Wheat and More…or Less
After collecting farm shop ideas from farm magazines for 35 years, we finally built a new shed which incorporated many of these ideas borrowed from other farmers around the nation. You might find some of these same ideas will have a place in your shop.
One of the ideas we like best is the 20-foot overhang on the front or east side of our 80x100 building. That coupled with a 50-foot outside concrete apron gives us a protected and shaded area for equipment work-day or night. It's a perfect place for working on big equipment, for doing really dirty jobs or for working on equipment when the weather is nice. Facing east, the shed has its back to the wind and, that combined with the overhang, takes the wind load off our door.
On the south side, we added a 30x120 foot lean-to for economical machine storage. The lean-to has a sand floor, lights and electricity. Folded up, our 61-foot air drill easily slides into the 20 to 22-foot tall lean-to.
One of the things that outdates a machine shed quicker than anything is not the width but the height. Because equipment keeps getting bigger and taller, we have 22-foot side walls and a 24-foot peak. Our main door is 20 feet tall and 26 feet side. The door is insulated as are the shed walls and ceiling. We also installed economical in-floor heating.
This is also where we keep our welders. The heart of the area is a 4x10-foot steel welding table. Bolted to it is a very large vise.
Our main building is divided into four separate areas. The lube center is in one corner and features 300-gallon bulk oil and hydraulic fluid tanks as well as a 21-foot long by 4-foot wide oil change pit. Six feet deep, it's covered with thick reinforced aluminum panels. We have a 300-gallon waste oil tank outside the building. Nearby, a tool corral stores scores of hand tools like shovels and rakes.
Another corner was dedicated to welding and metal work. Like in the woodworking section, we have metal storage racks and in this case, they're located behind our cutoff saw. The saw sits on a platform with 5-foot roller gangs on either side. We have roller extensions beyond that.
In another corner is a general working area located by the front door so you can get right to work.
We have over 135 feet of working bench surface framed with welded tube metal and covered with inch-thick plywood. We have shelves and cabinets under that. We also made a number of heavy work benches from 3-inch oak bridge plank. These attractive rugged benches give us even more work space but also allow you to move around to all sides of a project. We also have several work benches outside under the overhang. Too, we have several rolling work benches which we can move anywhere in or outside the building.
We really like our sturdy metal peg board for tool storage. In addition, we installed glass-faced ¾-inch plywood from the floor up to 8 feet. It's attractive and you can bolt or screw right into it.
For lights, we used high efficiency T-5 fluorescents with staggered ceiling placement. While fluorescent, you'll get 80% illumination the second they're turned on-regardless of temperature. For additional lighting, we installed more fluorescent lights above major working areas. The T-5s give the same lumens as 400-watt bulbs but they use half the electricity. Initial cost is about the same. LEDs are even cheaper to use but have very high initial costs.
Instead of an institutional looking farm building, we wanted a fun and stimulating work environment. Thus, we spent some time with interior decorating. Towards that end, we reclaimed some old pressed exterior tin from a turn-of-the-century general store complete with its 100-year old advertisement. That is now mounted on 20 feet of the shop wall.
To conserve work space, we added a separate 27x40-foot office attached to the north of the shop. It has a full basement lined with insulated cinder block and is used mainly for storage. The office has central heat and air as well as a full kitchen, shower, toilet and guest room. We also invested in a wide plank floor, pressed tin ceiling and decorative can lighting. The center piece is a 6x9-foot hayloft barn door from a neighboring farm. We repainted the large star on the door, then poured a protective transparent coating on it. We also built some of the furniture in the office, some from rough-cut timber that grew from trees planted by my grandparents.