Woodshop on dirt floor ?
- This topic has 13 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 9 months ago by Thomas Angle.
18 August 2017 at 7:52 pm #314567
My name is Remi and I live in Eastern Canada. I have been an amateur for a few years now and slowly bought tools, but haven’t really made anything yet – because I had no space for.
This summer we’ve made space in our old garage – a 16×21 on dirt floor. There is no insulation, no vent or anything. It can get quite humid there in summer. I know this is not ideal, but would it be possible to build a workbench and start working in there ?
What should I change on my garage to make it less a problem ? (A concrete floor is out of question, sadly – the structure cannot be moved). Is there a problem with storing my hand tools there ?
Thanks !18 August 2017 at 10:23 pm #314569
Yours would not be the first work shop on dirt, but it isn’t ideal. I had friends who built chairs in a shop whose only floor was dirt with about 6″ of shavings from all the turnings and did so for 40 years. Once in a while they’d shovel some out.
Store the tools in a closed toolchest or cabinet. Take special care to keep the tools well oiled after each use.
I’d level the dirt and put down a poly vapor barrier and then cover is with something ( concrete pavers, a floating plywood floor on treated lumber sleepers, or anything that is comfortable to walk on. Even crushed stone that’s compacted would be an improvement.
And be aware as you build that wood moves with humidity changes and plan your work accordingly
- This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by Larry Geib.
- This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by Larry Geib.
I work in my basement and it can get quite damp in the summer. Corrosion of my tools has not been a problem. Although once a year I treat my hand tools with Protec Tool wax polish that I obtained from Lee Valley. My main problem are with projects built during the damp summer months, the wood then shrinks during the winter. The opposite happens in the summer, although after one year of contraction and expansion the wood seems to stabilize.19 August 2017 at 7:18 pm #314583
You could always put a wood floor down.
13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.21 August 2017 at 7:31 pm #314617
Thanks for your inputs. After much consideration, it looks like I could actually dig 7 or 8 inchs and pour a concrete foundation that would wrap around the existing structure.. I’d then isolate and repair as much as possible the structure to make it comfortable during winter.
I can’t wait to start working some wood !27 August 2017 at 4:54 am #314694
were it me, I would level the floor and cover the area around the work bench with the rubber mats sold for horse stalls. then put in some good lights and get to work. if you find you enjoy wood working you may then decide to pour a floor and insulate the walls.
I used to have a somewhat large workshop in an old barn with a dirt floor, and while the problem was merely inconvenience, and nothing show-stopping, it does eventually get to you. It is true that as long as you take care of your tools, rust won’t win any battles, and as long as you find ways to deal with the uneven surface, you’ll be OK.
Having said that, sometimes you’ll be doing (or perhaps better worded as “attempting to do something”) which requires your very best, and if, in those moments, a particularly problematic portion of floor rears its ugly head, it can tip the scales in your ability to have optimal results.
Also, sometimes you just get plain sick and tired of dealing with the uneven floor at every turn, and that can lead to momentary frustration.
I would look into any avenue available to you to create even just a small section of level, comfortable floor. That’ll be your primary standing / working area. Maybe you just pour some gravel, level that, put brick or etc over the top, and tamp it all down. Maybe you can install a wooden floor. But even just a few dozen square feet of space might be enough to give you some stable footing for the important tasks.29 August 2017 at 1:14 pm #314730
Yes, I should try to level a small surface, and lay down some concrete tiles to at least put a workbench there. Do you have any adequate light system to recommend ? I often read about a mix of T8 fluorescent fixtures and warm halogen spot lights. My garage is currently minimally lit and i’m looking for options.
I’d recommend you go LED. Minimal electricity usage, excellent quality light, great brightness, reasonable price and the “bulbs” should last many years. I put these in my garage: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UTX4HJS/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
and have been very pleased. There may be even better options now.
@etmo , Just a few years ago, there was a huge difference between fluorescent and LED in terms of cost per lumen. Fluorescent was much, much cheaper so it looks like things are getting better! Do you know, can LED and fluorescent fixtures be compared lumen to lumen? What I’m thinking is that the lumen rating for a fluorescent fixture is the rating for the bulbs (2850 lumen/bulb) whacked down by an efficiency factor of at least 2. For LED fixtures you get a vague number (like 4200 for the link you gave) and I can never figure out if it already includes the efficiency factor for getting downwards light. In this case we either need to compare 5700 lumens (2 bulb fluorescent) to 4200 (fluorescent wins) or 2850 lumens to 4200 lumens (LED wins). Do you know? I’m actually looking to replace a fixture now, although I must find a hardwired one, not plug and cord.30 August 2017 at 2:21 pm #314762
@etmo Really good idea! Last time I’ve checked they were so expensive, I quickly dismissed them. I need to find something similar in Canada (Yours are so cheap!)
Do you have a preferred light temperature ? Is that a personal preference or is warmer/colder light best to work wood ?
What I’m thinking is that the lumen rating for a fluorescent fixture is the rating for the bulbs (2850 lumen/bulb) whacked down by an efficiency factor of at least 2. For LED fixtures you get a vague number (like 4200 for the link you gave) and I can never figure out if it already includes the efficiency factor for getting downwards light. In this case we either need to compare 5700 lumens (2 bulb fluorescent) to 4200 (fluorescent wins) or 2850 lumens to 4200 lumens (LED wins). Do you know? I’m actually looking to replace a fixture now, although I must find a hardwired one, not plug and cord.
@ed — I can’t say I know the efficiency factor, but I can say that you are absolutely correct in mentioning that you do need to heavily “whack down” the lumen rating for fluorescent light, and you don’t for the LED in the example I posted.
In case anyone else isn’t as familiar as Ed, fluorescent light tubes emit light in all directions. So much of the light they emit is less useful, since it’s not going in the direction you want (in this case where we’re talking about shop lights, that useful direction is generally downward). So most of the light fluorescents emit has to be reflected off of something(s) before it can start doing you any good. So much of the light they emit is lost (when the reflections send the light away from you) or reduced (when the reflected angle is poor, or the surface doing the reflecting only reflects certain colors which are not as useful to your eyes).
The LED lights in the example I posted are very different in that sense — they can only emit light downward, so all their light is already going in the most useful direction.
I can tell you that the LEDs I posted replaced standard 2-bulb fluorescent fixtures, 48″ and 40 watts per bulb rated at 4400 lumens per bulb (so rated at more than twice the output of light as the LED fixture) and the LED is brighter to such a significant degree that you cannot fail to immediately notice the improvement. You’ll go, “Wow” when you first turn it on, I guarantee you. Massively reduced eye strain — working at night is no longer an inconvenience at all, and when I first installed the LED fixture, I left the fluorescent in place, and toggled between the two. I could literally feel my eyes relax when I switched to the LED fixture. And that was after replacing just one of the fixtures in my garage — the one directly over my workbench. I have now replaced all 6 of the fluorescent fixtures throughout my garage with the LED fixtures above.
@mizu — Remi, I have to say I prefer something closer to “daylight” color temp in my shop area, but that is only my preference.
Ed, the fixture I linked would not easily be hardwired. You are right to look for a different fixture.1 September 2017 at 3:17 am #315318
I got some old florescent light fixture for free. I gutted them and put some LED light strips in them. They seem to work pretty well and at a cost of $14.00 per plus a power supply (can use an old computer one) it was fairly cheap for each light. I used the small solar unit I power my garage with. At 24v DC I I remember right, 6 lights draw a little less than 10 amps.
13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
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