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Hello all Violin makers

 

Im new to this forum stuff so bare with me.

 

I am soon to be building a new outside workshop approximately 3.5 x 4 meters in the back garden due to having enough of it being in the house. 

 

I would be interested to hear from anyone that has done similar and would be happy to share anything from your experience of having done so, what you felt worked and what you feel could have been better. 

 

I am keen to know how to maximize a reduction of dust especially for when it gets round to varnishing. Weather or not to somehow put in a separated perspex box in the corner that can be sealed from day to day workings

 

 

Edward

 

 

www.edwardgautviolins.co.uk

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I highly recommend lots of nice large north facing windows. Lots of natural light really helps with evaluating color and seeing curves and cracks that may hide in the shadows of artificial light. But then again my family is very traditional with our making, we could easily make our bows without electricity.

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I've just had a workshop of similar size (5 x 3m) built in my back garden.I had someone build it for me, would never have been able to find the time to do it myself. 

Best thing I ever did. Amply big enough for most of my stuff, although I couldn't fit my bandsaw and bench drill in there, so they remain in the garage.

I think you'll find this kind of space too small to have a dedicated dust free area. My own approach is to run a couple of good air filters/dust extractors for an hour or so before starting to varnish and this seems to work OK. 

Unless you want to go through the planning permission process, the maximum allowed ceiling height is a bit low, but I've found it manageable. Lots of power points are a good idea. I had 14 put in and the builder seemed to think I was a bit of a nutcase for this, but I use them all. Also good to get the power points fitted at bench level rather than floor level.

Cheers

John

 

PS IKEA Kitchen drawer units are great for storage.

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We had a workshop at our old place.  I never used it for anything other than storage.  It had no windows.  It was dark and stuffy, long and narrow and just unpleasant.  Too hot in the summer...too cold in the winter.

 

If I ever build from scratch I would have good lighting, as Kate suggested, and I would also insulate as needed so I could work comfortably year round.

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I am keen to know how to maximize a reduction of dust especially for when it gets round to varnishing. 

 

My workshop is a 1-car garage, fairly packed with machinery (2 bandsaws, jointer, scroll saw, drillpress, spindle sander, dust collector, and more).  My varnishing solution is a portable clean bench.  The blower on the right feeds air into a skinny box, with a large HVAC filter feeding clean air out to the work area.  Plexiglass sides and top, with a drop-down curtain, all can be folded up for storage when I need the bench space again for other things.

post-25192-0-17745200-1417707929_thumb.jpg

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I've often wondering...if you were building violins (and other varnished items) specifically...if you would benefit from a small (like an outhouse sized) separate chamber for varnishing - or at least for letting varnished instruments dry?  With added airflow to cut down on the fumes contained within?  You could also keep your UV light box in there...etc.

 

Just brainstorming for that perfect space.  BTW...that workshop that I never used, was designed by the previous owner - a hobby wood carver.  He made some beautiful bird carvings.

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I built my shop when I was 18 years old, and didn't have an idea what I needed. It ended up being 16 feet square with a steep pitched rood for wood storage in the attic, as well as reducing the snow load on the roof in the winter.

 

Unfortunately I only put in one large window facing south; I wish now I had more windows for natural light. Because all my machine tools, bandsaw, jointer, belt sander, spindle sander, etc and work benches, cupboards, shelves, all occupy the perimeter, I've also run out of space.

 

It would have been nice to have perhaps a 16 x 32, but I suppose if I had that space I would have it used up and wished I built bigger yet.

 

Definitely install power receptacles every 3 feet or so. It's cheap to install when you're building, and you'll always have one near wherever you need it.

Also consider how you're going to heat it if you intend on working into the winter, the heater will use some space as well.  I have a forced air furnace when I need to maintain the heat indefinitely, otherwise I just build a fire in the wood heater.

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I would have a very smooth floor, for cleaning.  And I would put in one of those central vacuum units where the actual vacuum in not in the same room;  there is a port in the wall for the hose.

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I recommend a nice wood floor, so if you drop a tool it doesn't break the tool or the floor. And if you have a a chair with wheels at your work bench like we do they make replacement wheels with rubber so it won't mark up your floor.

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Christopher Alexander is an architect who published several books in the 1970's / 80's.  Well worth getting is A Pattern Language and The Timeless Way of Building.   It is hard to explain these books, but they describe  in both philosophical  and very practical ways how to build spaces most conducive  to their purpose and the natural / human way we use and live in those spaces.  I had read them years ago and was intrigued. 

 

I came to really appreciate what it was all about 10 years ago.  Before I switched over to violinmaking I was a furniture maker.  I had the chance to study - work with a windsor chair maker for a week named Curtis Buchanan.  The experience of being in his shop was nothing like I have ever had before.  Somehow the experience of being in that space was both invigorating and relaxing.  I was talking to him one evening about this because it was such a strong and unusual sense I had and he told me that he had built the shop based on Alexander's principles.   Again it is hard to describe all that is in his writing, but well worth the time to read. 

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Related to flooring, if you can find engineered cork flooring, you can't beat it. Its generally quite smooth and sweeps/vacuums easy but has some give and sponginess to it, can come in real handy dropping things, things won't break or chip. Also easy on the knees for prolonged standing.

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I'm sure it would be lovely to have lots of large windows. But in a 3.5 x 4m space?

In the UK at this time of year we only get a few hours of useful daylight per day.

So unless one is planning to be a gentleman of leisure, I would suggest that it's far better to spend time, trouble and money optimising artificial lighting rather than obsessing over the need to have copious quantities of natural light.

And lots of windows are a burglar magnet.

One of the most important things to prioritise in a smallish workshop is sufficient (and efficient) storage space. And every window you put in reduces your options for this.

IMHO.

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...more thinking...

 

My dream workshop would also have a utility or deep sink...and a toilet.

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I agree with John that you can get carried away with putting windows in a shop, especially that small. My most successful workspace for me had just had one window directly to the side of my workbench, and another small window on the other side of the room, and it was in a basement. The window to the side let in some light, but much of the time I put a box fan in it so that I could varnish there and the fumes were immediately taken out, fresh air came from the other window, so it was very efficient. Storage and hanging things up become a premium in a small space like that. I do find that two windows is pretty useful for cross ventilation when running a fan, and thats why I mention making a window that will let a box fan sit in, but you can also crack a door at times. I have such an arrangement, and several box fans that I move strategically from window to window as the operation needs, and so don't need a more elaborate system of dust collection-dust and fumes just get blown into the great outdoors. Much of the time the box fans otherwise sit on the floor out of the way. I have usually worked in basements throughout my career most successfully. I had a shop in an outbuilding 50 feet from my house once but found myself perpetually traipsing back and forth between the house and shop in all kinds of weather, and also had one in an upstairs story in another house, but, while it was very pretty, it was also somewhat impractical. In the shop I have now customers just come in through the basement entrance, and so don't have to run the gamut of dogs, cooking smells, noticing that the house is in bad need of cleaning and vacuuming and the dishes are unwashed, etc.

Here is a useful idea if you haven't built your shop yet, find one of these places that makes sheds and has a yard full of models. Here in the Western US the place that does this is called Tuff Shed. Walk around through these shed models and you'll get an idea of what a small space with various window placements feels like. These things called Tuff Sheds are everywhere here, also sitting in lumber store lots, etc. They deliver them to your home or build on site.

My shop in Austin is one of these pre-fab sheds and it has been a good mid-term solution for me.  I opted for windows on the entire north face -- either side of the door -- and wrapped around to take up half of each side wall.  I put simple benches  lining the walls under the windows and have one large rectangular bench in the center of the structure for rough work and cellos and basses.  I have found that I probably use 3/4 of the window space in terms of having different stations across the length of the benches.  The flooring that came with the shed is ply and I have put rubber stress mats wherever I spend most of my time, protecting my tools and my joints.  The whole thing is just under 300 sq ft -- local permitting-driven.  Other than the windows, my best decision:: electrical outlets at bench level every few feet and in the arched ceiling to accommodate the lighting baffles which come with relatively short power cords.  What I wish I had: wood storage space that is climate controlled -- in such closed quarters, the Texas summer can be brutal; a walled-off vented varnish space; running water (although my "commute" to the house is probably less than 100 yards).  But as is, I can work comfortably and the space even could accommodate a colleague/business partner/apprentice (perhaps one day).

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One good window is all you need. I recommend something like a picture window. For optimum lighting I suggest north, you will have the most light and you won't have the intense sun rise or set to blind you.

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One good window is all you need. I recommend something like a picture window. For optimum lighting I suggest north, you will have the most light and you won't have the intense sun rise or set to blind you.

 

 

For those of you in the Southern hemisphere your workshop window should face South

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My dream workshop would also have a utility or deep sink...and a toilet.

 

Mine has a sink, but no toilet.

 

It does, however, have an area to disentangle those sensitive artistic nerves when the bee-sting does not quite go as it might have.

post-24474-0-36044600-1417988296_thumb.jpg

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Christopher Alexander is an architect who published several books in the 1970's / 80's.  Well worth getting is A Pattern Language and The Timeless Way of Building.   It is hard to explain these books, but they describe  in both philosophical  and very practical ways how to build spaces most conducive  to their purpose and the natural / human way we use and live in those spaces.  I had read them years ago and was intrigued. 

 

I came to really appreciate what it was all about 10 years ago.  Before I switched over to violinmaking I was a furniture maker.  I had the chance to study - work with a windsor chair maker for a week named Curtis Buchanan.  The experience of being in his shop was nothing like I have ever had before.  Somehow the experience of being in that space was both invigorating and relaxing.  I was talking to him one evening about this because it was such a strong and unusual sense I had and he told me that he had built the shop based on Alexander's principles.   Again it is hard to describe all that is in his writing, but well worth the time to read. 

 

Christopher Alexander?

Never heard of this author.

Many thanks Peter...

Again it is hard to describe all that is in his writing, but well worth the time to read. 

I always enjoy getting a reference to yet another author, one that I have not read yet and one that might just take my attention away from what I already think, and what I commonly hear, and perhaps direct it towards another, completely unthought of possibility (for me) of what is real and/or attainable... intriguing is what this author sounds like.

I will get back to you about this, (if I remember) and, thanks once again for the recommendation.

 

ct

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I've often wondering...if you were building violins (and other varnished items) specifically...if you would benefit from a small (like an outhouse sized) separate chamber for varnishing - or at least for letting varnished instruments dry?  With added airflow to cut down on the fumes contained within?  You could also keep your UV light box in there...etc.

 

Or -

Move to New Mexico...

UV light box? What for?

All of my varnishing is done outdoors in the very bright sunshine. Year round!

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Thank you for all your suggestion.  Sorry not to have done so before now.  I didn't have the space in the garden for luxury of North light but managed to get 2 East facing and 1 south with views into our small garden which is nice.  The plugs are many in each corner and at worktop height,  timber frame construction with 70-100mm board insulation.  I've been using an electric oil radiator to heat it and it's barely cost a thing over the last winter, result! 

I'd a loved a meditation corner, we all need that. 

Having worked in the space and getting use to it I'm about ready to start adapting it with extractors in the attached shed and so on.  Cork floor sounds like a good call as it's a bit rumbly in there wheeling my chair about. 

Love the varnish jig Don Noon!

Anyhow the workshops still a work in progress!  

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