Thursday, January 12, 2012

18: Metal Shop

In 1992 I built the garage. At 800 square feet it was always more space than I needed and so it became storage of one kind or another over the years. About four years ago my machinist/artist friend Blake needed a place to house the equipment from his recently dismantled machine shop and I agreed to rent him one of the three garage bays.

(Click on any image for a larger view.)

Blake next to one of his sculptures in Greektown.

I've been curious about those industrial machines ever since they appeared. In 2010 I asked Blake if he wanted to work with me to reconstitute his shop in my garage. He agreed, having projects of his own that had been put on hold while his tools were in storage.  My interest was in learning how to work with metal, something that's fascinated and/or intimidated me for a long while.

So I started another construction project.

We didn't want the space feel like a garage, so that meant a little extra work.

I had previously installed a series of temporary posts and beams under the joists to handle the added loads imposed by the rooftop garden.  The first step was to put in a permanent steel beam in their place.

There were two pieces of I-beam, the longest, at 19ft, weighed 350 pounds.

With only two of us working, finding a way to safely raise the beams to the ceiling was a little bit of a challenge.

I built temporary walls to support a welded cross piece that we clipped come along winches into.  I did this on each end of the beam.  Blake and I are getting ready to hoist the beam up to the ceiling.

We set it on braces about five feet off the ground before attaching the come along winches.

The beam is almost there.

Beam set in pocket cut in concrete block wall.

I installed furring strips, insulation, and drywall over the concrete block and on the ceiling.

In progress...

We put in Blake's old Intrepid wood burning stove to heat the shop.

Every fireplace needs a chimney.

In order to power all the machines I ran 3/0 wire in an 1-1/4" emt conduit from the house out to a new 100 amp sub-panel in the shop.

Blake has an old motorcycle as well as plenty of old flat metal stock.  Using an electric winch that hangs from the new I-beam, we can drag the heavy sheets of metal anywhere in the shop.

It was nice to get the mill in place.

The lathe collets make for a nice picture.

We suspended a metal storage rack, holding up to 7000 lbs of tube, bars, rods, and other shapes, above the welding table.

I put in a sub-panel to distribute power to the large amperage outlets used by the welders and plasma cutter.

The Hardinge HLV-H is one of two lathes. One of these days I'll strip it and give it a new coat of paint.

I ran compressed air lines to all the machines.  Here I'm pointing to the series of air drying filters that are in the line leading to the plasma cutter.

For an example of the kind of work we did in the shop, check out this post on the tunnel trellis we made for a nearby community garden.

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