5 Innovative Metal Workshop Ideas

5 Innovative Ideas for Your Metal Workshop

Winter is here and for many, this represents the slow season in the metal workshop. If you’re a fabrication professional, perhaps your jobs are slowing down for the season. If you work in maintenance and repair, excavators, graders, and combines getting parked for the season may mean less work for you. If you’re a hobby metal worker, DIY’er, or artist, maybe that last cold front has your outdoor projects looking less appealing. 

Fear not! This is the perfect time to turn your attention inward to your workspace. Your metal shop is the nervous system of your operation, and it’s about time you gave it a bit of TLC. That doesn’t just mean cleaning and maintenance. How about doing something special to improve your space? Here are five metal workshop upgrade ideas you can tackle today that pack the biggest punch to improve your workspace’s ergonomics and productivity.

5 Metal Workshop Ideas for Your Next Personal Project

1. DIY a New Welding Table or Workbench

Who couldn’t use some extra workspace? A large, flat, heat-resistant surface is invaluable in a welding shop. Even if you already have a large welding table or prefer fabrication tables, consider if an additional surface for non-typical work, such as a standing height table for smaller jobs, or a table dedicated to cutting and grinding to keep your welding table free from gouges, could be valuable to your process. 

All you need to DIY a new welding table is a large piece of plate iron steel, ideally at least 1/4″ thick. While this may be expensive to buy new, there are lots of opportunities to find one for a deal. You may even have a piece of scrap laying around your shop already. If not, peruse craigslist or check with local scrap yards. Some scrap yards will sell scrap metal by the pound. 

Next, you will need to build a sturdy frame. Take into account the height that would be the best ergonomic fit for the type of work you do most. A taller table to work at while standing may be best for some, while an extra low table you can bend over while sitting may be best for others. With some ingenuity, you could even make a height-adjustable table. In any case, ensure the table frame is sturdy enough to support the heavy steel plate surface, your workpieces, and any hammering and grinding activities you plan to do on it. 

Also, consider any extra features you might want to incorporate, like adding hooks for hoses, cords, or clamps- anything you would use for metal welding projects.  A shelf under the tabletop for tools, heavy-duty casters, or an integrated vice can take your build to the next level. 

2. Build a Tool Storage Container Out of Scrap Metal Pieces

That piece of sheet metal you have leaning up against the wall? It would be nice to get it out of your way, wouldn’t it? Why not kill two birds with one stone and transform it into a storage container? There’s no metal shop in the world that doesn’t have a need for additional storage.

Brainstorm workshop organization ideas and find a solution by repurposing any scrap materials you have around the shop. You could create anything from a large forklift-able container for bulk scrap, or a nice wide tray for some of your hand tools. Or create some niche workshop organization for your shop, for example, custom storage for your consumables, clamps, or any special jigs you use. 

3. Install In-Floor Heating

A cold shop is an empty shop. When it comes to breaking the chill, you have a lot of options for heat. The cheapest way to add heat to a shop is a simple gas or electric unit heater, which heats the air in a shop. Conversely, radiant heaters can make a large space feel warmer efficiently, without heating the entire air volume. These are great options for minimum upfront cost and disturbance, but they are far from the most comfortable or efficient options.

In-floor heating is quickly becoming one of the most popular options for workshop heating. In-floor heating takes advantage of high-efficiency condensing boilers as well as the thermal mass of the floor slab. This combination means that in-floor heating delivers both efficiency and  comfort, and the thermal mass means quick temperature recovery after a garage door is opened. 

At Spry Steel, we’re experts on metal building design. Our decade of experience designing, fabricating, and erecting all kinds of steel buildings means you get the best of the best for your unique situation when you work with us. Reach out to us if you’d like some information on in-floor heating options, or a whole new project!

4. Find Insulation Options for Metal Buildings

Of course, you don’t want to go adding climate control to your steel workshop without insulation. Insulation is important not only for efficiency and comfort, but also prevents the most sinister enemy of steel buildings- condensation. 

A well-insulated steel building is dry, comfortable, and cheap to heat. But how do you insulate a steel building? You have several options in insulation for metal buildings. First is foam board. Foam board is expensive but offers high R-values. Foam will need to be clad on the inside to avoid damage and risk of fire, especially in a metal shop. The second is spray foam. This can give the highest performance and also seals any seams or cracks as it is applied. However, this option is also the most expensive. Last is fiberglass blankets with a tough plastic backing. This is one of the most popular options because it is less expensive, offers good performance, and is fire-resistant. 

Your location, heating system, budget, and performance requirements will affect your decision on which insulation method to utilize. Spry Steel is here to help. Check out our in-depth insulation guide to learn more!

5. Construct a Bench Grinder Stand

Now, you may not be looking for a big change to your shop. There are smaller steel workshop ideas that can make a big impact too. One is to get that bench grinder off your bench! A standalone bench grinder stand has a few advantages to a metalworking shop. First, it frees up your bench space. Second, it gives you maximum flexibility when using your grinder, with open space all around to maneuver your workpiece however you need to. And third, a standalone bench grinder stand can be built at the correct height for ergonomic use, which is often a bit higher than a typical workbench.

Building one is easy: just weld up some scrap metal to meet your needs. One popular design is to use an old steel truck wheel as a base, add some scrap metal to the underside to add weight and stability, then weld on a tube and a small section of plate to form the mounting surface for the grinder. 

Get a Prefab Metal Workshop Customized To Suit Your Needs

As you consider these metal building workshop ideas, maybe you’re realizing that you’ve outgrown your shop, and any improvements will be only delaying the inevitable conclusion that you need an upgrade to a dedicated space. This is where we can really make your shop dreams come true. At Spry Steel, we’re the experts on how to match a prefabricated steel building and all the available options to the needs of our customers.

When you work with Spry, you get the efficiency, durability, choice, and value of a prefabricated steel building. In addition, all of that is combined with our customization options and experienced staff. That means you get a perfect option that matches your needs. If you’re ready to leave your cold, cramped shop and upgrade to ample space in a state-of-the-art steel building, talk with us today.