Advice/reactions on my new shop layout
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  1. #1
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    Default Advice/reactions on my new shop layout

    I know there is no right answer to this question, but over the next year I'm going to be building a new home for my workshop here in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Because of the seasons here, we're hoping to pour the foundation soon, and then will wait until after the rainy season plus tamping plus trucks driving on it has compacted the dirt before pouring the slab and continuing the rest of the build. As such, I'm interested in any notes or observations that anyone might have about how they'd lay this out, if they were doing their shop over again.

    There are a million details, but I know you guys are detail people, so here goes.

    Broad strokes:
    My work is a mix of fab and machining. This shop will house not only me but other welders in the community who don't have their own equipment, coming in like a co-op to use my fab equipment. The machining stuff, so far I'm the only one who uses, though someday I hope to find someone with an aptitude for it that I can train. My shop is here as a non-profit to both train people and help get stuff done in a place that's hard to get stuff done. We support other aid projects when they need stuff made that the shade-tree welders can't make, or can't make well, and I'm the only machine shop for 20 miles, so I also repair a lot of worn bearing journals, fix a lot of damaged threads, etc, to help keep vehicles and farming machines in the area going. When the local UNICEF office needs help rapid prototyping a foot operated COVID handwashing station, I'm who they call.

    Here are drawings I'm working on, and I'm also linking the full sized copies hosted elsewhere because of the forum's love of down-sizing pics.
    shop1.jpg shop2.jpg shop3.jpg

    Full size:
    http://www.jasonandemilyatkins.com/temp/Shop1.png
    http://www.jasonandemilyatkins.com/temp/Shop2.png
    http://www.jasonandemilyatkins.com/temp/Shop3.png

    The main room in the middle is 40'x60', with 13' tall walls and an open ceiling. It'll be the primary fab area. One of the two bandsaws is a miter head, and then the two saws on either side of the stock rack are a Taiwanese cold saw and a 14" abrasive. One shelf will essentially be empty to be used as a feed table for those two saws. The trailer won't live in the shop, I just wanted to make sure it fit for unloading stock deliveries. I don't have the ironworker, but am leaving space for it eventually. The pink circle is the 20' radius of a cluster of tools that can need to swing stock, such as an angle iron bender and a couple of tube benders. The idea is to arrange the tools in the cluster to minimize them being in each other's way, but give them space to swing the stock around. Usually only one of them is being operated at a time. The yellow jib crane over by the welding tables, I don't have, but hope to make someday. (I realize I need to make a decision about this as it'll impact the foundation plan.)

    The large room on one side is the machining room, which will house my 15x48 Colchester, 10 or 12" Adira lathe, Cincinnati Toolmaster MT mill, Tree J425 CNC, Reid surface grinder, a drill press, and support benches, tooling cabinets, etc. I haven't spent a lot of time actually laying out that room yet, but it'll be 20'x50' and have a sloping ceiling, the wall shared with the fab room being 13' and the outside wall being 10'. I'm leaving a lot of space for a future CNC lathe, shaper, and who knows what else. It'll be a long time before there are more than 2 people working at the same time in there. I think I'd like to figure out how to put a crane over the lathe, at least, to load heavier parts. I have an electric walk behind forklift/stacker that's counterbalanced, so it can be used, but I think a crane is less likely to bump something sensitive in the machine shop. I do also have a 10' wide, 2 ton mobile gantry crane.

    The room next to the machine shop is a storage room and walk way. There is a shipping container next to the shop that will be connected by a cement pad so that you can use a pallet jack to get stuff between the shop and the container.

    On the other side will be my office, a small storage room that only I'll have access to, which will also be the electrical room where the off-grid solar power system will be mounted, so that it can be lightly air conditioned. The small room divided from that will house the forklift batteries that store energy for that system, allowing their gas to be vented outside.

    The next room is a sheet metal room. I have the shear, but not the press brake, but want to leave space in case I'm ever able to bring or make one.

    And finally, the other corner will house the 5x10' plasma table I made, plus a stock rack for sheet goods. That room will have bay doors on both external sides so that while cutting, the fumes can just vent to the outside. The 80 gallon horizontal compressor will be on the ground under the lowest shelf. Having it breath plasma fumes isn't ideal, I realized, but it has a filter and I want its noise out of the rooms that will be open more often.

    I realize there is no bathroom (it's in a close-by building) or break/conference room (we have a huge cashew tree just outside where everyone who is going to hang out does so in the shade).

    Here's where the shop will eventually be built, with its corner near the front/door corner of the (orange in the drawing) shipping container. My guys are currently working on cutting down a bunch of the cashew trees which are in the way (I was super bummed to have to do that, but this is the only place on the property that wouldn't require a bunch of cut and fill with a building this big.) My family and I will also live there and there will be places for guests to stay for a little rest/vacation, but this is by far the biggest building on the 3 acre site.
    img_20200601_180001.jpg

    The building will be slab on foundation, and the walls will be reinforced concrete columns with compressed adobe block. I can sub or add steel I/W beams in some places to support wall mounted jib cranes, which might be a good solution for loading the lathe?

    I'll be moving from my current shop which is 26'x50' into this 60'x80' and am really looking forward to the extra space!!

    I don't know what other questions people will have, but I'll be interested to see what everyone thinks or suggests.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_20200601_180001.jpg  

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    I think a way to separate the surface grinder from the other machine tools would be a good idea. If grinding a lot I’d build a separate room for it, but at least a curtain to contain the grit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by henrya View Post
    I think a way to separate the surface grinder from the other machine tools would be a good idea. If grinding a lot I’d build a separate room for it, but at least a curtain to contain the grit.
    I don't use it often, I was thinking mist plus shop vac might be enough, but a curtain is also an easy solution.

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    Never heard of compressed adobe. Is it just hydraulic pressed into the mold to collapse air pockets? I would consider skylights or plastic roof panels. Maybe a ridge vent. How about a "big ass fan"
    Bill D

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    I'm not seeing anything on the machinery list that needs a foundation.

    So I would think "modular" and simply move machinery as needed (within reason, not wheel mounted milling machines & lathes etc.)

    Jib crane as you indicated, over the plasma (make it swing over the side to a welding bench)

    Another jib crane maybe in the middle, serving lathe & mill.

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    Biggest pain in my shop configuration is dealing with 24ft long bars that come from the steel yard. (although I have no helpers).

    Its an extra set of detail, but getting the columns and footings setup for a bridge crane (even if full manual) that can serve the trailer, stock racks and bandsaws would be a good help going forward.

    If you do any welding, that is well served to be placed close to the electrical service/electrical panel to avoid long wiring runs. Also the weld/grind activity is a nasty dirty thing that should be kept separate from machine tools, just like belt/disc sanders and the grinder mentioned above.

    I just poured a ~2 cu yard foundation in my shop for a jib crane, it could have been done with less but the 4 inch thick crack-y floor was a liability. They can be epoxy-anchored into thicker slabs, so thickening the slab to 10-12" in around a 4' squared area in your intended jib crane area(s) could be a helpful future proof for a light duty jib.

    I went with switched receptacles in the ceiling so that when "better lights" come up I can swap them in easily. The LEDs are good now but there could be another technology or a longer-lasting fixture someday. I didn't want a major project of hard-re-wiring. And along the lines of wiring I put in a lot of extra twistlocks.

    I try to keep my shop "configurable" so lighter machines can be moved around with a pallet jack for use and then go back to hide in a corner.

    Don't forget storage space for tooling, projects, and even scrap metal (meaning useable scraps) needs a place. Managing a bar of material from 24' down to 0.4" is a challenge, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

    Good luck with your build. don't forget to clear out organic material such as stumps, they will rot under a slab and cause a void.

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  9. #7
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    Thank you all for your input.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    Never heard of compressed adobe. Is it just hydraulic pressed into the mold to collapse air pockets? I would consider skylights or plastic roof panels. Maybe a ridge vent. How about a "big ass fan"
    Bill D
    Compressed adobe is clay dirt, compressed, just like you guessed. It becomes very strong against compressive force, and since it compacts about 2:1 it has incredible thermal mass. Outside temp changes penetrate about a degree per inch of wall thickness per hour, meaning that the inside of a 12" thick wall is always the same temp. The downside is that they abrade much more easily than a cinder block, and aren't waterproof unless you mix some cement into them. I have a machine that makes them hydraulically, about a thousand a day, and the dirt is all over here.

    I do like the idea of the translucent roof panels, but they weather quickly here (~2 years before they crack and leak), so I think I'll use them instead on the two walls, essentially filling the two exterior truss faces. It won't get as much light into the middle, admittedly. I'd be willing to swap them every few years, but we have the additional problem that the ones that are available here aren't the same profile as our roofing, so it's kind of dumb luck if they don't leak in the heavy rainy season. I had also considered a big wall mounted fan on one of the 40' sides of the main fab area to pull breeze through. We'll have fume extraction for welding fumes, but the fan could be necessary to cool the place. We'll see though, if the roof is something that's insulative, like fiber cement panels for example, and with the help of the compressed earth blocks, it might not be too bad, even here. My first shop was made out of those blocks, with 18" thick walls, and it was always cool except near the metal bay doors.

    I haven't seen ridge venting here that the driving winds in the rainy season don't make leak. However, I do like the idea of those spiral vents, though we'd have to send them over or make them, I don't know anywhere to get them here.

    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    I'm not seeing anything on the machinery list that needs a foundation.

    So I would think "modular" and simply move machinery as needed (within reason, not wheel mounted milling machines & lathes etc.)

    Jib crane as you indicated, over the plasma (make it swing over the side to a welding bench)

    Another jib crane maybe in the middle, serving lathe & mill.
    That's my plan, yep. I'm debating about slab thickness. I had thought maybe to do the machining room thicker (maybe 4" everywhere and 6" there), but then got thinking about it, and the forklift puts a more concentrated load on the slab than the lathe or mill anyway, so I don't know what's necessary for that.

    I hadn't planned on a crane over the plasma table only because the sheet goods will be stored on pallets on pallet racking, so the forklift will be required to get stock down anyway (no overhead access). Think a crane would still be helpful anyway? Seems like if you have the pallet down and on the forks anyway, moving next to the table and sliding a sheet off the top is about the same amount of work?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt_isserstedt View Post
    Biggest pain in my shop configuration is dealing with 24ft long bars that come from the steel yard. (although I have no helpers).

    Its an extra set of detail, but getting the columns and footings setup for a bridge crane (even if full manual) that can serve the trailer, stock racks and bandsaws would be a good help going forward.
    I had left room (I think) for the walk behind forklift to handle unloading the trailer onto the rack and stock from the rack onto the saws. Think I'm making a mistake thinking the walk behind forklift is as good as a good crane?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt_isserstedt View Post
    If you do any welding, that is well served to be placed close to the electrical service/electrical panel to avoid long wiring runs. Also the weld/grind activity is a nasty dirty thing that should be kept separate from machine tools, just like belt/disc sanders and the grinder mentioned above.
    Yep, tons of welding. I'm not too worried about wiring though, three phase 400v can push a lot of amps through 10 gauge wire. Yes, the main room in the middle will be the "dirty" one. I have the machine tools separated on purpose (except for the surface grinder, which is simultaneously a huge source of grit yet also very sensitive, lol).


    Quote Originally Posted by matt_isserstedt View Post
    I just poured a ~2 cu yard foundation in my shop for a jib crane, it could have been done with less but the 4 inch thick crack-y floor was a liability. They can be epoxy-anchored into thicker slabs, so thickening the slab to 10-12" in around a 4' squared area in your intended jib crane area(s) could be a helpful future proof for a light duty jib.
    That's a good thought. I'm inclined to put jib cranes where there are already going to be building columns, just swapping that column to be a heavy I beam instead of a reinforced concrete column. Does that seem like a good way around? Then make the foundation under that column proportionately bigger? The couple of jib crane spots I have in mind are near enough to the wall anyway, that having them be freestanding isn't necessary, and it seems stronger if it's part of a wall with a bond beam holding the head of the beam, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt_isserstedt View Post
    I went with switched receptacles in the ceiling so that when "better lights" come up I can swap them in easily. The LEDs are good now but there could be another technology or a longer-lasting fixture someday. I didn't want a major project of hard-re-wiring. And along the lines of wiring I put in a lot of extra twistlocks.

    I try to keep my shop "configurable" so lighter machines can be moved around with a pallet jack for use and then go back to hide in a corner.

    Don't forget storage space for tooling, projects, and even scrap metal (meaning useable scraps) needs a place. Managing a bar of material from 24' down to 0.4" is a challenge, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

    Good luck with your build. don't forget to clear out organic material such as stumps, they will rot under a slab and cause a void.
    Yep, I think I'm set on full length stock, but you're right, the little bits of drops and projects-in-progress are a clutter problem if not organized. I have a good system for structural drops that I'll bring along, and need to figure something out for sheet, cause that's a mess in my current shop. In-process stuff can be put in gaylords and stored on the pallet racking, if it's smaller pieces.

    The stumps are a valid point. We're cutting those cashew trees in the pic down below the surface, but there is still root under the surface. Fortunately there is a huge (6' tall) termite mound right in the middle of the spot, so I'm leaving it there on purpose for the next several months. They're amazingly quick about wood, and i'm hoping that between them and rot, most of the roots will be taken care of and compacted down before we pour the slab at least three months from now.

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    Can you move the bandsaws and roller tables underneath the finger rack?

    I set my auto saw up like this and like it a lot. Consolidates a ton of space.

    Do you have a forklift or can you get one?

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    If your city has street numbers for an address paint it in big numbers so it can be read from the street. Also somewhere visable from the street and near the main entrance paint the date 2020? add "AD" to make it obvious it is the date and not the address.
    Forrest would tell you to buy a used bridge crane and set it up first then build the building around it.
    I do not know your soil but folks will dig a deep central pillar under the main concrete anchor for a jib crane as a lever to prevent tip.
    Bil lD
    Bill D

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    The move to 6" concrete is one I did for forklifts. 6" of 3/4" washed limestone base, compacted, 10mil vapor barrier, 4ksi concrete mix, 1/2" rebar grid on 16" centers, curing sealer applied the same night after finishing took place, saw cut the crack control joints the next morning after the pour. It has been excellent thus far.

    If you have a 10k machine on a 10k forklift the front tires can be close to 20k.

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    I have a 3500# electric walk behind forklift that can lift 2000#, so that's 5500# spread over its three solid rubber tires. Similar with 6000# pallet jack, three tons on three wheels.

    Heaviest current equipment is the Tree mill at 6000# spread over about a square yard of footprint. It will come in rolling on pipes.

    The trailer will be much less dense slab loading, even if loaded heavily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    If your city has street numbers for an address paint it in big numbers so it can be read from the street. Also somewhere visable from the street and near the main entrance paint the date 2020? add "AD" to make it obvious it is the date and not the address.
    Forrest would tell you to buy a used bridge crane and set it up first then build the building around it.
    I do not know your soil but folks will dig a deep central pillar under the main concrete anchor for a jib crane as a lever to prevent tip.
    Bil lD
    Bill D
    Hehe, no street numbers or even names. No mail in fact, other than PO boxes in the only post office, in the capitol. And it's been closed for a few years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    Can you move the bandsaws and roller tables underneath the finger rack?

    I set my auto saw up like this and like it a lot. Consolidates a ton of space.

    Do you have a forklift or can you get one?
    We'll build the racks, so we can make them however we want. The rack doesn't get in the way all the time? Bang your head on it standing back up after looking down to find a scribed cut line? I like the concept. My Wells saw, you operate everything from one side, so if the hinge was against the wall, I can see that one. The Ellis, you need to be able to reach the back side to unlock the rotation. How low is your lowest rack?

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    Jason, I don't have anything to add on the shop organization, but I checked out your website and it looks like you have something really amazing going on. This is off topic, but for anyone else check out what Jason and his family are doing. Jason & Emily Atkins (I'm assuming you don't mind this being shared since it is the host for the link in the OP)

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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonPAtkins View Post
    We'll build the racks, so we can make them however we want. The rack doesn't get in the way all the time? Bang your head on it standing back up after looking down to find a scribed cut line? I like the concept. My Wells saw, you operate everything from one side, so if the hinge was against the wall, I can see that one. The Ellis, you need to be able to reach the back side to unlock the rotation. How low is your lowest rack?
    So I have a real big VMC and it's got a cabinet on the back about 7' x 7'. I put two 10' tall finger rack uprights on either side of this cabinet. I put 3 pairs of fingers on the uprights so the lowest material doesn't interfere with opening the doors. Those three pairs of fingers hold a lot of material and in a real good place to pull down and load the saw. I put a pair of fingers at the level of the feed table and I built a short section of roller conveyor to nest onto those two fingers. It has to be on the light side so I can pull it out easy to get to the VMC lube tank and such.

    I set my saw to the right of the rack and it nests perfect with the big VMC since the VMC is a big T shape.

    In my situation I took a VMC that has a 16' x 16' footprint and a big autofeed saw that has an 8' x 10' footprint and combined them together with the finger rack into a 20' square space and I'm pretty happy with how it fit together.

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    FYI: grizzly has a free shop design CAD program. It has cutouts for their machine. just find one that is roughly the same size as yours. I have never used it so no idea how good or bad it may be. But, it is free.
    Bill D.

    Shop Tools and Machinery at Grizzly.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by LOTT View Post
    Jason, I don't have anything to add on the shop organization, but I checked out your website and it looks like you have something really amazing going on. This is off topic, but for anyone else check out what Jason and his family are doing. Jason & Emily Atkins (I'm assuming you don't mind this being shared since it is the host for the link in the OP)
    Thanks! No, of course I don't mind - except to be embarrassed by how out of date that site is. The only regularly updated part of it is the section that houses the newsletters we send out monthly, which is at Jason & Emily Atkins That info is kept current.

    The thumbnail sketch is that I'm American (from Michigan) but have lived in this little West African country for 14 years. My shop (fab and machining) is here to help with development/health/education projects that need stuff made or fixed. Most of the metalworkers here are shade tree mechanics, except the welding version of that. My work varies from producing desks for grade schools to roofs for schools to machines for a drinking water filter factory I'm helping set up here to turning down worn bearing journals on neighborhood rice threshing machines and everything in between. It's often fun, sometimes exhausting, usually rewarding, but always interesting. I'm also involved in training younger metalworkers.


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