Cold Weather Woodworking

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 11-14-2013 08:26 PM 2122 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2652 posts in 889 days

11-14-2013 08:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I work in an unheated garage, although I have radiator space heater I’ll use if I want to keep it warm overnight for a glue-up or something—doesn’t work well if it is really cold and I’ll blow a fuse if I keep it on when using all my power tools.

Outside of glue-ups, are there any changes you make to your woodworking practice in cold weather?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

16 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3009 posts in 859 days

#1 posted 11-14-2013 08:54 PM

Other than bringing glues and water base stuff in, every thing else survive the cold.


View crank49's profile


3900 posts in 2062 days

#2 posted 11-14-2013 08:57 PM

Yes, in the past I learned to keep all paint and glue and finishes in a heated area until I decided to move the shop into the basement. There I have a heated and cooled shop by default.
Presently since it is in my basement it is only a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house.

I will be moving in a couple months and am building a new detached shop which will be insulated and heated or air conditioned as needed.
Will probably plan to let the shop drop to 50 degrees or so on cold nights when I’m not going to be in it.
I’m going to insulate the slab and probably embed heating tubes in the floor, connected to a small water heater.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View j_dubb's profile


196 posts in 900 days

#3 posted 11-14-2013 09:37 PM

I’m also working in my garage (1-car) and recently picked up one of these

I’ve only used it briefly thus far but I imagine it’ll do a fine job as time goes on. I’ve it hooked up to a 20lb propane tank which I leave outside the garage door – I estimate I’ll get somewhere in the realm of 100hours of use out of it, but time will tell just how accurate that assessment proves to be.

-- Josh // "If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." - Jack Handey

View crank49's profile


3900 posts in 2062 days

#4 posted 11-14-2013 09:48 PM

Dubb, I suppose you figured 20 lbs of propane times 91,500BTU then divided by 18,000 BTU capacity of that heater to come up with that 100 hour number. And that would be exactly correct except 20 lb bottles are normally filled with 16 lbs of gas, 80% of capacity. So, you really will only get about 80 hours of full time heat per bottle. Some vendors only fill to 12 or 15 lbs, so beware.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View jmartel's profile


5007 posts in 1241 days

#5 posted 11-14-2013 10:00 PM

If you can rig one of these up to a south facing wall, and put some foam insulation into the garage door panels, you can make a big difference without having to pay to heat your shop.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View PurpLev's profile


8522 posts in 2740 days

#6 posted 11-14-2013 10:12 PM

I keep all glues, finishes, liquids, etc in the basement (workshop is in an outside un-heated garage).

I also do all the glueups and finishing in the basement for same reason.

dress warm, work gloves -only- when not using power tools, keep garage door closed to keep air from circulating with freezing air outside, and keep work sessions to short lengths of time – get into the house from time to time to thaw ;) rinse and repeat.

and I also do much less woodworking in the winter times

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 1022 days

#7 posted 11-14-2013 10:49 PM

I am happy I do not have to worry about that. I am in Central Florida. I am glad it is cooler it makes it easier to work in the garage! Our summer is almost unbearable. I bought a portable a/c unit and keep the door down and blow it right on me it also keeps the wood dust and chips from the lathe from getting on me. aI feal sorry for you guys that lives where it get cold. I am originally from Upstate New York.

-- Coach Mancuso

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 1767 days

#8 posted 11-14-2013 11:35 PM

Is your garage floor carpeted? find a used carpet and rip it in to long 4” wide runners and put them anywhere you stand. Makes a huge difference. Also, insulating the walls, even though you don’t have heat, can help a lot too.

I have a house furnace in my garage that I picked up for next to nothing. If I didn’t, I would consider a small wood burning stove.

I also bring my antique hand planes and tools in the house so they won’t rust from the change in temps.

View bigblockyeti's profile


2530 posts in 812 days

#9 posted 11-14-2013 11:45 PM

Like others, I bring most of my finishes & glue into the basement. My shop is insulated and heated, but it would still cost me a small fortune if I left it on all the time. The pilot light alone can usually keep the ambient temperature 15 degrees above whatever the outside temperature is. The heater is powerful enough that it can take the air from 40 degrees to 70 in less than ten minutes. This does present condensation concerns, so keeping everything waxed is more of a chore than normal.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

18624 posts in 1429 days

#10 posted 11-14-2013 11:54 PM

Glue and finishing is all I change. I never work when my fingers are too cold to feel.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View mahdee's profile


3009 posts in 859 days

#11 posted 11-14-2013 11:58 PM

Monte, that’s so true. If my fingers are too cold to feel, its time to do some chores around the house to warm up before going back to the shop.


View CharlesA's profile


2652 posts in 889 days

#12 posted 11-15-2013 04:07 PM

Thanks for all the feedback. In short, you do all your normal woodworking in the cold: saws, drills, routers, hand tools, etc., but watch the temps for gluing and finishing. I usually lay off woodworking in the winter, but I have several projects I need to finish.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View mos68x's profile


17 posts in 745 days

#13 posted 11-15-2013 09:21 PM

I saw a wood-burning stove for less than $200 at the local HF, so I’m probably going to use that in my shop since I have no insulation and I’ll have plenty of sawdust to press into “logs” lol

View ChuckV's profile


2742 posts in 2618 days

#14 posted 11-15-2013 09:57 PM

I work in the cold as well. The only thing that I can add to what has already been said is that I like to wax my cast iron surfaces before it gets too cold. Waxing is a challenge when the iron is cold.

I usually try to concentrate on smaller projects during the cold weather so that I’m not hauling so much between the house and the shop for gluing.

-- “And it's only the giving that makes you what you are. ” ― I. Anderson

View firefighterontheside's profile


10251 posts in 948 days

#15 posted 11-15-2013 11:29 PM

When it is really cold I use two electric space heaters. I will use both until I need to do some cutting or planing and then walk over and turn off one of the heaters for a while. I have done some insulating and hopefully will do better this year.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

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