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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

    Starting from scratch - advice???

    Hi All!
    I'm new to the forum and hoping for some sage advice! I'm a missionary in West Africa in my late 20's. I've been working with wood for a long time. This past year while in Michigan I got a little bit of experience with metalworking. I've assembled a humble little shop's worth of equipment and it will be arriving here in Africa in a couple of weeks.

    I'm starting completely from scratch and will be doing wood and metal projects mainly to help the locals with farming and such. (Example projects on the docket so far are windmills (did most of the work on this project while in MI when I had access to a friend's waterjet table), hand water pumps, rice threshing machine, peanut husker, stuff like that. Also some basic auto repair outside the shop.)

    I'm looking forward to learning lots from this community but at the present moment I have one burning question. I've been given a spot of land that's 15'x45' to build the little shop. I'm looking for some advice about what has worked and hasn't worked for other people in their shop layouts. For example, I know that I need some sliding doors and a spot layed out on the long wall for steel storage, because steel comes in 6 meter segments here. So, let list the big stuff, and if anyone has any advice about how best to use the floor space of the shop, I'm all ears!

    1) A brand new Lincoln Ranger welder/generator was donated and is going to be the heart of the shop. It will power everything as we have no utility power here.
    2) Old 20 gallon Craftsman horizontal compressor
    3) Chinese 50A plasma cutter
    4) Wood-grade Delta tabletop drill press mounted on a stand
    5) 14" 15A abrasive chop saw
    6) 8" "heavy duty" Dewalt bench grinder on a yet-to-be-made stand
    7) I'd also like to make a basic press brake, just a 30" one or so for basic sheet metal manipulation.

    Then of course there are the misc. hand tools and air tools. The paint booth will be outside.

    So, I am thinking that I'll put big sliding doors on the one long side, the other long side is an existing wall, so it can't have a door. It seems like the chop saw should have lots of room on either side so a whole 6m piece of steel can fit on it, so I'm thinking it will make since to have that and the steel storage tree on the non-door long wall. Past that, I don't have any specific ideas.

    The Ranger can't be run inside since it's a generator, so I'm thinking that I might make a little lean-to out one side with openable side doors for ventilation. That will give weather/theft protection but still keep the welding controls/leads handy.

    If no one has any opinions, no worries, but usually people with a hobby have lots of "if I could start from scratch, this is how I'd do it" kind of dreams. So, let's hear them!

    Thanks again!!

  2. #2
    Registered User VegasBruce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Henderson, NV./ Huntsville TX.

    Re: Starting from scratch - advice???

    Welcome Jason, it sounds like you're off to a great start. 15 x 45 is a lot. But it can be doable.

    A craftsman is someone who does a better job than anyone thinks is necessary.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

    Re: Starting from scratch - advice???

    Thanks! It looks like these forums are pretty dead, eh?

  4. #4
    Administrator Cebby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Starting from scratch - advice???

    15' x 45' is a nice size shop. Will you be doing any vehicle work also, or mainly steel and woodworking projects?

    In addition to your steel storage, you'll probably want a wood storage rack also.

    You'll also need workbench space and probably some assembly table space. I'd make one assembly table out of steel so you have a welding table and then make one out of wood too. You can add shelving for storage on these or build cabinets for tool storage. If you use the 45' side for material storage, maybe you can build workbenches along the 15' dim on both ends. You can never have too much space for assembly.

    See this thread for more discussion on shop planning:

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