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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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Bazyle27/03/2014 17:10:19
6375 forum posts
222 photos

One danger of heating up while you are in there and letting it cool back subsequently is that the pint of water vapour you breathe out during the evening will be held in the warm air but may be ready to condense out overnight. Best to forcibly ventillate at the end of the session if it is not tipping down outside or get a dehumidifier. Use the water collected in your steam engines.

BTW earlier posts mentioned layers of construction and insulation but forgot to mention the necessary vapour barrier next to the innermost sheeting.

Howard Lewis28/03/2014 11:46:55
6295 forum posts
15 photos

For what its worth, this is my experience.

First shed, some 50 years ago, was a 7 x 5 Baths Portable Building, with a corrugated asbestos roof. With the bench tied to the framework, it cost a fortune in replacing glass when the thing flexed as I heaved on things in the vice.

Second was supposedly 8 x 6 (It was externally, but the 50mm framing meant that the internal size was about the same as before)

Neither was insulated, and rust was a problem. The oil put on the bed of the Myford was often milky when I next went in.

As already said INSULATE!

Current workshop is ten, nearly eleven years old, 10'9" x 6'9" (largest that would fit between the fence and patio wall, one way, and the back door and a tree the other. S W M B O was not going to have either the wall or the tree relocated!)

Framing is 50mm, with 19mm T & G outer cladding, glass fibre insulation and 12mm ply inner cladding.

Only the 3/4" ply floor is uninsulated - BIG mistake, cold feet even with industrial plastic matting.

Sits on five 8" x 2" bearers sitting on slabs on sand/cement. Another mistake, should have been concrete, preferably reinforced, to prevent slight "heave" as humidity alters.

The lathe weighs about 6 cwt, (300Kg) the Mill/drill about 4 cwt (200 Kg) (and it sits on a bench of about the same weight). Then there is the weight of the steel bench from door to the mill bench, plus tools and material.

So there is a lot of weight in there.

Roof construction is 12mm ply on each side of 50mm frames, with glassfibre insulation, with under felt and topfelt, secured with bitumen, so no nail holes.

Pent roof, is 8' high at front to allow room for belt cover opening, and drawbar removal from Mill/Drill, 6'6" at rear, to drain into guttering.  Water runs into a butt, used by Chief Horticulturist for the garden. 

Must be due for refurbishment shortly

No windows, (security and I'd only have put shelves across them anyway)

Ventilation is by a 6" fan with a rainproof outlet., and fixed vents very near to floor level.

Cost for the basic building , in 2003, was £1600, having been sub assembled, transported some 50 miles, and finally insulated and fully erected on site.

Heating is provided by a thermostatically controlled 240V 2 Kw fan heater which runs for about 10% of the time, even with ambients of 5C outside. Location is U.K. - East Anglia.

As predicted, a lot of the time, I work with the door open, not needing the heater.

Over the ten and half years life, almost no problems experienced with rust (one very small patch on a drill chuck, and another similar on the three jaw chuck)

With regard to security, as already said, no windows; the door is a second hand fire door with a six lever lock.

It is set off centre in one end, to match the 18" wide fitting bench, and to allow a decent width aisle.

I made up my own hinge bolts by turning the head off some No10 wood screws and screwing them into the door using a drill chuck, to leave about 1/2" protruding. By half closing the door, the frame is marked to drill the holes.

Power comes from the utility room via a RCD, to a ring main with eleven dual metal clad sockets (The one supplying the inverter for the lathe is a suppressed type to minimise electrical noise being fed back into the mains).

A battery back up, mains drop out, emergency light is mounted high up at the end remote from the door, to provide light for safe exit in the event of power failure.

The radio is hardly ever used, but the digital clock is useful for keeping track of meal times; as is the intercom to the house!

Lighting is by two ceiling mounted independently switched 65W fluorescent tubes, with an ex industry worklight over the vice on the narrow fitting bench, similar ones, each side of the Mill/Drill. All now fitted with LED lamps.

The lathe came with a lamp which had an appetite for the 24V 50W Halogen bulbs. Filling a couple of slots into the reflector improved ventilation and GREATLY extended lamp life.

Hope that this is of some help to any readers who wish to build or update their workshops.



Edited By Howard Lewis on 28/03/2014 11:51:24

Howard Lewis28/03/2014 12:04:17
6295 forum posts
15 photos

One thing that i forgot to say was that when it is cold outside, (below 5C, a 60W tubular heater under the bench is turned on. After 24 hours it feels quite bearable in there!

John your shop looks quite good, but set up the maximum space of shelving that you can. You'll fill it!

My shelves were once the inch thick barge boards on a neighbours house. They carry all my boxes of drills, Taps and Dies, vee Blocks, etc and need to be strong.

And I am still tight on storage space!

Don't use any form of combustion heater, they produce water vapour.


Oompa Lumpa28/03/2014 13:42:49
888 forum posts
36 photos
Posted by Howard Lewis on 28/03/2014 12:04:17:


Don't use any form of combustion heater, they produce water vapour.


This is very sage advice. Don't try to put one of those portable calor gas heaters in there for instance. However, I will say that my new workshop will have a waste oil burner in there.

When I was serving my time we had a woodburner (a very, very large wood burner) and one particularly cold winter I was instructed to put waste sawdust in as we were getting very low on logs. I loaded it with what would be about a wheelie bin's worth of sawdust. Anyhow I was the recipient of a Boll***ing because this had not produced any heat. When I insisted that I had followed instructions to the letter the Boss came over to check for himself. He lifted the small inspection door towards the bottom of this furnace (it certainly wasn't a stove!) and the oxygen meeting the smoldering sawdust created a spectacular gout of flame like a rocket. Took his eyebrows clean off! It is funny now when I look back but it wasn't funny at the time, not by a margin.


Speedy Builder528/03/2014 17:20:02
2639 forum posts
217 photos

Now it comes down to storage. I have quite a few steel tobacco tins painted white on each end and then marked with contents; in fact so many racks of tins that some of the racks are on hinges that are then situated in front of a fixed rack of tins. When you are tight on space you have to be inventive.


Neil Wyatt28/03/2014 19:31:14
19073 forum posts
736 photos
80 articles

Take care with gas heaters for other reasons - they aren't suited to small rooms., even if relatively well ventilated. One on a two sections (of three) was enough to trip a CO sensor in our conservatory which is 14x8, bigger than many workshops after being on for a few hours.


YAK28/03/2014 21:19:20
58 forum posts
2 photos

I use a bathroom balanced flue gas heater in my wooden workshop. It has been running every winter for the last five years. All there is inside is a huge cast iron finned heat exchanger (I think). The air to feed the gas jets comes in from outside and once used goes back outside. The burners are sealed inside the heat exchanger. Been in there today, warm as toast and not a sign of rust anywhere.


mechman4828/03/2014 21:31:07
2947 forum posts
468 photos

Hi John'

See my write up for some info that may help you, plus look in my album for some pics on garage conversion...




Russ B28/03/2014 21:31:25
615 forum posts
26 photos

A great source for these nice sealed gas heaters are scrapped caravans! I have a couple of these nice units - blown air central heating on the cheap, I wouldn't mind hooking one up to the mains gas at my new place once I'm in, get it running on a PLC I have kicking about and set it at calculating dew point.

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