.New Workshop




After quite a long time, I've finally got around to making a start on the new workshop! This will be outside in the garden and of a suitable size to house all my present equipment plus the new Denham lathe, when I finally collect it! Unfortunately, the weather has other ideas!

At the moment, the Chester mill is still out under the 'carport' and I seem to be spending more time running up and down stairs fetching tools and taking them back than I spend actually making anything. It will be heaven to have everything to hand in one place.

I decided from the outset that I wanted a timber floor for insulation and I did not want the effort and expense of laying a large concrete base for the workshop to stand on. Some will say that a concrete floor is best for machinery to stand on but concrete is cold and damp unless well insulated, which means laying a sub floor over the top anyway.

My initial thoughts were to buy a 16' x 8' shed ready made and there are some reasonably well made ones around at a reasonable price. However, none of the normal ones had very substantial floor joists and are probably meant to go on a concrete base for support. My way around this would be to put the shed onto 6" x 2" joists supported at regular intervals on concrete pads.

After much pondering, I decided I could build a stronger and slightly larger workshop for the same cost as the smaller ready made job, so that is what I am going to do. Also, I have a nice solid mahogany door doing nothing that can be used and some secondhand double glazed opening lights that I can fit along the back wall for extra light and ventilation.

The workshop will be approximately 16' x 9.5' (4.9 mtrs x 2.9mtrs) outside (hence my reluctance to lay a concrete base!!). The floor will be laid on 150mm x 50mm tanalised joists on concrete blocks/pads and will be made from decking planks which are 29mm thick. Once the workshop exterior is complete, a sub floor of 18mm plywood will be laid on top. The framing is 89mm x 39mm tanalised timber and the cladding will be box section steel sheets. This is galvanised and plastic coated and requires no maintenance. I've got a garden shed made from this steel cladding and it still looks good after 10 years.

The walls will be insulated with loft insulation and then lined with 10mm plywood. Hopefully the workshop will be warm and snug and take very little heating. It will probably be a lot warmer than my 1930's semi which is like a fridge during this very cold weather!

The timber and steel cladding have been delivered but it's much too cold to make a start yet. The ground is frozen solid at the moment so it's no good trying to clear the space and dig out for the supporting pads just yet.

Timber for floor and framing not long after delivery!

Looking towards the site of the workshop - just in front of the greenhouse

The proposed site for the workshop has changed since my first ideas. I originally wanted it closer to the house but then decided it would be less intrusive further down the garden and, more importantly, it could be BIGGER! It could be made longer still but I wanted to keep the floor area under 15 square metres to avoid problems with planning regulations etc.

Most of the snow in the photos has now gone but everywhere is still frozen. I've managed to get all the timber framing under cover in the big greenhouse (behind the smaller one in the photo) but the joists and decking planks are too long.


Another year bites the dust!

The weather has been quite good over the last few days and yesterday I started the back breaking job of moving soil and other rubbish from the site of the workshop. When I first got the house, I had to replace several concrete floors and some of the old concrete etc. got dumped here 'for the time being'. Consequently, clearing it all is going to be a job and a half!

The worst bit so far was a mound of soil that I had piled up just in front of the greenhouse which had become inhabited by buddleia bushes and the roots are making it hard work to dig the soil out. The soil is also still very sticky and tomorrow they have forecast heavy rain which won't help! I want to try and clear the last bit tomorrow though if the weather permits.The workshop won't actually reach down as far as this mound but I may as well clear it while I'm in the mood.

Anybody got a bulldozer?


I've battled away through a couple of very wet days, including a bit more snow, but had a good day yesterday and today. The weather has turned much warmer and drier and I managed to dig over all of the plot and remove most of the rubble. The weather forecast for the next week looks dry and getting warmer so I am hoping to make a start on the floor bearers and their supporting blocks.


So much for the weather forecast. It's pouring down with rain as I write this!

I dug out for one of the corner blocks today and got that put in and levelled. What I'm doing is digging the hole, putting a couple of bricks in the bottom, and then sitting the concrete block on top of those. When everything is level, a bit of concrete rammed in the bottom makes it all solid. When all the blocks are in place and I'm happy that everything is level, I'll go round and fill the holes completely with concrete, thus making effectively a solid 2 feet square block. You have only to go down a spades depth here and you hit solid clay and shale so I don't think the blocks will go very far! The only problem is that the garden slopes down quite a bit from the top of the site to the bottom so the far end of the floor will be higher off the ground. Still, it will give somewhere to hide all the rubbish when I've finished!

The first support block in position


It's slow going, very hard work, and the weather is not helping!

I've had to dig out the rear top corner a lot more than I had hoped in order to keep the floor level (it does help!) which has meant moving another mountain of soil and rubbish. I'm hoping to lose some of it under the floor at the bottom end but there is not that much room. Fortunately, I've got to build up the other side of the garden next to a fence that 'Bodget and Scarper' put up for the next door neighbour, so can get rid of a lot of the good soil. The cowboys that did the fence didn't sink the posts far enough into the ground with the result that they stuck up about a foot above the fencing panels. Rather than do the job properly, they just jacked up the panels and gravel boards on bricks, leaving a great gap underneath. That's why I need to build up the ground.

I've got all the outside blocks in place now and finally concreted them all in yesterday, mixing 10 bags of ballast and cement to do it. I slept well last night! Today was pretty wet but I managed to get the outside floor joists in position. If it's not too bad tomorrow, I'll start putting in some of the inner joists and the supporting blocks for those. This means more digging out to make sure the joists are clear of the ground.

Outer blocks in position and the mound of soil that still has to be moved!

Thanks to Cliff who emailed me to suggest that polystyrene sheets would be better insulation than the loft insulation. I'm getting the loft insulation foc, which was the main reason for using it, but I'll look into the polystyrene. It would be easier to use but it all depends on the finances. I'm building this on a very tight budget! Thanks also to Jem who suggested putting some sort of damp proof material between the blocks and the joists. I'm probably going to have to put packing under some of the joists as they won't all be perfectly level so will use some sort of waterproof material, thus killing two birds with one stone.


Phew! I'm exhausted and ache in places I didn't know existed!

Today I managed to get two of the inner joists in place along with some more supporting blocks. This involved moving more soil and digging out the ground again. I'm getting there slowly though. That big pile of soil at the bottom end is going to have to go next if I can find somewhere to put it! Unfortunately, it contains a lot of clay and rubbish so is not much use for building the garden up. There's also the small matter of a tree stump that needs cutting down as well!

Making a start on the inner joists. That soil pile is getting bigger!


Today I fitted the last inner floor joist and finished concreting in the supporting blocks. Thank heavens for that!! I actually finished this a bit earlier than expected. The weather has been good so I've made good progress.

The ground under the joists needs a final levelling as there are a few 'umps and ollers' (as LBSC would say) and I'm going to fit some short cross joists inbetween the long ones, mainly to keep the spacing between the joists correct as I fit the decking planks. Then there's still that big mound of soil to get rid of!

All the main joists now in and all support blocks concreted

The two lengths of timber across the joists are just to keep it all square as the floor is fitted. I've bought a roll of plastic dampproof course material and will put strips of that under the joists where they rest on the support blocks.


Time to start on the floor. I've added the damp proof material under the joists and made a start on the decking sub floor. By the end of yesterday I had about half of the planks screwed down and the rest cut to size ready. Thank heavens for chop saws and cordless screwdrivers! I would not fancy putting all these screws in by hand.


I'm pleased to say that the floor so far is absolutely rock solid with no give at all when you walk on it. If the weather holds, I should have the floor finished by the weekend but it looks as though it may rain on Friday.


Quite a bit done over the last few days. The floor is complete and the basic framing for the walls as well. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the roof joists fitted and the cross members fitted to the side frames

Floor complete and framing well under way

I've lowered the front of the workshop by another 5 inches so that even at the bottom end, the highest point will be less than 2.5 metres from the ground. This will mean shortening the door that I have by 3 inches but as it's 6 feet 6 inches high anyway, that shouldn't be a problem.

I've already had some black looks from the neighbour next door so he's probably not too impressed with the new construction!


The weather has not been too good over the last few days but the framing is now finished and all the roof joists are in position.

Framing and roof joists all finished

I was going to wait until the end of the month (pay day) before buying some breathable membrane to put on the frames before fixing the cladding but the timber is getting very wet with all the rain we've had recently so I've ordered a roll today which should be here tomorrow. I'll probably have to starve for the next few weeks but at least now I can get the framing covered and the cladding fitted!

I've started making up the front window frames using the extrusions from some old UPVC window frames that came from the house. Unfortunately, I sawed up the old frames with a view to getting rid of them but there are still enough long lengths to make up the windows for the workshop. I'll simply mitre the corners of the plastic extrusions and glue them together again. There were also two nice lengths of plastic window sill which I've fitted. What I intend to do is finish off around the window frames with UPVC sheet and sections so that there will be nothing to paint when I have finished them. For the time being the windows will be single glazed to keep down the cost but before next winter I hope to change the single glazing for double glazed sealed units.

Also from the old windows are five opening lights that I am going to fit on the back wall of the workshop. I'll be able to open these and let some fresh air in during the hot (?!) summer months. The front windows will be fixed. I won't have enough bits of the old windows to make the frames for the opening lights so these will have wooden frames instead, which will probably be easier anyway. I'll try and cover the frames with some UPVC sheet cut from an old door panel so once again there will be no painting to do.


The roll of membrane arrived this morning and I managed to get all the framing covered before it got too dark to see. Just as well, as it's pouring with rain at the moment! Hopefully, the interior of the workshop will keep a bit drier from now on. The window and door frames are still open so I'll try and find some plastic sheeting to cover the holes up for the time being as heavy rain is forecast over the next couple of days.

Membrane fitted to frames

I might try cutting up some of the steel cladding tomorrow now I can do it under cover. I had to buy it in 4 metre long sheets to get the colour I wanted (light grey) so all the sheets (10 of them) will have to be cut into at least two pieces, some into four. I'll try using a sheet metal saw to begin with that uses hacksaw blades in a thin frame. The steel cladding is quite thin (about 0.5mm) so it shouldn't take much getting through. If the saw doesn't work, I've got some very thin metal cutting discs for my angle grinder. It would probably be quicker using those but the heat generated may affect the plastic coating on the sheets.

It dawned on me today while fitting the membrane to the roof joists that I now can't get up between the joists when I'm fitting the roof panels - Doh! That means I'm going to have to get up on top to get at the fixings for the middle panels as I won't be able to reach them otherwise. That is going to be fun! The two end sheets will be no problem though as I can reach over from the ends of the workshop to do those. I think I'll fit the side panels first to strengthen the frames as they are a bit wobbly at the moment and I don't fancy climbing up on top until the sides are quite rigid!


Made a start cutting the sheets today. What a job! After much cursing and swearing, I cut one sheet into four pieces to cover the front under the windows. It's very difficult to make such long cuts without the saw continually jamming . I finally stopped that happening most of the time by letting the bit being cut off sag down under it's own weight. This opened up the saw cut enough to stop the saw binding. One sheet down, nine to go!

I managed to fasten three of the four sheets in place using the special bolts I bought with the sheets. I think they are supposed to be self drilling but it's a lot easier if you drill a pilot hole through the sheet and into the wood behind. I'm not sure how many fixings you are supposed to use per sheet, but for the time being I've put three in the top and three in the bottom. Obviously, longer sheets will need fixing in the middle as well. I've bought 200 so we'll see how far they go!


Ever since I started on the cladding it's done nothing but rain! I'm struggling on cutting the sheets and now have all the back covered and two of the three sheets on one end. I did the two end sheets today in the pouring rain and got soaked! Tomorrow looks as though it might be dry though so I'll try and get both ends finished. That will just leave the roof panels to do (A job I am not looking forward to!)


Well, the weather was fine today and I did manage to get both ends cladded. I've just got one last sheet to cut up for some of the roof panels.I was going to do that last thing today but it got too dark to see properly.

Just the roof sheets to go on now


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