Woodworking and the super cold shop #1: fingers and toes

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Blog entry by scottb posted 12-30-2011 04:48 AM 7293 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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How to deal with wanting to keep on working, without having to make too much of an investment to the shop space? Hopefully this will be our last year renting this house, so it behooves me to NOT make any further changes to the garage – save for the insulation I’ve added. (got up to a balmy 42 degrees last winter!)

Yesterday, day two of a recent project spurt. (Now that Christmas is over I’m woodworking for ME! (which means stuff for the gallery I just got into, as well as NEXT Christmas items.) I got the space heater cranking up… and by the time my fingers warmed up, I’d prepped 5 blanks, turned one,... and my toes were freezing despite the extra pair of fleece socks on over my regular ones.

I thought the space heater needed company, in the form of one of these mats.

But today, my third day in a row in the super cold shop… I think I might be able to put off getting that heater pad for in front of the lathe. My wife got me a pair of these insoles, and My feet have been nice and comfortable all day. – working in a very cold basement, and then later in my garage after the sun went down. No foot problems today!

Despite the three sweatshirts (yes three) I was fairly comfortable today. Next project will be to hang a sheet of plastic, thus trapping the heat in a small corner of the garage where I might be able to turn as if it wasn’t wintertime!

Might be another story come midwinter, but all should be well for the time being.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

12 comments so far

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3970 days

#1 posted 12-30-2011 05:15 AM

Scott, Im sorta speechless here. Most folks deal with uncomfortable cold in the work place with an adequate heat source for the prevailing conditions. Why not use a forced air torpedo. I have used them for years and burned only diesel in them. Good bang for the buck. I would not use them in an airtight situation however. You do need ventilation and the fumes dont bother me or maybe Im just so used to it that I dont smell it. And when you move you can take it with you.

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3836 days

#2 posted 12-30-2011 05:36 AM

I use the same as cabmaker. I also burn diesel. Today diesel is more refined than in years past because of EPA regs for large trucks so it burns about like kerosene. I leave some vent space at the doors (cross ventilation) and have a carbon monoxide detector in place. all this is relatively cheap except for the cost of the heater. I am in a warmer climate but I work in a metal building with a couple of inches of insulation on the walls and under the roof. I have a 1200 ft room so there is a large area to heat. It brings the temp up from around 35 to comfortable workings conditions in about 20 minutes. I think mine is a 115,000 BTU. I have used it for about 10 years now and so far I have had no problems. I would recommend one with a thermostat on it.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5488 days

#3 posted 12-30-2011 06:32 AM

impressive to hear how quick your shop heats up! for some reason I just figured (with all the dust) that burning fuel wasn’t a safe option. (probably the case with other types of heaters.) a
Its only these chilly months that I miss my old basement shop. come summer the garage is the place to be.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5460 days

#4 posted 12-30-2011 07:18 AM

Heated floor pad!
That reminded me of when I was working in a diesel repair shop in 1956-57. The building had a heated floor, & they had to keep the floor temp at 180 degrees in order to keep that cinder block shop warm. I haven’t had cold feet since. LOL

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3996 days

#5 posted 12-30-2011 07:39 AM

I’ve found that if the head, neck and feet stay warm all else follows. For that reason I have a fleece pull over “scarf”, it only covers the neck and has nothing dangling. Putting silk socks inside modern wool socks works the warmest, and a decent fleece hat should do the trick.

-- A posse ad esse

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4736 days

#6 posted 12-30-2011 04:30 PM

Holy smokes Dick, I’m retired and I was in diapers in 1956!
If you aren’t a salty old dog woodworker, nobody is ! lol

Scott, I fixed the cold shop problem.
(I used to live in Chicago)

I moved to Florida !

I’m going to tell my brother who still lives up there though, about those toasty feet insoles.


View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

276 posts in 4349 days

#7 posted 12-30-2011 04:38 PM

Aerogel (the component in the insoles) is amazing stuff. Extremely lightweight and an extremely good insulator. Although I find that putting insoles in my shoes makes them uncomfortably tight to wear.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4469 days

#8 posted 12-30-2011 05:24 PM

Have you looked into a window A/C unit that also has a heating element? I have one in my shop (24×40) and it keeps it very comfortable. I was working in my shop wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts last week when it was 32 degrees outside.

Good thing about a window unit is taking it with you if you move. Works great if you have 220v.

View curi0usJack's profile


21 posts in 3920 days

#9 posted 12-31-2011 12:30 AM

I got this for Christmas:,104,53220&ap=1

It’s been an absolute God-send! I live in Wisconsin and have a fieldstone basement for my shop. Needless to say, working in the winter time is cold and painful. Since getting the heater, I was able to work downstairs in the winter without my hat and wool sweater! Amazing.

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3836 days

#10 posted 12-31-2011 01:36 AM

Scott, I live in SW Oklahoma and I try to not work in those below 20 days. We often hover around 32 deg at night and that big heater really warms my shop quick. I work in shirt sleeves. I might wear a coat out to the shop but I hang it up until I go back indoors. I am writing this on Dec 30 and it was about 65 deg here today. It is cooling down now with the sun setting. I have never had a problem with dust and the heater. Many use wood burning stoves. We use these heaters on construction jobs in this area so I thought if they can do that I will try it too. I am more afraid of the carbon monoxide so I leave 2 doors open. Just a few inches takes care of that problem though.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5488 days

#11 posted 12-31-2011 02:56 AM

oooh, I like that overhead radiant heater… and the price, and operating cost is very nice too!

A former colleague was also just telling be about Polypropelyne sock liners. I wonder what other “hidden gems” Skiiers and other winter sports people have to offer.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5460 days

#12 posted 12-31-2011 07:24 AM

OOP! I’m sorry, but I made an error about the floor temp. it was only 120 degrees.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

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