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Want to set up a small smithy on my property. It is fairly hilly on a ridge so almost no flat level areas to work with. Wondering if others have setup something in similar location. Would start with uncovered outdoor area near garage likely for storage. Later might be able to cover the area. We have a couple of acres but it’s also a residential area so want it tucked away.  Slants from front of the property down the back to a fairly deep ravine and a stream at the bottom. 

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The first shop I built in my back yard was 10'x10', I had a 8" step up into it and the back was about 56" off the ground. I set it on 6, 12" dia. concrete piers. If I remember I used 2x10 for floor frame. I'm sure it sounded like a drum to the neighbors, but it served my purposes well, and didn't make our usable back yard any smaller for the kids. The main thing I remember was I only put one light fixture in it and it was in the center of the "building". Seemed like I was always working in a shadow.  Good Luck. Al

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 I had the same problem with the site where I built my shop. It's basically a lot of cut and fill work by hand or machine to get a level area big enough to work in.

If it's a dirt floored smith shop it doesn't need to be dead level to work , but any machinery installed should be on solid foundation blocks and set as dead level as possible.

Some kind of retaining wall will help hold the fill. Compact the fill as you build it up, so you don't have settling problems later.

If it's just a hobby shop doing small work , you really don't need much more of  an area bigger than about 10' x 10'

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Many traditinal smithies had a dirt or gravel area surrounded buy a wooden work area. A deck built on ground rated stringers right on the ground would work or a slightly high deck with a retaining wall to contain dirt or a slab for the work area reduces the amount of dirt work one has to do. This assumes your not building a 30x50 shop and just a smallish shop up to about 20x20.

Being a bit of an introvert I would consider down refine but above the flood stage, lol 

 

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Free pick up 3 cubic meters (106s/ft) of solid Limburg clay :P, already have a third spread over Dianas vegetable garden. This is a fraction on the ground that I had to squat to make room for the foundations of the new workshop and the other levels on the ground floor under the canopy of the protected foundry and open-air smithy. Sometimes you have to dig and move the necessary soil for a good work floor level.

Dig on, en forge beautiful things, Der Hans

DSC00331.JPG

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Seems like folks have been building on hills for over 5000 years; shouldn't be a problem figuring out how to do likewise.  I have a couple of suggestions on how to do it if you lived in the USA but may not be applicable where you are.

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To build on a hill, you have two options really. You either level the ground and build on it, or you build a platform and build on that. 

For a blacksmith shop that needs to hold heavy stuff, be it anvil, stock, machinery, to make a platform you need to go floating concrete slab industrial size, heavy piers and footings. Doable but not cheap. 

You could of course build a timber floor and have the anvil on a stump that goes through the floor and down to the ground. 

To level the ground, you have two options. Cut in and have the shed on solid ground, or build a retaining wall be it halfway or all around and fill in with something that will not settle too much, ie rocks and road base for example. 

Retaining walls are subject to rules and regulations depending on your local building code. We need an engineers report for retaining walls over one meter in my corner of the woods. Of course if you build your walls on top of the retaining wall they will become the footings and be subject to other rules. 

if you go for the latter, Don't be tempted to concrete over the fill as soon as you finished. The fill will settle and your concrete floor will crack unless you make a slab strong enough to support itself up in the air, and defeat the purpose of the fill and retaining wall. 

A dirt floor shop is a good choice and you can add dirt to it and level it until it settles after a few years, and then eventually cover it with concrete. 

 

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15 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Seems like folks have been building on hills for over 5000 years

We haven't been around that long :), however our little piece of heaven hasn't a level area anywhere on the 60 acres. Time to build is time to call in a bulldozer or backhoe to level it.

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  • 1 month later...

What type of soils are present at the location which you intend to build? Sand, silt, clay, rock?

The soil type will drive your foundation design. So will the type of building you intend to bear on your foundation system. Can you provide some info about the building as well?

What zoning is your property? Residential/Agricultural/Commercial/Industrial? Zoning will drive your permitting requirements, so will MEPs.

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Clay. In a subdivision but people have chickens and Gardens etc.  What I decided to do was a dry stack mountain stone retaining wall off a side wall of our house (done) and will fill that to level (to be done) then put in posts and a lean-too roof (.to be done) . I’ll put fence on the street side and make gate. Later may enclose it.  It’s not big maybe 12x12 but should be ok. 

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my workshop is on a hillside, in the middle of the woods and the ground is clay. I had a digger in to flatten a platform and tracked back and forth a bit to flatten and compact the ground a bit. Apart from the floor being a bit soft when it's been raining for 6 months (such as now :( ), it's a really good floor surface. 

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How large are the stones you dry laid for a retaining wall? It's depending on the weight of the stone and friction with the ground to prevent the hill from pushing it to it's natural angle of repose. Wet clay is not only soft to the point of liquid it tends to make a great lubricant so prepping the ground for a dry laid wall is pretty critical, benched at a minimum.

Have you considered gabians? They're wire baskets of various size and shape you fill with rocks to make everything from fence posts, mailbox standards to their original use retaining walls and erosion abatement. You still need to bench the soil but not as much then you stake them down internally and fill them with round rocks.

Not saying more not knowing what you're dealing with.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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From experience Frosty is correct. I laid a dry stack wall about 15 years ago to fill & level the yard. Some of the base stones are in excess of 300 pounds and two layers deep. The wall is only about 4 feet tall. Over the years the hydraulic pressure from heavy rains have bowed the base out about 2 feet. I'm not looking forward to rebuilding that wall when it fails completely.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well it’s done. Worked well to build retaining wall from stacked stone. Did fill with gravel and crusher run so it drains nicely. Set several oversized oak stumps for stands. Next step is footers for posts for a lean to roof and fenced walls to enclose. Then planning to make a gate for the door. So will be covered but fairly open to airflow. 

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  • 2 months later...

Da U.P eh. ok. learning loads just reading threads... aweSOME.  looking for brainstorming ideas/crushing reality checks. ;) we have 80 acre farm. tons of old bigger tires were left here when we bought it. 1. was planning the "shop" in a lower area because it is a wind tunnel and wanted to hinder some of the flow,it will be 100-150 yrds from woods/swamp and a horse pasture on left and hay field on right as looking from house and road to the outback and woods. open area total would be 35 acres  however now worried about flooding. just next to it is a rise in the land, not big enough to be a true hill. our land seems to be a rock incubator, itty bitties to DAMMMMM. 2. idea of digging into said rise having forge shop probly 3-5 ft "under: ground frost level is hmmm idk 18" - 3' was thinking good for winter and thermal type heat, soak up cold so summers "might" be cooler.. 3. back to the tires we are planning on using them as lower walls filled with dirt to help with insulation, was thinking 3-5' high. if it catches fire there will be no doubt with the black clouds. 4. size is wide open as a lot of building will be salvage and we are a family of contractors.5. wanted to have large tilt up walls/windows to help cool it down. I am still reading layout ideas and work triangle and looking for storage ideas. wow re-read it, made sense in MY head. anyway thoughts?

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  • 10 months later...

I know this thread is over a year old but I thought it worth mentioning that dirt piled up against the outside wall of the foundation of a house can cause cracking and other problems due to drainage issues like leaking into the basement. I don't know if there's a basement in this particular case but anyone looking to do something like this should keep it in mind. Just my 2 cents.

Pnut

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Burning against standard or post and beam construction is posible. Poly, post and shoring construction is a proven tech as is PT wooden basements. For my self I would use poly to protect the wood, Gambians, earth bags or tires as a retaining wall with some kind of foundation drainage system. Assuming flat land or a down hill slope. An up hill slope means a lot moor creep, so I would recommend moving your retaining wall back and making a sheltered patio or such. As burning against the structure will eventually lead to failer.

 

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23 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

As burning against the structure wil

That should read, "berming", as in earthen berm. NOT burning; burning against a structure is not recommended procedure. 

Just a typo but a fun one. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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