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Building a Steel Workshop

Updated on January 2, 2015

For the Handyperson, a Useful Steel Workshop Building

All men, and probably most women too, need their sheds, or at least that extra bit of space to carry out and enjoy their hobbies and crafts. Most of us never have enough room to spread out in the house or office as we'd like to, so there's a good reason for building a shed or workshop.

The beauty about having your own space in the backyard is that you can leave it in a state of chaos, if that's what you want, without offending the rest of the family. I have several hobbies and never have enough room to get really stuck into them properly, one of these being photography where the printing of large sized photographs and making frames for them requires plenty of space and specialized tools. If I don't get finished by the end of the day it doesn't matter as I know I won't be in anyone's way.

I decide to opt for a vinyl/steel workshop, as in our damp climate they are more durable and will last longer, they can also be effectively insulated inside.

Here's my story of how I built my steel workshop with the help of a few others.

Created on 9 May 2013

All photos © Rob Hemphill

What Type of Shed to Build

Plan carefully

When I began planning for my workshop several things came into mind:

1. What was my budget going to be?

2. What size of building do I comfortably need?

3. What height should it be?

4. What material should it be made out of?

5. Should it be a self build or pre-fabricated?

6. Do I need planning permission? Can depend on size.

Then a few other things need to be given consideration:

1. Location.

2. Accessibility for construction.

3. Can I get electricity and water to it easily?

4. Are we safe from underground cables when digging the foundations?

5. Is there room all around the building to avoid congested or cluttered areas from developing, especially if you're keen on car or other motor maintenance?

6. Do I need a concrete pad nearby which can be useful when working on machinery and equipment?

Good Plans & Planning Saves Money

Using accurate plans are vital

The location for my building in the yard was on sand which meant that we had to have slightly deeper foundations than usual. After digging the foundations and setting up the shuttering, a concrete lorry arrived with a mix sufficient enough for the entire pour in one go. This is beneficial as there would be no joining of separate mixes with different drying times which could allow for cracks.

Having left the concrete in the foundations to set for two days, we dismantled the shuttering, and started to prepare for the base floor. I had been supplied with the building plans including all dimensions, so all we had to do was make exact measurements. Again, we set up the perimeter shuttering and leveled the base taking into account the 4 inch floor depth of concrete required. A ducting pipe had to be built in to the concrete under the floor to enable the electrical wiring to be threaded through at a later date.

I Chose a Pre-fabricated Building

Quick and easy

Having looked around at many steel, vinyl and wood buildings, I found a steel one which came with good insulation in the pre-fabricated wall and roof sections. We get very cold winters, so I need to be able to work when the weather is nasty.

The best thing about this type of building is that once you have the concrete base down, your building will arrive and be erected in only a day or so. I found that once the building was up and secured with its roller shutter door at one end and side access door, it took several weeks to become fully dry. This is because the moisture from the concrete is trapped inside your new building, so it's a good idea to open doors during the day to air the space to speed the drying time.

Once all was completely dry inside, I set about fitting 8 ft x 4 ft sheets of MDF (multi-density fiberboard) to the walls, this will be my backing board to attach pegs and shelves to hold my tools and other bits and pieces.

Handy Craftsperson?

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Concrete Foundations & Floor - Must make sure it's all level.

The foundations and floor have now set, and you can see the red ducting pipe that has been left in for the electricity cable to be passed through when the time comes. Always think ahead for any service ducting that's required and put it in place before the concrete is poured, as you don't want to be chiseling out a channel in the hardened concrete later. It's easier fill in an used channel.

The black plastic sheeting is the damp proof course that has been put underneath the concrete floor. It's important to have this in place to prevent moisture from rising up and causing dampness to the floor and walls.

When I laid this sheet out prior to pouring the concrete, my cat decide to investigate and walked right across it leaving tiny puncture marks where her claws has penetrated through. Luckily, I haven't had a problem with rising moisture yet!

Arrived on a Small Lorry

The first thing we had to do was assemble the framework which was so easy and straight forward. All connections were done using either screw bolts directly screwing into the iron struts or nuts and bolts securing larger pieces. Once we got the main frame up it was just a matter of attaching the horizontal connecting pieces, and then the individual wall sections.

When I was satisfied with the structure's position and that it was perfectly square, it was bolted down onto the floor ready for the roof sections.

Erecting the Walls

Knowing exactly where you want your doors seems obvious, but you'll be surprised how often a pre-fabricated unit is delivered onto a site only for the customer to say that he thought the door was the other side or end. No changes can be made to these sections once they leave the factory, so if you've got your plans, read and interpret them properly, then you'll have no trouble.

Attention to detail pays dividends - don't cut corners.

Walls Up, Next the Roof

The blue heavy duty fabric on the walls protects the insulation underneath. It's breathable so should any moisture accumulate for any reason, it will not be absorbed into the insulation but merely run off the surface. This is very good in high humidity or very damp conditions.

A roller shutter door will be fitted to the front section after the roof has been applied.

Finding the Right Shed

Lifetime 6446 Outdoor Storage Shed with Shutters, Windows, and Skylights, 8 by 15 Feet
Lifetime 6446 Outdoor Storage Shed with Shutters, Windows, and Skylights, 8 by 15 Feet

This is a super strong shed that will withstand any high winds, and judging by the reviews it has many satisfied customers. The pieces are all well organized when they arrive, and the package comes with clear and concise instructions making for easy assembly, which can't be said of many assembly kits today!

Arrow Shed AR1012  Arlington 10-Feet by 12-Feet Steel Storage Shed
Arrow Shed AR1012 Arlington 10-Feet by 12-Feet Steel Storage Shed

The Arrowhead shed is more of a budget building, but comes in at a reasonable price. When I see comments about the odd person who may have had installation difficulties, I put this down to construction inexperience.


Ready for the Roof

A roof panel awaits its turn to be lifted into place, and soon we'll have something that resembles a building, and hopefully keeps the water out!

Suncast BMS4900D Glidetop Slide Lid Shed
Suncast BMS4900D Glidetop Slide Lid Shed

Easy to assemble and with heavy duty plastic will act as a great store for garden machines and equipment. Don't forget to put a decent base down first!


Fitting the Roof

Having skylights in the roof is important for any workshop area as natural light is always better than artificial light. Strip lighting will be installed to ensure bright light above the work benches and other important areas.

Once the building is up, and I have a shell on my hands, this is the time for secondary planning. Where will the bench be, how long and how high and so on...

There's a good reason not to rush the installation of all your equipment too soon as you may find that once bolted down they may be in an impractical place in relation to other items.

Safety first

If you are installing the electrics yourself, get your installation checked out by a qualified electrician afterwards.

Only the Roller Shutter Door Left!

I can now see the amount of space I'm going to enjoy, and already know where my workbench is to be sited.

I always like to have loads of room on a bench, so as you'll see in a minute, my bench is going to run three quarters the length of the building. I need to have room for two vices, one a woodworking one, the other for heavy duty stuff and a bench grinder. Other equipment I have will be positioned accordingly when I work out where it should go.


DEWALT DW718 12-Inch Double-Bevel Slide Compound Miter Saw
DEWALT DW718 12-Inch Double-Bevel Slide Compound Miter Saw

I've only owned a miter saw for a short time, but it has changed my carpentry life already! I no longer have to use the handsaw on thick lengths of timber, but instead I just measure up and cut, it's fast and accurate - love it!

DEWALT DWX723 Heavy Duty Miter Saw Stand
DEWALT DWX723 Heavy Duty Miter Saw Stand

Soon after I bought the miter saw, I realized that I didn't have a safe or sensible place to mount it. I discovered this stand (that has extendible wings for long lengths), and bought it - in fact when a builder friend saw it, he had to have one too, and he absolutely loves it.


Workshop or Shed?

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New Workbench - Waiting for tools!

Now my building is finished, I'm ready to start fitting out the interior. The long workbench is also complete, however I'm unable to use pegboard to hang my small tools onto so as you can see I've lined the entire inside with MDF and varnished it.

The next task is to set out the positions of where I want everything to go, then drill and insert wood dowels which will be glued into place.

I expect this will be the only time my workshop will be tidy!

Arrow Woodview 10' x 8' Steel Storage Shed

Arrow WV108 Woodview 10-Feet by 8-Feet Steel Storage Shed (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Arrow WV108 Woodview 10-Feet by 8-Feet Steel Storage Shed (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

This is such good value for a 10'x8' steel storage building which includes delivery right to your own driveway. The large door opening allows you to store yard and garden tools with ease.

The sections are all prefabricated with pre-drilled holes making for a speedy assembly. The strong galvanized steel parts will protect against the weather for many years to come.


This bench was built using my ever trusty set of Bosch tools which you see below. My miter saw is an amazing DeWalt, so between these two makes you'll have the best tools available.

With the right tools in a workshop, any sort of crafting tasks or woodworking is a joy to undertake.

Time to go and build something else!

The Complete Woodshop Guide

The Complete Woodshop Guide: How to Plan, Equip or Improve Your Workspace (Popular Woodworking)
The Complete Woodshop Guide: How to Plan, Equip or Improve Your Workspace (Popular Woodworking)

Setting up a workshop is not difficult, but to setup your tools and equipment in the 'right' places from a work point of view is vital. Unless you've had experience of this before, good advice is at hand, and this book will walk you through setting up a good storage and workflow ethic.

There are ideas on laying out your overall work area, and utilizing spaces sensibly. Like any "how to" book, it doesn't offer every solution, but it does give plenty of suggestions and ideas on the planning and layout, and problems to avoid.

This is very useful and will definitely help in setting up your new workshop.


Do You Have a Shed or Workshop Space? - Tell us about it and thank you for visiting

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    • profile image

      WaterlooStructures12 3 years ago

      wow that's an awesome lens!! seems like you are an amazing builder!! This lens was amazing and I learnt a lot from it. I needed a new garage at my home and I was thinking maybe I could check out some vendors online and at first I came across waterloostructures. net and I thought they were good. But then I came across your lens and its wonderful. Everything seems so simple and easy after reading this and Im thinking of making my own. Thanx

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      What an awesome workshop. Such a quality installation. I could really use one of these. Thanks for showing us all of the steps. Excellent!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      You're really skilled at building things. This metal building looks like the ultimate construction project for someone who spent a childhood building toys from kits.

      I used to make model planes, which flew with small gas engines and were controlled by a pair of nylon lines. After a few kits, I grew bored with the ones sold in stores, so I designed my own planes. The best one had two engines, which was a challenge to fly because I had to start both engines. (These small engines sometimes took many dozens of attempts before they'd run. So I had to add fuel to the one that was running while I continued trying to start the other one.)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I smiled at your tidy confession and most aren't like the ones you see on TV....they have a cleaning crew. I love walking into a workshop that has the character of past and present projects in it. You're so right, it has to be level from the foundation on up or there will be problems to come. You made it look like a quick and easy project. I don't have a workshop or shed at this time but have had them in the past, could use my garage I suppose but I'm not doing anything that can't be done inside....I'm liking this! :)

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I've wondered just what steps were required for setting up one of these prefabs. It looks like a fine workspace. Thanks for the tutorial

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Yes, we have a shed, but it is only a vinyl one not a nice as yours. I would love to have a shop like your for all my stuff, then my husband wouldn't have to tell me I'm cluttering the garage. Great Job! and Congratulations on the new workshop.

    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      I bought a shed kit 5 years ago and a week after the shed was delivered in snowed the worst spring snowstorm recorded for our area. the summer was terrible with winds and rain most weekends so I didn't get the shed up by the fall. I ended up buying a tunnel shelter to store my shed in. There is still sits. A neighbor down the road needed a bigger shed so I bought his wooden 10X10 cheap. Now I just have to fine time and good weather to build my second shed - then turn the tunnel shelter into a rabbit hutch.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 4 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      I agree that everyone should have their own space to do the things they want to do. I'm living in a little farmhouse and we have a big barn in which my hubby has his workspace. I have mine upstairs, because my work is mainly computer related. My room is my room and I can make it as messy as I want to. Thanks for sharing your space with us and congrats on the raffle ticket.