Tag Archives: shops

Think-How to Avoid Fire in a Pole Barn Shop

Avoiding Fire in Pole Barn Shops

From www.hometownstations.com story by Joseph Sharpe:
“The cold weather almost cost one local man a big bundle of cash, in the form of muscle cars. He was trying to thaw some water lines, when things got ugly fast! Jeff Cook shows us what happened Tuesday in American Township, and how you can stay safe in the cold weather.
“I’ve been playing with cars for 30 years,” said Steve Hawkey, Barn Owner.
Steve Hawkey’s auto hobby almost hit a road block Tuesday morning when his pole barn caught fire.

“I had a frozen pipe and I was taking a small torch to it, trying to heat it up and the metal behind it got heated up and the insulation caught fire,” explained Hawkey. Fortunately, the fire department was just down the street. Firefighters arrived fast and got to work with heavy smoke coming from the barn.

“When we started investigating we had fire in the wall and it started running up into the attic space,” said Chief Tom Hadding, American Township Fire Dept.
So they opened up the wall, which wasn’t easy, because they had to saw through plywood and metal. Fire Chief Tom Hadding says anytime you need to warm up your pipes, you need to watch out.

“He was using an open-flame torch. We don’t recommend that. Use a hair dryer or call a professional plumber,” said Hadding. Hawkey and others managed to get his muscle cars out of the barn.

“I shouldn’t have been doing it, I was trying to get it thawed out.  I’ve done it for years and never had an issue but, lesson learned,” said Hawkey.

Firefighters doing double duty this time of year, not only putting out fires, but staying safe and warm.

“We try to rotate our guys in and out so we make sure they don’t get frostbite,” said Hadding. They also spread salt at the scene, to prevent any falls.
As for Steve, he leaves us with this solid piece of advice.. “Don’t use a torch on a frozen pipe,” warned Hawkey.”

From Mike the Pole Barn Guru:
Some even better advice on avoiding fires in post frame garages and post frame shops:
Use a non-flammable interior finish which will not conduct heat. OSB or plywood both burn. Steel liner panels conduct heat (as well as electricity). A torch in proximity of a steel liner can cause Kraft paper facings on insulation to ignite, or foam board or spray foam to combust. A stray wire in contact with liner panels can create all sorts of havoc.

My recommendation – use 5/8” Type X gypsum wallboard for an interior wall finish.

Pole Building New Year 2013

New Years Ball

On the first of each year, I tend to get a bit nostalgic, especially for my family, my home, and how my pole building career really took off. Bear with me as I take a step or two back in time.

At the ripe old age of 33, I sold my first business in Oregon in 1990 and returned to my hometown of Spokane, Washington.

My maternal grandparents had a cabin on Newman Lake, just outside of Spokane. Built in 1909, my original plan was to spend the following summer remodeling it into a year around home. We had taken a year’s lease out on a home in the Spokane Valley.  However just a few months into the lease, a notice appeared on our door to advise us the house was being foreclosed upon – leading to a speed up of plans.

As chance would have it, the winter of 1990-91 happened to be one of tremendous snowfall in Spokane, along with some bone chilling cold and some pretty fierce winds at times. Our timing always seemed to be perfect.  Like the day we picked to install the skylight in the east bedroom. It was just above zero, the winds were howling and it was snowing. When one’s head was stuck out through the skylight hole, the snow being pounded into our faces felt like someone was throwing lit matches at us.

As with most things, there was to be an eventual silver lining.

Spokane had boomed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In 1892, the Great Northern Railway arrived. The railroads in Spokane made it the transportation hub for the Inland Northwest. Particularly driven by mining (primarily from Idaho’s Silver Valley) and farming, after the Great Northern, the Union Pacific and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroads made Spokane one of the most important rail centers in the western United States.

Between 1900 and 1910, Spokane’s population nearly tripled, growing by nearly 70,000 people. Many of these people settled into narrow homes built on many of the city’s 25 foot wide lots. In 1908, Henry Ford began production of the Model T, and Model T garages were built in abundance in the alleys behind these homes.

With many of these Model T garages being 80 years old, and being constructed before the advent of model Building Codes, the snows of 1990-91 caused widespread collapses of these long outdated structures.

The silver lining?

My brother Mark and I began our pole building construction business in 1991, and we had hundreds of clients lined up who needed to replace their flattened Model T garages!

Pole buildings were the perfect solution, as they were extremely affordable and could be constructed quickly. It was not unusual for one of our two man crews to complete two or three of them in a week!

It was a great beginning to over twenty years of designing pole buildings, and as I look down the road I see another “good twenty or more” ahead of me yet….designing pole barn garages, houses, shops, horse barns, airplane hangers…you name it…it probably can be designed as a pole building! It’s a great start….to another great year!

Designing a Woodworking Shop

A popular use for many of our pole buildings is for woodworking. Bob, one of our Building Designers, suggested some hints as to how to set up a woodworking shop might be a good idea for a blog.

Some of our clients have the space and budget to be able to construct elaborate workspaces in sprawling buildings. While most would love to have a huge 2000 square foot building devoted to woodcraft, the reality is, for most woodworking is a hobby practiced by ordinary people and very few really have the means or need to set up such palatial workshops.

Therefore think in terms of a more modest approach. For most people it means fitting the pastime of woodworking into a more practical and affordable space. While some suggest woodworking can be practically accomplished in a building as small as 10’ x 20’, most feel the size of a standard two car garage (24’ square) is about the least amount of space practical.

There are perhaps an infinite number of ways one can create his or her woodworking shop, and entire books devoted to the subject. Here are some helpful tips to make your shop setup more efficient. With some wise choices and a bit of ingenuity, you can pull off a decent shop in a minimum of space.

What kinds of work will be performed in this shop? Building large cabinets or pieces of furniture? Or smaller projects, like small crafts such as turning wood for pens? (Yes, the ink kind) The size of the things being created, coupled with the tools necessary to make them, will have a direct impact on the needed space.

Provided your property has adequate space and is not restricted by zoning, constructing a dedicated building is normally the best answer. Think hard about the available space in terms of the things which will be done there. If, for example, only a single car garage worth of buildable area exists and the goal is to build furniture, some creativity will be needed as to how to operate in such a cramped space. It might be achievable, but only with some compromises.

What kinds of tools and accessories are planned for this space? A few large stationary tools, such as table saws, jointers, band saws, etc., can fill up space fast. Same for workbenches.

Don’t own these tools yet? Visualize the available space as it will play a crucial role in deciding what power tools to buy. If space is tight, consider a smaller number of more versatile tools, as opposed to a bunch of specialized ones.

Own lots of tools now? Layout a plan to be able to set them up in your allotted space.

Get a sheet of graph paper and sketch out to scale the boundaries of the available space. Take another sheet of graph paper and sketch (to the same scale) the footprint of each stationary tool and work bench. Cut out the pieces with a scissors. Lay these pieces out on top of the building sketch and see how they fit. Don’t forget to allow for infeed and outfeed spaces at tools. It may be everything won’t fit well into the space – or perhaps not at all. Time to get creative.

Hopefully I have inspired you to get your “thinking cap” on – so come back tomorrow for Part II of a three part series on how to design your woodworking shop.

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