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Your homestead workshop/shed situation

 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 203
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
Shed-Lumber-Rack.JPG
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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: 512
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: 203
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: 512
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: 1209
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: 203
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: 203
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. ''
 
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