View Full Version : Building shop
12-21-2006, 11:15 AM
A local friend of mine told me that what I do in my shop is "build shop". And he may be right. So I am moved to ask the question here. How many metal working hobbyists, and professionals as well, will admit to spending more time making a place to build things than they do actually building things?
And that isn't a bad thing. The purpose of a hobby is to make for an enjoyable pastime for the person involved so it doesn't matter what you make or build. I also make a pretty fair living in my shop so I can defend the practice.
I am thinking of including a chapter in my next shop book about this question so I would like to hear from the regulars in this forum about it.
And a Merry Christmas to all of you.
12-21-2006, 11:32 AM
one of my projects right now is planning how to build an extension to my shop, with hopefully a future project being the actual construction of said extension. i think i spend more time making parts to make things run than actually building anything else. my problem is that every project has ten layers of projects embedded in it that must be competed before the end project is even attempted. :)
12-21-2006, 11:37 AM
I do all the time I love my shop as much as the things I make no, I love it more. I actually enjoy having 2 shops one for wood and one for metal I make sure they are kept tidy and looking good at all time but that is what makes me happy I enjoy doing that. I also add constantly to my shops machines and alter it constantly in little ways to make it more efficient but unlike others I am in no rush to do anything no backlog of customers waiting its just a fun place, albeit its cost me a small fortune. Ever since I can remember I have wanted a nice workshop My father in law and I dreamed of it was a little too late for him But I am determined it will not be for me keep enjoying the workshop and the camaraderie of my many good friends here God bless you all for your support and help over many years. Alistair
12-21-2006, 12:42 PM
Randolph-- that has been my experience so far....that feathering the nest is a lot of fun and, for those of us who are not in this for a living, tends to take more time than making "important parts" whatever they may be.
I just put up my shop building 2.5 years ago. I am still improving the facilities. The latest acquisition was a salvaged large range "hood" and an in-duct blower that will go over my welding area so I can weld with the doors shut in the winter. I told a friend about it and he laughed...probably for the reasons you mention. I will spend several hours on this project....more than I will spend welding in the next several months.
I recently made the same sort of argument here about restoring old machine tools. I set out to gather equipment and am now (hopefully) nearing the end of a very long rebuild of my Bridgeport mill. At first, the work was a means to an end. It has now become and end in itself and I am getting a lot out of the project....for the projects sake and not just so I will have a mill. I have a shaper and several other machines that may need some scraping and other restoration work at some point and the learning experience will likely be useful in the future.
When the machine tools are all up and working, I have a list an arm length long of tooling for the lathe and mill, etc. that I want to make. Then, I am sure, I will have more things to make with the tooling I have made.
I say welcome to the club. Most of us are not in business and as I understand, you are semi-retired and as such have the luxury of doing what you want--even if it doesn't make much sense to others. We can all think of some crazy old man we knew when young that made stuff that made no sense to us at the time. If we don't take up the mantle for the old crazy guys of the next generation, who will:D
Congratulations on your book and good luck with the next!
12-21-2006, 12:43 PM
I'm in that place. I built a shop starting late summer 2005 and finished off the major structure mid winter. Since then I've been finishing it off and making it fit the work I plan on doing in it. I've also picked up some old machinery that needs/needed restoration.
I suffer from the dreaded hobby form of A.D.D. where I work on 4 or 5 projects at a time, in no order, with little formal planning. Presently I'm building larger dials for my 10" Atlas, which leaves me needing to make a tool so I can stamp numbers on the dial square and with the same offset. I started an AXA sized QCTP a while back. I'm also casually restoring a 12" Craftsman lathe and a 14" logan lathe.
In the shop I need to finish rolling out insulation in the attic, install a heat source for the radiant floor heating, finish off drawers and cabinets for the machine tool corner and then wrap up half a dozen small things.
I figure the rest of my days are going to be like this. Many projects going at one time, and enjoying every bit of it.
12-21-2006, 12:57 PM
Almost a year ago I took delivery of a truck load of new machines, lathe, mill, welders, plasma cutter, sheet metal shear, brake, roll, tooling, etc, etc. Stashed everything in my garage. In April I started work on my new shop building, doing literally myself except pouring and finishing the concrete it is completely dried in and am now doing the wiring. I was in construction my entire working life and have been retired 2 years, I do not enjoy this at all, but I keep the end in sight and hopefully can move the machines into the building in a couple of months, then the enjoyment begins.
I think the thing that has really amused me is while reading the different forums I see the guys that buy a mini lathe and mini mill to make things for their hobbies, and then the machines themselves become the hobby, improving and outfitting the machines, the other hobby has been put aside, I think that is kinda cool, one guy has the slickest, trickest mini machine shop you can imagine, all he does is make things for his machines.
12-21-2006, 01:07 PM
I WAS going to finish drywalling the cieling and part of one wall....ummm...ten years ago :D
Now I have so much junk in there that drywall won't fit.
I'd REALLY like a small addition. Put my air compressor out there and make half a "grinding only" section.
I work at a shop that has a grinding room. It's very nice for the rest of the shop....cuts way down on the airborne debris that lands on shiny equipment.
12-21-2006, 01:25 PM
After years of an improvised space in the basement and garage of our
DIY-renovation-in-progress house, I finally had the house far enough advanced that it was time to do something about the sorry situation.
This evening I'll start painting the freshly finished new walls that boundary my little shop. It's funny, but the shop has way more usable space even though there's walls now.
The area under the landing and stairs is now the gritty place where the sanders, grinders, buffer, media blaster, etc. all live in happy isolation from the other children and their lovingly cleaned and oiled ways.
The new-to-me Walker/Turner vertical bandsaw has tons of room on the infeed and outfeed sides, and the DiAcro shear and brake finally get room to play. There's plenty of nice (obtained for free) chrome Metro wire shelving for all the bins and organizers of fasteners and parts, room for actual bench space, and space to set up my old workstation so I'll have SolidWorks and AutoCad accesible in the shop to look at drawings.
There will be plenty of light, and more than enough 20 amp outlets. A full air system will be hung in the garage, where the 5hp/60 gallon Speedaire sits, and come through the wall for drops in the basement shop.
I suspect there's a place for a mini fridge, and there's a decent stereo.
I've done many thousands of hours of work in dim, improvised spaces. My machinge shop has paid for itself times over even in it's squalid little temporary home.
I had a big scare last year. Something growing in my head, the sort of thing no one ever wants to see. It all worked out better than anyone could hope for and as a result, I don't suffer a crappy shop anymore. Life can be too short for that. I started Thanksgiving weekend, and will be done by Christmas at a total cost of less than $1000, and a value that's directly tied to my enjoyment and is therefore priceless.
12-21-2006, 01:33 PM
Greetings again from down the road in Bryson.
For the ground up construction of a shop, a great deal is to be considered of course. Foundations, compaction, crushed gravel, possibly embedded heating and machine weight. Insulation for retaining heat and thus providing a constant temp or nearly so. Maybe AC is required to perform the same. Heat recovery and efficiency, humidity (rust never sleeps) also should be considered.
(particularly difficult in our area as it's 30 one day 70 the next with widely varying humidity conditions)
Wiring runs in the form of bus feeds, whether 3 phase is available currently or could be in the future, as in removing a RPC from bus feed and simply tieing 3 phase in with minimal redesign. Clear marking of such voltages and feeds is a safety factor commonly linked with "enlightened self interest". Proper wire sizes and breakers. Haphazard runs of wire are exactly that.
Ventilation, if welding is to be performed (likely).
Grinding area separate from lathes and mills if possible, maybe with welding area for the ventilation provided.
Workflow, as in from stock to finish, including stock storage, lifting and transport, placement. A 8' garage door won't *usually* work if you plan on a forklift at some point in the future, or even an A frame. All depends on your projected work, as well you know. It gets bigger...just try a town clock some time :-))
Flammable storage and fire prevention. (Don't store your flammables next to the welder, multiple fire extinguishers...that sort of thing)
It might be I thought about this too much or overly expounded on a home shop question, but the concepts are same in a production shop. I guess the best thing is to look to the ease of addition for future expansion.
As far as admitting it, no....I admit nothing and deny everything,
though I may be pronounced guilty by others.
12-21-2006, 01:53 PM
deleted by poster
12-21-2006, 02:09 PM
It's a mixture for me. Sometimes I do projects, some of which are tool refurbushment or modification and sometimes it's improvements to the space. But to me it's all shop time and it gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. I do a mix of wood and metal working depending on my whim and what SWMBO desires. After all when we built the building 6 years ago it was her idea (get those sawdust generators away from the house a little more). It seemed to be an extravigance just for me at the time but as it turns out she gets just as much enjoyment out of it as I do wether she's helping me (usually by cleaning up after me) or just as a base while working in her garden (yard). She also has a good eye and catches a lot of my mistakes before I do.
We're thinking to build a small add on for storage and possible a place to put the dust collector and compressor to make more working space. I should install some of those rigid foam panels between the roof trusses to insulate it a bit as it can get warm in the So. Cal. summer (not to mention kinda cool lately). Don't want a drop ceiling as I like the truss area for storage as well. The space is 20'x24' basically two car garage size (it was a kit intended to be a garage). It's getting pretty full with SB9, Clausing 8520 V mill, Rotex H mill (under re-furb), table saw, band saw, 6" jointer, planer, shop built router table, shop built workbench, couple roll-aways, misc storage shelves and cabinets and more. Gotta thread my way around a lot.
As long as I'm working on something wether it's a piece of tooling or shop aid, or jewelry boxes (her latest request) or a home improvement job I'm happy. One day I want to try some Sterling cycle engines, want to cut some gears with my dividing head, lots of lathe and mill stuff to try. Think I'll need a couple of lifetimes.
12-21-2006, 02:30 PM
Interesting point. I think all of us grow with what we do and the tools we have . A new project may require new tools and a new tool may inpire a new project. I think we need to keep a happy medium though . As I mentioned before I have a brother that has a well equiped shop but never makes anything. He is pretty much a tool collector. I had a buddy that was kind of like that too. He was settign up for pojects he never got around to. I guess I am guilty some of this. I have as many projects started as I have finished. But I do finish some and Display at Cabin/Iron Fever. I have worked at many trades over the years and like having the "tools of the trade" available at home.
12-21-2006, 02:57 PM
Having just completed a new home with integral shop, I suppose I am guilty. I also spend a little time making accessories for my machinery, and judging by the number of articles in HSM and MW, a lot of other people do too. However, I would like to see more project articles in the magazines for things that appeal to those that surround the machinist.
"Look here, dear! See the tool holder I just made! Isn't it nice?"
"Cute. Could you move over sweetie? I can't see the TV."
This past Thanksgiving, all the family was over. After dinner I took the granddaughters into the shop, outfitted them with safety glasses and had them watch while I turned a couple of brass eggs on the lathe from some 3/8 rod. (small eggs) I cross drilled a small hole and finished up with a file before parting off. I threaded a piece of heavy coat thread through the hole and tied it into a necklace. They loved it. We rejoined the family and my mother said "make me one."
They showed them off saying "my grandpa made this for me" and "my son made it."
Got more ego mileage out of those eggs than a whole shopful of machine accessories.
Some of you remember my articles in HSM: The Geneva Mechanism and The Spiral Cam. Well, maybe you don't. Unless you have an application for them, they are of just passing intrest. Even machinists yawned.
I plan to do future articles on stuff I build *with* my machines.
12-21-2006, 04:06 PM
Very good point. People have loved it when I have made things for them that are "practical' I have made Brass candlestick holders for the wife. Oak coasters for the bosses office. Necklaces for family and friends and they love it. Do you mean little projects like this?
The folks that are into miniatures like them. My wife made her own steam engine does that count.
12-21-2006, 04:17 PM
I still say we Brits have a lot to learn and we are slowly learning from our American brothers about how a real workshop should be for a long time (too long actually ) we had here in the UK a war like mentality about workshops and equipment , where everything is on a make do basis. When every workshop was virually an old run down air raid shelter left over from ww11 I am talking about hobbiests not busineses so we are slowly learning that we can have good equipment ,comfortable surroundings, and all the things you guys normally take for granted, and I believe my generation are the first to break the old mould on this and long may it continue Alistair.
Your Old Dog
12-21-2006, 04:20 PM
I'll finally be done working on my shop when I get the 42" Sony Bravia 1080p HD Tv parked in there and a dolby 5.1 audio system w/subwoofer big enough to drown out the noise of the mill and lathe!!
My shop is getting "old shoe" comfortable for me. I acutally hung up pictures on the walls the other day, I'm big on ambiance and culture :D
Alistairs right, it's about having a good time. Some of us like wood, some metal and then some LIKE TO PAINT LIKE ALISTAIR!! Did anyone mention Alistairs paint jobs? :D
12-21-2006, 04:46 PM
I see by the colour of your little smileys your a green man like myself not green with envy are you.:DAlistair
12-21-2006, 09:34 PM
My oldest "unfinished" project was probably started in the mid-80's!
A 58 VW that had been rolled so naturally I had to chop the top off. The kids were still little and I remember them yelling, "Mommy! Daddy tore the roof off the car!"
Then I spent about a thousand hours perfecting the the cut lines, sculpting the windshield, etc. Took 3 sets to get the doors right.
What killed the project and why it's still sitting out back as I type was the usual dollar thing. I was after building a big travel pre-runner but was needing 5-6 grand in axles and suspension parts to do it right. But with all that work in it I couldn't just get rid of it could I? It's scuplture. Sheetmetal 101.
Of course if a dude had a machine shop and knew how to use it he could MAKE a lot of those parts. I may finish it yet.
12-21-2006, 09:53 PM
I find tremendous comfort in this thread, for here I can confess my obsessions to those of like mind who might understand my plight. Five years ago I was high bidder on an old and run-down farm being auctioned by the state. The property includes an old farm house, portions of which are 200 years old. And a 30 x 40 foot bank barn, among assorted smaller outbuildings. Truth is, since then I’ve spent virtually all of my time in structural restoration of the barn to convert it into a two story workshop, and little time on the house, which I had planned to restore for rental. I fear many see questionable judgement, distorted priorities, maybe worse. But the dream of a “real” workshop, woodworking upstairs and metal working and tractor restoration downstairs, has been a temptation much too great for me to overcome.
12-22-2006, 05:27 AM
Thanks for the responses, guys. (Should I say "and gals"? Times really are changing, you know.). This is turning out a little like I expected. I know for me, and I have suspected for others, that the project is not the end result of spending time in the shop. People who ask, "What do you make here in your shop?", are missing the point entirely.
Of course, an interesting result is always a satisfying thing to show off. A possible way to avoid the deflated ego Wes referred to is to make from time to time something the cook might enjoy and/or use. My cook helps me to keep the shop clean.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning, Merry Christmas. I hope you all get rotary tables from Santa.
12-22-2006, 09:03 AM
you only go around once. and if you want a shop buy it build it. but do in it what you like.
and when someone asks why? just say it keeps me out of the bars.
12-22-2006, 09:42 AM
IT started out as a Hobby shop, now it is a money making business. So I say go for it chose your customers well and do a good job for a decent price (for both parties) and you can do well.
Careful of the neighbors they are a jealous lot and will turn you in to the Powers that be for running a business,There is a troublemaker on every block or township,or whatever you live on or in.Some folks cant stand it when you are making more money than them.
12-22-2006, 10:30 AM
Some folks cant stand it when you are making more money than them.
I agree! Such people usually come from the left side of the political spectrum. If they can't find some way to share in your prosperity without having to work for it, they usually try to prevent you from doing what makes you prosperous. Same usually goes for happiness and contentment.
Machining is the glue here that binds us together. We may differ politically or religeously, but we all seem to enjoy seeing each other succeed with our shops, tools and projects.
12-22-2006, 11:09 AM
'Course, on the far right there are those who will try to keep you from doing something profitable or enjoyable if it violates some notion of propriety.
12-22-2006, 11:41 AM
wolf you are right on with that. i fought the township for 3 years over my business even when my place was comercial.
12-22-2006, 10:29 PM
Lately I have been working more on the shop and machines than any "projects". I just took the boy to the emergency room today (he's OK, but at the rate he's going he'll have more scars than a prize fighter before he gets to kindergarten). What that means is the "shop budget" set aside for Cabin Fever next month has been "accounted for" this month. I have projects that require welding, but since I weld outdoors, I push it to the back of the shop for winter, only this years winter weather has been slow to arrive, so the lathe bench is still a stacked pile of parts. The vert mill, is still 3/4 disassembled, but I found a unused 3~ motor in my parts pile to replace the "toasted" 1~ import motor. A new to me import drill press that needs some TLC. Shop electrical upgrades are still unfinished. 25% of the shop floor space is taken up by a crated machine, that will most likely remain that way until spring, because SWMBO car need repaired. Part of my "problem" is that at one time, I worked part time in the sales side of tools and machinery, so I have a large "collection" of "almost complete semi-funtional" machine like things that I have convinced myself "only a bit of work, and it will be better than new". The other part of the problem is at one time I had a "fairly functional" shop set up and was content, but SWMBO need the "cash value" of the machines while I was away at war, so all the really usuable stuff is gone. Also while I was away, my full time job, closed down taking 15+ years of my "work tools and equipment" with it, or maybe my (trusted?) co-workers just added my stuff to their stuff when the walked out the plant that last time. So the uncompleted projects sit gathering dust and rust in dark corners of the shop, I thought my "semi-retirement" (health related) was going to allow me enough time to get everything all done. Fat chance.
12-23-2006, 01:31 PM
My story is pretty much the same as others here have stated. I started my first machine work in my dad's shop and after I married I built my own house and followed that by building my own shop/outbuilding for farm equipment that I used to farm part time with but never was able to show a profit at it so I sold all the equipment and got out of farming completely. Now left with a big 48'X80' pole barn I started some new hobbies or expanded ones I had before but no time to work on them. http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o268/castaway43/oldshop1.jpg
My first one was a small foundry with equipment I bought at a school auction to be used in connection with my machine shop projects. This turned out to be great move since after getting set up and casting and machining parts for old cars and fire trucks I was making in one week what had made in net profit for a full summer's farming. With money saved from this I began plans for a second shop that offered better conditions to work in than I had in my first shop. I had saved up enough that I could hire in some help since I wanted things done that I couldn't do by myself. Pouring a slab of concrete 40'X64 5" thick was one. I worked a deal with the guy helping me that I would rebuild his fork lift engine in exchange for his building a second story floor in the back half of the shop and put up 2X6's on 2' centers around the walls so they could be insulated and drywalled. He was so happy with the deal he throw in a concrete sidewalk to the house and a driveway to the road, I just had to pay for the concrete.
Something my Dad told me " never move into a shop until it all done or you will never finish it out correctly". So for one year after having the shop exterior done I completed an office, bathroom/septic&drain field, wired it, plumbed in gas, air and water. Installed heating as well as a dust collector before finally insulating the walls with 6" in the walls and 14" blown in the the ceiling and then drywalling it all. I than moved in machines from my old shop as well as purchased new and used stuff for the wood shop on the second floor. It starts out with this big empty space but before long you have to look at work stations and grouping equiment in a manner that makes it easiest to work in. I still do improvements like putting in a linoleum floor this year in the wood shop over the plywood floor I had been working on before but for most part it's a work place now. Bob