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Farm Shop Basics

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The following are from notes taken at the Intervale session-

Intro: What are the basic tools for the basic rural farm shop (future work should cover the urban shop, and more advanced fabrication)

This is an initial list which should be organized and prioritized with upgrades or downgrade options...

Tool list: Oxy acetylene or Propane (propane may be preferable - since mostly for cutting and heating rather than welding) metal cutting bandsaw (or sawzall or hacksaw) Grinder (4 1/2 inch for starters) Basic stick welder (or Mig, better; mobile stick or mig also acts as backup generator for the farm) Drill Press (Floor model with low RPMs might be better than table-mount) Rod cans to prevent rusty rods Basic mechanic drive set (1/2", 3/8") Auto darkening helmet (can get for roughly $100) Heavy vice Vicegrips all sorts heavy steel clamps Floor fan for ventilation Steel table (can mount with press, vice) Standard metal stock: c-channel, square tubing, bar stock (raid steel yards for shorties and scrap stock) Warehouse steel racking to keep things clean and orderly Rods: 60-10, 7-18... Step bits - great for opening up holes Die grinder Wire brush Air compressor for die grinder, etc. Shop press w/ press break attachment Air nibbler for sheet metal cutting Shop broom, roller magnet (invest in a good heavy-duty broom and dustpan) Leather welding coat Flex-core wire for beginners, messy job but easier than stick Sanding table Bench grinder or other grinding wheel (great for sharpening drill bits) Cutting oil Centerpunch OTHER LAYOUT TOOLS? Impact wrench

Safety equipment goggles or full face protection (better), ear protection, gloves, welding coat, dust mask or respirator (fresh air respirators are best)

Mid/high level tools: Mill (bridgeport etc.) Metal Lathe Tig Welder Sheet metal tools - brakes, English wheel, Planishing hammer etc. Mag drill Boring bar tool for mill Cold-cut saw Iron worker (shear/punch) Blacksmith tools (forge/swages/tongs/power hammer etc.) tubing bender and fish eye cutter

Tips and tricks: Take vocational courses - there's an industrial welding school in upstate NY Watch YouTube videos Welders get you out of a jam - weld onto it Blacksmither's creed: make your tools! Keep drill bits sharpened Buy good bits upfront to save a lot of hassle and waste down the road

Sources: See sourcing thread on forum

andysmiles's picture

A quick addition to remember safety! Always wear safety glasses, ear protection, gloves, respirator, etc when appropriate

dorn's picture

It would be really cool do do a couple farm hacker's shop layouts and inventory - we might be able to make some generalizations and help each other improve. I know my layout could certainly be much better. This is where a sketchup library might be really fun to do a few shop layouts.

AndyF's picture

Some of the tools we have in our farm shop Metal Shop - 15X30" Harrison Lathe, 9X42 Bridgeport Mill, #22 Buffalo Drill Press, 4 Spindle Electro Mecano Drillpress, Boyar Schultz 6X12 Super Deluxe Surface Grinder, Champion 7hp 2 stage air compressor, Miller 300A Shopmate Multiprocess welder, Lincoln 250A IdealArc multiprocess welder, wire feeders and watercooled TIG for the welders, Oxy-Acetylene torches, Presto-lite torch, Hossfeld Bender, Kalamazoo Horizontal Bandsaw, 20" Delta Vertical Bandsaw w/Blade welder, Miller Plasma Cutter, 2 ton portable Gantry w/Budgit chain hoist, hydraulic press, parts washer, sand blaster, + necessary ancillary equipment, benches, handtools and portable tools. The shop is in a 24X40 space divided into 3 bays - a 14X24 machine shop, a 8X24 parts storage area w/mezzanine above and a 18X24 shop bay for fab work and equipment repair

Wood Shop - Powermatic TA66 tablesaw, DeWalt Radial Arm Saw, Delta drillpress, Walker Turner Radial Drillpress, Delta 13" planer, Powermatic 8" jointer, Delta shaper, Delta Overarm Router, Jet 18" Bandsaw, 12X36 lathe, + workbenches, hand tools and portable power tools. The woodshop is in a 26X28 room adjacent to the metal shop

Other equipment - Landa pressure washer, portable forge, anvil, blacksmith tools, generator, ladders, scaffolding, 3pt mount forklift

AndyF's picture

For repair work

Phone list of parts suppliers and shops for the work you don't want to do multimeter for troubleshooting electrical problems flashlight good measuring equipment - tape measures, 6" and 12" scales, calipers and micrometers set of pry bars set of drifts lots of hammers, up to at least a 10lb sledge Jacks and jackstands hydraulic press good 1/2" impact wrench lots of wrenches - sockets from 1/4" through 3/4" drive, combination wrenches through at least 1 1/4", good adjustable wrenches from 6" through at least 15"

dorn's picture

I have started a floating wiki to keep the various lists of tools - we can graduate this to a full tool wiki and/or divide it further as it evolves. I think that it might be useful to divide shop tool kits from field tool kits. I know we have recently refined our tractor tool kit lists on our farm.

Here is a link to the "floating" tool wiki for shop tool kits

renee's picture

If you are looking for many of the tools listed above, we have a small tool company (almost 100% U.S.-made tools) for oxy-acetylene & propane torch welding, welding supplies (like flux-core rod) metal repairs & fabrication, etc, including hammers, files, snips, shears, layout tools, sheet metal / shaping machines (air power hammers, flow-forming tools, english wheels). Also, a number of instructional DVDs that show you how to do the sorts of repairs you might need to do on things like farm equipment (example: rust repairs & patch panels, or basics of gas welding). We also have training classes for those really interested in learning more about the tools including "Metalworking Fundamentals." Call for a free 88-page catalog (it is full of lots of useful metalworking information and resources): 530-292-3506. Or you can check our website: www.tinmantech.com We also have a few videos on YouTube you can check out (Search "tinmantech" on YouTube). Good luck!

mrw601's picture

Our shop has a welder, drill press, pedestal grinder, chop saw, hand grinders, oxyacetylene torches, die grinders, and hand tools. We repair and fabricate a lot of equipment with these simple tools. The chop saw and hand grinders with the thin cutting wheels are great metal cutting tools. We rarely use the torches for cutting metal anymore. A welding table is a great addition to the shop. We just use a 24"x36"x3/8" piece of plate laid on a pair of horses. It allows us to set up jigs with a few clamps and scrap steel, and set up work without a ground clamp.

vinflictor's picture

I'm a little confused. ( i usually am). But this list looks more like dremers list for a "Metal Shop". When looking at MY shop/setup, this list merely covers the "metal" side, and is used partially compared to all the other "fix-it" methods in my routine.

Without going too crazy with my own list- here are things I think are essential, and missing from this list: soldering iron? (lots of electrical connections/ electronics in most items these days) Backup electrical hack kits like Transistors/Resistors/Caps, wire leads, limit switches, multimeter (more than one) are all essential. Plumbing parts? Come on! Farms rely on WATER, and plumbing tools/repair supplies are crucial. Backup pumps, piping, hoses, irrigation connectors, Pvc bits, impellers, self-adhering super tape, etc. This is MUCH more important than metalshop equipment IMO, Water management is everything.

Wood! shoring something up with 2x4's or sheets of ply are always used in numerous ways. I use my miter saw 10x more than any welder. .. and I love to have an excuse to weld. Table saw? oh yeah.

I have a flashlight and a 4-in-1 screwdriver in every place i work, car, tractor, etc. Multi-tool and a blade are always in my pocket. Breaker bar- gotta have it. Wrenches- good ones, SAE and Metric. Mini- tweaker screwdriver sets, cuz manufacturers are making screws smaller and cheaper. Sledges and impact hammers, soft and hard. Files, rat-tails, rasps - I use all the time, You wont find me trimming a small 1 minute job on a mill when i can just file it down. Speedy stitcher- Yes, the leather/canvas repair stitcher, cuz not everything is made of metal- great tool, will last forever. Small butane torches- why lug a big Victor out when you need to loosen a bolt? Ranger Bands- these are just old inner-tubes chopped into bands of rubber. Crazy useful for everything from cord management to wrapping up a stray wire/tube/pipe. also work as mini clamps. Measuring and layout tools- this is a list in itself, and certainly more important than much of the gear on the above list. If you cant make a straight line, you aren't ready for TIG welding. incremental tools, straight edges, compasses, protractors, angle finders- learn this before you go out and drop cash on an English Wheel! Air tools? Tire repair kit? First Aid/ Trauma pack? I know you have some safety gear, well- you need a human mending kit too. Jack? it's like a clamp for your car/heavy equipment. Get some. Arbor press, rivet setter, hex wrenches, bailing wire, fence wrench, lineman's pliers, duct tape, pipe clamps, heavy tarpaulins- all MUCH more essential than the welder's dream rig listed above.

on the metalwork side- i think your list is great, but overwhelmingly complicated. Do you really need all of this stuff or could you be more resourceful? the website is farmHACK right? Much can be done with less, and you don't always need a bridgeport and 3 different welding methods at the ready. Oh and you forgot about marking fluid. if you are in a metalshop, you'll no doubt need some of the blue stuff.

Not trying to be critical, but it seems this is quite heavy on metalworking. Many of the best "farm hackers" i have known don't have half this stuff. My grandfather, and yours too probably, did most metalwork with a Victor torch, a vice and a hammer, not much else. And when the irrigation pump starts to smoke, you're gonna need a different set of tools to diagnose the problem. the Blacksmiths creed is there, this list isn't living up to it.

dorn's picture

On our farm we have an equipment shop, and black smith shop, and a wood shop each with different sets of kits and tools. This thread started as simply documenting the original discussion from the Intervale Farm Hack and was around prioritizing farm shop tools for fabrication of farm tools and prototyping. The original post mentioned that the next step was to prioritize organize and expand. An earlier post also opened up a wiki for modifying organizing and prioritizing http://farmhack.net/wiki/farm-shop-basics. It is fair to say that the focus was on metal, but for fabrication of farm tools, much of the work on our farm does tend to be metal work. The level of equipment needed will really be dictated by the scale and type of operation. You may also notice that on the "to do" list is to separate out advanced fabrication from the basics, and also that urban needs will be different than fabrication or repair. From my perspective there are certain tools that make a lot possible and I know that I wish I had purchased years ago. For example, a metal cutting bandsaw for cutting stock is one of the most used pieces of equipment in my shop - but until I got it I didn't know what I was missing. I haven't put a bridgeport on my own priority list, but it isn't far off and if I had one it would get weekly use redoing bushings, and opening up larger holes for implement pins etc. that the drill press simply isn't set up for. I know that the better our farm shop gets the faster the turn around time and the higher quality the implements that we either create of modify. The faster we can get repairs done or modifications done the more ideas we can try in the field and the better the results on the ground. I agree with the principle of keep it simple, but also I know when there is a build vs. buy calculation that I would rather put the investment in the tools to build than into new paint and waiting for a part to ship from who knows where in the middle of planting or harvest.

I would love to see a tread and tool entries for fabrication of tools themselves.

Some of the tools I could see documented for farm shops that could be fairly easily fabricated:

Gantry crane
metal shear
shop press
power hammer
heavy shop tables

there are forums out there for build it yourself machine tools - but the build vs. buy is a little tougher on those (at least for me)
but perhaps what might be needed are some categories of tools associated with fabrication of particular types of farm activities for example:

heavy farm equipment fabrication
light farm implement fabrication
hand tool fabrication tools
tractor repair - engine/transmission/fuel/frame/body etc.
General electrical
power transfer (gearboxes, chains, bearings etc.)
hydraulic and pneumatic systems
irrigation/animal water systems/general farm plumbing including fuel transfer etc.
farm building construction
(others?) each of these could have their own floating wiki to build out and prioritize?

vinflictor's picture

Thanks Dorn! All about vetting out each persons skills, and practical forte'- why we are here. I agree with your points, but in the same sense, as we lay groundwork in this community- we realize many folks have varying talent. On that point- in the old days we would have gone to the nearest "blacksmith"/ Machine shop / Ferrier, buddy-with-a-better-shop when we couldn't keep it simple with our own basic set of tools. That doesn't mean "make it vs. buy it", it just means working smart, and not investing a gazzillion bucks on a full-on metal shop, when it isn't necessary on an average farm workday. Some other guy/gal might have other talent/equipment. I mean really, how many practical farmers need an endmill -to the extend of that equipment investment, but more importantly, the time it takes to learn the nuances of milling a new part from stock. Sure, alot of my parts are metal, but no way does it consume that much of my workload- if made correctly, a metal part shouldn't keep me in my metalshop all day. With the equipment listed- one could service 10+ area farmers. Kinda pointless to have all this stuff on every farm, no? I spend much more time worrying about crop/animal health, USDA regs, water pumps, harvest distro, etc. So, I kinda have to go back on my earlier statement: Any "Farm Hack" realist will understand that Water management is incredibly more important to start "Wikiing" over your $50,000 metalshop wishlist. Again, just my 2 cents/ input/ personal experience

Kelly Bell's picture

I am a BIG fan of setting up a local co-op to have the more expensive and more rarely-used gear. I wish more people would take this idea seriously. I fully love and appreciate "equipment lust", but I believe we would all be in much better shape, financially and socially, if we bound our farming communities together through cooperative and shared usage/support/purchase/ownership of these kinds of big-ticket/rarely used items.

More to the point (to quote vinflictor):

With the equipment listed- one could service 10+ area farmers. Kinda pointless to have all this stuff on every farm, no?

That's it, exactly. This kind of gear SHOULD be serving 10+ farms, IMHO.

dorn's picture

I think this is why this community is so important - to prioritize and help folks along to gather more of the skills which would otherwise keep them dependent or reduce possibilities for innovation. I think that is why "hacker spaces" are popping up that enable access to more tools, some of which are not needed every day, but make a job from being a struggle to a pleasure. There are several farms in our area that rent out space to equipment shops, so that they have quick access. Our farm does work for our own operation and a couple others, so there are a lot of models towards shared ownership/access and scale that justifies the infrastructure. Some of the approaches are to reduce the cost of the tools to accomplish the task, or to save folks from investing in tools that are less important - and that is where feedback is especially important based on what folks are actually using.

For example, there was a guy at a recent Farm Hack event who had a hand held metal circular saw that he thought was the best thing going - I had looked at them and the price always kept me away, but he made a great case for it. He didn't have the tank rental fees, gas etc. and hardly touched his torch or even the plasma cutter. In two years of my tank rentals I think I probably could have paid for it.

I also just talked with a group of farmers and they just got a TIG just so they could work on their aluminum irrigation piping. I have not made the investment myself, on the tig or the mill yet, as I can't justify it just for our operation yet, but I have been talking about sharing the shop with some other folks and adding those things in. As our operation diversifies and grows the shop becomes more important. Since we serve three farms and have a good deal of cooperative relationships I think that is what makes it possible to invest in some of this- but not all at once. I know I have a bunch of stainless tanks that I will need in the next year or so, and that may push a TIG - but even then it may be a shared investment. The mill will be a similar story . There always seem to be several in the $3000 range around here - as you mention the skill is the big factor. In this case wouldn't invest alone, but with a machinest friend of mine who is doing custom work who might co-locate. He wouldn't need it every day either. I provide the space, he provides expertise and it is conveniently available when it is needed- but for both of us the upcoming projects need to justify the space, the time and the expense.

Ideally I would like to see farmhack help link up the services you mention with farmers through the tools pages. If done well, the documentation is good enough to take it to a custom shop, or if the skills and tools are there on-farm then all the better. Some of the tools don't need to be owned but I think farm hackers should know what is possible and how to access tools. I see it as helping each other breaking down barriers, reduce the intimidation factor for some of these skills and become more independent through greater collaboration.

svtdv26's picture

Thanks for listing most of the items that are used in a farm shop, were really very helpful to me..........


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jamie225's picture

good one

hasper's picture

Farms are the best place to try new things I would suggest also try with plasma cutter for diy it will give u a bump!