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Outdoor shop ideas


Chase Hayner

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Hey bladesmiths. Been a few months since I have been able to get out to the shop or forums largely because the wife has cut my allowance after some big expensive purchases =D and because I haven't had much time. 

My last big project was building my 2x72 grinder which I have taken the last few months getting used to and tinkering with. My next big project which is taking priority over all else is building a new shop.

I have quickly outgrown my little corner of the garage the wife has allowed me to work. My goal is to setup a small shop in the back yard. My first thoughts where to buy a small building, but I feel the cramped space and heat would make it unenjoyable. My next idea is making the entire shop outdoors protected by an overhead tin roof (for when it rains, gotta love the sound) . in my head I picture something simple. 1 solid wall for hanging tools, 3 open walls, a large work bench, my anvil sunk into the ground, my tank/gas forge, and my grinder with a long extension cord. the shop will be in my fenced in backyard protected by cameras, large canines, and good ol .338 Lapua, so protection from theft isn't a big deal for me. I think I'll enjoy working under the roof with the open walls a lot more here in Tennessee since I spend most workdays indoors getting cabin fever.

I would like a place on the forum to build ideas for my outdoor shop that I can come back to for reference material and share build designs with other fellow smiths. The kinds of questions I do have are.

1. Build ideas/concepts
2. What are your pro's and cons
3. How to protect your tools from the elements
4. Workspace considerations,  how big of a work area for your beginner shop,
5. extra considerations ideas for this kind of workspace.

Thank you guys, look forward to sharing the build with you all.

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Just one thing to consider. Sunlight is not a friend in a forge shop. My first shop had skylights, big mistake. If only one wall face it to the South.

 

You know our guild meets this Sunday the 11th near Johnson City. Pm me or Alan for more details. 

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Matt Walker                https://www.youtube.com/@onedamascusmaker/videos

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8 hours ago, Matt Walker said:

Just one thing to consider. Sunlight is not a friend in a forge shop. My first shop had skylights, big mistake. If only one wall face it to the South.

 

You know our guild meets this Sunday the 11th near Johnson City. Pm me or Alan for more details. 


Thank you, thats a good thing to consider. Luckily the location I picked is shaded a bit by a large maple and under some smaller trees, it also faces south as well. Thank you for the information. I may head out that way, I have the wife and kiddo, but I could send them out shopping. I'll shoot you a message.

Edited by Chase Hayner
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Another thing to consider with the open-plan forge is wind. It can be a pain when using a venturi burner (don’t know about a blown burner). Also wind+rain=wet steel and tools = rust on everything ferrous. 

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"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card

 

Nos qui libertate donati nescimus quid constat

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9 hours ago, Chase Hayner said:

it also faces south

 

I think what Matt meant was the open side should be to the north, and to block off the southern exposure.  For judging heat for heat treating and welding you need uniform dim lighting.  Once you've got experience working in the shade is fine, but even highly experienced smiths have difficulty in sunlight.  We're naturally troll-like in that respect...;)

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4 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

 

I think what Matt meant was the open side should be to the north, and to block off the southern exposure.  For judging heat for heat treating and welding you need uniform dim lighting.  Once you've got experience working in the shade is fine, but even highly experienced smiths have difficulty in sunlight.  We're naturally troll-like in that respect...;)


Haha, at this rate I'm pretty much a troll. having worked 3rd shift for years and now working from home, I pretty much melt. So far I have mostly done my heat treats in the evening just after sunset for this reason though. that's an excellent point. 

 

 

13 hours ago, Charles dP said:

Another thing to consider with the open-plan forge is wind. It can be a pain when using a venturi burner (don’t know about a blown burner). Also wind+rain=wet steel and tools = rust on everything ferrous. 


I am trying to think of ways to store tools/steel to keep the rust at bay, other than smothering everything in oil. I may get one of those pool accessory boxes and keep my steel cuts in it to keep them dry. I suspect even in those the moisture may still lead to rusting. 

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My shop is also outdoors, but I don't have a permanent setup! What I do is have a cart that I wheel out to the backyard every time I want to forge or melt copper. That prevents my tools from rusting, anyway! You could potentially build a shelter, but keep your tools in the garage or a shed, and wheel them out on a cart when you are going to use them. I would enclose the shelter as much as possible though, so you have a good dim light to see the colour of your metal, and so you can get out of the heat! I know all smiths should be able to endure some heat, but it's nice to be able to sit out of it a bit too. I've been using some renaissance wax on my tools, which does a good job of discouraging rusting. I haven't tried it on any forge tools though, I wonder if forge heat would cause it to melt off? I find the millscale on most ferrous forging items does a good enough job of discouraging rust anyway. 

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1. Build ideas/concepts - As previously mentioned, rain and wind combining mean you need to be able to enclose a portion of the shop against the weather. Instead of just one solid wall why not create two sections perpendicular to that wall at each end. Maybe even add a couple of swinging doors so you can close it up like a big cabinet with the tool racks, bench and electrical equipment now protected?
2. What are your pro's and cons - It's difficult at best to identify a benefit to having the blacksmith shop outdoors unless you plan on conducting demonstrations.....all the previous considerations are negatives, but not deal killers. Depending on where you live and how close your neighbors are, a shop building may bring unwanted attention from things like the HOA, the fire dept, the zoning and building commission, you get the idea. If you build it, they will come.
3. How to protect your tools from the elements - See the enclosure idea above. There is also just shopping around second-hand stores and garage sales for steel cabinets, file cabinets, any type of furniture that is basically weather tight or can be covered with a tarp to keep out water.
4. Workspace considerations,  how big of a work area for your beginner shop, - Figure out how much room you need for the tools you have and the ones you will buy within the next 6 months. Then double that space requirement.
5. extra considerations ideas for this kind of workspace. - Location on the lot in terms of safety. You mentioned putting it under the large maple tree and my first thought was "fire hazard". 
 

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

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Thank you guys for the information. The maple tree is more so a giant source of shade in the afternoon as it block an entire side of my yard, but the building wont be under it.

Luckily I don't have any HOA's and the building will be built to code just to check that box.

I think I will go with a lean design that has 3 walls and maybe a large roller door. That extra protection will be night and allow me to keep everything inside it. While also giving me that dark space to heat treat. so thank you for those ideas.

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As mentioned, sun light will play heck with forging and especially heat treating.  My forge building is an open air shed  with lattice panels over the windows.  Even at that I like to do my heat treating after sunset..

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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For safety sake  have a hose charged with the water turned on and a nozzle you can quickly open if needed…..and a bucket of water also…..I have started fires with the sparks from  grinding & cutoff wheels…..

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Yea I have my big old bucket of vermiculite and brand new fire extinguishers just in case. We take fire pretty serious in our house. We are also putting in another water spiket in the back near the building for that reason.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This may be too late a comment but the idea only just came to me.  I also don't know what your budget is going to be.  But how about designing a shop with concrete slab floor and use double wide garage doors on 3 (or even 4) sides.  It would be unusual but it would allow u to open/close them as u need and still have plenty of that open air feel?  Be easier to clean out too.

Edited by Tim Cook
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If you are dealing with burning oil, like a quench tank full of burning. do not use water.  I you think that the tank of oil is burning  high wait until you spray it with that garden hose.  Smither it with a lid or cover it in dirt or use CO2.

 

Doug.

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HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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