Your Dream Shop


From planning to reality – plus some great tips from our WR Facebook friends

By: Jennifer Showalter

There is a lot to think about when building a shop, but there is even more to study when deciding which tools and gadgets to purchase. WR wanted to highlight a few things for ranchers to keep in mind as they sit down to design their dream shop. This is what we pulled together.


Typically, bigger is better in this case (considering budget, of course). With all of the different tools and parts used on a ranch, it doesn’t take long for a shop to become cluttered. To conserve floor space, ranchers may want to consider storing parts in a loft as long as it does not interfere with overhead clearance. Along those same lines, ranchers need to be aware that roll-up doors often take up overhead space inside a building and may interfere with taller equipment. It is wise to build a shop with the idea that it may be used to service wider and taller equipment in the future. As one FB friend wisely suggested, “Design it big enough to handle your equipment, then make it bigger”.


Safety needs to be kept in mind when designing a shop. Sparks and slag off of grinders and welders along with all of the flammable fuels and oils typically found in a shop increase the need for fire safety to be taken into account. It is important to have a licensed electrician properly wire the building to carry the heavy load of such things as welders and compressors (EDITOR: cowboy wiring is forbidden, guys, stick to punching cows).

Ventilation is also important for a safe work environment and to prevent condensation. When building a shop, such things as welding, painting and grinding will require enough fans and blowers to pull or push fumes and dust out of the building. In addition, make sure first aid kits, eye wash kits, and fire extinguishers are positioned so they are easily accessible.


From wrenches, to sockets, to punches, to screwdrivers, to grease guns, the list of hand held tools in a shop is near about endless. When you add in all of the power tools the list is even longer. Without some form of organization amongst all the tools and parts, a shop will become a wreck in no time.

Adjustable stationary work benches, tool boxes, peg boards, storage bins, shelves, and cabinets are a few things available to help with this issue. Study all the options and utilize what you feel will provide the easiest way for you to keep things in order.


A cement floor in today’s progressive ranch shops is pretty much mandatory. It is a good idea to include drains with adequate screens so the floors can be easily washed down. When pouring a floor, some ranchers may want to look into actually digging and framing up a pit so they can easily work on the underside of equipment without the need of a lift or hoist.

Good lighting is a must in a shop. Acquiring natural light through windows, doors, and skylights is an option, but these features don’t do much good when you are trying to get something fixed at night.

“High pressure sodium and metal halide lights are efficient choices if the lights will be used for long periods of time,” says Bryan Moore with Morton Buildings. “Fluorescent and incandescent lighting are more conducive to low light usage.”

In most cases it pays to install more lighting and electrical plugs than you ever think you will need on both the inside and the outside of the shop. Temperature control is another issue that must be considered. Properly insulated shops are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer compared to non-insulated buildings.

“Most farm shops are insulated. To reduce heat loss through doors and windows, most customers choose insulated overhead, bifold and hydraulic doors with weather seals,” says Moore. For those looking for more climate control, heaters, fans, and AC units designed specifically for outbuildings are an option. An outdoor wood furnace may be a good fit for ranchers who have plenty of access to wood.

These units also heat the water which can be an added benefit. Heated floors may be expensive, but they sure do a good job of making the building comfortable to work in. Ranchers may want to consider building a wash rack outside a little ways from their shop to spray off their equipment before bringing it in to be worked on or serviced. An air compressor stationed outside away from the shop doors is also a good way to blow off dirt and chaff without getting the equipment wet and helps to keep the shop cleaner.

If large amounts of used oil and other mechanical fluids will be collected in the shop, ranchers should look into incorporating some form of waste storage tank into the design and layout of their building. This will allow ranchers to collect the waste so it can properly be disposed of.

Despite efforts to keep things clean, it is impossible to avoid grease, oil, and dirt in a shop. A sink and shower can certainly come in handy. Some may want to go as far as putting in a full restroom and a washing machine designated for work clothes and grease rags.


When building and stocking your dream shop the following are a few companies and products WR suggests you check out:


Morton Buildings’ post-frame buildings are highly-engineered, strong, wood-framed structures that make ideal shops for ranchers. From the foundation to the fasteners, every component in a Morton building has been engineered to work together to provide great building strength.

Morton Buildings utilizes clear-span construction which allows the interior of the building to be wide open with endless layout possibilities. Morton offers a wide variety of building styles and features including doors, windows, and paint colors. A local Morton Buildings sales consultant is the primary source of contact for the customer from concept to completion.

When a plumber, electrician, heating/cooling professional or other subcontractor is needed, Morton hires them and oversees their work on the customer’s behalf. Visit their site at


If you need to get under something, this Roughneck™ Manual Chain Hoist from Northern Tool + Equipment’s® is ideal for the job as it is compact enough to stow away when not in use but powerful enough to lift 2 tons to a height of 10 feet. It is an ideal choice for pulling engines, moving heavy equipment, effortlessly loading tanks and pumps, lifting ATVs onto pickups, and a variety of other tasks.

The Roughneck™ manual chain hoist features steel-cast housing and Grade 80 chain. The black finish lift chain is rust resistant and durable, while the zincplated pull chain also resists rust. The different colors of these two chains make identification easy.

An automatic double pawl braking systems secures loads at any height. The swivel hooks are assembled with high-strength locking features and an enclosed gear housing making this hoist suitable for outdoor use. The Roughneck™ manual chain hoist is tested at 150% load capacity to ensure it can withstand the rigors it is put through. Go to for more info.


Need to slice through some steel? Hobart’s AirForce™ 250ci Plasma Cutter uses an electrical arc and compressed air to cut steel, aluminum, and other conductive metals. A builtin air compressor and lightweight inverter power supply makes this plasma cutter one of the most convenient, totally portable cutting systems available.

Weighing only 27 pounds, the AirForce™ 250ci Plasma cutter is easy to handle. The AirForce™ 250ci excels at cutting sheet metal and 1/8” mild steel. It can even sever ¼” steel. Head over to for more on these units. TWECO® Check out this combo welder from Tweco®. The Fabricator® 252i MIGStick-TIG welder is a 3-in-1 welder that welds metal up to ½” thick in a single pass.

This unit enables users to choose the best process for the project they are working on. Its MIG and gas-shielded flux cored outputs provide maximum productivity in the shop. The stick and self-shielded flux cored process work great in windy and outdoor conditions, as well as on rusty or dirty metal. The DC TIG process enables users to weld stainless, copper, nickel, bronze, brass, alloys, or on applications requiring precise control over heat input and weld bead placement.

The Fabricator 252i features power factor correction (PFC), which lowers the unit’s primary current draw and enables it to provide full output on a 50-amp circuit. The Fabricator 252i tolerates voltage fluctuations from 187 to 276 VAC, which makes it especially suited for running off any generator (including PTO-driven units) that supplies at least 8.2 kVA (6.6 kW) of power.


Harbor Freight Tools stocks over 7,000 items in categories including automotive, air and power tools, shop equipment, welding and hand tools. Their Central Machinery® line provides a lot of useful items for a ranch shop. To name a few, Central Machinery’s 17” Floor Mount Drill Press is an all-purpose drill press that is ideal for ranch needs. A heavy duty ball bearing motor with 16 speeds makes drilling a wide variety of materials possible.

This floor drill press comes with an adjustable depth stop and gauge, an oiler with a flex-tube, and a lamp. Central Machinery offers an 8” Bench Grinder that has a rugged capacitor start motor, builds up to speed instantly, and provides plenty of power to avoid stalling while grinding. Steel seated ball bearings support the motor shaft for long wear. T

his bench grinder comes equipped with medium and coarse grinding wheels, large adjustable eye shield, spark deflectors, adjustable tool rests, and a flexible gooseneck lamp for optimal visibility. Central Machinery also manufactures a 20 Gallon Parts Washer. With a high flow, recirculating pump, this washer provides, a safe, convenient station for cleaning small parts and tools.

The pump circulates solvent at 5-1/4 GPM, while the heat-resistant lid closes automatically in case of fire. The washer is constructed of heavy duty welded steel and includes a heavy duty steel stand with storage shelf. The washer itself has a removable parts shelf and parts basket. Hit ‘em up at


Known for industry-changing innovation, PORTER-CABLE introduced the world’s first helical drive circular saw, portable band saw, and portable belt sander. PORTER-CABLE’s 7.5 Amp 1/2” impact wrench (PCE210) delivers 240 ftlbs of max torque for heavy-duty applications, as well as up to 2,700 impactsper-minute, and up to 2,200 revolutions-per-minute.

A forward/reverse rocker trigger switch proves an easy transition between fastening and loosening applications. Cast metal gear housing helps dissipate heat buildup for added durability during heavy-duty application. This impact wrench comes with a hog ring anvil to allow for fast and easy accessory changes. At only 7 pounds, this tool is lightweight and compact making it user friendly.

PORTER-CABLE’s 15 Amp 7-1/4” Heavy Duty Circular Saw (PC15TCS) has a motor that delivers power and torque through the toughest application. This lightweight saw only weighs 11.3 pounds which minimizes handler fatigue. A 45 degree bevel capacity creates range of application. A stamped steel shoe with optimum line of sight provides accurate cuts and durable construction.

A spindle lock feature allows for single wrench bit changes, and the kerf cut indicator aligns the blade to the indicator for accurate line cuts. As far as cordless tools go, ranchers might find PORTER-CABLE’s Reciprocating Tiger Saw™ – PCC670B, 6-1/2” Circular Saw – PCC660B, Oscillating Tool – PCC710B, Cut-OFF Tool/Grinder – PCC761B, Jigsaw – PCC650B, and the Pivoting Flashlight – PCC700B to be of interest. The whole enchilada is at

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