in the forge hood and braced where it exits the roof, leaving about 1.5 meters sticking up which I think should be ok. 






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Hi Andy, It may pay to clad the inside of the building with a sound insulation material, some description of fibre matting maybe? The smoke from the forge could be an issue particularly for the buildings on the side, fuel choice may eleviate that somewhat. I'm slightly concerned as regards the hammer producing vibrations and suggest you may wish to contemplate some form of vibration reducing footing. Also you likely have some form of grinders and or saws and some of these can be the very worst of noise creators.

Are there any other industrial units on the same site and what buisnesses, they could be making more polution than you!

Have you spoken to the neighbours, do they already have problems with other local industries. What would be their preferences for your working hours? If you can at least be seen to attempt to negate any problems before they start, and folks feel they can come to you directly for a chat about a problem, life could be so much easier in the future!

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2 hours ago, blackleafforge said:

I am slightly concerned I may have a few complaints when I start churning out smoke

I would think you  should increase your concern level from slightly to major.  that White House with the open windows next to you will very soon become your worse nightmare.  You  will need the razor wire on the wall to keep them from arriving to shut you down.  You need a permit for this?  Which way is prevailing wind?  Then add the  hammer rattling their windows and dishes.  To be a full time anything and be able to make a living at it you don't want to spend half your time dealing with neighbors and authorities.  You might want to find a place more industrial located. 

Nice building, equipment, love the hammer I just think you have it parked in a bad location.

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Never mind your space set up. I hope you didn't forego the particulars of zoning laws, insurance, and have a decent business model/plan. What is your intended product? How much sourcing and outreach did you do to look into your proposed market? If you want to do this full time, those are very important details not to be overlooked. 

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Greetings Andy,

       Blacksmith / metal art is a tough business to make a living .. I see a ton of problems that you will have in a very short time to start., A few have already been addressed but I will list more.. 

Commercial ordinances .. Steel storage.. Welding area,, office area .. Only one exit .future equipment space .. Drill press .. Grinders .,  ect ect..  The big one Insurance.. 

Keep the faith and go to plan ( B )   I had a successful shop for years and have been in your position . Any way I can help I would be glad to offer my 2c 

Forge on and make beautiful things



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I've just done a little bit of googling before Andy returns to the thread. For the benefit of others, the Forge is located on a commercial site which backs onto the waters, there is a ships chandlers I believe on the same site, public slipway access and a Marina. The area is interspaced with commercial and light industrial areas and residentual buildings as far as I can tell from satelite and street view images. (this is fairly common here in the UK more so in older towns and villages) So some concerns may be mute or at least not so much of a biggy (fingers crossed)

It looks like it could well be a good site Andy if things go well, how much room have you got on your plot? and could you have possitioned the forge closer to the water?

I would make myself known to the chandlers across the way (If I'm correct in thinking that is what they are) You could find a bit of bread and butter work there, It may not be what you want to do but it could help put bread on your plate! Not all watercraft are made out of plastic these days, there are still many made in steel and wood, requiring often oneoff or obsolete chandlery and that will likely be one of the places owners call into when hunting for them!

I'd not be surprised if there is also a steel stockist and coal/coke yard not too far away!!!!

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I admire anyone who has the guts to go out on their own and make a go of it.  Problems always arise and your job is to find creative solutions.  People will always tell you why you can't do something.  Successful people figure out how to get from point A to point B and then take the steps to do it.  When it all seems overwhelming ask yourself what needs to be done first and do that, then repeat the process.  It is easy to spin a set of problems into the end of the world when in fact they are just a set of problems to be overcome.

Many of the problems you noted may have simple solutions.  You could install some plywood sheathing inside the structure.  From the looks of it this would probably require some horizontal stringers.  That is about a day's worth of work.  Perhaps you should consider switching to gas as your primary forge fuel to appease the neighbors.  The noise could be mitigatred some by using a flypress for some tasks.

If you have a willingness to work long hours and most likely seven days a week for years you have a good chance of making it in any field.  You just have to figure out how to keep enough dollars (pounds) coming in the door to keep the lights on.

There are many issues such as insurance and business structure that should be thought about.  First off if you don't have empoyees the legal obligations are much smaller.  Second, do you have other assets outside of the business that need to be protected?  If you don't you could go without insurance as you start up knowing that you are taking a chance.  The worst case then would be filing bankruptcy if something really bad happened.  There are business structures that can provide some liability protections but they all involve certain formalities that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.


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It needs fiber glass insulation for two reasons. First it'll help keep the interior temperature even but more importantly in your location it'll damp the sound of anvil and power hammer.

Oh and the usual: It's not big enough, you can't put in too many electrical outlets or lights. Not everything you do will want dim lighting to judge temperature, there are a LOT of operations you will want to be able to SEE clearly. Several light circuits are a must. A general shop light switch by BOTH doors. Bright lights over benches and vises and bright light in your storage areas. It's amazing just how well shelves block overhead lights unless they're directly overhead. One light between each row of shelves isn't as excessive as it sounds. ;)

Nice shop you've erected for yourself. It'll be a pleasure to work in.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Wow, thanks for all the responses. 

With regards to the neighbours, I am within an ex military wharf that is now a business park and is rated for light industrial use. (http://www.yachthavens.com/group/commercial-properties/turnchapel-wharf/)The other companies operating on site do use things like grinders and welders although they are located further away from the public and they use noisy equipment intermittently rather than continuously like I will. They have had some complaints but only relating to working late at night something that I will avoid. The hammer is already on a steel base, resting on a wooden board and with rubber feet, I don't know how I could make it any quieter. 

I was put in this location by the wharf manager, I did raise the issue at the time and he seemed unconcerned. It would be possible for me to move but it would be a massive pain and take at least a week and some heavy machinery. 

I have no idea about the law concerning smoke drifting on to someone house, I will look in to it. I am using coal, what solid fuel will be best?

I had considered insulation and then rejected it because most of the products I looked at were flammable to some extent, will fibreglass withstand direct contact with burning bits of metal and coal? 

I do intend to further populate the shop with equipment but will have to start earning to afford them, my wish list in order is currently:

Oxy Acetylene bottles and accessories, Welding bench, Band saw, Pillar drill, mig welder, gas forge, grinder, etc etc....

I spent most of the budget on the hammer because a nice one came along and I had seen the effect it can have on productivity. And its cool! My hand tools do most other jobs satisfactory. 

I have insurance with eastlake and Beachell, and wow are they expensive, £350 per year I think. I will try to re negotiate when I renew.

I am a sole trader with no employees. 

I have thought about producing stuff for all the boat builders in the wharf but most of them want stainless steel and I'm worried about inconsistencies. For example if i make chain I can guarantee breaking weight and some of this stuff may cost someones life if it fails. 

My intended product is initially small decretive items that I will stock in galleries and sell at fairs, this means the lack of equipment will not be a problem to start as I have designed them around traditional techniques. I have already had some work accepted in to a gallery I now just need to get quicker at producing it!

Below is a pic showing my location.

Thanks for all the help, really got me thinking!




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I guess neighbors aren't likely to even know you're there if they don't catch you advertisements. Nice place for a shop, plenty of room for delivery trucks and such. All I can think of to be concerned with now is corrosion being so close to salt water. Not counting the usual concerns of conducting business, new starts, marketing, etc. etc. that's beyond my fields of expertise.

Frosty The Lucky.

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