New Shop - from the ground , up. #13: Cooling the Workshop

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Blog entry by curliejones posted 07-12-2015 11:34 AM 1595 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Almost done? Part 13 of New Shop - from the ground , up. series Part 14: Accessing the new shop- in a few simple steps »

Now that we’ve had a month of high temps, I wanted to add a few pics to my workshop blog and report on the design. I’m very pleased with the passive cooling ideas and am happy to report success at achieving comfort (relative, of course) with one 8000 btu window unit.

I chose to build the workshop with wood framing so that I could incorporate several desirables into the shop. I wanted several windows and needed /wanted four doors. I also chose not to insulate the walls/per se and simply painted the inside of the sheathing white for brightness in the shop.

The few pictures following will show some of the design ideas that are working well for me. Although there is practically no R-value in “bubble foil”, it does repel radiant heat. I wrapped the entire building in it and maintained the required air space using 1.5” thick “nailers”. You’ll notice that I furred out for window and door openings and placed the stripping much closer together where the 12” wide cement siding was applied vertically. The two sides that have sheet metal exterior did not need the same level of support as it is much lighter per square foot.

On the roof, I used the radiant barrier foil as well as galvanized sheet metal which will be shiny and repel radiant heat well for the first few years. When the metal roofing dulls, the bright foil will remain.

There’s a large shade tree to the east of the shop, giving morning shade, but I also used wide overhang for one third of the east wall, then a porch to help shade the many windows and east wall. Though insulated, the windows do rob me of btus and interior wall space. This is, however, too pretty a place to not enjoy the view.

With the building on a concrete slab, the earth helps to temper the building and I was pleased last summer to notice that the shop stayed reasonably cool until 1 or 2 pm. In December, I took great pleasure in having someone else do the work and had a metal carport built on the west side of the shop. In designing the carport, my goals were simple, keep the sun off the camper it is designed for and shade the workshop from the afternoon sun. There’s generous air flow with large openings at the front and rear of the carport, as well as the top and bottom of the west wall. I believe on key feature is the air gap at the top of the east facing clerestory wall. As the hot air rises, it is allowed to escape out the top. The carport “breathes”, not trapping heated air and at the same time has reduced wind resistance to storms compared to solid walls. We had 100 mph winds here during Hurricane Katrina, something I hope not see again.

I can comfortably work in the shop on a sunny afternoon, temps in the low 90s, and not break a sweat with only the 8000 btu a/c running. I generally start the a/c a couple of hours before spending time out there. The floor covers about 750 sq ft and there’s room overhead ranging from 9 ft to 13 ft. My one goal for improvement is to find some quilts or comforters to attach to the inside of the two roll up doors that are not being opened during this hot season. Should I want to unload material through the large front door, I’ll simply remove the 8 or so spring clamps holding the quilts in place.

I strongly recommend shade, either natural or man-made. I’ve used agricultural shade cloth on several occasions over swimming pools, decks, etc. and that’s an easy and cheap way to go. I’d thought I might use it to shade the west wall of the carport, but that seems superfluous at this point. Good luck at keeping your cool this summer, fellow LJs!

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

7 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3477 days

#1 posted 07-12-2015 01:15 PM

Curlie, this is looking great. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View SteveMI's profile


1149 posts in 3905 days

#2 posted 07-12-2015 03:13 PM

Seems like your planning worked out well. Shows that understanding the principles can get a good result.

View BigD1's profile


79 posts in 3744 days

#3 posted 07-12-2015 04:22 PM

Nothing like a WOOD SHOP!!!! Looking good!!!!! Can’t wait to see the finished project.
I love my Wood-Not, What-Not shop.

-- Donald Baty

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3944 days

#4 posted 07-12-2015 04:55 PM

I’m jealous already. Looks big and good.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View atouchofoz's profile


131 posts in 1669 days

#5 posted 07-12-2015 08:33 PM

A wood-shop after my own heart!

-- Suzanne, A Touch Of O.Z.

View ForestGrl's profile


450 posts in 1696 days

#6 posted 07-13-2015 03:17 AM

Wow, it’s fabulous! Must be fun to be able to build one from the ground up, just to suit your fancy. I admire your “passive cooling” approach, well done! How about rare earth magnets to hold the quilts in place (oh, oops, are the doors steel or aluminum?).

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

View curliejones's profile


186 posts in 2876 days

#7 posted 07-13-2015 12:01 PM

Thanks for comments and compliments. Hey BigD1, it is finished enough. There’s so much to do during the summer here, but I do work out here a couple days a week making “shop things” so far. Sets of clamping cauls, shop cart, featherboards, and shelves for router table. .. and yes thanks ForestGirl very much fun (and work) and the roll up doors are steel so magnets should work just fine. I finished the shop in late 2014, working from March until November. The carport guys came for Christmas 2014. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to do this upgrade. The old building was from all salvaged material and it served me well for 35 years. What is missing in the photo of the old shop is a huge live oak tree that saved my old shop from three huge pine trees that fell during Katrina. The old live oak was split and had to be removed before the new project began, but it did provide shade in the old shop for so many years.

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

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