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Multi-function, multi-materials workshops? Answered

I'm on a small rural acreage. My shop situation is that I’ve got two separate, fairly compact spaces for working with wood (or general “handyman” repairs for the home) and for working with metal (cutting, welding, grinding, etc). My metal area is where I also often work with small-engine equipment. These spaces are located inconveniently, separated by nearly 100 feet! I think about how I might like to combine functions under one roof.

So I’m posting to try to coax some of you people to show me how you may have done this. Or examples you've found on the internet (give URLs). Obviously, no one wants to get sawdust into an area where torch flames or electric-welding sparks could cause a hazard. And you wouldn’t want to get engine lubricants or solvents mixed up with wood projects.

Discussion and description are fine, but I’d really like to see pictures or floor-plan diagrams if possible.  I need examples that represent modest investment, as I could probably only afford to build an enclosure of about 16x24 ft, with a bay door. ( Yes - could probably learn something from shops that are somewhat bigger than this.)

In grandfather's day, farm shops were usually multi-purpose. You know, for "bench carpentry", and maintaining or servicing the truck or tractor, welding bailer components back together, etc. Often had a tablesaw, maybe a bandsaw - besides the hoist, welders, socket wrenches. I suppose sometimes a fire did occur in one shop or another, but probably not often.  I'd like to see some more modern versions, rather than just the "version" I have in terms of vague memories. Thanks.


That's an interesting vid. Tremendous amount of work... the sort of thing where you may say, "Well, it was a learning experience, that's for sure." It will be a nicely partitioned shop in the end, I'd think

The more I use it the more I am finding that a trailer is pretty good for woodworking. The last big project I did generated a lot of fine sawdust. I just opened up the doors and windows and used a blower and all that dust is now out in the grass turning into fertilizer. I would not recommend it for metal work though as there are to many sources of ignition. A non flammable floor would be a requirement for routine welding.

As I brought out in the instructable a trailer can be moved so it is a lot easier to make changes in things like layouts and landscapes. And you can always sell it easily since it can be hauled away. I have seen workshops set up in regular utility trailers that can be moved to the work sites. So portability can be a good thing sometimes. Might be something to consider.

Vyger, you said: "I am finding that a trailer is pretty good for woodworking. The last big project I did generated a lot of fine sawdust. ... I would not recommend it for metal work though as there are to many sources of ignition. A non flammable floor would be a requirement for routine welding."

Yes, I completely agree. My current metal-work/welding area has a poured-concrete floor. I'd want that in a future shop, even in the woodworking area.

Hey guys, I’m still looking for first-hand experience and for floor plans or pictures, but in a Google search I came across this about a compact (“garage”) shop:

“Keep fire extinguishers handy, not tucked away in a back corner. If possible, only do metal-working in one space and wood working in another. The accumulated saw dust in cracks and gaps in the walls only need one spark to begin smoldering. Welders with mixed use spaces use air blowers to clean their work spaces and frequently check for any smoke or smoldering after completing their projects.”
Quoted from: http://www.bakersgas.com/weldmyworld/2011/05/11/how-to-set-up-a-garage-for-welding-projects/

Besides the common sense about spacial separation of woodworking and welding, I liked the advice about using air (for instance, I’ve got a compressor) to clean out sawdust from “cracks and gaps”.

Thanks for the video and the links, Vyger. Interesting.


1 year ago

Other the using two stargates you get a chance to build a narrow gauge transport with cover.

"Other the using two stargates you get a chance to build a narrow gauge transport with cover." Whaatt???

"Other then " a typo..

Have some imagination, Fictional gates can make it a simple two steps between shops.. Realistically put a railroad / wheelroad between them so you can auto guide bulk materials between shops and some innovative cover hallway disguised so that it can be a useful solar collector or elevated garden.

Iceng: Well, I'm a practical guy. And I don't have unlimited financial means. The two buildings I mentioned are on somewhat sloped land, with a permanent food garden in-between (and a path wide enough just for foot and wheelbarrow traffic). I admit the "railroad" is fun to imagine, but a covered track and vehicle to utilize it would be pretty expensive to build. I guess I'd rather put money into another building.

I think he is referring to one of those little trains that are sometimes found at amusement parks.

100 feet is not really that much of a walk unless you have really bad weather a lot. In sub zero you do a walk like that pretty fast.

There is no info on where you actually are in the world and climate can have an influence on practical answers for this.

Thinking about it another factor is topography. There is a "trickel down" factor if you have hills. Make a slide to move firewood from the top of the hill to the bottom. Beavers do it that way to get logs into the rivers.

The existing shed should remain where it is. Besides being the firewood shelter, it’s the storage place for building (not woodworking) lumber, extension ladders, food-drying racks, and vehicle-maintenance supplies (other end of the shed is just next car port). The firewood-containing end is only a few steps from one of our house entrances, so there’s no need to slide firewood downhill.

So maybe I should recap that I want to design a building of modest scale (say 16x24 ft) where woodworking can be carried out but where metal work (including grinding and welding) can be, also. Without question, good dust management (incl collection) is necessary. Partitioning of the building seems advisable, in addition to consigning metal and wood processes to different areas of the building's layout. A bay door, and some "stationary" machinery on casters, would facilitate taking projects outside during decent weather.
Ideally, I'd like to see floor layouts, basic building diagrams, or photos. There may be some somewhere on Instructables, but if not then there may be some you know of somewhere on the internet.


1 year ago

Move one of the buildings closer to the other and then build a small common entry to bridge them together.

Hi, Vyger. Thanks for taking the time to reply. In other circumstances, that would be a solution. However, my woodworking area is a portion of a big shed (which mainly houses a large supply of firewood), while my metalworking area is attached to the back of a compact barn - and both buildings have their own foundations.