paulgatx

Attached garage shop

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Hi all, new guy here.  I'm planning on starting up my own small home hobby shop in my garage and I've been doing some research on this sight, but I wanted to get some more specific tips for my setup.  I live in medium density suburbia (lots < 1 acre but not zero lot line).  I have a 3 car garage and plan on setting up in the third bay furthest from the house as you can see from the pictures below.   There is an attic directly above the workspace.  I have small work benches and shelves in an L-shape against the back and right side of the garage for the various tooling.  At first I'll likely set the forge (smallish 2-burner propane with 20lb tank) on top of the small table saw in the middle of the space in the picture.  The anvil (100-200lbs) will be on a homemade 2x12 vertical stack stand in the open area where the rug is now ... yes, the rug will be removed.  However, I plan to make both the forge and anvil mobile so that I can move them just outside the garage in the driveway shown in the picture when the weather is nice.  When I am working inside the garage, I would plan to have the back door (back left of the picture) open to the back patio and the garage door open with a large fan blowing out for air movement.  I plan to have an extinguisher handy and a CO monitor.  At least initially I will be making smallish knives and axes and a friend will be doing decorative metalwork.  The small table-top finishing tools (grinders, sanders, drills, etc.) will all be on the workbench on the right side.

Now for the constraints (self-imposed or otherwise):

1) I will use this third bay, I will not be building an extra shop building or setting up on the back patio.

2) I don't plan to make any modifications to the construction of the garage in terms of replacing walls or ceilings, or adding extra ventilation.

3) I don't ever plan on using a coal forge in the home shop, as I will have access to those in the smithy that I train in.

So now it your turn to pokes holes in the plan or give extra helpful tips that I didn't think of.  Thanks in advance!

IMG_20180429_181408884.thumb.jpg.f829fedc6c7a001fa28e8d56b5c6882c.jpgIMG_20180429_181621826.thumb.jpg.24fe6ef0bcff3b7185b34cfd44b40559.jpgIMG_20180429_181549474.thumb.jpg.43dc0a29db0444fc3590e806e7fc324d.jpg

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Gas forge makes a lot of CO, so detectors in the garage and several places in the house is recommended.  

Mine is in a bay of a 3 car garage but it is not attached to the house.  sort of the mirror image of your set up.  I am contemplating putting up a shed behind the garage to be my smithy.  the wife does not like to see sparks from grinding while her car is in the garage.  

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Thanks.  Do you do anything special for ventilation for the CO?  I'm wondering if the through-breeze with fan will be sufficient to move it out.  Does anyone wear a respirator when forging?  I know people do when grinding for the particulates, but I don't think I've seen anyone forging like that with a CO-proof respirator.

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I would consider the following about your situation:

  • Will your homeowner's insurance cover a loss if your forge or a hot piece of something starts a fire and burns down your house?  Most policies do not and I think many insurance carriers would drop you if they found out you had an open flame that hot and large inside the structure attached to your home.  
  • I would personally never ever have my gas forge attached to my home.  The risk of CO poisoning is just too high.  I love to forge, but I love my family more.  I have a perfect set-up in my garage that is under my house and is my basement.  Cement floors, old chimney to connect a hood to, block walls.......but the risk of hurting or killing my family is just not worth it.
  • If you do this, you will need extra ventilation.  At least put a hood with a chimney pipe getting rid of most of the gases including the CO.  Sure you could always wheel the forge outside, but what if the wind changes and blows all the CO into your garage?  I wheel everything outside and close the garage door when I forge in my driveway.  It's not ideal and you become a fair weather forger, but I don't worry about poisoning my family or burning down my home and that makes forging all the more enjoyable.

It's why I'm building a dedicated shop.  I have winter and cold weather here in NY so if I'm going to have ample time to forge in the winter I have to go that route.  

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MCHammer, thanks for the candid feedback.

1) re: insurance, good point.  I will check on it.  If it is a definite roadblock, then I will resign myself to the driveway or the back patio, which I didn't want to do because of two steps that I'll have to have ramps for to move the equipment around.  Other than the summer heat, which can be dealt with, I'll have long periods of really good weather here in Austin (i.e., not much cold and/or rain).

2) Agreed, I hope you don't get the impression that I am any less careful with my family.  I'm simply gathering the information now.  There is risk in many things we do, and the key is a thorough risk assessment and mitigation strategy (can you tell I'm an engineer and project manager).  

3) I have a vented attic directly above this area, so perhaps it would be easy to run a pipe up and out through the attic.  BTW, do you know of any good studies on the amount of CO produced by these forges?  It is mentioned so often in these discussions that there must be.  I have a full-time 60hr week job that I will not be retiring from anytime soon, so this really will be an every other weekend type of hobby (for now) and I don't see a lot of continuous hours with the forge on.  If I can calculate how much CO I will be producing in a session, that can help with the mitigation strategy.

Cheers!

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On 4/30/2018 at 9:50 PM, paulgatx said:

I hope you don't get the impression that I am any less careful with my family.

Would you leave those two cars running for several hours while in the garage. It's the same with a propane forge. I would choose not to do either.

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No, certainly not.  But I have no data to say they are equivalent.  I hear people saying it, so I am listening, but I'm also asking if anyone has data?  Sorry, again, I'm an engineer so I let data speak for itself.  If I have no data then certainly I will err on the side of caution.

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We get a little jumpy and short when new comers start asking about dangerous things, don't sweat it, you're doing the right thing asking before diving in. There isn't a good way to estimate CO production there are just too many variables for even close guesses without test equipment blacksmiths don't usually have. The example of a couple autos running wasn't a direct comparison it's more of an illustration of the risks. Purely  speculation mind you but I believe a well tuned 3/4" naturally aspirated propane burner puts out at least as much CO as a V8 engine. Another byproduct  is lots of water vapor so rust and such is an issue though not likely to be an immediate health hazard. Well, except maybe to your do. :rolleyes:

A good CO monitor alarm is cheap and can save you  headaches on many levels. A CO headache can be a pounding nightmare but by then you'll need to detoxify in clean air for a while. CO bonds with hemoglobin something like 80 times as easily and well as oxygen so it can take a long time to get it flushed out, much longer than it took to absorb. It's not actually toxic, it replaces and blocks oxygen so you suffocate rather than die of a toxicity.  

I like your approach, caution is a good thing, especially when there are others involved. You'll do fine, we're all pulling for you. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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No worries, I do really appreciate the information and input from the experts.  That's why I came here.  And yes, I'll do the right thing.

Out of curiosity, does anyone use SCBA?  I couldn't imagine doing that while forging, but I'm surprised it isn't mentioned with the types of concerns raised about point-of-use CO generation.

Thanks!

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It is easier and more efficient to cure the problem rather than try to work around and the results of a bad problem.

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To determine the amount of CO any given forge produces, a portable CO detector that measures CO in PPM in seconds, like those used by first responders and HVAC technicians use, not the CO alarms that measure CO over a period of time.

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4 hours ago, mechelement said:

your local AHJ?

That's "Authority Having Jurisdiction", FYI.

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For now I just decided to avoid the issues and put the forge on a metal cart with locking wheels.  I wheel it outside the garage under a canopy and keep the anvil inside the door but relatively close by.  

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Your best move IMHO. That is the way we use our propane forge, just outside the walk through door to the smithy which is attached to the stand alone garage. We have an anvil & leg vise outside to use and a short way to the power hammer inside.

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2 hours ago, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

Your best move IMHO. 

Agreed. Agree with your CO monitor post as well. The plug-ins tend to accrue readings, which won’t work. 

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Continued thanks, guys.  I'm glad I came here first.  Finished my anvil stand and now I just have to prep myIMG_20180511_215857167.thumb.jpg.63a6eaa189883d67292d855a5c366675.jpg forge for use.

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Some years ago a guy I know was using a propane forge in an attached garage with all the doors closed.  His wife found him on the floor between the forge and the door to the outdoors.  Luckily he was still alive but he had to spend a nice long time in a hyperbaric chamber to get the CO out of his system.  Not a fun experience.

Personally, I would vent a propane or coal forge to the outside either up through the overhead attic or out a window using 90 degree bent stove pipe.

All in all, I'd prefer a detached shop but sometimes that is not an option.

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Your anvil stand looks great.  I have to build one for my second anvil.  Still hoping I have enough old beam ends to use them for that old-time look.

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