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non-heated shop and finishes/ liquids- what are the concerns?

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  • non-heated shop and finishes/ liquids- what are the concerns?

    OK, so I have a detached garage that's slowly making progress towards becoming my new woodshop. So now my question is, since I live in MN and temperatures drop to below 0, what concerns should I have for tools, materials, finishes, and other liquids?

    Thanks,
    Travis

  • #2
    Travis,

    I'll bet it gets as cold there as it does here in Anchorage. In the winter, also known locally as the "non-construction" season, I keep the garage/shop at about 55 degrees when not working there but turn it up to about 69 when working in there.

    In my experience, the cooler temperature does not affect the finishes as long as they are not allowed to freeze. What it does do is greatly slow down the curing process and the finishes take much longer to 'dry'. My practice is to set the pieces inside the house so they can cure in a reasonable time.

    This shouldn't be much of surprise to anyone who realizes that the 'drying' is really a chemical process that, like all chemical processes, is affected by temperature.

    Regards, Steve.

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    • #3
      Not sure about tools, I don't think batteries like the cold that much.

      I keep all my glues, finishes (and tape) inside now. It was mainly to protect them from the high heat we get in the summer. I've got several treys I'll take out to the shop when the time comes. I usually just grab a bottle of tightbond and my can of wax on the way out to my shop.

      I've seen a few articles in various mags recently about using a small fridge, or box to keep things from freezing. Most just put in a small light bulb for a heat source.

      There was a short thread on finishes recently: http://www.bt3central.com/showthread.php?t=52224
      Erik

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      • #4
        You should have concerns about almost everything.
        Most finishes, paints etc do not like the cold at all. As you say you have an unheated space and the temp drops to '0', this makes storing anything there a non starter.
        You could go through your tool manuals one by one and most tools have an 'optimal' temp range in which they operate, but I think it's a safe bet to say no tool is going to be happy with 'o' degrees.
        As far as batteries go, 'fuhgeddaboutit'!

        You really have 2 choices, heat the space to at least around 50 degrees or move the stuff out of there.
        You don't need a parachute to skydive, you only need a parachute to skydive twice.

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        • #5
          As another Minneapolitan I'd advise against storing any finishes in an unheated space. I haven't had any problems with my tools, but the liquids spend the winter in the basement.
          Bob

          Bad decisions make good stories.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by herb fellows View Post
            You could go through your tool manuals one by one and most tools have an 'optimal' temp range in which they operate, but I think it's a safe bet to say no tool is going to be happy with 'o' degrees.
            As far as batteries go, 'fuhgeddaboutit'!

            You really have 2 choices, heat the space to at least around 50 degrees or move the stuff out of there.
            I would assume Travis would heat the shop when he goes out there to play. I'll get up early on chilly days and turn on a couple electric heaters in my little shop. If it's colder, or I want to get an early start I'll put one on low overnight.
            Erik

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            • #7
              Dang that's cold. Sorry, I guess I feel lucky to work in an unheated shop as long as it only gets down to 40 degrees inside.
              I have a little blog about my shop

              Comment


              • #8
                The one I know for sure is that Minwax water based poly never dries clear once it's been frozen and it is a real pain to sand off. I've never had issues with any tools because of cold other than batteries not performing well as mentioned earlier.

                My garage is attached and there is a utility room close to the garage entrance so everything liquid but gas and motor oil are stored in the utility room.
                Chr's
                __________
                An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
                A moral man does it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Bigguyz

                  I learned from my Dad. He lived in West Va. and had a building that he stored potatoes in all winter. It was partially underground being built into the side of a hill. He had one light bulb that he turned on for the winter. It was located in the ceiling. His potatoes never froze.
                  So I basically did the same thing (almost). I enclosed one of my workbenches underneath. Installed a wide door and placed a light bulb inside, which I only turn on when they call for freezing weather. I place all paints, stains, glue, etc., inside and have not had a problem in the last 5 years since I did this.

                  Hope this works for you.
                  Conwaygolfer

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by conwaygolfer View Post
                    I learned from my Dad. He lived in West Va. and had a building that he stored potatoes in all winter. It was partially underground being built into the side of a hill. He had one light bulb that he turned on for the winter. It was located in the ceiling. His potatoes never froze.
                    So I basically did the same thing (almost). I enclosed one of my workbenches underneath. Installed a wide door and placed a light bulb inside, which I only turn on when they call for freezing weather. I place all paints, stains, glue, etc., inside and have not had a problem in the last 5 years since I did this.

                    Hope this works for you.
                    Conwaygolfer
                    make life easier for yourself; install an adjustable thermostat to control the light, on when its colder than 32F or whatever. Thermostat can be outside or in the shed but not under the enclosed bench. Then its automatic and you don't have to go out when its cold to turn on the light, and can even take a winter vacation.
                    Loring in Katy, TX USA
                    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I just dropped of a whole slew of finishes, glues etc. at our county hazardous waste drop off site. Would be too mad at myself having to deal with a bad finish or glue joint.

                      Speaking of Minnesota: also take care of metal surfaces around late summer during those muggy hot days. That causes rust in a hurry!

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                      • #12
                        Well the basement isn't viable for a shop location, so it's going to have to stay in the shop... I'm wondering how much it'd cost to keep heated above 32 in the winter...

                        I think I'll go the route of storing them in the house... I'll get everything out of there tonight. Right now it's mostly mineral spirits in there (haven't finished moving everything).

                        I'd like to get an old freezer os something and do the lightbulb thing. Though in not too long that won't be an option- CCFLs don't throw off much heat.... Incandescents seem to be on the way out!

                        How about just getting a metal or plastic cabinet and keeping the finishes in there with a bulb? Would there be a fire concern with that?


                        Thanks!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BigguyZ View Post
                          How about just getting a metal or plastic cabinet and keeping the finishes in there with a bulb? Would there be a fire concern with that?
                          A metal cabinet wouldn't be a bad idea, it would be better for storing flammables anyway. It's just not insulated very well, so keeping it warm might be a problem depending on the temperature differences. Insulating one with some foil backed panels would be pretty easy. As long as your fixture is properly mounted and you use a bulb that meets the fixtures rating there shouldn't be much of a fire concern.

                          If I were going to buy a metal cabinet for my finishes, I would probably spend the money and get one that is designed for flammable materials. That was another concern of mine with keeping my finishes out in my shed during the Texas summers; spontaneous combustion.

                          *edit* I don't think I would buy a flammable safety cabinet, they're expensive! Not as expensive as a burnt down house or shop though...
                          Last edited by pelligrini; 12-01-2010, 01:50 PM.
                          Erik

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                          • #14
                            interesting thread. I have an old side-by-side that I gutted and use as a paint locker. The 2 compartments have an opening between them at the top and I added a vent on the freezer side.

                            Hadn't thought about using a light bulb for freeze protection. I don't remember if I removed the original light sockets or not but it should be eazy to rig up. With the top vented to the outside, would it be better to put the light(s) low?
                            Don, aka Pappy,

                            Wise men talk because they have something to say,
                            Fools because they have to say something.
                            Plato

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pappy View Post
                              interesting thread. I have an old side-by-side that I gutted and use as a paint locker. The 2 compartments have an opening between them at the top and I added a vent on the freezer side.

                              Hadn't thought about using a light bulb for freeze protection. I don't remember if I removed the original light sockets or not but it should be eazy to rig up. With the top vented to the outside, would it be better to put the light(s) low?
                              But how would you know if the light stayed on when the door was closed???
                              Loring in Katy, TX USA
                              If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                              BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

                              Comment

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