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Hello everyone! I'm new to blacksmithing but have been doing a great deal of learning. I've pribably already spent 25 or more hours reading and watching various videos. I already have a small bookshop in my garage, but would like to build a shed primarily for metal casting/blacksmithing (yes, I know two very different fabrication techniques), but also have as a place to do so misc other work. 

Anyway, I live in the suburbs and have already pulled the building codes, hoa regulations, and zoning permissions. With everything combined, I can only have a shop that is 9 ft high at its tallest point and 150 square feet total. I was thinking of doing a post foundation to have the safety and comfort of a dirt floor. 

Do you guys have any recommendations on the dimensions of those 150 square feet? I was thinking maybe doing 10x15 to be able to use 10 ft lumber, but didnt know if that would be to narrow a working space once I put in the forge/tools/anvil/existing equipment. 

Right now I'm planning on a dual burner gas forge to eliminate smoke and smell for my neighbors. Are there any safety concerns with it being this size? I've considered both putting in sheet metal and spraying the inside with a fire retardant. but I dont know how expensive either option would be. Also slightly concerned about the long term health effects of fore retardant sprays. 

Finally, I know I can wrap a chain around my anvil, use magnets, and bury it a little in sand. But do you guys have any other suggestions on noise reduction, also to be a considerate neighbor? We are already very friendly with at least 2/3 of our neighbors and dont want to spend too much social capital on our noise levels if it can be prevented. 

Finally, I'm doing all of this as cheaply as possible. So if any suggestions could steer towards cheaper that would be great!

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I do not want to burst your bubble but 25 hours is a vanishing small amount of time in studying this craft...I've spent more time that that just on one book. (The Knight and the Blast Furnace, Alan Williams).

Anyway  shop layout depends on what you plan to do in it: Gates or sculpture where you may want to swing a 20' long stick of steel requires a different sized shop than doing hand forged jewelry that might fit comfortably in a  6'x6' space.

When I take the forge on the road I fit very nicely in a 10'x10' area with forge&blower, anvil postvise and tools on a small work bench. 10' x 15 ' should give you enough room for both a forging and a casting area---perhaps separated by a "shared" fireproof workbench.

The issue with running propane in a confined space is CO. Can you make the shed with sliding barn doors on the sides? Open up the forge area when running the forge. Open up the casting area when running the foundry?

As for cost; not knowing where you are at and the rules you have to meet makes it hard to advise you.  My last shop addition was made using hail damaged steel roofing, Free, utility poles, Free, Over run steel roofing, Free---bad hailstorm damaged all the roofs in town and when they reroofed the public schools there had considerable left overs that a friend was hired to dispose of..... I did buy 2 old used trusses and a used roll up door and C shaped metal purlins and a LOT of SDST metal screws. Living out in the country in New Mexico USA there was no hassle building such a structure and friends helped setting the utility poles and lifting the trusses.

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Hey Thomas, thanks for your reply. 

 

I didnt mean to insinuate 25 hours was sufficient or that I understand.well, ANYTHING really. Just that i was and am attempting to do my due diligence first before seeking the advice of others.

As far as where I am located, I am in Pflugerville, a suburb of Austin Texas.

Good point about the ventilation, I have not thought of a solution to that hurdle yet. Sliding doors may very well be an option...

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Have you gone to any of the meetings of the Balcones Forge group out that way?  Seeing what other people are using in your area might be a big help dealing with climate and availability of cheap stuff.  balconesforge.org   next meeting looks to be Oct 27

I get out that way at least once a year as my boss works off of Parmer and  I-35 and I visit the "Mother Ship". 

 

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3 hours ago, Thursigar said:

I am in Pflugerville

We won't remember this after leaving this post, hence the suggestion to edit your profile to include location. I suggest reading this thread to get the best out of the forum.

https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/53873-read-this-first/

BTW Welcome to IFI... and a dual burner propane forge will roar like a jet engine. If you want low noise level look into a charcoal JABOD forge with a hand pump blower.

Our forge is only ten feet wide but thirty feet long. Most of our work is conducted in fifteen feet of that length and the rest is storage. Been working for my wife & I for at least thirty years, although we put in a ten by ten gravel pad outside the entry door for using our propane forge outside with an anvil and post vise.

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Welcome aboard, glad to have you. A 10' x 15' shop is enough space unless you're doing large projects like railings, driveway gates, etc.

There's a benefit to a concrete floor in this situation as well, it'll allow you to move equipment you aren't using out of the way more easily.  Sure you can move things on a dirt floor, especially if you've compacted it hard but it complicates things. for example I can scoot my anvils, leg vise, forge, etc. around with no more inconvenience than screachy noise. When I'm set up for demos on dirt I have to either get someone to help lift or bring a hand truck.

And yes, I tend to arrange my equipment for the project I'm doing at the time. For instance if I'm doing hooks I'm working multiple pieces and once drawn down they cool rapidly so I'm accessing the forge often, say every 5-6 minutes. For this type work I want the forge within reach of the anvil off to my left side. I do NOT want it at my back the radiated heat will toast you i short order. When I'm working heavier stock, say 3/4" sq. and up I want the forge farther away and facing away from me by about 90*. I'll be at the anvil working the stock and it'll take longer to heat so there is no reason to have that level or IR close. Having the extra free space is sometimes necessary as well, larger stock calls for larger tongs, sometimes two handed tongs.

Don't try to arrange your smithy in anything like a permanent manner till you've spent time working with the tools and equipment. Remember, there is NO PERFECT, just the best for what you're doing and that WILL change as your skills sets grow. The better you get the fewer tools you'll need but the more kinds you'll be able to use effectively. 

Of course that's just my opinion, yours WILL be different. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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23 hours ago, Frosty said:

Welcome aboard, glad to have you.

8

Thanks for the warm welcome! 

I do not plan on doing any large projects, only small to medium. 

As far as the concrete floor goes, my other concern with concrete is that I will be doing some metal casting as well. I've read that if an accident occurs, the molten metal will cause the concrete to explode. I've also spent a good amount of time standing on top of concrete in my day job and would prefer something softer if possible. 

The points of not doing anything permanent is actually really great and relevant. I was starting to think through things that may be permanent in design, like exhaust vents or burying the anvil stand. 

On 10/7/2018 at 5:35 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Have you gone to any of the meetings of the Balcones Forge group out that way?  Seeing what other people are using in your area might be a big help dealing with climate and availability of cheap stuff.  balconesforge.org   next meeting looks to be Oct 27

I get out that way at least once a year as my boss works off of Parmer and  I-35 and I visit the "Mother Ship". 

 

I have not, as they are in San Antonio, a couple hours away. I did check them out though! 

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I suggest you spend more time perusing their site---the Marble Falls TX meeting was a lot closer as well as the classes being offered in Austin.   Note that many blacksmithing groups rotate where meetings are held among the members.

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I understand not liking to work on a concrete floor, I wear soft soled shoes but that's what works for me. You are absolutely correct about concrete and heat, a caster associate of mine has a large pan with a few inches of sand in it in which he pours bronze.

However there's nothing wrong with a dirt floor so long as you're prepared to compensate. Everything has consequences to compensate for say not just grabbing things in a hot shop. After smelling sizzling flesh or having it stick to your hide a couple times you learn to pause a second before touching it to feel for radiated heat first. Almost nobody touches the glowy red stuff, it's the 500 f black hot things that get you. Envision tossing a steak in a 500 f. dry cast iron pan. Hmmmm? I have a squeeze bottle of Aloe Vera gel in the shop and Silvadene in the house.

Be aware, Silvadene is NOT a trivial medication, there are potential side effects and interactions to take into account. It is however a good treatment for more serious burns say 2nd. and to prevent infection, etc. It's definitely a talk to the doc creme to have on hand. It works well for me but there are lots of folk sensitive to silver in so active a compound so be careful.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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