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  • Shop Building

    Well, if everything goes through, I will be moving come January and I will then be building a new shop in the spring. I've got oodles of questions and would really love to hear people's thoughts on what makes a good and bad shop space. I think I will probably just keep updating this thread as the design evolves, rather than starting a new thread each time I have a harebrained idea or question.

    A few details:

    > Planning on a 30x60 footprint (may have to decrease as lumber prices go up...)
    > Will pour a concrete apron in front of barn to make getting machine tools on/off trailer easier and provide an outdoor space to work when the weather is nice
    > Needs to look like a Yankee barn with clapboard siding to match a historic, 1830s house nearby
    > Planning on 2 or 2.5 stories
    > Upper level will by 30x30 plus a 30x10 plus a full, low ceilinged attic for storage
    > Upper level will house a wood shop and electronics lab, might consider leaving all or part of the 30x10 open to below as a loft and/or grinding department
    > Upper level will hopefully have 9' clearance (to make handling 8' lumber / sheet goods easier)
    > Lower level will have a 20x30 high bay area and a 10x30 plus 30x30 regular area - regular area will hopefully have 10' clearance (I'm still working out heights)
    > Lower level will include a "proper" machine shop area, a mechanical area for working on cars or machines, a fabrication area, and maybe a precision grinding area
    > Planning on making some part of the lower level a double-duty painting area with some curtains or something... haven't thought it through yet
    > MGREEN here on the forum generously gave me a large squirrel cage blower from a commercial air handling unit; planning on using that somehow for dust / fume extraction
    > Will run hePEX in concrete slab for heat but will, initially, stick with used wood burning stoves I find on Craigslist because I can't afford to put in a proper furnace
    > Probably no AC or severely undersized el' cheapo through-the-wall ACs to start with so large doors, fans, and lemonade are important come summer time

    Tonight's question (10/18): Suppose you are building a two story structure. What is the minimum "grid size" for support columns before it becomes really difficult to maneuver a forklift or work on machines? I'm trying to decide how much I can afford to pay to get rid of columns altogether (which is, obviously, the ideal). The space can be spanned with no columns but the engineering and material costs both go up.


  • #2
    Very admirable goal and some good ideas. I noted that 9' ceilings are planned. Not nearly enough for handling 4 x 8 panels. The diagonal of said panel is proud of 8' 11 1/4" so it will tag anything you may have on the ceiling, like lights and such. 10' is a good minimum. Also, damn the (imagined) cost and put PEX tubing in the concrete floor even if you don't hook a heat source to it right away. Radiant heat is the best because it warms objects not so much the air. So heat lost to opening a big door will be minimal and recovery very quick. I worked for six years running a concrete pump and every single job we poured that didn't have the heat tubing reported regret within one season. Those that did, unanimously loved it. Columns on a 10' grid can be maneuvered around pretty easily, but if you tag one with a fork lift the costs skyrocket. I use pallet jack for what is not already on wheels. Also, to keep costs down and make future changes easier, plan electrical to be surface mounted. This makes insulation easier to install, too. I used "NuWool" which is superior in all ways and costs about 1/10 of spray foam. Go out of your way to get it for the walls at least. https://www.nuwool.com/
    Good luck.

    DanK

    Comment


    • #3
      Problem with radiant heat comes about if you are only in the shop part time. It will take a while to heat that slab, and then it will be radiating heat long after you are gone. For a full time shop, it would be good. I don't know how you plan on using this shop. A mini split system might be the best approach.

      Comment


      • #4
        There is truth to consider in what polaraligned said. Consider, too, what happens in a cold shop to metalworking and woodworking supplies and equipment. My equipment, woodworking and metal working, suffered terribly from weather changes and especially if I suddenly start an air heater. Any significant chunk of metal as small as a hand plane has to be tended and constantly treated after handling. Part of the cost of owning and keeping a shop full of equipment is the overhead of HVAC. Those of us who've done it find that a minimum temp of 55° or 60° is not cost prohibitive to maintain in a well insulated building in winter and offers optimum working conditions for machines and humans. AC is useful for keeping sweat damage to a minimum and lumber stable. Having said all that, for most of my woodworking career I've worked in my shop without much heat and no AC and found that it's not only uncomfortable, it causes all kinds of problems to work around. If you can avoid those issues, now seems like a very good time to consider them.

        DanK

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Dan Krager View Post
          Very admirable goal and some good ideas. I noted that 9' ceilings are planned. Not nearly enough for handling 4 x 8 panels. The diagonal of said panel is proud of 8' 11 1/4" so it will tag anything you may have on the ceiling, like lights and such. 10' is a good minimum. Also, damn the (imagined) cost and put PEX tubing in the concrete floor even if you don't hook a heat source to it right away. Radiant heat is the best because it warms objects not so much the air. So heat lost to opening a big door will be minimal and recovery very quick. I worked for six years running a concrete pump and every single job we poured that didn't have the heat tubing reported regret within one season. Those that did, unanimously loved it. Columns on a 10' grid can be maneuvered around pretty easily, but if you tag one with a fork lift the costs skyrocket. I use pallet jack for what is not already on wheels. Also, to keep costs down and make future changes easier, plan electrical to be surface mounted. This makes insulation easier to install, too. I used "NuWool" which is superior in all ways and costs about 1/10 of spray foam. Go out of your way to get it for the walls at least. https://www.nuwool.com/
          Good luck.

          DanK
          Thanks Dan - I hadn't thought about the diagonal of a panel. All the wood shops I've had up until now had low ceilings (<8'), so I couldn't even turn a 2x4 end for end. I thought just standing a panel up on end would be a luxury!

          Definitely plan on running the PEX, I just don't think I'll hook it up initially. You're right the cost of laying the tube is pretty minimal compared to the cost of pouring the slab and I'll probably come to appreciate it. Thanks also for the tip on Nuwool - I haven't decided what I'll use for insulation yet but I would prefer to avoid spray foam. I was thinking of using rock wool but the Nuwool stuff looks interesting.

          Thanks Polar Aligned for your input, too. Mini-splits are pretty common out here and I'm sure I could get one installed at a reasonable cost. I would like to say that I'll be out using my shop for hours every day but, realistically, it may be far less often than that. I'll have to think carefully about what will ultimately make the most sense to heat and cool it.

          So far, with regard to column locations, I have at least one vote for 10x10 as being reasonable. I still hate the idea of cluttering up the inside with columns, but it does make a difference in cost and even available height. To clear span 30', I think I figured on 15" deep I-joists, so - once the floor and ceilings are on - I lose almost 1.5 feet vertically.

          Comment


          • #6
            I see you're in New Hamster now. And obviously moving to another frigid clime. So where are you moving?

            -js
            There are no stupid questions. But there are lots of stupid answers. This is the internet.

            Location: SF Bay Area

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi Fasttrack,

              May is suggest you think about over 10' ceilings (11'-12') if you are thinking of using a car lift either 2 post or 4 post. Check the spec requirements. I did a 10' ceiling and the 4 post lift I got will not let a hardtop car on top and a hardtop car on the bottom as storage. I have to put the MGTD with a folding windscreen on top to get the coupe Morris Minor in the bottom as storage. It has worked out ok, but I would have preferred the other way around for storage of the cars.

              I did the PEX and rigid insulation in and under the slab, I can say without a doubt it was the best investment I could have done. I didn't hook it up for 8 years, but when I did it has been a real treat to go in the shop and have 55*- 60*F and turn it up a bit and short sleeve shop in no time. Milder climate in Western Oregon, but others in colder climates have written about the same results.

              Good luck and keep us posted on what you end up doing...!

              TX
              Mr fixit for the family
              Chris

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fasttrack View Post
                To clear span 30', I think I figured on 15" deep I-joists, so - once the floor and ceilings are on - I lose almost 1.5 feet vertically.
                I don't know of any manufacturer who makes 15" deep I joists, a common 16" deep one will not span it. I did a 30' deep commercial building about 15 years ago and we needed 20" deep commercial I-joists made by Trus Joist a MacMillian brand. Their engineers specs and sealed drawings for the design which was for office space above warehouse. Cost to purchase them at 16" centers for a 30' deep by 100' long building was $22,000. Probably a lot more now for I joists of this size. Open web joists are probably more economical than the I-joists because they are pretty generic in the larger sizes with lots of manufacturers. Most companies have engineers who will do a design and seal it.

                As for insulation, spray foam is very expensive, but it will provide an unbeatable vapor and air infiltration barrier. I would do that if I could afford it.

                I have a forced air heater in my shop that runs off a hot water coil powered by a boiler. Not a particularly high BTU unit. My shop will drop to the upper 30's in the coldest days of Winter in North NJ. I run it for an hour and it brings the temperature in a 1500 sf shop up to the mid 50's which is fine. My metal and woodworking tools don't have any issue with it. The only problem I ever have is if my machinery is cold and I leave the door open on a warmer and humid day, then I get condensation on the metal surfaces, so I avoid that and all is fine.

                As for poles, I used lally columns and boxed around them with 2x4's and added receptacles so I can position machinery around them and make them useful.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim Stewart View Post
                  I see you're in New Hamster now. And obviously moving to another frigid clime. So where are you moving?

                  -js
                  Still NH but the next town over. A little closer to work and on a much quieter street! Not too far from where Alan Shepard was born, as a matter of fact.

                  Originally posted by Mr Fixit View Post
                  Hi Fasttrack,

                  May is suggest you think about over 10' ceilings (11'-12') if you are thinking of using a car lift either 2 post or 4 post. Check the spec requirements. I did a 10' ceiling and the 4 post lift I got will not let a hardtop car on top and a hardtop car on the bottom as storage. I have to put the MGTD with a folding windscreen on top to get the coupe Morris Minor in the bottom as storage. It has worked out ok, but I would have preferred the other way around for storage of the cars.

                  I did the PEX and rigid insulation in and under the slab, I can say without a doubt it was the best investment I could have done. I didn't hook it up for 8 years, but when I did it has been a real treat to go in the shop and have 55*- 60*F and turn it up a bit and short sleeve shop in no time. Milder climate in Western Oregon, but others in colder climates have written about the same results.

                  Good luck and keep us posted on what you end up doing...!

                  TX
                  Mr fixit for the family
                  Chris
                  Thanks, Chris! It's funny you mention a car lift. I spent the weekend obsessing over ceiling heights and car lifts, which led me to bridge cranes, and then finally gantry cranes. Separate thread on that someday in the future, but I will have a 20x30 high bay area that has about a 20' ceiling height. My backhoe is 12' tall and I wanted some head room to pull the cab and other components off when rebuilding it. Ultimately, I decided I was not going to put in a car lift, at least for now. I don't enjoy working on passenger vehicles enough to warrant sacrificing the floor space. I may go with one of those portable 2 post or single post jacks in the future, but it's not a priority right now.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by polaraligned View Post

                    I don't know of any manufacturer who makes 15" deep I joists, a common 16" deep one will not span it. I did a 30' deep commercial building about 15 years ago and we needed 20" deep commercial I-joists made by Trus Joist a MacMillian brand. Their engineers specs and sealed drawings for the design which was for office space above warehouse. Cost to purchase them at 16" centers for a 30' deep by 100' long building was $22,000. Probably a lot more now for I joists of this size. Open web joists are probably more economical than the I-joists because they are pretty generic in the larger sizes with lots of manufacturers. Most companies have engineers who will do a design and seal it.

                    As for insulation, spray foam is very expensive, but it will provide an unbeatable vapor and air infiltration barrier. I would do that if I could afford it.

                    I have a forced air heater in my shop that runs off a hot water coil powered by a boiler. Not a particularly high BTU unit. My shop will drop to the upper 30's in the coldest days of Winter in North NJ. I run it for an hour and it brings the temperature in a 1500 sf shop up to the mid 50's which is fine. My metal and woodworking tools don't have any issue with it. The only problem I ever have is if my machinery is cold and I leave the door open on a warmer and humid day, then I get condensation on the metal surfaces, so I avoid that and all is fine.

                    As for poles, I used lally columns and boxed around them with 2x4's and added receptacles so I can position machinery around them and make them useful.
                    How far apart are your columns? Any problems navigating around them?

                    Yep, you're totally right re: I-joists. As alluded to in the previous post, this weekend I've been thinking about bridge and gantry cranes. The gantry crane I started designing requires an S15x50 I-beam so I had 15" depth stuck in my brain. Trus Joist now has a 16" deep joist that clear spans 32', 12" OC or 29'8", 16" OC w/ L/480 deflection. Based on my discussion with the building inspector and the L/480 deflection, I would think the 16" OC with a 30' clear span would be acceptable, probably even without a PE stamp on the plans. That's what I would likely use but they sure aren't cheap!

                    An alternative I've been thinking about is running a beam 10' off of one wall, reducing my clear span to 20', which is in the realm of a more reasonably priced 11-7/8" I-Joist. This would still allow for a large 20' by 30' high bay to drive a backhoe into as well as a large 20' by 30' clear space in the machine shop proper. There would only be one row of columns, off center. From a structural perspective, it makes more sense to put the beam in the middle of course but then the door has to be off-center and things start to get cramped getting my backhoe in (because of how it will have to turn to access the gable end of the barn - I'm working with a pretty restrictive plot plan).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Unless I missed it, the only mention of wiring so far has been "do it surface mount". You don't mention what size service you'll have. Since I did not plan out equipment layout or expect it to never change, I put both 120V (4 @20A) and 240V (2 @ 20A) outlets every 4 ft or so. This included in the ceiling in the middle of the 18 ft span, so that I could drop lines down to machines that were not near a wall. The one thing that is in a fixed location is the 240v/50A outlet for the welding gear, and there is only the one, so I do have to plug/unplug if I want to use that outlet for a different welder or plasma cutter. (I was never going to have more than a single one anyway, only 100A service to my shop.)
                      "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Fasttrack, seeing as how I am such a nice guy I will let you come and organize my shop and build what you want to organize it. The basic dimensions are quite close to what you want to build. The main area is 10m x 20m with 10m high peak in the middle. It would have enough space for two normal levels and an attic. So it is about what you mentioned. Should I send you dimensioned drawings and pictures so you can plan?
                        Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                        How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'd say a column footprint of 10x10 would be minimum. I think the cost to make it 15x15 and gain more room options would be pretty easy to swallow. That would put just one line of columns down the middle. And it's not that big a deal to use 15 foot joists and 15 ft beams down the middle.

                          I hope you have ideas for a powered lift platform for the wood working mezzanine. You'll want it for moving machinery up there and at some point back down plus for moving the wood products up to the level and for lowering the bigger projects back down. Stairs would be just for you and smaller items being moved either way.

                          I would advise on not using an open mezzanine for the wood work area as even with good dust collection tricks SOME will spread out and settle onto everything on the lower level. Same with your idea of a grinding area up on the other mini mezzanine. Light duty grinding like tool sharpening will produce limited swarf being thrown around. But any heavy duty grinding and grit and metal particles will again spread out and tend to rain down onto everything below.

                          With a well insulated shop the floor will actually keep the shop a few degrees warmer than outside. My old free standing garage shop with good insulation never saw the grinder water freeze even when it was fairly well below freezing. And just that ground warmth coming up does a lot for keeping condensation at bay.

                          With the tall open area consider that the heat will rise. So put a fan up in the high clear area and over to one side to circulate the air around in a big loop to push the warm air back down. Otherwise it'll be like an expensive to maintain sauna up at the ceiling and even in the mezzanine rooms and you'll still have cold feet and ankles. This would apply even if you have the heated slab running. Just not as cold on the feet I was shocked at this heat zone stratification even in my 9 ft ceiling garage shop. And my local buddy's 11ft shop it was even worse. He ended up with a ceiling fan and it did the job of evening the heat vertically very nicely.

                          If you're good with CAD I can't stress how handy it would be to pre-plan your layout for tools and storage. I spent a lot of hours doing up a floor plan for my shops which paid off big time. I focused on any access areas being as far as possible multi duty. I included some thought on moving long stock as well. Hence my stock reduction bandsaw sitting at the one end of my metal rack for 10ft lengths of stock. It's all those little things like that. This layout also suggested the layout for my 220v circuits for the big tools.

                          If you're not that great with CAD than go with the other CAD (Cardboard Aided Design) and cut out machines and storage units to scale from file card or cereal box stock and play with layouts in the same way and take pictures of each version. LOTS of pictures so you can go back and review things. Even bad layouts have SOME good features that you'll want to recall and use in your final setup.
                          Chilliwack BC, Canada

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My 2 story shop has a 2 ft. tall cement stem wall all around except for doors. This gets all the lumber up off the ground and away from that source of decay. It also makes it so that regular 8' wall joists, plywood and sheetrock give you a 10' ceiling. There is a 1200 SF apartment on top as well, with full bath, kitchen, laundry room, living room and 2 bedrooms. It is mostly used for office and storage space.

                            Make the entire shop as big as you can afford it, the space fills up quickly. Put in plenty of 110V 4 plex or other outlets and 220 outlets. Those fill up quickly, as well.
                            Last edited by Toolguy; 10-19-2021, 03:34 PM.
                            Kansas City area

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You don't need to heat the whole space continually, just the bit with machines in it on a separate raft to avoid cold bridging. Unless you are working on combine harvesters you also probably don't need a full 30ft clearspan either. Maybe 20 would do and wall off the remaining 10ft as a separate work area so that you are not tempted to drive the forklift through the pillars.

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