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Ideal Workshop Environment

magnus02

Member
Messages
2,912
Looking for some input on what type of environment (temperature and humidity ranges) is ideal for a workshop for building guitars from the ground up.

I'm in Colorado (Aspen area) and am looking into a few potential spaces but some are pretty bare bones and I'm concerned that I need more control over temperature and humidity than these spots will give me. Maybe I'm overthinking this because my day job is growing plants in a highly automated environment but I don't want to make the mistake of setting this up in the wrong place. I'd be building and painting and doing all processes in house (hopefully!).

So...
- ideal temperature range?
- ideal humidity range?
- thoughts on space requirements to build batches of up to 6 guitars at a time?

Any other general requirements I should be considering? I'm sure there's tons I'm missing. I'm a newb but very motivated!

Thanks in advance for any input!

Steve
 

B. Howard

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,211
RH is the most important as it is what the wood will respond and move with. I target 45% RH in my shop +/- 5%. I would rather have it to the low side than the high. Temperature should be what is comfortable for the worker. I find 70-74 F to be good for me.

As for space take what you think you need and double it.
 

Laurent Brondel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,998
Acoustic or electric?
For acoustic guitars you want a very well insulated shop with good moisture barrier. I like to keep mine at 40% RH / 72ºF. When I close soundboxes I like RH to be at 30%, below 35% in any case.
The warmer it is, the longer open time you have for hot hide glue if that is a concern. RH is critical, temp not so much except warmer temps naturally keep more moisture in the air, and vice-versa.
FYI relative humidity (RH) is not the same as humidity given by weather forecasts, buy a good and well calibrated hygrometer.
 

magnus02

Member
Messages
2,912
Guys, thanks so much for the help. I feel like the double the expected space comment is probably a great rule of thumb. Does anyone know of any spots online where people post layouts of their workshops? I'm an operations/efficiency nut and things like this fascinate me.

Sorry to be a little vague on what I'll be doing though, here are some more details:
- solid body electrics and semi-hollow electrics
- I definitely only think in RH (humidity is useless in the greenhouse as well)

Also, any special requirements for painting/finishing or just the same guidelines?
 

Laurent Brondel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,998
Also, any special requirements for painting/finishing or just the same guidelines?
Yes, all finishes benefit from a dry / warm environment for best and fastest cure.
Oil varnish, for example, should not be sprayed or brushed when RH exceeds 60% as the moisture in the film will slow down curing, and may even compromise it.
For any finish you may spray, you should build a spray booth with exhaust fan and apply all the corresponding safety procedures, for you and your environment.

Look at luthiers websites, most have extensive build diaries where you can see pics of the respective shops, and how we do things. Frank Ford's frets.com is worth a deep look, although it is more repair oriented. There's plenty on the web, google is your friend. Most builders openly share their methods.
 

PB Wilson

Member
Messages
815
Don't feel that you'd have to have complete climate control throughout the entire shop. Your energy bills might keep you up at night.

Many woodworkers section off their shops into a few spaces: machinery, wood storage, assembly, finishing...

Your wood storage and machinery spaces could be a bit more flexible when it comes to temperature and humidity. Your assembly area and finishing booth could be more controlled. The wood you will use in the upcoming year or next batch of projects could go from the regular storage area into a drier and warmer spot as is gets down to the range mentioned above. You can do this on the cheap (plastic sheeting in one section with a dehumidifier and fan can work amazingly well) or get into building a well-insulated, well-heated and properly ventilated room with drywall, studs and perhaps a window so you don't feel like you are in solitary confinement.

Taunton Press (Fine Woodworking magazine's publisher) has a few books devoted to workshops that you can probably find in your local library. One book even focuses on luthiers and their shops.

Good luck!
 




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