New Shop - Steel Cargo Container? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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New Shop - Steel Cargo Container?

I am presently using my large garage as a shop in warm months and a small 12' X 12' heated shop for small projects in the winter. Since I recently retired, I need a dedicated woodworking shop.

I have become intrigued with the idea of building with steel cargo/shipping containers. Here is the description of the containers from a related site.

The Strongest Box In The World
So what is this incredible box that faces wind, rain, salt, typhoons, extreme weight, dropping and bumping for years?

The common ISO Shipping container is 20' or 40' long; 8' wide; and 8'6" tall. The taller version named HQ, which means
a High Cube (HQ) is the same dimensions but 1 foot taller. 20x8x9'6" or 40x8x9'6" -
∑ A special stronger steel named Corten steel that won't rust or corrode
∑ Mold resistant
∑ The Corten steel is used inside and out and is also stronger than normal steel
∑ A 1.24" plywood floor made of hardwood. Either teak, birch, or keruing laminates to withstand tons of internal weight
∑ Extremely adaptive to the most efficient Eco insulations

I am thinking 2 - 40' containers set side by side on steel re-enforced concrete piers with the containers welded to the piers. Weld the containers together, remove the center wall, pour concrete floor with embedded hot water tubing, install a man door, install windows, install metal wall studs in some or all of the interior, install electrical, plumbing & HVAC, then spray foam all the walls & ceiling before finish work. This would give me a 16' X 40' work area and could easily be expanded in the future. I would leave one set of end doors functioning for moving in material and removing large projects. The exterior could be painted or covered with metal and a gabled metal roof for a more attractive appearance. Since the containers are weather proof the exterior finish could be completed at a later date. My son and I have all the equipment and experience to preform all needed construction.

Have any forum members built with or had experience with these containers? There are a number of sites that will give free quotes for purchase and delivery. Until I've investigated this type of construction more, I am afraid that I will be swamped with emails or calls if I request a quote.

Last edited by MoHawk; 02-13-2012 at 03:33 PM.
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post #2 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 03:30 PM
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Sounds like a plan. Have you researched semi trailers also? They go to 53' and are also 8' wide, don't know the height. Remove the axles and do to them what you would do the the shipping containers.

I imagine that the price would be somewhat cheaper for the trailers.
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post #3 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 03:42 PM
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My company rents those cargo containers to store materials/tools on the jobsite. I have often wondered the same thing regarding making some sort of jobsite office space out of it or what not. I like your idea about putting two of them together, but I don't think you can take the entire sidewall out without putting some sort of support in the middle. I know they are made completely of very heavy gauge steel, but if any water were to pool up there, it probably would weight it down, thereby getting more water and eventually collapsing it, or at least bringing the ceiling down a bit. I like the idea of putting some sort of roof truss over it to weather proof it, and welding the sides together, but again your welds would have to be water tight.

I would think that after you do all the work that you said in your original post , that it would be cheaper to pour a slab and stick build your shop.

I dunno, but I think it would just be easier to do that.

Fabian

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I used to be fairly indecisive, but now....... I'm not so sure.

Last edited by thegrgyle; 02-13-2012 at 03:45 PM.
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post #4 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 03:46 PM
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I've had a similar idea..

My idea was to use 2 containers, space them 12 or 14ft apart, build a gable roof using trusses on top. Concrete the floor in the middle leaving the floor of the containers as is. It's nice to work on a wood floor. The concrete area could have in floor heating and all the heavy equipment could go there. The containers could be used for storage, and specialized work metal operations, ..etc.
I don't think I'd take out the entire 40' walls only portions and replace with sliding glass doors. Three units place in a U would be great. A center room with skylights would be awesome! Four units in a rectangle would be a "compound" I'm in! The Doomsday Preppers are using them for compounds. bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-13-2012 at 03:49 PM.
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post #5 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 04:53 PM
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I know I'm new to the forums, but I figured I would input my two cents here.

First, the "won't rust or corrode" line is bull. I've seen many containers from many different manufacturers and haven't seen a single one that's seen some time that's rust-free. More rust resistant than a lot of steels, but definitely not impervious.

Also, every one I've been in is just plywood screwed to the metal bracing underneath. The metal walls are just that, a sheet of metal. They are definitely tough, I've watched forklift forks go through and all you get is a hole barely bigger than the fork and that takes a good bit of force to do.

As far as building from them, do a google search for "containerized housing unit" (link). It has been done before to many different degrees. I'd just say look around and get some ideas. I've been doing it off and on for a year or so now, I think they would make a great hunting shack or small shop myself.

Hope that helped some.
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post #6 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 05:01 PM
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My "neighbor" (3/4 mile down the road) has had one in her back acreage for years. I don't know what she stores in it, I haven't had the nerve to ask her. She's almost as ornery as I am, so I have a sneaking suspicion it might be the remains of traveling bible salesmen. It's not rusted out yet or collapsed. I've never seen the top, but the side I can see from the road is still as shiny as the first time I laid eyes on it. But this is AZ and we get a short monsoon season followed by a long dry spell.

I would worry more about the heat than rust. At least a quonset hut has the curved roof you can put an exhaust fan on and draw out the air, but that square box would be like working in a toaster oven turned up one notch above tater-tots.

Insert witty signature line here.
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post #7 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 05:16 PM
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.....

Last edited by user27606; 02-24-2012 at 12:41 PM.
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post #8 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carpenter547 View Post
many companies i've worked for have used con ex for lock ups.
many neighbours have used them as work shops.
both are excelent single container uses
things to consider with em
while they are quite strong as a single unit once you startcutting on them they get weak fast. i would use colums in the center where you cut and weld them together. when you join them you will double the span of your roof and double the sag.

if there is heavy rain or snow where you plan on doing this i would advise against it. unless you seriously redo the roof on it.

when you weld on cortain steel it rusts really bad. really bad. it also gets very weak.

those conex boxes also seem to magify the exterior weather if its hot out side it will be hotter in box if its cold out side brass monkeys will sing sopprano inside.

the reenforcing on the conex boxes is on the corners. not the sides just a little info for you.

hope it helps and not ment to discourage at all.
This post is a good discussion of the many problems you would run into converting these containers to a serious shop.

They are good for storage, but leave then alone for inhabiting.

George
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post #9 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 05:40 PM
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A friend of mine sent these photos to me last month. He knows I like the unusual. I have no idea who's house this is or where it's located, but it sure is ingenious! You might get a couple of ideas for your shop from these. Enjoy!!

First container delivered:


Both containers positioned on site:

Welded together:

Floor Plan:

Archway cut between the two:

The piece cut from the archway being positioned above the eventual front door:

Exterior sprayed with something thick. Not sure what was used:

Paint, rough landscaping, window and door layout:

Interior framing:

Ceiling insulation and rough electric:

Bedrooms framed:

Furnishings:

Kitchen and eating area:

Viola! A nice little place. Would make an excellent cabin or retreat:
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post #10 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegrgyle View Post
I would think that after you do all the work that you said in your original post , that it would be cheaper to pour a slab and stick build your shop.

I dunno, but I think it would just be easier to do that.

Fabian
+1. I think so too. Containers would be difficult to move or remove. They will be a pressure cooker in the summer. At a time when I moved my shop, I needed an intermediary location for a short while. I thought about containers, but tried something else. I called several trailer parks and found several travel trailers for free. Some of them were abandoned and had to be removed. So I got a 40' for free. It was an easy tow, and once in place blocked up the frame.

I gutted the interior, and found out it was too small to do any amount of work, but was great for tool and machine storage. It was water tight, had A/C, electrical and plumbing if I needed it.






.
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post #11 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnK007 View Post
A friend of mine sent these photos to me last month. He knows I like the unusual. I have no idea who's house this is or where it's located, but it sure is ingenious! You might get a couple of ideas for your shop from these. Enjoy!!

First container delivered:


Both containers positioned on site:

Welded together:

Floor Plan:

Archway cut between the two:

The piece cut from the archway being positioned above the eventual front door:

Exterior sprayed with something thick. Not sure what was used:

Paint, rough landscaping, window and door layout:

Interior framing:

Ceiling insulation and rough electric:

Bedrooms framed:

Furnishings:

Kitchen and eating area:

Viola! A nice little place. Would make an excellent cabin or retreat:

From the looks of that, it looks like the same type of spray foam that they use on the insides of buildings. It is the best insulation you can get when framing a house... It is a bear to run something in the wall after it is in though. That spray foam probably helps with keeping the temp somewhat regulated, though it only looks as if it is only 1" thick....

Fabian

Fabian

I used to be fairly indecisive, but now....... I'm not so sure.
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post #12 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 06:34 PM
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Seems like you could build it for cheaper. You are looking at about $8,000 just for the containers. I think you could pay for framing, siding an roofing materials for that amount. Unless you have an inside scoop for some decently straight (not banged up) containers for cheaper.

Seems like it would be a good idea but is it?

JohnK007: that is a pretty cool house setup, I must say though. I would be curious to see how he waterproofed where the two mated together.

-luke
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post #13 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by <*(((>< View Post
...... I would be curious to see how he waterproofed where the two mated together.
Looks like he welded a strip between the two along the top. Can't quite tell for sure. I left this photo out originally because I thought my post was getting a little too long. You're right about the cost easily getting out of hand. It all depends how cheap you can find the containers. A building department willing to think out-of-the-box would be helpful too. (Fabian, can you imagine your town or mine approving permits for something like this? )

Last edited by JohnK007; 02-13-2012 at 06:54 PM.
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post #14 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 07:36 PM
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I hear you there, John.... They would have a heyday, that is for sure.

AS far as waterproofing that joint, it can be done with a weld, ifyou know what you are doing, and the thickness of the two pieces of mating steel are thick enough.... After all, battleships are just enormous hunks of steel, right. I know a welder that can weld aluminum cans together, and have them water tight. I have seen it, but that man had some skill.

Also, If they used foam, like I speculated, that stuff is waterproof, so it "might" help with that aspect as well.

That is a cool set up though... be a nice hunting cabin, I suppose, as long as it has heat.

Fabian

Fabian

I used to be fairly indecisive, but now....... I'm not so sure.
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post #15 of 17 Old 02-13-2012, 07:45 PM
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Last edited by user27606; 02-24-2012 at 12:42 PM.
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post #16 of 17 Old 02-14-2012, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by MoHawk View Post
I have become intrigued with the idea of building with steel cargo/shipping containers. Here is the description of the containers from a related site.
I've though about this also.

They are available cheaply used and you stack 'em in every direction and can weld them together to make a larger space and just plasma torch out the inner walls. you can seal leaks in the joints with expanding foam. You can put a fascade roof on 'em and siding to make the neighbors happy. The floors are hardwood. They are already square. All you need is a crane to lift them up if you want to double stack 'em they can be insulated and they are fire proof.

Oh and they stop most pistol rounds
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post #17 of 17 Old 02-14-2012, 11:53 AM
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no ...no they dont stop pistol rounds.

......

Last edited by user27606; 02-24-2012 at 12:42 PM.
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