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Designing a workshop

Old 04-29-13, 10:13 PM
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WestcoastPete
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Designing a workshop

Hi All

I'm new to framebuilding, having recently travelled to the USA to do a two week course. Since then, I've travelled a fair bit (on a bicycle of course) and moved interstate. The house we bought doesn't have a workshop, so I need to build one.

I'm still mulling over the desire to build frames in it. I'd need to invest a fair bit into the tools etc, but I'd like to consider it as an option while I design the shed. To start with at least though, it will predominantly be used for mechanical work on existing bicycles.

So, the plan has been to build a wooden cabin on a raised wooden floor. The floor would be lined with some kind of linoleum, and brazing, if I do it, would be over a fire resistent mat. This is what I'd like. I'd like to avoid using a conrete floor, mainly because of its embodied energy, its permanence, its moisture properties in this location etc, but I feel that maybe having such a floor might be better for both fire resistence and as a platform for a surface plate.

My question is:

Would I be fine using a surface plate on a well build wooden floor? Can you think of any other issues with framebuilding on a wooden floor?

Thanks
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Old 04-30-13, 07:09 AM
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A few points: I have brazed on a wood floor without any other covering. The building is still standing. But using a fire resistant mat is the best action, of course. I think it's as important to have a floor that is flat and without texture to catch your feet while you're using the torch.

Your shop needs good ventilation. I use a fan/duct system that pulls air from above as well as from the floor in my brazing area. Don't forget about having incoming air. And factor this airflow into your heating equation.

As long as the floor is well built a heavy piece of tooling shouldn't be a problem. Local reinforcement can always be placed under any tooling. But you might consider doubling up on the joist spacing and the flooring layers for good measure. While you're at this point of design consider how tooling will be moved into the shop. A ground level or shallow ramp makes moving heavy tooling easier then steps. Over head block and tackle capacity is also a nice idea. And don't limit your tooling possibilities to only a flat surface. It would be a shame to pass up on a used lathe or mill if you came across one.

I like to have a dirty and a clean section of my shops. Dirty will have the brazing and the basic vice work (filing, sanding), the clean will have the hand tools, flat surface, other tooling, a desk.

Will you plumb the shop? Do consider having 220v going to the shop for future needs. Don't forget about security. And try to make the shop as pleasant to be in as possible. Andy.
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Old 04-30-13, 08:27 AM
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Pete -

Recommend not going with a wooden structure... if you are going to weld in it; then the insurance will be crazy expensive.

I recently put up a new 24 x 22 foot garage / shop and used a metal building kit (vendor customizes the kit to meet your needs and put it up on ebay with a buy it now option). It was far less expensive that a wood structure quoted by any of the local companies and it was crazy simple to put up on a simple slab. Big benefit is that it is essentially impossible to set on fire...

I will PM you the vendor specifics when I get back to house tonight. I also have a ton of build pix of it going up if you (or others) want a copy.

/K
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Old 04-30-13, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
Pete -

Recommend not going with a wooden structure... if you are going to weld in it; then the insurance will be crazy expensive.

I recently put up a new 24 x 22 foot garage / shop and used a metal building kit (vendor customizes the kit to meet your needs and put it up on ebay with a buy it now option). It was far less expensive that a wood structure quoted by any of the local companies and it was crazy simple to put up on a simple slab. Big benefit is that it is essentially impossible to set on fire...

I will PM you the vendor specifics when I get back to house tonight. I also have a ton of build pix of it going up if you (or others) want a copy.
/K
Ooops faulty memory. Actually the kit was for 22 x 20 foot due space limitations at the build site.

Cost was $6,360 plus $100 freight charge for "no dock". Local firms wanted $25k to put up a stick built wooden garage (ouch) so the decision to go with the steel kit was a no brainer.

Order was placed in Dec 2011, arrive early Jan 2012. Concrete provided by local mix company and put in by me as well as the digging and concrete 2x10 form building. All the concrete work was done at about 20-25 degrees and in all day rain/drizzle/fog. Lots of fun there. The actual erection of the building steel was at about 35F and all day drizzle & fog. I really wanted a new shop! Actually just getting around to put in permanent electrical service later this week as got fed up with big extension cord. Heating, cooling, vent fans, & the TIG drop soon.

Here is the source I used off ebay;

Carlos Calatrava
(866) 206-6580 Phone
(412) 455-6112 Fax

Value Steel Inc.
www.ValueSteel.com <<<<
sales@valuesteel.com

How to build it pix set; http://www.valuesteel.com/assembly.htm

Here are a few pix taken during my build;








A bit of a challenge getting the pix small enough to upload here. PM me if want to see higher res copies or further details as I have about a 1,000 pix of all the little steps and idiosyncrasies and lessons learned along the way.

It makes a great garage or shop. And with all the 2x4's actually 12g steel box tubing, it isn't moving.

/K
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Old 05-10-13, 03:53 AM
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I spent a lot of years in metal or brick building with heat/cooling, insulation and great lighting.
I am in an very old wooden building now. In the morning when the sun hits the building the bugs in the wood start munching and then the birds enter the walls and start eating the bugs. There is also a mold issue.

The worse part is 1/3 of the floor is steel.

If I sold the steel, I could put in a new floor! I plan to look under the steel at some point. I am not sure what is under the building besides skunks.
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Old 05-10-13, 09:42 AM
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^ lol

By shop is not a good example, but the floor is wooden with linoleum lining. Never had a problem with that but concrete would be better. On the other hand, my work bench is in wood and once, a red-hot dropout fell out from the stay on the bench, which caught fire. Just be prepared and keep the brazing area uncluttered.
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Old 05-12-13, 03:37 AM
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Pete,

A wood structure is fine. Niether my builders insurance or home owners ins has been effected by the fact that 2 of my 3 shops have been wood structures and now I'm building a 4th one that is wood as well. However, wood floors may effect your insurance, I have no experience with this other than some mill buildings won't even allow an open flame to occur in on or near them for insurance reasons. The permanence of concrete is more of a asset than a liability ATMO but I'd put 1-2" of insulation under the slab and a heavy mil plastic over the insulation prior to poring the slab. This not only keeps the moisture in check (after the slab cures of course) but also keep the floor from getting bitter cold and the structure from heaving if you live in a area that freezes. Wood floor, over build it so you can put a 1500 lb plus mill on it and / or a heavy surface place without issus and lay down sheet metal. That's what they do in the old mills here and it works great. Build the biggest building that you just barely can't afford and keep your tooling light to start. Once you have a building, it's expensive to make it bigger. Tooling can always be collected over time and cheaply if you're patient.

Best! Chris
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Old 05-12-13, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by DORNBOX View Post
Pete,

A wood structure is fine. Niether my builders insurance or home owners ins has been effected by the fact that 2 of my 3 shops have been wood structures and now I'm building a 4th one that is wood as well. However, wood floors may effect your insurance, I have no experience with this other than some mill buildings won't even allow an open flame to occur in on or near them for insurance reasons. The permanence of concrete is more of a asset than a liability ATMO but I'd put 1-2" of insulation under the slab and a heavy mil plastic over the insulation prior to poring the slab. This not only keeps the moisture in check (after the slab cures of course) but also keep the floor from getting bitter cold and the structure from heaving if you live in a area that freezes. Wood floor, over build it so you can put a 1500 lb plus mill on it and / or a heavy surface place without issus and lay down sheet metal. That's what they do in the old mills here and it works great. Build the biggest building that you just barely can't afford and keep your tooling light to start. Once you have a building, it's expensive to make it bigger. Tooling can always be collected over time and cheaply if you're patient.

Best! Chris
'good advice.


I think you need 6" of concrete to support a 10,000 lbs forklift but you can roll a machine in on 4" of concrete.
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Old 05-13-13, 09:07 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by DORNBOX View Post
Pete, A wood structure is fine. Niether my builders insurance or home owners ins has been effected by the fact that 2 of my 3 shops have been wood structures and now I'm building a 4th one that is wood as well. However, wood floors may effect your insurance, I have no experience with this other than some mill buildings won't even allow an open flame to occur in on or near them for insurance reasons. The permanence of concrete is more of a asset than a liability ATMO but I'd put 1-2" of insulation under the slab and a heavy mil plastic over the insulation prior to poring the slab. This not only keeps the moisture in check (after the slab cures of course) but also keep the floor from getting bitter cold and the structure from heaving if you live in a area that freezes. Wood floor, over build it so you can put a 1500 lb plus mill on it and / or a heavy surface place without issus and lay down sheet metal. That's what they do in the old mills here and it works great. Build the biggest building that you just barely can't afford and keep your tooling light to start. Once you have a building, it's expensive to make it bigger. Tooling can always be collected over time and cheaply if you're patient. Best! Chris
Chris; Good points. I'll add that 4 inch slab is normal for a generic garage (cars and normal sized pickups) when constructed over solid ground. The local freeze/thaw zone will drive how much of a footer will be required around the perimeter. It could require a 40 inch deep perimeter footer at least 12 inches wide. The specification for how much rebar is needed is also dependent on the freeze zone. Concrete gets expensive fast... I used 11 yards the last time at about $350 per. Ouch!

For a shop, a 6 inch floor is probably a better idea. If heavy milling hardware is anticipated, it isn't necessary for the entire floor to be thicker to handle it. Just decide where it would logically fit in the shop and make an approprate area, such as 6x6 foot area stronger. This is typically done by digging another perimeter footer around the stronger area that is about 2-3 feet deep and 1-2 foot wide and then remove a few more inches of dirt from the enclosed area such that the finished floor thickness in that area will be about 2 inches more than the rest of the floor.

/K
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Old 05-14-13, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
The local freeze/thaw zone will drive how much of a footer will be required around the perimeter. It could require a 40 inch deep perimeter footer at least 12 inches wide. /K
You really don't even need a footer as long as your land is relatively flat. Insulate under the slab and carry the insulation out from under the slab into the surrounding earth. I think you only need a couple to 3 feet. This stops the frost from penetrating under the slab and heaving it and it is both structurally and code compliant when designed correctly. If you're really looking to beef up the slab, you can thicken the edge like a small faux footing with added rebar, typically 12" or so. Of course everything depends on the size of the slab (area) but I've designed entire houses like this and I don't think we're talking about a structure that large. This is by far, the cheapest way to do a foundation/ structural slab. If I remember correctly you can also get your slab strength up by adding more rebar but I think that just adding more concrete is cheaper than adding a bunch more steel. So many ways to skin a cat.

Best-Chris
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Old 05-14-13, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by DORNBOX View Post
You really don't even need a footer as long as your land is relatively flat. Insulate under the slab and carry the insulation out from under the slab into the surrounding earth. I think you only need a couple to 3 feet. This stops the frost from penetrating under the slab and heaving it and it is both structurally and code compliant when designed correctly. If you're really looking to beef up the slab, you can thicken the edge like a small faux footing with added rebar, typically 12" or so. Of course everything depends on the size of the slab (area) but I've designed entire houses like this and I don't think we're talking about a structure that large. This is by far, the cheapest way to do a foundation/ structural slab. If I remember correctly you can also get your slab strength up by adding more rebar but I think that just adding more concrete is cheaper than adding a bunch more steel. So many ways to skin a cat.
Best-Chris
All; Re Slabs; Having done concrete work (patios, driveways, houses, basements, garages, sidewalks, pools, commerical buildings, etc.) since the mid 1970's, I would add that anyone planning to build a building of any kind needs to check with their local building inspection office for the specific code requirements for that geographical area and city. It isn't a decision the owner gets to make. Even in a relatively temporate area like southern Illinois, the code requires specific and rather substantial footers and specific rebar layouts for even a fairly simple garage (there are some areas and some situations which allow a simply slab for housing though).

Failure to follow the code requirements will normally result in a levy requiring a correction of having the structure torn down, plus a penalty fee that increases per month until the corrective action is completed. If one lives on a farm out in the boonies far away from the city, then one can do as one pleases; otherwise there are likely rules that are well established and enforced.

All; Re Insurance; The gotya on insurance for a shop such as one that is housing/ supporting a frame building effort needs to be well understood. The convertion of a garage into a frame building shop may not even be known to the insurance company and thus their month tax on our existance may not increase at all. However, it is in the fine print that any change "modified use" in the use of a covered structure must be identified in writing, in advance, to the insurance company. Its pretty much standard boiler plate in all policies.

This kicks in as soon as one sells a product or applies for a business license, etc., but doesn't immediately apply to an individual hobbyist making a frame for personal use by themselves or the immediate family.

So if sometime later the said structure "has a fire", the firemen will very likely notice the welding tanks and it will get written up in the report because they are required by standard practices and by state laws to handle such a fire in a specific manner due to the higher risk the tanks present to the fireman and the surrounding houses, etc. When the owner files a claim for the damages, the insurance company will have access to the fire report, see the welding equipment listed, and ask themselves..."Well lets see if this structure is actually covered?" and "Well, is there anything that would let us get out of paying for it to be rebuilt?"

If the policy doesn't specifically identify the "modified use" or "industrial use" as a welding shop, etc., vice a generic residential garage...well someone is probably going to get a surprise: First no replacement garage compliments of the insurance company; No replacments for the builders equipment or ruined tubesets or burnt up customers bikes; An overall policy cost increase or perhaps po0licy termination due to a "revised risk reassessment"; and in many cases a bill from the city for several thousand dollars. This fee is to repay the city for the fireman's response to the fire. Many cities charge for responding to emergencies and they will routinely bill the owners insurance company for the costs... and the insurance companies routinely pay it. But if the policy is voided, then they won't cover that bill either.

Just a cautionary note; fwiw. I's have dots and T's have crosses...

/K

Last edited by ksisler; 05-14-13 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 05-15-13, 04:27 AM
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I think a lot about the floors in my building when moving a heavy machine on an industrial forklift. The wooden floor I drive over is 30' above ground in some places and well over 100 years old. There are steel plates that cover the soft parts and you can feel it shifting and sinking slightly as you pass over. I don't care for the sensation personally.

I am sure the only code used in the construction of the building I am in was the dialect/nomenclature spoken by the builders.
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Old 07-09-13, 09:11 AM
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Hi again all.

Forgive me for appearing to post and then run; I have read all of the responses with interest and appreciate the feedback, but I've also been trying to study so I've tried to refrain from extracurricular online tasks (badly).

For various reasons, some relating to this thread and some not, I am having a timber workshop built with a wooden floor on stumps. It's a good quality floor, the building itself is excellent, and the people building it do pretty much everything, including dealing with the local authorities on regulation matters. It is as big as I can make it without taking up the whole backyard and should be a joy to work in. I'll post some images when it comes to being built. For now, I'm still clearing the location.

Thanks!
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Old 07-09-13, 04:51 PM
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buildings without foundations are hard to re sell if the buyer has to borrow to get the money.
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Old 07-10-13, 01:45 AM
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That foam skirt approach, while it may not pass local muster, as is often the case, is quite popular in some very cold climates, like scandi, I understand. Basically it is designed to hold in enough heat from the geo that the actual buildiing footprint in not in the cold. It is kinda brilliant, all the footings do is the same thing, but on the vertical, and it is a lot cheaper to go horizontal, but you have to consider stuff like plantings around the building walks, drives, foam eating termites, etc....

I have worked in several shops on packed earth, and other than the obvious fact one can pick up a little dirt, they were highly satisfactory. A good option might be one of those materials they use in road foundations that can be essentially compacted into solid, though maybe that stuff is as expensive as concrete...

I would not worry about supporting a granite slab, they really don't weigh that much, not compared to other routine stuff people throw on wheels , like planers. Mine is 4x24x36, or maybe it is 6 inches. Anyway, that is either 2 or 3 cubic feet at 168 per. I weight 250, and like to think of myself as a dynamic load. So the plate is a lot less trouble than me hitting a chair

Secondarily, you really, really don't need one. They are designed for setting tolerances beyond what machines can hold, which is so ridiculously not, what frame building is about. It is a, the stuff has low tolerances, and is put together with eyeballs, then bent into shape field. But we do have our vanities... And the plates do come up really cheap. In fact, around here you could probably use them as your floor.

Never forget, whatever you use, your shop is sitting on the ground. In some cases these days, it is sitting on foam or straw bales on the ground. I don't doubt there is some guy out there with a really large surface plate and a milling machine who will CNC the whole thing, but at the end of the day, we are all working on earth floors.

My current shop is on concrete, and I do and don't like the stuff. One positive is that at one point I was welding a 1/8" stainless wire for a small cage, when I overjuiced it, and a blob of molten steel hit the floor. The first I saw of it through my hood was when I noticed the fatigue mat was on fire. No biggie, but I guess I prefer a flame proof surface.

The negative is that it stays about the same cold all year round. Since I also got into metal work, 15 years ago, the place never heats up. The machines seem to pull the cold out of the slab, and I can't open the doors to get air in, or the water condenses on all the expensive machines. I recently figured out that as the spring arrives, I can use a fan to pull hot air out of the roof and down to the main floor. This raises the temp, and helps a lot, but for the most part, I still can't open a door. On the positive, the shop never goes below zero in the winter. Before when I did only woodwork, the shop would warm up quickly enough in the spring that I didn't have the condensation problem, but I have a lot more steel in there today.

If my main shop was in the boonies, I would just do it my way, and self insure (which is what you are doing anyway). Insurance companies are not there to help you, and as a business you will probably not recover, unless the claims are at a level that future business (not guaranteed to them anyway) will cover. The insurance business is to create mandates for insurance, and to strangle any outflows. Unless the payouts are highly regulated, as they can be in certain recurring losses, like car accidents.
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Old 07-10-13, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
I spent a lot of years in metal or brick building with heat/cooling, insulation and great lighting.
I am in an very old wooden building now. In the morning when the sun hits the building the bugs in the wood start munching and then the birds enter the walls and start eating the bugs. There is also a mold issue.

The worse part is 1/3 of the floor is steel.

If I sold the steel, I could put in a new floor! I plan to look under the steel at some point. I am not sure what is under the building besides skunks.
Wow. Sounds like paradise.
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Old 07-11-13, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
A good option might be one of those materials they use in road foundations that can be essentially compacted into solid, though maybe that stuff is as expensive as concrete...
Granite sand. Over here it's way cheaper than concrete, $50 m^-3 rather than $200+.
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Old 07-11-13, 04:36 AM
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If your local Code allows, put down cement backerboard on the floor and tile over it. Do the same to the walls in the area you're going to be throwing sparks and slag. Use your building inspector as a resource. They'll tell you how to do things by the book, and in so doing, help you achieve your goal of a fire-resistant building.
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