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Floor options for shed wooden floor


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Hey all, I have a 14x10 custom-built shed in our yard that I'm converting into a blacksmith shop. The problem is that it has a wooden floor. I'm researching options but not sure which way to go. I don't want to bring dirt inside because it might rot the floor out underneath. I was thinking of using cement board over thin mortar underneath, then covering with with some small gravel (yes, I know dropping stuff in gravel might mean losing it). I don't want to tear the floor up because then I might be staring at the ground, and I don't want to lay concrete in that situation. Just trying to convert a wooden shed floor into a usable blacksmith shop floor. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

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Could you use the inside of the the shed for power tools and machines you have and use it for finishing work and then build a lean to off the side of the building to set up your forge and do all your hot work under the lean to? 

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1 minute ago, TWISTEDWILLOW said:

Could you use the inside of the the shed for power tools and machines you have and use it for finishing work and then build a lean to off the side of the building to set up your forge and do all your hot work under the lean to? 

I have considered doing that, but that would put my anvil and forge outside unsecured. I have a 260lb anvil on a large white oak round (weighs easily over 500lbs total), so it's not easily put back in the shed for safe keeping. I'd rather be able to lock everything up inside. We're running power out to the shed, so there will be security setup. I won't be keeping power tools inside the shop for that same reason. I'll just have to carry tools from the garage to the shop (about 20 yards away) when I need them. The lean-to may work when I get my coal forge going, but for now my portable propane should be inside the structure. I probably don't even need the floor totally covered, just where the anvil and forge will be. The rest of the shop floor can remain wood. I may just get pavestone slabs if I can find them cheap.

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People have been using wooden floors for blacksmiths shops for a couple of centuries; what's the issue you are trying to fix?  If it's fire just mop the wood a couple of times with a saturated borax and water solution and it won't catch on fire if you drop a piece! (Yes you may have a brand left from it; but it's a shop floor!

Now you may want to cut a hole so the anvil stand can rest on the ground and avoid any bounce.

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Just borax wash it and make sure there aren't little nooks and crannies for hot bits to hide in.  Borax is a flame retardant that's been used for I don't know how many centuries. You'd have to leave a hot piece of metal on it quite a while to get a smolder going and If you can't recognize wood smoke by smell you maybe shouldn't take up a craft that's intimately involved with fire.

I'm not dissing you, I'm serious. Blacksmithing doesn't usually start many fires, especially if the smith is alert and knows how to mitigate the risks. I understand this is new territory for you and it's good you're being cautious. There are lots of things to be careful with in the smithy. 

For example what kind of ventilation do you have? Propane forges produce Carbon Monoxide (CO) in large quantities, even when properly tuned. An open door or window won't cut it.

How far from a wall is the forge? propane forges produce enough IR radiation to be a hazard just being close. 

How about posting some pics? We LOVE pics.:)

Frosty The Lucky.

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If you want an inflammable surface on the wood floor use concrete backer board which is used under tile floors.  It is fairly cheap and comes in fairly large sheets.  I'd say that you can use 1/4" since all you want is a fire resistant surface.  I have it under my propane forge on top of a wood stand and it has worked well.

I do agree that a wood floor is not much of a problem.  You'll get an occasional burn or scorch mark but that is all.  If a little flame shows up just give it a slosh of water from your slack tub/bucket.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I agree with everyone that else that the wood floor is safe to use but on the other hand If you are worried about having a thief motivated enough to steal a anvil and stand that weighs 500 pounds personally I don’t think your shed doors would stop them if they want it that bad. Frosty brings up an excellent point of exposure working inside with a propane forge and Thomas brings up a good point on needing something stable under your anvil stand. If your really worried about theft then my suggestion is Build the lean to off the side and pour a concrete slab and anchor your stand to the slab or maybe wrap a chain around the anvil and anchor the chain to the slab.  it seems to me that would be a cheap, safe and effective solution to your problem. You can get reclaimed lumber for next to nothing if not free if you look around and if you make friends with a concrete truck driver in your area I’ll bet they will swing by and pour project leftovers for you (trust me I’ve tried and it works) and sheet metal like the lumber can usually be had cheap or free from projects or tear downs. You could double the size of your work area for next to nothing and be safe from fumes, theft, have your anvil on a stable surface and not worry about catching the floor on fire. 

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Based on what these senior members have said, adding a lean too to your existing 10x14 shop may be the best idea to protect your health.  There is a mountain of knowledge about the risks of CO breathing on this site how it replaces blood oxygen and makes you very sick.  But if you decide to go ahead with the indoor gas/coal forge then I would install a hood and alarm gas meter.  I would locate the anvil and the hood in a center location far away from walls.  Study different hood designs on this site that accommodate both gas/coal, penetrate the roof with double walled pipe to code and extend pipe 3ft above highest point of roof.   Cut a 12" circular hole in the floor in between floor joists and insert circular concrete form tube and pour concrete up to floor level for the anvil stand.  Mop the floor with borax and/or make an area underneath the hood with thin brick/tiles on hardy backer board with your firepit stacking skills.  In Frazer's corner is a nice super sucker design, or a proven larger hood design that works for both forges together.  Have an air feeder under the floor up to rear door of gas forge for fresh air.  Good luck with your project.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Thanks Will-I-am, but I've been using the forge in my garage and it's never once set off the CO alarm. That being said, I've purchased a 16" shed exhaust fan that I'm mounting this weekend. It has auto and manual fan/temp control, so that will work great for ventilation, plus the open shed doors. I'm transferring the CO alarm out there.

I also found a solution for the floor: cement board covered with a thick layer of packable limestone. We've decided to run power out to the shed, too, which will be key for lighting and security, among other things. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Edited by Mod30
Remove excessive quote.
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  • 3 weeks later...

This will be my final post in this thread regarding my wood shed conversion to blacksmith shop. :) Thanks for all the advice and things for me to think about. I found a good solution and it's working out great.

My main question was about flooring options. I chose to cover the wood floor with 1/2" cement board, and covered that with a limestone mix of #2 down to dust, which allowed me to tamp it down to a hard pack while still not being too hard on my feet and knees.

Power was brought into the shop this weekend, and now I have plenty of juice to light the shop, run the 16" attic exhaust fan and the auxiliary fan to keep me cool at the anvil, power the Ring security camera, and five outlets across two circuits for various power tools. I have plenty of room now, and a far safer setup than being in my garage. I have the CO alarm and fire extinguisher in the shop, too, all tested and current. I'm sure things will evolve with the shop as I start using it in full now, but this is a great start. The smithing "triangle" is perfect; I'm less than one of my strides away from the vise, forge, and anvil respectively.

Needless to say, I'm stoked to start using it!

RAW_Shop.jpg

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It's looking good.  The only things I would miss is a bench and stool for small work and a grinder/buffer.  Also, shelves or racks for tools and "stuff."

I think you came up with a good solution for the floor.  I might not have gone with the crushed rock on top of the cement board but anything worth doing is worth over doing.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Shelves and racks are coming, and I just put my dad's homemade desk in it with drawers and spot for a stool. :) Yes, the shop is clean, but it is new. I forged today and dirtied it up a bit. Also, I can still build larger things in the shop because there's double doors that open up to a flat ramp to the driveway. The major issue with building anything large is the small propane forge, but I have an outdoor coal forge and am planning on building a lean-to off the shop for that. Thanks for all the advice and tips. It's a work in progress, and will adapt to my needs as I go along. It's far better than the garage!

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On 4/10/2021 at 7:46 PM, MarriedWithAnvils said:

I have the CO alarm and fire extinguisher in the shop, too, all tested and current. 

I'm glad you pointed out the "tested and current" part. I had a Kiddie brand CO and propane alarm that wouldn't detect propane brand new and with a new battery. Never trust your life or health to something that you haven't verified. 

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