#garage shop problems

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Forum topic by TimCoxRox posted 01-03-2013 12:41 AM 1741 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 2060 days

01-03-2013 12:41 AM

So it’s currently 5 degrees(fahrenheit) in my “shop” right now as I sit here and type this. I’m waiting for my propane blower to warm things up to at least 40 degrees before I get moving. Something I didn’t consider until just about right now, what are the long term effects of these cold temps in my shop? As I start replacing my benchtop model tools with nicer stand alone tools how kind will 5 degrees be over the years? Can I expect once complainer wheels to unseat or once flat cast iron surfaces to warp? Will it lessen the life of batteries for cordless tools? Permanent fixes are being brainstormed but until then…. #garage shop problems

29 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#1 posted 01-03-2013 12:54 AM

I think those temps can effect battery life and will certainly harm finishing products.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View bondogaposis's profile


4754 posts in 2373 days

#2 posted 01-03-2013 12:58 AM

I think the lubricants in the bearings of your tools is going to be a little stiff at 5°. You probably will get some accelerated wear.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4032 posts in 2256 days

#3 posted 01-03-2013 12:58 AM

The biggest problem with sub-freezing temps is working with glue. Not only does the glue need to be kept from freezing (once kills it), but the glued pieces have to be at least 60 degrees for 24 hours before and after gluing. This tends to make for unstable panels unless the grain is exceedingly straight and quartersawn.
The next biggest problem is picking up the tools that are now ice cubes. It hurts. I use wool vinyl dot gloves (which can pick up a pin) until it comes to power tools. By then you should have heat.
Long term effect on tools is rust. Someday the weather will suddenly turn warm and water condenses on all your metal surfaces. Your heater can cause this too.
Another effect to consider is the bearing grease in sealed bearings. I hate to start my diesel and run it without first warming it up a bit. I have a variable speed lathe, so it gets turned on at slow speed for a few minutes before I crank it up. But that’s hard to do with a table saw. Power saws will cut OK cold, but you pay a small premium until the bearings get lubed by warming.
In short cold is hard on everything. If there is any way you can maintain a more constant 40 degrees, that will help a LOT. Perhaps you could gather a few things under a tarp with a 100 watt bulb in the middle (not touching anything). For sure wax the daylights out of all the surfaces that rust. Metal warping is not a problem in these temp ranges.
Infrared or radiant heat is much more effective in these environments than an air heater. Radiant heat warms the surfaces of things and so heat does not get carried away as fast as warm air does. Solves the condensation problem too. Trade out your heaters.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2509 days

#4 posted 01-03-2013 01:15 AM

Something no one has mentioned….

For every gallon of propane you burn you’ll make 5 quarts of water using a torpedo heater. Catalytic heaters are a bit different, but still add moisture to the air.

The more moisture you add to the air, the more rust you will acquire, the more warpage of wood, the more you’ll find tools out of true.

I would find a good set of cataylitic heaters and a dehumidifier or set up a true heating system.

One place I worked as a mechanic had problems with tools and parts rusting so I talked the boss into letting me build a waste oil heater. I brought in air from the outside, heated it with the burner and warmed the 1200 sq. ft. space in each bay to 70°F with less than a quart of used oil per hour.
Moisture went down, rust stopped and it was pleasant to work in from 05:00 until 17:00 every day. (The shop opened at 07:00, Someone had to go in early to fire up the burners.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2706 days

#5 posted 01-03-2013 01:15 AM

dunno…has 5F in the shop right now??? unless it is a tiny shop, I would save the propane and spend the $$$$ on proper insulation (otherwise may as well take the tank out into the yard and shoot a hole in it…it will last longer).

kero salamander will provide a lot of heat quickly and cheaper…if you have 5F I wouldn’t worry about excess moisture since it’s obviously going to want to leave the building with the heat).

newer batteries will rebound I think (maybe even the older ones since I read once to store the spares in the refrigerator).

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2815 days

#6 posted 01-03-2013 01:21 AM

I’m feeling like a wuss. My shop was 58 yesterday and I turned on the heater. Getting soft in my old age.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2936 days

#7 posted 01-03-2013 01:24 AM

OK Tim, I was born and raised in Muncie and when I left from Indianapolis for the Navy in 1972, it was -35F (yep Minus!). Now THAT is why I am NOW living in South Central Texas. BRrr…! I do NOT miss those cold, wet, salty feet from the slush belt!

I just checked and my shop is at +50F and outside it is +40F. I do have to say that the recent cold snap has killed the batteries in my Digital calipers, but at least I do not have to deal with frozen glue!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View AandCstyle's profile


3068 posts in 2279 days

#8 posted 01-03-2013 01:36 AM

Tim, my concern is the condensation that will form on your tools. The metal is cold and propane heat puts out a lot of moisture. Even if the heater were vented outside, there is some moisture in the air that will condense on your tools causing rust.

-- Art

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3137 days

#9 posted 01-03-2013 01:42 AM

get the garage insulated yesterday

this thing cooling down and being heated up everyday doesn´t do anything good to your tools
building and yourself

have you ever noticed one wearing glasses coming in from the cold
and the glasses suddently gets white foged and the owner can´t see a thing
its all about water settling on the surface of the glasses
you littleraly do that to all your tools every day

keeping the heat abowe 14-16 degrees celcius will prevent that besides
it will prevent the building from slowly falling apart /desintegrate becourse of too much
moisture in the construction that will gives fungus the best conditions


View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3787 days

#10 posted 01-03-2013 01:45 AM

If the shop was kept at a constant warm temp, would you still have trouble with moisture?

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2936 days

#11 posted 01-03-2013 01:56 AM

Yes, one could still have some issues with moisture, but the extent/seriousness/level of moisture would be nothing like the condensation problems associated with such large daily swings in temperature. It is that temperature difference that truly causes the problems. Basically very cold tools/metal become magnets for moisture when brought into a warmer environment. Remember, warm air holds more moisture than cold air. So that cold tool gives off cold and condenses the moisture right out of the air around it.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3137 days

#12 posted 01-03-2013 02:03 AM

well no and yes Juniorjock ….. then it all depends on how the general moisture is in the air
at a given time of the year and thats where the dehumifire can be a good thing to have
but often a litle oily/waxed surface is enoff done with a rag at the end of the day to clean the tool
from greasy fingerprints and dust


View Ross's profile


142 posts in 1994 days

#13 posted 01-03-2013 02:44 AM

I have a small pellet stove in one corner of my shop. (basement garage) the shop is well insulated so I’m able to keep it at 65 degrees all the time. The stove is thermostat controlled. I use about a ton or so of wood pellets a year to heat the shop. I buy the pellets at H/D for $210.00 a ton. All in all pretty cheap heat.
It’s a relatively dry heat so I don’t have any problems with rusty tools in the winter.
I use a small window A/C in the summer to keep the humidity in the shop down. Still can have some issues with surface rust on tools in the summer.
So I have to agree with Dennis. Get the shop insulated “yesterday” Then drywall and paint it.

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

View TimCoxRox's profile


20 posts in 2060 days

#14 posted 01-03-2013 03:08 AM

OK, someone mentioned moisture and then everyone did! For prospective I have a 3 year old new construction home. Presently and for the next foreseeable 15 years my shop is in the third bay of my attached 3 car garage. I have a load bearing wall that separates the third “bay” from the rest with a roughly 7 foot wide, to ceiling opening for access from the inside and of course a separate garage door. I have already insulated all of my exterior walls with R13 and then sheated the walls with 7/16 OSB for cost savings. The interior walls are insulated to whatever code is with 5/8 drywall. SO FAR I have noticed no moisture issues. I think I may have over estimated how warm I heat my little shop before I turn off the propane. It was probably more around 35ish when I came in for the night. I tend to wear my snowboard pants and a sweater when it’s that cold (Another expensive hobby) :( These temperatures are also beginning to not be as common in Indiana up until about 2 weeks ago it has hovered around 45 degrees dipping to 25 a few times.

But like I said I haven’t seen any moisture accumulate on any surfaces, not to say the moisture isn’t in the garage. I have thought about building a few shelves In the basement to keep my finishing products, glues etc during winter months and I definitely will now! My house furnace is all electric I kind of regret not getting natural gas ran to the house now. But it looks like the concensus is definitely find a permanent heating option. Roger that!

Horizontal Mike, I know Muncie has its own weather system it’s always 10 degrees colder there! Now ill have to search the LJ forums for others heating solutions!

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3341 days

#15 posted 01-03-2013 04:12 AM

All you water based items, glue, finish, etc., are kaput if they freeze.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

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