Thursday, August 23, 2012

What is Best Layout For a Blacksmith Shop?

What is best Layout For a Blacksmith Shop?

I have been a member of your site for a while. I have done welding in the past but never blacksmith work. I have accumulated most items over the years but I am going to join our local blacksmith club in Murfreesboro Tennessee to start learning about the trade. 
I am also in the process of drawing up plans for a shop/barn combination I wish to start on within the next year. 
Can you recommend anything on how to layout a shop for blacksmith work? I have seen some people keep the floors dirt and I saw some youtube videos talking about having the forge, anvil and vise in a triangle around where you stand. I just don't want to build the shop and say later that I messed it up. 

Hi Gary
Thanks for the inquiry.
Shop design is a personal thing and each of us have our preferences. Most of us agree that they are never big enough.
So that is my first suggestion build it as big as you can afford.


I prefer concrete as you can keep it relatively clean and you can move heavy equipment around using wheels and rollers.
I don,t like the dirt floors. They kick up too much dust and you can never find a level spot to true up a table. Also if you drop a small nut or bolt it disappears.
For standing on I use a piece of plywood by the anvil. This softens the concrete for standing for long periods.
The concrete also gives you something to anchor to if you don't want things to move.


Again as high as you can afford. I have a small shop with 8.5 foot ceiling and there are many times 10 feet would have been better. Also if you run a gas forge the higher ceilings will allow more of the heat out of the working area of the shop.


At least one door should be wide enough to get equipment in and out easily. A roll up garage door is great. I have a 4 foot wide man door that works pretty well.


230 volts and at least 60 amps. 100 amps would be better but depends on the equipment you will be putting in. If using industrial equipment you may want to think about 500 volts and 3 phase.


Some debate here. I use standard 4 foot florescent lighting. Some people use spot or task lighting. Generally I suggest well lit as opposed to the "dim blacksmith shop lighting". More the key is uniform lighting especially on and around the anvil.

Windows that can open for ventilation.


This is personal. A common mistake is that people will put the forge against a wall or in the corner. You should be able to hold and work on an 8 foot bar. Now it is very rare that we ever work 8 feet but the extra space does come in handy. If you work with a coal forge you will need to factor in a chimney. In this case I would put the back of the forge against the wall with the working sides free on either side. You never know when you may have a friend over that wants to do some work too. 
The triangle is a handy adaption although it is more each major piece of equipment is one point of the geometric form with the anvil in the middle. So forge one point , vise another, layout table another, power hammer another, tool rack another, slack tube another. Again this is personal adaption on your space and work style. If you set something up and hate the work dynamic you can move things around.

Cold working tools such as grinders and sanders and welders, should be nearby but do not have to be in the hot working area.

It doesn't hurt to sketch a couple of scenarios down on paper and see if they may sense.

I hope this helps a bit 
David Robertson