I'm about to start build my workshop with the added compilcation of having a coke forge and I am stuggling to find a suitable flooring material that isnt concrete.
I need to the floor to be:
Smooth for cleaning
able to take heavy loads for shop machinary
able to take point loading without deforming Eg using engine crane with 1500kg on it without the wheels digging into the floor
I would also like but not need it to be warm and shockproof to resist cracking when hammering on it for many hours but i can work around this its just more work.
Given your specifications of what this floor needs to be able to do, you have the choices of:
1) sinking heavy steel I beams to bed rock and then setting granite or volcanic basalt floor on top of those beams.
2) laying at least 4 foot thick granite or basalt on a bedrock base.
The reason most all current forges are built on I beam to bedrock/ steel reinforced concrete is that the concussions of hammer forges will destroy just about any material in a matter of weeks if not days.
The forges (50 ton and up) at the Caterpillar Tractor plant in Decatur Il. shake the whole town when they are in operation.
If this is the type of work force you are describing, then you really don't have much choice.
Many of the old steel plants here in the US had pads for the forming machines with extremely tamped earth for the walk ways
Just about any paver currently available today is to thin to stand up to heavy duty, repetitive, concussions.
For an example, the Runways of Airports are a minimum of two feet thick, multi-layer steel reinforcement 12000 lb. concrete as a minimum so they will hold up to repeated heavy aircraft landings.
The steel landing decks of Aircraft Carriers are 2" thick solid steel supported by heavy I beams spaced 12" apart in two directions so they can withstand the forces of airplanes slamming into the deck to tail hook.
Your biggest issues for such "paving" is the vibrational forces that will resonate through the paving material in a sine wave. The material will be subjected to a rebound vibration as well as the concussion forces and the two will be almost equal in force.
If it was just being able to hold up weight, without any vibrational forces, then you could use multiple layers of high tensile pavers or stone with a thin layer of shock adsorbing material (just not spongey) between the layers.
A coke forge can be supported by tamped earth, just as the large, furnaces found in the Detroit area are/were.
Other than that piece of equipment, you might be able to use a stone/ ceramic paver covered with very thick steel as a floor but that will not meet the other specifications you mentioned since it will stain and rust unless always oiled.
You may find that what will work best are individual component pads with something else for between pad traversing (walking, rolling, etc.).
Thanks for the detailed answer, however that is sum what bigger than i had in mind. My old forge /anvil used to be outside on a concrete drive way that started to crack after a year or so of hand powered hammering.
Putting the anvil on a wooden base/floor should stop most issues especially if I make the floor around it then also shock will go in to the earth rather than the floor.
I would like earthen floor but am concerned that i will leave grooves when moving heavy things on it.
Sam, you might find that sinking a Large Log piece for an anvil table would work really well. I had one done that way in Up State New York, it had been on the same piece of log for over 100 years when I was using it.
I was told that the log had been soaked in Borax for a week before it had been set into the hole and dirt was then packed with an 18 b. headed sledge hammer. (this was from the 76 year old son of the gentleman who set the anvil in the blacksmith shop).
If most of the floor is just for moving things around on, then you could use a packed sand base (some lime sprinkled on and also tamped would help make it less prone to moving over time) set thick, road intended pavers would work well.
One smithy I knew has concrete in most of his shop but in the anvil area he had gravel. Once he set his anvils, power hammer and post vices in place and they worked their way down an inch or two, it was fine and absorbed the vibration. So for your case you may want to consider two floor types, one for easy rolling, one for beating on.
Hi Sam. I added your question to the natural building forum to see if we might be able to get more people to chime in.
I'll second the big log sunk into the ground, it's a good relatively cheap mount for an anvil that can handle a beating if you use good dense wood. Besides that little tip I'm having a hard time coming up with anything that would satisfy all your design requirements that I would call 'natural' short of large stone work.
Good luck with your search, let us know what you end up going with.
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I've got some foot square oak beams i might use under the anvil. The rest of the structure will be made from natural, waste or recycled materials. I think concrete is not the most environmentally sound stuff but it will allow me to spend less time cleaning and moving things around and more time designing/building things to make the world a little more interesting.
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