workshop improvements, "The Game of Workshop Chairs"... WIP

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Established Member
30 Jun 2014
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Milton Keynes
This is planned to be a WIP of some changes I'm making to the workshop, its out of sequence as it were, as the next step is going to be step 5; A wood burner, (so I'm not trying to get glue out of a bottle at 8 degrees!)

A bit of background, (and perhaps another thread in the making), about the conversion it needed and what has been done so far.

The workshop is located in an outbuilding that dates back about 150 years and was clearly used for livestock at some distant point. The building looks like it was extended about 60 years ago using reclaimed materials, it was probably built from reclaimed materials too! The construction is brick to about 2 ft high then timber frame and shiplap cladding under a tile roof. The space is segregated into 'rooms' that run east to west, each of about 4m x 3m. The entry door to each room being on the shorter south wall. The outside of north wall is showing severe signs of 'Not-been-touched-for-60-years'. I suspect that the double skinned timber wall is mainly single skin. The floors are blue engineering bricks, but they slope down to the centre from every side, more evidence of livestock use. You can stand on the floor, if you could get to it, look in most directions, including 'up', and see daylight, regardless of any windows being in the room. These rooms have been the kingdom of ratus ratus for many years and there is a complete 3D transportation system available to them.

This particular 'room' was possibly used as a stable given the horse hair caught on the many nails sticking out of the walls, but it was chosen as it was a. the only one available, b. next door to my workroom, c. timber lined and d. had a window. Window? hmmm, One of the window panes is missing and most of the other panes have dropped. I suspect the only thing holding the glass in place is the cobwebs. Further to this, the 'room' was used as a wood store. I use the term 'wood store' in its loosest form. Any wood was either stacked neatly or thrown in from a passing vehicle. Take a wild guess which method prevailed? ..and this pile of assorted timber is about 8 foot high. There's bits of willow and cherry trunks, old fence posts, small silver birch logs, chipboard, broken ply, shiplap, more chipboard. With nails, without nails but with screws... every piece of useless wood ever created had its representative in this pile.

I had lucked upon an aircraft carrier sized planer, thicknesser, mortiser and bought a table saw (from a very helpful chap on here), but had nowhere to use them. Leaving them in another of the 'rooms' over winter wasn't going to work if I didn't want to find rusted hulks in the spring. So the clock was ticking and the "Game of workshop-musical-chairs" began in earnest.

Job one.
Build an external wood store to store the burnable stuff from the "wood store" in forthcoming wood burner, sort through the timber (another loose definition) and bonfire anything too far gone to burn in a wood burner (done, hmm that was fun, more to follow!)

Job two
Messi-nene floor
As the roof starts at about 13 foot from the floor, there was space to stuff a false roof in and while the upper area wasn't going to be useful to work in, it would give me the space to store some bits. Some salvaged 6x2 treated joists that had sat for a while came to the rescue and were pressed into service. Not yet lined the floor, had so much naff chipboard saved that I can almost over the floor with that. (done, more fun and even more to follow.)

Job three
The electrics were up to the same standard of everything else and not going to work well with the demands of anything larger than a 40w bulb. The original electrics used 2 core rubber insulated cable with an external earth! I had run a spur in its place a couple of years previously but only as a temporary measure and I was only stroring stuff in the rooms not in them all day on a day to day basis. The spur has to go too. Following the wires back to the garage, about 50m away, the garage consumer unit was looking decidedly not part 19 either. Following that back to the house got no better. A tame sparks came to have a look and said "It was a good job you don't need any spares for this, I'm not sure the science museum sells them retail". Hohoho.. oh how we laughed at that one!

The surround on the above consumer unit is wood! dovetails the lot! Late fifties he reckoned, he was so busy texting and sending pics of it to all his sparky mates, he nearly dropped his tea.

So, new consumer unit in the house, the garage and the workshop. Ring main for lights and 13amp sockets to all rooms, 16amp ring main to workshop too. Wire the ring mains via an isolator into the workshop, fit fluorescents in the workshop and reuse the existing light fittings in the other rooms but separately switched. Cut a run across some ancient concrete to get the trickery from point a to point b. Loads of 6mm armoured cable, 100m rolls of 2.5 and 1.5 used. Stir well and apply as required. (done)

Job four
With the new ceiling /floor in place, some power flowing, attention was turned to trying to seal the weather out for the winter or at least until the weather improved. The north external wall was not going to get any attention until it warmed up a bit - and the neighbour, who's garden it forms the boundary to, moved his compost heaps more than 4 inches away from the wall!

The roof was fixed as much as possible, wooden pegs through the tiles we are talking here! Then that got lined with the foil backed bubblewrap... (cant remember the name but £100 from screwfix for a big roll of it). That made an enormous difference. A mixture of wooden patches, expanding foam and silicon sealer have taken care of the major air leaks, rat runs and gaps.

Rats as a game target is an under rated way to spend time, I seriously considered a video equipped nail gun on a radio controlled gimbal to eradicate the problem but poisons and traps laced with peanut butter took care of the issue before I had to get the soldering iron out.

However I digress. The windows were foil taped in place and a large double glazed unit, rescued from the skip at the local double glazing firm, placed over the whole window / frame and held in place with some routed brackets and more clear silicon sealer. The door was lined with 25mm celotex and some stops fitted taking care of the daylight problem there. (Done, more to do)

Job 5 Slight Detour
Because of the impending chances of frostbite, a detour to explore the benefits of something called a 'heated workshop' is explored. (Today)

After reading lots and lots about wood stoves, here and elsewhere, checking my ley lines to see if a rocket stove might be applicable, I think I'm going with a 8kw workshop stove. Standard twin wall flue but I've an idea about increasing the efficiency of getting the heat into the room. Rather than building a fancy thermal store, which I have neither the time or space for, I'm thinking I can borrow from the technology of the steam age. They were pretty good at getting the maximum heat from the fuel. I'm still working on the drawings to modify the exhaust valve output to vent into the flue... but another couple of glasses of something warming and I think I'll manage it.

Job 6. Floored
Remove all the machines and sort the floor out. Plan here (when it warms up a bit) is to move the machines to the back of the room, sort out the floor at the front of the room, swap the machines over and then finish the rear. At the moment, I've laid some spare sheets of 11mm ply on the floor but it is horrible. If the pastime of gymnastic cat swinging ever gains recognition, I have the ideal venue for it, just not very good for using table saws and the like.

Job 7 The North Face
Fix the external north wall.

More pics to follow when I get them down to a size the site allows.

to be continued...
Sounds like you've got one hell of a project there! Try uploading the images to Photobucket then posting the URL's here, no need to mess around resizing them then!
I should perhaps clarify that the purpose of this workshop wasn't to find somewhere to stick a wood burner.. :)

Stove ordered today, delivery tomorrow! Sheesh thats not hanging about... I better get a move on.

Right, here's where its going to go. Not too many options available that don't involve extra cost, inconvenience or both.

location wood stove.JPG

Why do these pics sometimes come out sideways???

Quick check of the floor shows it is dropping something like an inch a yard both ways, to the centre of the room. It's sufficient to make you sea sick. Some jiggery with the table saw and I've got a couple of bits of 3 inch shuttering with the right angles carved to it. it might not look it, but it IS level! :)


Because of the diamond pattern bricks on the floor, I've used a bit of Gripfill to seal the shuttering to the floor.


Ready mix, 3 bags I think.

4 1/2 bags later...

leave it to dry,


I've had another think about the easiest way to improve the thermal efficiency of a workshop stove, this was without building thermal stores or the use of convoluted incantations. My unscientific calculations, seem to indicate that improvements of 30 or 40% are quite easily possible.. These same calculations may well start "once upon a time" when independently reviewed, given the last time I did any of this the of calculation was back in the previous century, but I dont think I'm too far out. Adding some automatic, autonomous control of some of the variables might be useful too.

Job 5a is born! :)


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That fuse box is identical to the one I have in my shed, the screws that hold the box front on screw through the dovetails on the wood surround, works perfect. :D :D
The stove arrived, although not here. Courier took one look at the driveway and decided not to carry the 33kg to the door! Left it with next door, where he must have moved it all of 3m from the van to their garden. Thankfully they were in and phoned to say there's somebody flytipping in the garden!

Courier escaped before I got there with a trolly. (If anyone has shares in TNT, nows a good time to sell as they are clearly following the business model of City Link)

The flue (edit: Air intake system) system is, er, basic. Two pieces of bent 1/8th plate either cover or uncover a couple of vents. One into the top of the combustion chamber and the other into a box section that goes from the top to the bottom of the stove. My plans to automate the flue have headed back to the drawing board and await me there.

pics to follow...
Yesterday was spent wandering around the home counties looking for chimney parts... and of course I got all of them, except one! The adaptor from size a to size b.. So today its another trip, this time further afield to get the missing item. At least the weather is looking better today while I try and install it. :)
JOB FIVE (cont.)

Nearly done, both in the running around and the fitting. Fire board and a longer clamp required and something to make the roof flashing behave!

Something weird going on with the pics in the first post.. they should be now be flickr'd rather than inline attachments

hmmm, back to the drawing board.
Here's mine

Its the best way to heat your Workshop and keep youre tea warm. Light it at 8 in the morning and chuck a few logs on and it stays nice and warm, just toss the odd log on during the day and an hour or so before I finish I let it go out, I burn Olive and Oak on it over here in Spain as its bloody cold here in the winter in the low mountains where I am but luckily rarely damp.

This one has a little oven on the top, take off the kettle, lift the lid up and pop your Spuds in and an hour later they are done or leave a stew on the top in a cast iron pan. My workshop is 7 metres by 4.5 with a 3 x 3 metre small WC and store room just below and behind the stove. Keeps it all nice and warm.