Recommendation? Shop Building Advice

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by ERRN, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2015
    I’m working on locating my shop space to an external detached structure, and it’s become more important now that I’m spending a lot more time forging than stick removal. My hot working area is on our patio under a temporary tent/gazebo, and my other tools like my grinder have always been in my garage. My wife would be tremendously happier if I located all of it to a detached work area, so that’s what I’m working on but there are a few restrictions I have to work around. I’m wondering if others have any creative space ideas that have worked well for them while considering a few issues I have.
    Space for building is limited due to location and HOA guidelines. I can build a structure that’s 200 square feet without much issue, but the choice of floor structure is a challenge. I’m considering wood floor shed style options and then locating my anvil outside the shed under a covered area so it can be anchored into the ground, and have a safe ground for hot work. Ideal would be a cement slab, but the location I want to put it will not allow for that. Has anyone been successful in building something useful that’s that small with building restrictions?
  2. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    Hard to answer without knowing what the restrictions your HOA has. Would compact gravel be an option? While concrete is nice for sliding/rolling things around, and sweeping up, it's not the best thing for the body.
    Where I used to live, I could build up to 200 sq ft without a permit provided it was not attached to the building, so I did a couple of post and beam structures that were independent, but close enough that there was no rainfall because the overhang of one roof covered the gap. It was nice to have the wood working/grinding area separate from the hot-work area because I didn't have to concern myself with making sure there wasn't any sawdust lying around to catch fire.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
    CasePeanut and Ron Raducanu like this.
  3. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2015
    That’s pretty much my main HOA restriction as well. I can do 200 sqft with no permit and on the back side of my property line. Compact gravel is definitely an option where I can built it. I’ve thought about open covered with post and beam construction, but I’d also like to move some other tools into it and be able to lock the door and keep some of them out of the elements. Maybe a hybrid shed structure with an open beam covered area.
  4. Ron Raducanu

    Ron Raducanu Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 10, 2021
    Is it that you can't have a concrete slab that is one piece that size, or is it that you can't have any rock flooring? If it is the former, I would recommend contacting a mason to see what he or she would be able to offer. I'm not sure that for a project like this, you'd want wood flooring, unless you then cover it with an epoxy covering of sorts to protect the wood from igniting or singeing. Some more detail on the HOA restrictions would help. Sounds like a cool workshop project!
  5. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    200 sq.ft. isn't a lot of room - 12x16'. The walls make it 11x15 inside.

    Some tips:
    A solid floor is a must. Gravel will let too much moisture in and will kill your feet/legs/back.
    Put tar paper down under the shed when placing the base/foundation.
    Put the door in the center of the 12' wall.
    Put a shelf above the bench all the way around. It should be about 6 feet from the floor.
    Put in a window in the center of the the end. Put an exhaust fan in the window and place the grinder in front of it.
    Mounting an exhaust vent on the roof peak is great, too.
    Make all the space work - Put a 24" wide bench all the way around the three walls. That gives you 7 x13 feet of center space.
    Put pegboard on all walls above the benches.
    Put stationary equipment on each side of the door - bandsaw, drill press.
    Put any equipment you can roll outside on a 24X48" cart with big rubber wheel (HF).
    Get a BIG shop vac and use it at every tool in use. You can make or buy "funnels" for most shop tools to guide the dust into the hose.
    Run 220 volt 100 amp power to the shop if possible, and if not at least 50 amp.
    If you plan on forging, put the forge on a HF welding cart, and make a rolling base for the anvil - it is simpler than it sounds and costs $30 to $50.
    Use boxes or sheets of paper and try different layouts for the benches. Once you have decided where everything will go, don't mount them permanently until everything is in place.
    Put anything you don't use daily on a rolling base (HF furniture dolly) and roll it under tghe benches. Tool boxes, wood box, ,etc.
    put EVERYTHING you don't have on the bench in a plastic storage bin/box with the lid on. Label the box with a marker as to what is in it.

    Things you will need to get and make room for:
    48" clear work space
    vise - 4" jaw HF will work
    metal cutting bandsaw - the standard HF 4X7 can be removed from the base and mounted on the bench
    wood cutting bandsaw - while a floor model is nice, a bench model will work.
    Drill press - same as above.
    Sanding area - not the work space. 36" is good, 24" is enough
    knife clamp/vise and/or sanding arm that can be turned so it sticks out from the bench
    leave a clear place to put a buffer in the future
    a small bench anvil is nice to straighten and peen things on. A HF cheap anvil is great for this.
    Ron Raducanu likes this.
  6. DanF

    DanF KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 17, 2017
    Good advice from Stacy. 200 sq ft is tight, but with some planning is very doable.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  7. CasePeanut

    CasePeanut Gold Member Gold Member

    May 25, 2018
    @Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith This is an amazing list. I'm in the process of slowly converting my one car garage into more shop space and have been slowly "discovering" a similar plan. It's great to see it all laid out by someone with your depth of experience.
  8. Britt_Askew

    Britt_Askew Dealer / Materials Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Dec 9, 2010
    I have thought about building another shed for spark producing activities.. was thinking about laying down some plastic as a moisture barrier, then dump a load of masonry sand then top with red solid bricks ?? Thoughts?
  9. Ron Raducanu

    Ron Raducanu Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 10, 2021
    The thing with bricks in this application is they will break if you drop heavy stuff on them. That's my thoughts at least.
  10. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2015
    Thank you for the thoughtful reply Stacy, this is quite a list and a lot to ponder. I thunk buried in each recommendation is likely years of specific experiences, so I’ll need to look at it from some different lenses than I have been I think.
  11. J-T-K


    May 11, 2020
    In the USA you guys are spoiled for space!
  12. Ron Raducanu

    Ron Raducanu Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 10, 2021
    We really are. Especially if you live in the suburbs. I have family and friends in Europe and they are always amazed at how much living space we have.
  13. Alex Topfer

    Alex Topfer

    May 1, 2019
    Could you do a compacted earth floor? Put a moisture barrier underneath and seal it with linseed oil, you should get something softer than concrete, fireproof, and repairable.

    How do the HOA define the 200sq ft? Can you add a large outdoor covered area and add sliding doors? Then roll forging stuff out and back in when you're done
  14. J-T-K


    May 11, 2020
    Yes, when you see puukko makers working in as little as 30sqft and an outdoor forge...
  15. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2015
    That’s basically what I am doing now with a portable covered area. Their definition of 200sq ft is an enclosed structure with a roof, so if there are no walls, I can pretty much do whatever I want. My goal in this is to get my tools out of our attached garage and free up space in there for it to be a garage, and be able to keep my tools locked up and out of the elements when not in use.

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