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Shed for a workshop - any advice?

Want to move from a cold garage to nice snug workshop

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John Coates21/03/2011 21:10:23
558 forum posts
28 photos
Me again
As the memory of a winter in the garage and frozen fingers fumbling cold steel, thoughts are turning to having a nice workshop dedicated to the machine and tooling. Having measured the back garden I reckon an 8 x 16 shed will fit snugly in a corner.
The ones on ebay range between £700 and £3,000 but I'm not convinced they will be up to the job. The frames seem a bit light to take the weight of half a ton of lathe (the mill is practically aneroxic in comparison at 165 kgs) and I wonder whether they will have sufficient depth to let me add insulation board and a panel on top.
Doodling at work I came up with a sketch with the base being 100 or 75mm square bearers with marine ply flooring on top, then insulation sat between the same sized joists, then another layer of plywood on top as the finished floor. Walls and ceiling would be 50mm or 75mm and insulated as well with plywood covering. This I felt would be strong enough or is it overkill ?
Will either build it myself, get one built by a local company or see if something like this can be bought ready built, depending on price and practicality
So has anyone any advice as to what specification I should be aiming for?
Thanks again as usual
John Coates21/03/2011 21:37:22
558 forum posts
28 photos
Thanks for the advice. Problem in lining the garage with insulation is that it has shelves, racking, power cables and electrical kit fixed to the walls. And it is ram jack full of stuff. It would take two days to empty it with no where to put the stuff whilst it was insulated out. So I had discounted that option as just too much damned hard work.
Steve Garnett21/03/2011 22:01:07
837 forum posts
27 photos
I have a shed slightly larger than the one you are planning (but not much) and as far as I'm concerned one of the most important things of the lot you haven't really mentioned. It's all very well having a really strong floor, but if you don't have it sitting on a really solid foundation, then it's somewhat wasted. Once you have a solid concrete base, it doesn't really matter too much about the actual floor construction, because you can easily strengthen it locally where needed - which is pretty much what I have to do with mine where the Kerry lathe is presently sitting. So even though the floor doesn't look like much at present, the Kerry sits fine on it without breaking anything because just underneath the 75mm bearers is 6" of concrete with a membrane in the middle, all sitting on well-compacted hardcore to at least the same depth. The Kerry weighs about 800lb, which is getting on for the weight of yours.
The rapid changes of temperature in sheds are only a real problem when the temperature change goes through the dew point, but that can easily leave everything wringing wet if you don't have the ventilation sorted, or a dehumidifier set to 'stun'... Unfortunately that's pretty much what it comes down to though - you have to keep an eye on the weather and adjust the conditions in your shed accordingly. I keep background heating going all winter, but it's been the more recent conditions that have been a challenge. You will find also that WD40 is very much your friend.
If you gave me a free choice, I'd rather have a workshop made of some sort of solid construction, with a proper roof and connected to the house central heating system, any day of the week. But needs must and for the time being at least, I have to stick with the shed. In your situation, I'd give serious thought to moving all the garage junk into the shed, and then fixing the garage better for the more important stuff, however much hard work that was. It's also a good way of getting rid of stuff you really don't need.
Ramon Wilson21/03/2011 22:23:24
1319 forum posts
382 photos
Hi John
I have occupied a wooden workshop since '84. I described some of it on a previous post here.
Unlike Gray's experience I can honestly say that I have never had any form of rust problem. I cover nothing up - as a rust preventative measure - and take no precautions with regard to applying rust preventative fluids.
I certainly agree with Graham on the heaters though for since doing the same the workshop has been much warmer and the cost to heat it much less - by how much I can't say but enough for the other half to notice and comment on the difference in the bills
Your thoughts on substantial joists are well advised. I had mine set at 12 inches apart and they have provided sound support to date though I don't have a half ton lathe. I would also recommend fitting double glazed sealed units. They are relatively inexpensive and can be made to suit any opening - as well as helping with insulation they also provide slighly better security too.
I one thing I would add is that from the outset I protected the outer surfaces with 'Sadolin' and can thoroughly recommend it. I re - did it after about two years and every two to three since. It could perhaps do with another coat this year and when I checked whats in the shed the other day I was surprised to find 2001 felt penned on the tin. That last coat has done really well.
Hope that helps - I'm sure others will add to it. Good luck with it though, however you build it
Regards - Ramon
DMB21/03/2011 22:38:44
1312 forum posts
1 photos
Hi John,
My 10` x 8` commercially built wooden shed is on a concrete base painte witha black gooey anti-damp jollop, sanded to 2kill2 stickiness, followed by hardboard sheets then ex-kitchen carpet tiles. Apex roof covered in alternate layers felt and bubble wrap and inside, 50mm polystyrene sheets. walls outside cocooned in felt, inside lied with 3-ply and cavity filled with glass fibre loft insulation.
magpie21/03/2011 22:46:25
494 forum posts
98 photos
Hello John
I have a 16' X 12' wooden workshop built over 20 years ago. The floor is 3/4" marine ply on 3"X2" rough sawn joists @ 15" spacing which is in turn on 3'x2' paving slabs.
The rest of the shed was built in the back room of the house using 1/2" shuttering ply on
3"x2" planed softwood, then assembled in one weekend by bolting the units together.
I then inserted 2" thick polystyrene and finished of with hardboard,and a coat of white paint. All the electrics are in conduit to reduce fire risk.
Heating is a small 2.5Kw fan heater which my good wife turns on for me about one hour before i venture forth ( i have emphysema and suffer badly in the cold ). Because i use the shed every day, the temp never drops below about 5c even in realy bad weather,
and within one hour of switching the heater on the temp is up to about 20c .
My machines are not as heavy as yours ( a Chester DB10VS lathe and a champion 20V mill ) but i also have quite a lot of other fairly heavy stuff, and touch plenty of wood,no problems so far
Cheers Derek
DMB21/03/2011 22:47:45
1312 forum posts
1 photos
Hi John,
Further to above, plasic sheets cover drill/lathe/mill/workbench. Home - made 15W heater on mill swarf tray under the plastic cover and thats it! This heater is on 24/7/9-10months of year and this is in "sunny Brighton." A max. & min. thermometer and humidity dial hygrometer keep check on conditions.
I have but dont often use, a tubular heater and an oil - filled radiator.
Electric motors, especially that of the mill, soon warm things up and I`m happy and bear in mind I really dislike cold so it cant be that bad in shed!
Good luck,
methusala22/03/2011 08:25:20
32 forum posts
Hi John
I have 16' x8' integral garage /workshop, that does not suffer from from rust or
damp. When we first moved into the house in 1980 I had the cavity walls insulated
with foam, since then the up and over door has been insulated with polystyrene
sheets , and doing the same with the roof. The heating was supplied by a 1k.w. convector heater. But because of the heating cost's, this year I didnt use it, instead the wife brought me 2 padded builder's jackets which kept the cold out. I also have rubber matting on the
floor to keep the feet warm. The temperature rarely above +5' c, but it was comfortable
( for me ) to work in.
Hope this helps.
P.s I only wore one jacket at a time!!!!


Tony Jeffree22/03/2011 08:54:52
499 forum posts
11 photos
Posted by John Coates on 21/03/2011 21:10:23:
Me again
As the memory of a winter in the garage and frozen fingers fumbling cold steel, thoughts are turning to having a nice workshop dedicated to the machine and tooling. Having measured the back garden I reckon an 8 x 16 shed will fit snugly in a corner.
The ones on ebay range between £700 and £3,000...
John -

8 X 16 will feel terribly cramped after using a garage as a workshop (unless you are one of those very unusual people that regard garages as places where you keep a car). £3000 (probably less) spent on insulating the garage, and leaving the car outside to fend for itself, would be my choice in your shoes.

Edited By Tony Jeffree on 22/03/2011 08:56:02

NJH22/03/2011 09:48:59
2314 forum posts
139 photos
Hi John
I agree with Tony - after all cars are designed to be waterproof! I have converted my double garage into a workshop and, by giving a great deal of attention to insulation, have made a comfortable and dry space. No condensation problems and low heating costs. I have posted details previously so will not bore you all again here. If you wish, send me a message, and I will be happy to supply further details.
Steve Garnett22/03/2011 10:03:49
837 forum posts
27 photos
The underneaths of cars invariably fare better outside than they ever do in garages. You get a bit of breeze under them, and this cuts down on the possibility of rust formation very considerably. I wouldn't dream of keeping one in a garage at all. As far as I'm concerned, the only reason for having a large door on a garage is to get anything other than a car into it - lathes, mills grinders, shapers, drills, whatever, but no cars, thank you.
Gordon W22/03/2011 10:05:31
2011 forum posts
Lots of good advice here. I would add that if you do build a wooden shed first make a concrete base with damp proof membrane, bigger than the shed base. Then you can build anything you want on top. Mine is made from 2" x 3" with stirling board inside and out, stuffed with insulation. A fabricated roof beam holds it all together, the main roof beams are 2x3. Double glazing is easy to get used, very cheap, make the holes to fit the windows .All depends how much you want to spend really.

Edited By Gordon W on 22/03/2011 10:07:07

Ian S C22/03/2011 10:15:41
7468 forum posts
230 photos
       John,Is that 8x16 metres or ft? If the latter, sounds a good size, if ft I would find it a bit cramped, but could adapt.
        My main work area is 6x3 metres, and the area I had in my wood turning days is 2 x 6 metres, I now have a total area of 6 x 9 metres. No one has yet built a big enough shed, they all get filled up.
       The shed is unlined tin, gets too hot in summer, and too cold in winter(we get a bit of snow, it some times hangs around for two or three weeks, last lot b*****ed the spouting. Ian S C   Its also unheated.

Edited By Ian S C on 22/03/2011 10:19:29

Peter Gain22/03/2011 10:44:11
103 forum posts
Buy a copy of "Workshop Construction", Workshop Practice Series, No 23. It contains much useful advice, especially regarding insulation. I found it well worth the price.
Peter Gain.
Richard Parsons22/03/2011 11:59:54
645 forum posts
33 photos

One word - Insulation, Insulation, Insulation. And do not forget the floor.

Big double double glazed windows on the ‘sunny side’ also helps.

Good luck and keep warm.
John Coates22/03/2011 12:42:18
558 forum posts
28 photos
Thanks everyone for some excellent advice
Peter - I have seen the WP series book and will buy it, maybe at Harrogate if it's on offer otherwise it's cheap on ebay
I'm going to price up the materials for making one. It will sit on a base of 5" thick concrete on 5" compacted hardcore. My mate is a builder so he can do this and I'll use his account to buy all the materials. The shed will sit on 100x100mm bearers at 300 centres. Marine ply on top then moisture barrier then 100x100 floor joists lining up with the bearers beneath. In between the joists will be insulation (board or roll) then the floor will be thick plywood. Walls will be 75x50 struts at 600 centres with ply in and out, insulation in between, shiplap cladding with moisture barrier behind as weather proofing to exterior. Roof will be felt, bubble wrap, another layer of ply, moisture barrier, insulation, ceiling.
This pricing exercise will help inform the make or buy" decision. Haven't decided on windows yet. Might just have none !
Ian - it's feet. Only the engineering stuff will be in there. Motorbikes and house related stuff will stay in the garage.
Thanks again
Clive Foster22/03/2011 17:46:39
3135 forum posts
109 photos

Sadolin is certainly the stuff for "painting" wood. Doesn't lift, crack or craze. Wire brush prep and re-coat every couple of years. Mortgage expensive retail but can be got for around £63 for 5 litres mail order. I'll find my last bill if anyone wants to know who from!

But even Sadolin won't do anything for shuttering ply. Avoid like the plague. It never looks good.

My 16 ft by 33 ft (ish) shop cost me about £15,000 to scratch build 4 or 5 years back including 70 ft paved path, paying a full time helper for the build period and buying a Paslode framing nailer. Proper re-enforced concrete on well wacked Type-1 base with surrounding wall topped with green waterproof flooring board makes excellent machine foundation. Don't use the natural colour board. Dusty and surface breaks up. The green board makes super bench tops too having that tiny hint of roughness needed to stop stuff escaping onto the floor but not so rough as to be uncomfortable. Framing is 4 x 2, properly nogged out with OSB cladding both sides, fibre glass insulation and ship-lap outside. Looks good and is strong. OSB interior ceiling height at 8 ft headroom, more fibre glass insulation then flooring board for the attic floor. Roof is metal sheet "end of line price" with 2" poly sheet insulation added afterwards to prevent condensation drips. Builder assistant over-ruled me when I wanted it put in first! In hind sight I'd have used poly sheet insulation every where and built the attic floor on a 2 x 4 ft cellular pattern with tightly fitted insulation for rigidity rather than doing it how Mr Builder wanted. Widows and doors are household standard double glazed units. Overmakes, surplus, small ands and Freegle sourced. Several power rings and oodles of sockets with household standard service boxes. Motor power from a separate box with higher current rated RCD and longer delay MCBs.

Heat needs are minimal "only if it snows." well more or less.


Tony Jeffree22/03/2011 18:29:28
499 forum posts
11 photos
Posted by Clive Foster on 22/03/2011 17:46:39:

Sadolin is certainly the stuff for "painting" wood. Doesn't lift, crack or craze. Wire brush prep and re-coat every couple of years. Mortgage expensive retail but can be got for around £63 for 5 litres mail order. I'll find my last bill if anyone wants to know who from!

I'd second the Sadolin - a little goes a long way, especially for the second/subsequent coats. Seems to do a good job of protecting the wood too.
John Coates19/10/2013 16:07:34
558 forum posts
28 photos

Well got stuck into this today

A few weeks ago I began

base 1 small.jpg

and then today I spent five hours digging it over and then wielding a sledgehammer to break up some concrete for the hardcore

base 3 small.jpg

I am now bloody knackered and in need of a hot bath and a single malt !

magpie19/10/2013 17:02:18
494 forum posts
98 photos

Not bad going that John ! Only 2 years and 7 months to get a roundtuit. yes

Cheers Derek.

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