How to Protect your Shop

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Forum topic by Redoak49 posted 01-22-2014 04:20 PM 1605 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3663 posts in 2189 days

01-22-2014 04:20 PM

There have been a couple of posts on this forum and on another concerning shop fires where someone unfortunately lost their entire shop to a fire.

What is the best way to protect your shop?

I have a heat alarm in my shop which will notify me and the alarm company if the temperature on the ceiling or the rate of rise of temperature is too great. I would really like to have a smoke alarm but it would be going off like mad with dust in the shop. I have thought of having one but covering it when I am doing a lot of dusty work and the dust collection or air cleaner can not keep up. I think that I may buy a cheap smoke detector and put it in there just to see under what conditions it will go off.

I have a couple of fire extinguishers in my shop but after reading a thread will buy another good larger one to have just outside the shop.

How many people have an inventory of their shop?

I know, it is a great pain to make one but I am going to update mine and include more. I currently use a computer spreadsheet with name model, serial, etc. I also want to take pictures not only of the major tools but also the inside of all the drawers. Once, I get it and know the worth, I will check with the insurance agent to make certain that I am fully covered.

What have others done to their shop to protect it and inventory it?

14 replies so far

View b2rtch's profile


4865 posts in 3248 days

#1 posted 01-22-2014 04:37 PM

I have pictures of everything in my shop

-- Bert

View bowedcurly's profile


519 posts in 1929 days

#2 posted 01-22-2014 05:09 PM

I have pics and a inventory that needs updating but just take enough insurance out, contents 20.000 is what I have 20.000 for structure, but time and memories can’t be bought, hope Im sayin this right, the thrill of buying and anticipation is hard to lose, I would hate to lose, I just can’t imagine losin the things you save money for and finally get then it’s all gone

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3067 days

#3 posted 01-22-2014 05:15 PM

A requirement of my insurance company was to have a burglar alarm and fire alarm for detecting rising heat. I had planned on doing this anyway. My shop is about 75% documented. I hope to get it completed pretty soon.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View BigMig's profile


470 posts in 2813 days

#4 posted 01-22-2014 06:02 PM

Wow; thanks for the idea. I had not thought of documenting my shop contents/tools, etc.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2525 days

#5 posted 01-22-2014 06:08 PM

From my insurance company I was advised to have a list and a picture of every tools in my shop (brand, model, serial number ….) and a list of the wood I had. I do not have a lot of tools and basically no fancy wood, so that was easy to do. Once the initial list is done it’s easy to maintain. I rarely buy new tools. As a precaution keep that list outside of your house just in case. Email it to yourself …

View Hybridwoodworker's profile


28 posts in 2332 days

#6 posted 01-23-2014 02:38 AM

You can use Evernote to make the inventory and add a photo to each note. I keep the entire inventory, garage and house on a USB drive in a safe deposit box. In general the smoke detector will not trigger due to dust right away, it takes time for the dust to build up, I have thought about using a cheap one and replacing it every year but couldn’t hear it in the house anyway. The rate of rise detectors are fairly sensitive. I have not checked mine but years ago I had to test some and all we did was hold our hand on the detector. If you try this just be certain to call your alarm company first.


-- Life is hard, it is harder if you are stupid.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 2161 days

#7 posted 01-23-2014 03:01 AM

Mentioned some of this in the other thread. Hopefully someone with more insurance industry experience will chime in, but check with your insurance company and try to get it in writing what will be good enough evidence of what you had in case of a loss. It may vary by company and by state or country of course. Bring in a copy of your policy and ask them to show you specifically what evidence is required. Unfortunately they will tend to understate what is needed and if you don’t have it in writing you don’t have much to go on. Typically photos and an inventory list should be enough, but I had a friend that had a major theft of most of his tools and the insurance company was a huge pain about anything he didn’t have receipts for. Who keeps receipts for every tool forever? He ended up having to get written reference letters from several friends stating how long they knew him and why he had so many tools. It wasn’t even a really high amount maybe $20-30k in auto and woodworking tools. He probably didn’t have as good a tool inventory and pictures as he should have either.

Short version, pictures and an inventory list is a really good start. Personally I don’t have anything particularly valuable so I just took a video camera through each room in my house and shop and opened the drawers and boxes and laid anything like jewelry out. I keep a copy at my in laws.

Other things I can think of I should probably do is I’ve read finishes and solvents should be stored in a metal fire safe cabinet. I do have fire extinguishers, but should probably check their dates. Anyone know how long they are supposed to last?

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3302 days

#8 posted 01-23-2014 07:32 AM

My wife bought “Collectify Home Inventory” from Costco this past year. It is very easy to use. You can photo or video each room in your house, garage, shop etc. You can do however much writeup you want concerning brands, serial numbers etc.

Here is good review of many programs that are available this year and thier costs. Most everyone is in agreement that all insurance companies will want a list of everything that you want replaced and they seldom will just take your word for what you had…................

-- mike...............

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3161 days

#9 posted 01-23-2014 11:10 AM

Good ideas from all. Serial numbers will help so the police can give pawn shops a list. If the small stuff ends up at a flea market, it is gone, unless the police go to flea markets (highly unlikely due to the time involved).
When we had our guns stolen, the insurance compnay wouldn’t honor the claim as they said we couldn’t prove what we had. The insurance company attorneys wanted to settle but higher-ups wouldn’t settle. We wound up suing them. I imagine it cost much more than the original settlement.
Thanks to all for their input. Got this on my list of things-to-do.

View b2rtch's profile


4865 posts in 3248 days

#10 posted 01-23-2014 01:40 PM

Several times my wife asked for me to install alarm system in our house and in my shop.
My shop is separated from the house and more and more people know about it and all my tools inside.
I was looking at these security alarm on Amazon,do have any experience with any one of them.
Fire alarm is now a big thing for me after what happened last week to another LJ, especially since I use wood stove all winter long.

-- Bert

View TravisH's profile


627 posts in 2135 days

#11 posted 01-23-2014 02:43 PM

I am guilty of not having a current inventory of the shop and would be stuck making a list after the fact and forgetting a lot of smaller stuff. I don’t have an alarm system or smoke detector based on what my shop is. Any fire that starts in the shop would be burnt to the ground before anyone could be here to put it out so haven’t put a detector in. Same token my shop and its contents are covered by my insurance rider plan so not too worried. The cost wasn’t too much more and I have never had any issues with my insurance provider.

My dealings with the insurance company have been stellar. I was actually sort of surprised with how easy it was to get things replaced when our house was broken into. They cut me checks for the dumbest stuff stolen. Hair gel, combs, etc… they called me and asked assessed value of the hair gel.. 20 bucks (wife likes her hair stuff) much was used about 3/4.. so they would add 5 bucks to the tally. Jewelry stolen was just as easy and really scary how easy it would be for one to cheat the system. They replaced the stolen jewelry in either of two ways. We could take a check for the value of the pieces (based on what we said we paid) or go to a jewelry store they were “affiliated” with at the mall and purchase equal dollar amount their at cost. Amazing how much jewelry you can get with several thousand dollars when purchasing at cost, way more than what was taken. Also while at the store my wife realized (she has a lot of jewelry) that a ruby ring and emerald ring were missing. The store clerk calls the company and explains and the insurance company says replace whatever they had stolen. no questions asked. I called the police and reported the other items when we got home but amazed at how easy it would be to cheat the system if one was cut from that cloth.

This spring I plan on getting pictures and list of items and assess value.

View Redoak49's profile


3663 posts in 2189 days

#12 posted 01-23-2014 07:57 PM

I think that having a fire and burglar alarm system is a good idea. I looked at installing my own a couple of years ago and ended up having someone install a monitored system for me. It also covers an un-attached large shed which has some of my gardening and yard equipment. The main drawback is the monthly monitoring cost but decided it was worth it.

I am currently using a program called “Home Manage” by Liberty Street Software which works well for me. I think that no matter what you use a program, spreadsheet or whatever, there is quite a bit of work that goes into getting all the info into the system. Taking pictures is good but having all the other info (cost, purchase date, model, etc) is much better but is not a simple task. I plan start updating mine data in the near future and know that it will takes days to get it completed.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 2161 days

#13 posted 01-23-2014 08:21 PM

Yeah Travis, I don’t mean to make it sound like they are all hard to deal with, it’s just that you don’t really know how hard to deal with they will be until you have a big loss. They might be generous for smaller losses and tougher on bigger ones. Or the other way around even.

Come to think of it I should update my video inventory too. And you’re right Red, more detailed purchase info would always be better. We buy most of our stuff online or with our CC so I have the majority saved from those. I download the reports every year and save them in my tax folders. Should probably add that to the insurance file. I keep elsewhere though since they only keep it for so long.

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2207 days

#14 posted 01-23-2014 11:16 PM

Back in 10aSEE I took over 500 photos of EVERYTHING in my shop. Took a whole day to do but I opened every drawer, every cabinet and every tool case and took multiple angle views of every inch of the place. Even the nuts & bolts cabinet plus the boxes of screws, nails, etc that I had.

I showed the disc to my insurance agent and she said it was probably the most thorough inventory she had ever seen.

Whenever I get the new building up here, I plan to do the same thing again.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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