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Mixing processes (machining, welding, wood) in a 1200 sqft shop?

sansbury

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Location
Boston, Mass.
I’m building a new shop next to my home and trying to figure what’s possible and what’s actually a good idea.

Due to zoning and site limitations I’m limited on space to a floor plate of 28x44’. There will also be a basement of about 400sqft assume don’t find a rock ledge when we dig.

My work has mainly been focused on machining and electronics but I’ve long wanted to add some light welding/fabrication to my toolkit. There are also times where I’d love to have a small CNC router setup and bench area for smaller wood items.

That said I realize sticking a VMC, plasma table, and router right next to each other is problematic.

My question is, is there any practical way to make this work, other than building walls? I was looking into a downdraft table with outside exhaust for welding/grinding, and a good dust evacuator and air scrubber for my own benefit.

If I don’t cheap out on that stuff, is this actually workable? I wouldn’t be opposed to throwing a painters cloth over the mill and lathe if I’m running wood, I don’t need to have everything running at once.

If there’s really no good way to do this, I could conceivably use the basement for woodworking, but I’d been hoping to keep that for other purposes.

Curious if anyone has tried to make this work and had success, or failure

Thanks in advance.
 
You need extremely good dust collection for all processes. You will want a welding booth with walls as well, which you should be able to fit.

EDIT: If you build a welding booth in a corner, make the third wall swing out on a wheel so you can collapse it out of the way.
 
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The shop I work at has wood metal plastic and paint all in one shop. what we have done that works pretty well and passes fire marshal is divide the areas with pallet racking with one side covered in OSB above the pallet racking to the ceiling we have a plastic curtain made from a reinforced plastic sheet called dura-skrim its stapled to a 2x4 at the ceiling and a 2x4 suspended by all thread at the bottom (we have a 30' ceiling so there is a lot of space to cover). This combined with good ventilation for each operation seems to work very well, think about they types of dust each operation will produce and where those would be most harmful and arange the areas with those operations as far apart as possible.
For a smaller shop you could use portable curtains (think welding curtains) to define each area but they would be easy to move when additional space was required or just to move larger parts around, for a 1 man shop just tarping the machines that won't like the wood dust is likely plenty good enough.
 
Housekeeping is key. If you are using a hot process (could be grinding or thermal cutting, not just welding) you don't leave for 1/2 hour after finishing the hot process. Use fire rated drywall for all walls. TIG welding doesn't throw as many sparks as stick or mig.
 
That's basically what I have in my shop, which is 24x36 (864 sf). I set it up as a welding/blacksmith shop then moved machine tools in later. I do a small amount of woodworking and paint but not much. The machine tools are covered with wool blankets unless I'm actively using them. The whole shop is a steel building with a dirt floor so not much to catch fire.
 
I think having hand tools, hardware and stock in reasonably well sealed drawers is another good idea. Keeps the wood dust and metal /abrasive grit from the hand grinders off the precision tools and and fixtures. Open bins and collett racks on the shelves will get icky in my experience.
 
My shop started as exclusively a cabinet/furniture operation.
Long ago I added a complement of machine tools and metal fabrication equipment including welding.
I have had no issues but as mentioned I keep the shop clean.
I recently installed a much better dust collector with ducted drops to eight woodworking machine and the shop is cleaner still.
But…
I don’t grind showers of sparks in the shop and my weld process is GTAW which I consider pretty darn safe for splatter and the chance of starting fires.
 
Appreciate all the ideas and experiences.

I am planning on GTAW. If I was going to do stick or something to fix my tractor that would be rare and could be kept outside. 95% of my work is either small electromechanical assemblies or relatively small artsy-fartsy stuff. I'm not repairing heavy equipment or building roll cages.

For the grinding/welding I was thinking of something like this, or a DIY equivalent. I do know I want *really* good ventilation as I'll be doing some work with stainless and I don't want to be breathing any of that $#@! in.


And I appreciate all the suggestions around fire safety. I can assure everybody I am paranoid about that to the point that I've looked into putting sprinklers into the house.
 
Appreciate all the ideas and experiences.

I am planning on GTAW. If I was going to do stick or something to fix my tractor that would be rare and could be kept outside. 95% of my work is either small electromechanical assemblies or relatively small artsy-fartsy stuff. I'm not repairing heavy equipment or building roll cages.

For the grinding/welding I was thinking of something like this, or a DIY equivalent. I do know I want *really* good ventilation as I'll be doing some work with stainless and I don't want to be breathing any of that $#@! in.


And I appreciate all the suggestions around fire safety. I can assure everybody I am paranoid about that to the point that I've looked into putting sprinklers into the house.
Funny enough the best downdraft tables for grinding metal have wooden slats.

My concern isn't even fire safety, since that's pretty obvious and easy to be aware of. The real annoyance is wood dust in the metal machinery and metal dust in the wood machinery.
 
Put stuff like a table saw, planer, and jointer on wheels. A welding machine and welding table can be on wheels.

The heavy stuff goes to fixed locations.

One thing you don't mention is a paint booth or a oven for powder coating. You're not going to setup all this stuff and use rattle cans?
 
I used to work in a factory that had a wood side one side of the factory and aluminium on the other. On the wood side everything had a coating of brown wood dust everywhere. Ducting in the ceiling was covered in brown.

In my home shop where for me it’s just TIG welding if I do any grinding or cut anything with wood like when I was doing wall boards for the shop for example. Everything got a coating of sawdust. Everything.
 
If you can do the fab work without any grinding you will have much less to worry about. Grinding sparks and abrasive dust are the worst possible thing to have in a machineshop. Wood you can mainly contain with enough extraction, grinding dust goes everywhere and is very bad for basically everything in a machineshop.
 
I can offer one key for effective dust collection.
I use a cyclone separator which is mounted outside of the shop and it exhausts outside with no filters.
It’s throughput rated 1500 CFM “open” and not much less than that in my small shop with large trunk runs.
There is no wood dust in the shop as this setup catches everything at each machine and tosses it outside to the chip collection barrel.


I really like the setup - no fussing with fussy HEPA filter cans, no noise in the shop to speak of and no hazmat suit gear just to pissing run some stock on the TS.

One of the remarkable accidents of my career path is I am one of those lucky souls who is allergic to tropical woods.
A boat carpenter who is allergic to teak, all the mahoganies, all the trash wood cores in plywood and the sundry extras like rosewood etc.

Again for me to the OP- this mixed use shop is a non issue.

Edit-

Health - never bothered to think much about it and have done decades and decades of shop work and I’m still alive but…

Sub 5 micron particulates are the danger as these collect in the lungs and don’t leave.
“Dust” we see ain’t it outside of needing swept up.
Filters are not necessarily going to win to keep the fines out of the air column in the shop.
Exhaust the damn stuff outside and skip all the issues with filters is my call.
 
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I cover the metal working stuff if I’m making a wood dust mess. Just bed sheet size covers draped over the machines. I also have pretty good dust collection on the main offenders. I have 230V outside to weld grind or otherwise make serious messes on the covered porch. Tools on wheels are nice to save space and to move a saw or planer outside for a bigger run of chips. Finishing is the biggest problem as it needs both a clean separate space, ventilation and clean fresh air.
 
Just a couple of thoughts, if your building, room in roof trusses are a good investment, as is mezzanine, a small footprint can be optimised with thought.
Bear in mind your shop will be bigger than most European houses,
Pvc drop strip curtains are handy, even tinted for welding, stops the dust moving around.
Either way congratulations on getting the thing through the planning.
Hope it goes well, and don’t skimp on safety, falling when building is all too common ( tried it, didn’t like free fall carpentry, no chute)
Mark
 








 
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