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Hot climate shop advice needed.


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I'm intending on setting up a small forge, in order to get starting in bladesmithing, although will probably do other things as i progress.

Whilst I'm pretty much happy with forge construction, anvils and all the other toys, I struggling to find enough information regards setting up a shop in hot climates.

I live in Southern Portugal, in an area often called "the desert", were during the summer months the temperatures can reach upto 50 degrees C (122 deg F) in the shade.

If any of you on here, work in similar conditions, how do you manage the heat (I know we all work with heat, but dropping dead from heat stroke is not my preferred outcome)

Is there any tricks to help reduce the ambient temperature to a manageable degree?

Thanks in advance

Cheers

Chris

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What is the humidity like?  Where I live in the desert we generally have extremely low humidities much of the year and so 108 degF in the shade out here with single digit humidities feels a LOT cooler than 88 degF back in Ohio with 95% humidity.

Methods of dealing with heat:

Open air forge with a shade roof and often a fan on the smith.  Good out where I live; "Old Shade"---a Tree is cooler than "new shade" a metal roof or tarp.

Working after dark; tends to bring out the neighbors with Pitchforks and Torches after a while...

Dress and use of cooling items therein---I like to wrap ice cubes in my bandana; or soak my felt forging hat in water before starting for instance 

Using an induction forge and air conditioning the smithy!  I know a guy who does this!

Massive masonry  heat sink walls; start early stop when the place heats up, let it cool off overnight---ventilation during night time hours... A variation of this is working in a cave---but be SURE your ventilation is GOOD to vent toxic fumes from the forge.

One final item is HYDRATION; make it a habit of keeping your water and electrolyte balance topped up.  I had a friend come out and visit and he nearly had to go to the hospital his first day as he was from a damp climate and didn't realize that in my dry climate he was sweating heavily because it was evaporating and so he felt "dry".

 

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Never got that hot here in upstate NY, but I am somewhat familiar with design for heat control from my glass blowing days.

Of course the ideal solution is to build an insulated enclosure around the heat producing equipment that is exhausted to the building exterior.  Since you need openings to access your forge area, size your exhaust for 100 '/minute air velocity at those openings (ie. if you have a 3' x 7' door size opening to get close to your forge, you will need 2,100 CFM of exhaust to keep the forge heat out of the rest of your facility).  Needless to say this is easier with a gas forge than a coal one that you constantly have to tend.

Then the next step is to replace that air in your forge with the coolest air you can source.  When I had a glass studio in a large industrial building I was able to "steal" the cooler relief air from the rest of the building (large concrete thermal mass didn't heat up that quickly and gave me plenty of cooler makeup air).  Other glass blowers thought my studio was air conditioned.  Of course if you can mechanically cool the air that is even better.  Assume that you will need around 56 BTUH of sensible cooling for each CFM to bring your 122 deg air down to a more comfortable 70 deg.  Unfortunately that works out to quite a lot of energy cost (the 2,100 CFM from the earlier estimate needs around 10 tons of Dx cooling).  If you have a local source of cold or cool water you might be able to rig up what they call a swamp cooler, where a water spray on the incoming air evaporates and cools the air, but the effectiveness depends on the ambient humidity.  There are other options, but most depend on your resources and what you are willing to spend.

Edit: cross post with Thomas, who has lots more experience in dealing with forging in hot climates.

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Swamp coolers lose efficiency at humidities over 30% but work great when they are in the single digits and they tend to move a lot of air.  Going into the house and standing under the swamp cooler vent is a fast way to cool off down here...

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Cheers fellas, most appreciated.

Humidity is almost none existent in the summer months, so swamp cooler should work.

The new shop has been built, with an insulated roof, however setting up the forge in side is not an option, and a small corner of the shop is where my wife is storing, her horse feed. Not ideal, but until we get a purpose built feed shed built, I've got to make do.

Outside of the shop, is a large covered, but open area. I was thinking about setting the forge up there, however, it's a sheet steel roof.

As the roof on the shop is new, I have no idea if there will be cool air in there or not. I'm in the process of making a set of insulated doors for the shop. The new shop has not yet had a summer to deal with. Mind you, I am toying with the idea of air conditioning in the shop, but thats not much use as the forge can't be in the shop. :(

Working after dark won't be a problem, my closest neighbour about half a mile away behind a hill.

I'll take some photos of the place tomorrow, so you can at least see what I'm talking about.

Alternatively, it's work in swimming shorts and jump in the pool, then carry on working whilst wet ;)

Many thanks for advice, if was nearer I'd buy you both a few beers.

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The actual forge I'm planning to make on a "trolley", so it can be wheeled in position, so I can move it around to find the best spot.

Then if or when I get any good, I'll build a purpose built shop just for the forge. I've got plenty of space on the farm.

But, the Old shade idea might be possible, I need to have a good look at that idea.

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1 hour ago, Northumbrian said:

Alternatively, it's work in swimming shorts and jump in the pool, then carry on working whilst wet ;)

Hot scale sticks to wet skin.

Don't ask me how I know this.

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3 hours ago, Northumbrian said:

Many thanks for advice, if was nearer I'd buy you both a few beers.

Haven't been to Portugal in over 25 years (great place, went there on our honeymoon), but if I ever get back I'll have to take you up on that.

Good luck with your swamp cooler.

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If any of you on here, work in similar conditions, how do you manage the heat (I know we all work with heat, but dropping dead from heat stroke is not my preferred outcome)

I believe, in Mexico they call it a Siesta. Start at 5:00am and work until it is too hot, have lunch, sleep/rest until it starts to cool down, finish your work (might be midnight). The last time we were in Mexico, we were finished with Mexican Customs at 1:00am. When we were driving around Merida looking for our Hotel, kids were playing in the street. A crew of workmen were doing Cement Work at the coolest time of the day. I then realized what they have to work with, do your job in the easiest way possible.

In India they have a saying about "Mad Dogs and Englishmen". Don't be controlled by your time-piece/Clock, Work Smart!!

Neil

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  • 3 weeks later...

I work under a tin roof in the Southwestern Arizona desert. I got a used 4400 CFM side draft swamp cooler and put it up on a stand with casters (free stainless steel rolling stand thrown away by supermarket), put a garden hose hookup on it and a j box with a rotary switch and plug in cord. Hardware cloth over the squirrel cage opening to prevent finger chopping accidents. I can place it just where I need it so it keeps me cool and doesn't blow on the forge. The stand I used is tall enough to keep the breeze on my upper body. Works great and I couldn't work in the summer afternoons without it. There are store bought "shop coolers"  but they are expensive and do a poor job IMHO.

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If the humidity is low it is doable, if not, lock the door and come back in autumn. I dont do a lot of hot metalwork in Summer here, it would be quite possible to work at night or early mornings, but I have neighbours that I dont want to annoy to much. Is early mornings night time an option for you?

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All of the above ... but for the swamp cooler. If the swamp cooler is a portable evaporative air conditioner, that needs to be in an enclosed space with an outdoor vent, hardly ok for a smithy, plus they tend to be small. 

Since you need to have ventilation and so open roller door,  I would have a misting fan. They are big in Vietnam and lately are coming to Australia for outdoor airconditioning, can reduce ambient temperature by 20C and are on the cheap side. Works on the same principle of cooling by evaporation but use a very fine mist that is pushed by a big industrial fan.   Work outdoors on verandas so would be good for a smithy, even one with just two walls.

 

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6 hours ago, Marc1 said:

All of the above ... but for the swamp cooler. If the swamp cooler is a portable evaporative air conditioner, that needs to be in an enclosed space with an outdoor vent, hardly ok for a smithy, plus they tend to be small. 

 

 

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It is nothing more than a big fan with a water soaked media, does not need to be in an enclosed space at all. In fact if you close it in too much the humidity will rise. Needs to draw in fresh, outside air and plenty of exhaust. When used on a building it is a constant air changeover, CFM in = CFM out otherwise it will be inefficient and create high humidity in the enclosed space. As far as being small that is why you use one from a house, not the store bought shop models. Mine will give you chills when the outside temps are in the hundreds.

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for the swamp cooler instead of spraying mist set up a heat exchanger or a car rad. and pump the well water through it and a fan to move air. my dad and I set one up at a bike shop in Houston for a friend, they were extremely grateful.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hey fellas, sorry for not coming back in response to your comments, just been so busy over the last few weeks.

I don't have any neighbours to upset, so working in the mornings or over night is certainly an option. Mind you I think my Wife would have something to say about working too early in the morning ;)

This is what I have to work with, the concrete base is on a slop, but the top of the slop at the doors is level. so a mobile setup would work well here.

_D3H3918.JPG

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