Help with humidity/climate control in new shop

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Forum topic by zrodimel posted 04-03-2018 12:52 PM 833 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1495 days

04-03-2018 12:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humidity wood movement climate control new shop shop woodshop question


For the past4 years I’ve had my woodshop in an old barn with a dirt floor, no insulation, no heat, etc. I live in Indiana. I am planning on moving into another barn on the property that has a concrete floor and I plan to finish the inside including insulation, drywall, ceiling insulation, etc. New shop space will be 29×16’.

My question and biggest concern is related to humidity/climate control in the new shop. Right now, i practically take the winter off (just a hobbyist) because anything I make in the shop warps/cracks/is destroyed as soon as I bring it inside the house due to difference in humidity. I have a basic understanding of wood movement, relative humidity, EMC, etc.

What I need help on is how to go about designing this new shop so that I can actually remove things from it and they can be brought inside in the winter months. I assume having insulation will help a great deal but I’m sure it won’t be enough to match low humidity in a forced heat home. I plan to get an electric heater unless convinced otherwise.

How do guys deal with humidity and working in the winter relative to keeping wood stable enough to leave the shop? I certainly am not comfortable doing commissions in the winter months because I don’t know what will happen once they leave my shop but I know what happens when they enter my house, and it’s not good.

Thanks for any insight you can provide. Feel free to tell me I’m thinking about this all wrong.

6 replies so far

View Rayne's profile


1318 posts in 2459 days

#1 posted 04-03-2018 01:35 PM

I’m in Central FL so we have the heat and humidity. I have a mini-split installed in my garage that has made it a very comfortable environment to work in with no swings in heat/humidity. That might be a good option to look at but make sure you look for a model that’s specific to your environment. Like for me, I don’t have a heater option on my mini-split…absolutely no reason to have one here.

View Robert's profile


4157 posts in 2401 days

#2 posted 04-03-2018 01:44 PM


My shop is also a converted horse barn that is not climate controlled. I live in NE FL. Originally it was fairly open and my machines were constantly in some state of rust formation. Managing project lumber was a major pain. A panel left out overnight would probably be a pretzel by morning ;-)

I am pretty confident you will find that after insulating and sealing it up, even without climate control, you will see a noticeable improvement. When I remodelled my shop, all I did was seal every thing up – windows, doors, etc. I did not insulate because I wasn’t going to install an AC (it would take a 4 ton unit anyway) – and now I seldom have an issue with rust on my machines BUT—I still have to be careful about leaving project lumber out unprotected.

My theory is it humdity fluctuations that cause problems, not just humidity itself.

I had enough room to build a dedicated, climate controlled studio, or bench room. I keep all my hand tools, and store my wood during milling. Its big enough to be able to build projects, too.

I don’t know if this is possible, but if could do this, you will not regret it! Then you don’t have to cool/heat the entire shop, just one room.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Robinson's profile


52 posts in 3612 days

#3 posted 04-04-2018 12:11 AM

My woodshop was in an old barn for many years and the woodshop part was dirt floor. That 36’x50’ barn still holds my farm shop which includes mechanics, welding, tire shop, some machining, blacksmithing etc…
Moisture is still a horrible problem in that shop. Most of that moisture comes up through the floor including the part that is concrete. I did work a minor miracle on part of it. I carefully leveled the dirt floor using fine crushed limestone in an area about 12’ x 30’ and put down a frame of treated 2” x 4”s on edge. Then I laid down an unbroken sheet of 4 mil polyethylene film and put down 3/4” T&G plywood “sturdy floor” and then painted it. The results were dramatic. Tool sweating and rusting in that area just stopped… That floor has been in place for about 30 years now and is still like new. Note that I don’t do any welding or blacksmithing etc. in that area. :-)
Today I would never put down any floor without putting a vapor barrier under it, wood concrete, anything…
Now I have my woodshop in a 36’ x 40’ area in my basement. Heat in winter and AC in summer. Rust is just not a consideration and wood moisture is the same as any place else in the house.

-- Francis Robinson, Central Indiana, USA - - Shopsmith fanatic

View tmasondarnell's profile


141 posts in 2709 days

#4 posted 04-04-2018 01:58 AM

Do yourself the biggest favor. Condition the space 24/7/365.

I am an hobbyist. I am in Central TX, so I do not have the cold, but I do have the heat and humidity changes. So I have a 24×16 shop with a concrete floor and is insulated. I have a heat pump, but for the first 6 years of my shop, I only ran it when I was going to use it.

My wood was always warping. My finishes/glues never lasted. During the summer or winter, when I did use the shop, even after 3 hours of running the heat pump, the table saw would be hot/cold.

Two years ago, I decided to run the HVAC 24/7 and screw the electric bill (only resulted in about $10-20 more per month). It made the biggest change. My lumber is “stable”. All of the supplies last. I can jump in the shop for a quick 30 minutes with no issues. It was a great decision.

View eflanders's profile


329 posts in 2770 days

#5 posted 04-04-2018 01:26 PM

I live in N.E. WI and my shop has both a furnace and dehumidifier. My bulk wood storage is outside and covered. Before I use any wood from outside I bring the wood inside to climatize for 48 hrs. minimum. Then I rough cut, plane and joint to rough dimensions and let the material sit for another 24 hrs. minimum. If I don’t do all of the above, my machines will rust and the wood shrinks. Humidity control is a must as far as I’m concerned!

View zrodimel's profile


3 posts in 1495 days

#6 posted 04-23-2018 06:48 PM

Thanks, everybody. I feel a lot better about this now.

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