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Your homestead workshop/shed situation  RSS feed

 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 241
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I got some encouragement for starting this thread from Permies member John McDoodle.

First off, I’ll mention that in North America I’ve seldom if ever seen a homestead that didn’t have a sheltered “shop” of some sort.  Some people call them “tool sheds” or just "the garage" – but, by whatever name, the function is similar.  There is a never-ending string of make-it, fix-it, and maintain-it tasks on a country place, and for many people in city or suburb.

I’d love to have a single enclosed space of maybe 16x24 feet that could be warmed during winter.  A place that would accommodate my tools (human-powered hand tools, corded and battery portable tools, and stationary electric tools.  What I do have is a wood/handyman/bench-carpentry area (part of my house’s basement, about 200 sq ft) heated in winter.  My metalworking area (roughly the same amount of floor space, behind the barn) is unheated in winter - although the situation allows for simple ventilation of fumes.  I’ve arranged good lighting in these two areas.  I also have an unheated shed where my lumber and tablesaw are sheltered.

I do most of my small-engine work back of the barn in my metalworking area.  Pic uploads only allow for three shots, but what I've put here gives some idea.

My challenge: the table saw & lumber shed sit 30 ft from the stairs down to my basement.  But both the basement stairs and the tablesaw/lumber shed are over 100 ft from where I can do the main metal work.  As most every handyman knows, there are frequent cross-over tasks  –  say, involving wood, metal, and electrical wiring.  I haven’t built even a modest shop building mainly due to our tight budgeting here, but I do like to conceive possible layouts.

Anyhow, it’d be great to learn what others here are doing for a workshop.  Especially if you live with portions of the year characterized by cold and precipitation.  (Pictures would make things clearer... but don't hold back.)

Basement-Shop-1.jpg
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Little basement workspace
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Lumber (etc) shed with tablesaw
Metal-Shop-1.jpg
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Metal & small-engines area, behind the barn
 
John McDoodle
Posts: 520
Location: ontario, canada
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There is also a building category in the forums.  I work out of an old quaint pole barn with a dirt floor.   The building is older than I am, but it has a fairly recent modern garage door installed on the front.   Inside is a complete mess right now and it's unheated / uninsulated.   I love spending time building and creating out in the work-shop, and that's where my first rocket stove was born.      I think every create person needs a space to create and same goes with artists and mechanics and wood craftsman.   I personally rely on my hands and tools because I cannot afford the things that I build and fix.   The car I fixed up, I couldn't afford to buy from a dealer.  So I fixed up one myself.  The wire stripper machine I built, would have cost thousands for a similar industrial unit, but I built one myself.   I couldn't afford a boat so I built one outside, but I moved it inside for the painting process and such. 

I enjoy being able to move around the shop and open the doors on a vehicle if one were inside, but any workshop is better than no workshop.  

On a budget, I've seen guys build supports and steel roofs on shipping containers and temporary car shelters, but as far as safe winter heat, the shipping containers are better, alothough often more expensive than the former.   Shipping containers can be spaced apart and a roof can be built to bridge the gap, creating a large car-port or large garage when closed in, similarly they can be placed tight together but it's less efficient at creating a large shop.   Spacing them apart will create a larger structure and provide something to build a roof onto
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Joel Bercardin
Posts: 241
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Looks pretty good, John.  I understand though from what you've said, that it's unheated - and I know what that means up here in Canada.  Any plans to insulate and add a heat source, etc?

My lack of a spacious covered and heated assembly area means that there are larger projects, whether primarily wood or metal, that I don't work with for about three months of the year, if not more.  But on the positive end of things: the pics I uploaded didn't show another couple angles on my 'back of barn' area.  I've got a compressor for air tools & a sandblaster in there, and I've got my MIG welder there too.

 
Metal-Shop-2.JPG
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Sandblaster cabinet in metal area
 
John McDoodle
Posts: 520
Location: ontario, canada
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No heating plans right now for the workshop, but you never know what the future holds.   I'd love an insulated workshop with heat but it's not a priority right now.   If I owned the property it might be a different case.   I rent here from my boss so I don't want to spend what little resources I have on somebody else's property.   Someday I will have my own property hopefully, but for now this is where I work.   I'm no stranger to working out in the cold and snow, I just spend less time outside in the winter.   However I really enjoy building and finding and creating, working with my hands.   Learning hands on and such. 
 
Travis Johnson
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I have a few areas.

I have a "shop" that is wayyyyy too small, maybe 9 x 13 that pretty much just houses my tools, but it too will soon be taken over and used as an office.

Another area is a 13 x 22 garage that does well for wood working. Its not heated, but covered and I do a lot of woodworking there. Right now I park my log trailer in there just to keep it out of the snow.

I also have a 8 x 12 area that is for my steel working tools. Its a handy place to store gas and oil cans and stuff for the equipment.

And then there is a spot in my barn. I can park my bulldozer in there out of the snow, so I do and that is where I keep some fuel and oil stuff related to my bulldozer.

I am not ready for this yet, but at some point I want to build a garage just for my bulldozers. I want a stair way leading down into a pit where I can stand up because a lot of the maintenance on a bulldozer is on its tracks, and its track system has an inner and outer side. It would be nice to get to the inside and not have to crawl on my back as a bulldozer is slung real low to the ground.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1317
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I got nothin' 😔
OK, not really.
My basement was to be mine,but you know how that goes.
I have to go up one flight of stairs and down another to get to it,so I want invest in a stand alone shop.
My father in law lives next door.
He has a three car garage,that hasn't has a car in it for 20plus years...
Great place to scroung tools and materials,but ultimately a wasted space. His space, his rules, gotta give him his propers.
He let me use his paved backyard,which is great,but I'm ashamed to say things some times get unloaded from the van and don't make it to the basement. Not cool on my part- I need my own place to dump tools and such.

I have a property around the corner that I want to put a pit and carport on. I just did all the plugs and wires on a Chevy Astro, what a pain. I lucked into a warmish dry day for it, other wise it would yet be undone.

I have a boneyard at that yarden but it needs racks for lumber and pipes,etc, and a simple roof.
Right now old fencing hides it from the neighbors, and old pallets keep materials out of the dirt, but with better organization I could get more done.

I'm waysoff from a good work shop, but I build in iterations,so it's cool. I look at the one workshop that I do have set up nicely and I have hope.
I'm referring to my kitchen. Gotta eat, so it has gotten the most attention,with a place for everything an on a good day, everything in its place.
And yet I'm still working on it 😤
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 241
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Travis, William I can picture the difficulties.

I shouldn't complain... at least I can do some smallish handyman stuff in my basement during winter.  I just cut a few pieces of wood for about 15 minutes yesterday, out in my covered but open-air big shed.  Hadn't started the tablesaw for six weeks at least.  The motor didn't want to turn at all.  Played it smart and kept at it, never leaving the "on" position for more than about three seconds, and turning the blade manually with a push stick (it did not want to spin!)  Finally, after hand-holding for about five attempted starts, if did start to go, and then was turning high-rpm after maybe 20 seconds after that.  But it's a drag... oh, well.

Travis, how much snow do you get in winter?
 
Travis Johnson
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Not a lot. Maybe 70 inches total.

This year seems to be a big snow year. We got 18 inches on the ground now and another 20 inches coming tonight, so there will be a fair amount in the woods come Tuesday. That is where that 8 x 12 shed comes in for metal working. Sometimes you need to find pieces of steel and it is hard when it is buried under 2 feet of snow.

Our goal is to convert that 13 x 22 single car garage into a heated, year around workshop. We sell some homegoods that we make off the wood that grows on the farm, but honestly it is not enough money to invest into a building right now. Other priorities you know. But we also build our own buildings, including our house so we are always doing carpentry. A lot of times that is done in the winter, but I have a great wife, if it is too cold I set up sawhorses in the kitchen and go to work building this or that.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 241
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Travis Johnson wrote:not enough money to invest into a building right now. Other priorities you know. But we also build our own buildings, including our house so we are always doing carpentry. A lot of times that is done in the winter, but I have a great wife, if it is too cold I set up sawhorses in the kitchen and go to work building this or that.

My partner is great too.  But she doesn't like any trace of sawdust in the house.  So I never cut wood down in the basement with any larger tool than my jigsaw.  With financial constraints, my poor tablesaw is out in the unheated shed, frozen in winter. ''
 
Byron Gagne
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Here's my shop been working in at the moment



It's 46x26ft with 12 foot walls. 8x8 timbers almost every stick was cut on my sawmill.  Except the trusses.  Currently we're living in the shop while I finish the house. 
My shop has a greenhouse attached in the south wall 46x12 greenhouse.   On the North side is my barn/chicken coop, generator, and battery room.  Going to build a 8x8 roll door there also for equipment storage.  I'll do a shop tour via video very soon.  At the moment just have shop improvements.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 241
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Nice, Byron.  Thanks for posting it.  I went on Youtube and watched the next one too.  The shop is really coming along.

The high ceiling will be great for larger projects.  Just wondering, though – since you're pretty far north with very cold winter temps sometimes, won't the heat rise quite a lot and mean that more fuel consumption is required to keep your temps nearer to the floor warm enough?  Maybe, since you have the sawmill, you've got so much scrap and slab that it's not really an issue?

Yeah, I do wish I had all my tools in one building, plus enough space for larger projects in a winter-heated shelter!
 
Byron Gagne
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Heating is not a issue.  I made sure I paid attention while doing the log work so there sealed well.  I also blew in R40 in the ceiling.  It was - 20 here this morning and we burned about a wheel barrow load of wood over the last 24 hours.  Insulation is always the key.  We're currently heating the whole shop with my woodcook stove.  Which will get moved to house when we finish.  We're living comfortably in winter temps in the shop.   Keep in mind we're also using that wheel barrow load in the cook stove to heat our hot water, cook/bake, space heating and even with the top cook plate off I BBQ moose back straps for a treat.  Over the coals.  Haven't fired up a BBQ for years.  My cookstove is another topic altogether.

I feel having the two lean to's on the shop help a lot.  The greenhouse adds a lot of a tempered environment on the south side obviously.  The North lean too adds shelter from the north prevailing wind. 

At minute 00.52 I demo the benefit of having a attached greenhouse and how it's performing at -35c.  This protecting the 12ft high x 46ft wall.   Not only does it provide food double timing it and gettig btu's all winter, makes the invest into the greenhouse worth while.  That's a huge passive return.  Even if I never plant another 🌱 in the greenhouse, that greenhouse will pay me back for the rest of my life in the climate we live in.



The animals in the barn benefit being attached to the shop and the shop benefits from the animals.  I haven't supplemented any heat to them this winter.     Coldest we seen this winter -45c.  That's without a windchill. 



I need to  enclose the North lean too and insulate it yet but at the moment it's acting like a wind breaker, but once done it will be more like a down jacket on the North wall protecting the logs.  Coverage there again will 12x46 ft of wall.  I should do a video for yah. Stay tuned on that one!

The high ceiling and big workshop is very usable.  I can park both our main vehicles plus my skid steer inside all winter plus have room for projects.   No need to start a generator at -40c to start a car.  My vehicles remain warm comfortable and ready to go.  Plus saving wear and tear on them not to mention idling for warm up.  Saving me even more money 💰 long term.  I invested a lot into my shop as it's the heart ❤️ of the property so to say.  I did a lot of thinking on how it'll all work.  I wanted a place we're I can tool up and work there supplementing my income.  I wanted a place to go be creative play and experiment.   I have even built a 16x18 ft cabin in the bay one winter!   A place to house the generator and batteries for our Offgrid system.  A place to skin animals I'm a trapper, and butcher livestock.  Our greenhouse provides a lot of fresh groceries a rarity in the north. 

https://permies.com/mobile/t/54975/ft-greenhouse-Yukon

My wife and I decided to build the shop first.  Get a roof over our heads.  Next stage was power system.  Upgrade solar and generator system.  Get food production going barn and greenhouse build.  Then start the house while we have cash coming.  We're building everything totally mortgage free!  The shop allows me a real nice work area to do the house and such.  We're in no rush I figure about a ten year term we will be finished here on the property no mortgage no bills no interest payments.  True freedom.   Not bad for living in my workshop and building as I go.  It all starts with one tooled out area dry warm and comfortable.



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I just built this lift for my shop yesterday!
 
Daron Williams
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Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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At the moment I have a small metal shed that came as a kit. Really small but it holds my bikes and a few supplies n tools. I also have an even smaller old well house that no longer has a well in it but functions for storing things like pots and t-posts. I'm hoping to build a nice 200+ square foot shed in a year or two and eventually a green house. Together that should meet my needs.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 241
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Daron Williams wrote:At the moment I have a small metal shed that came as a kit. Really small but it holds my bikes and a few supplies n tools. I also have an even smaller old well house that no longer has a well in it but functions for storing things like pots and t-posts. I'm hoping to build a nice 200+ square foot shed in a year or two and eventually a green house. Together that should meet my needs.

I've seen some situations where people did a lot with a 200+ sq ft shed.  Good luck with the building.


Byron, how will you power your equipment in the shop when everything is basically set up?  I know you have that battery-powered MIG spool-gun rig.  And looks like you had a generator hooked up to your wood gasifier.  Do you foresee a possibility to generate enough current to run larger 120v power tools (tablesaw, etc)?
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 241
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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This is something worth telling people about, if they use propane, acetylene, or other air-fuel or oxy-fuel torches.  I’d have posted in the Gear forum here on Permies, but I wasn’t too sure that people who can make use of it would come across it there… better here in the “Shops” thread, maybe.

I use torches in my shop and in other applications - everything from thawing frozen pipes and things, to lighting outdoor scrap piles, to bending or cutting steel, brazing, etc.   Like pretty well everyone, I habitually lit any torch I have (ones that don’t have a built-in igniter) with a conventional flint “striker” or “sparker”.  But they’re fussy, and too often I’ve had to twist the flint around 90* or so, or replace a worn down flint.

This little device (costs under $20) just works very easily every time, and the manufacturer promises tens of thousands of ignitions.  I’ve found it to be safe to use with my torches, too.  Amazon sells it and I think many other places do too.
SparkKey.jpg
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SparkKey Igniter
 
Byron Gagne
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Byron, how will you power your equipment in the shop when everything is basically set up?  I know you have that battery-powered MIG spool-gun rig.  And looks like you had a generator hooked up to your wood gasifier.  Do you foresee a possibility to generate enough current to run larger 120v power tools (tablesaw, etc)?


Im designing and setting up a solar system for the property.  During the summer it will keep up with most projects, or should I say tools electrical needs.  During the winter I can supplement the batteries with a generator set up.  I have two generator set ups I'm working on one is woodgas powered the other a diesel generator I can pull from to charge batteries and such.  Usually I'm not doing many projects in the shop during the short winter days.   Im usually away trapping and such on my trapline.  The solar is sized to keep up with regular winter loads for us lights and such.  Hope this answers your questions?
 
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