Shop Damage - Lightning - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-01-2020, 09:50 AM Thread Starter
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Shop Damage - Lightning

I felt like I was jacking Tony B's thread on the Shop Fire subject.
in post #2 of his thread, I mentioned I experienced a lightning strike on my shop.
this is that story:

I finally bought a film scanner so the first project was to scan the negatives of the Lightning Strike that I mentioned in post #2 above.
at that time, I was a 10 meter ham radio enthusiast and there was a 50 foot tall pine tree right outside of my shop. I paid a tree climber to pull up a stick style antenna and fastened it to the top of the tree.
the coax cable came into the window where I had the 10m radio temporarily. for some reason, I quit the radio, coiled up the coax cable and put it on top of the fence between the pine tree and the shop. (maybe a 5 foot distance).
about 9:00 pm one night, I was working late in the office and I heard this strange voice in my spirit:
"John - it's time to go home". there was a bad storm approaching so I packed it up and went home.
(the shop was on the home property, so it was just a short walk).
about 10:00 pm, we heard this LOUD lightning strike out front of the house and all the power went off.
we thought that lightning had hit a power pole so we just went to bed and would deal with it in the morning.
walking out to the shop the next morning, this is what I found: lightning had hit the antenna in the pine tree, ran down the coax cable until it came to the coiled up part on top of the fence. seeking a better ground, I think it found that the electric outlet wires in the wall a better ground so it jumped through the shop wall, splitting the corner open big enough to put my hand through. there was evidence that the lightning bolt had entered the office and circled all 4 walls of the room. I had a phone line running underground from the office into the house. the lightning charge followed that line into my home and popped the main box. it burned up all the electronics in the shop and inside my home that was plugged into the wall. fortunately, and by the Grace of God, nobody was injured (or killed).
if I had stayed a few more minutes in the office, I certainly would have been killed right there on the spot.
you hear stories about people hearing the Voice of God. I can tell you, it is not a verbal voice that we here, it is a feeling in our spirit. (you will know it when it happens).
anyway - the moral to the story is to really ensure your workspace is grounded properly and adhere to all electrical codes and safety measures. they are in place for a reason.
you can see in the photos where the pink insulation was turned to soot. and a few items were burned and a small fire on the desk. this could have resulted in a bad, bad fire.

Shop Damage - Lightning-1.jpg

Shop Damage - Lightning-2.jpg

Shop Damage - Lightning-3.jpg

Shop Damage - Lightning-3a.jpg

Shop Damage - Lightning-4.jpg

Shop Damage - Lightning-5.jpg

only the office had to have the wires in the walls removed and replaced.
the lightning charge did not enter the workshop area.
the insurance company came out and did the evaluation and I got reimbursed
for the damages.
the building inspector said to just squeeze the corner back together and bolt it.
since it was not a dwelling, and considered an outbuilding, there was no code
to follow. all in all, I dodged a bullet all the way around.

thanks for reading !!


I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things.
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-01-2020, 10:51 AM
where's my table saw?
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Lightning strike Central!

Florida is the most lightning prone state in the Union with 25 per sq mile.

Anyone into ham radio shouldn't live there..... just sayin'.
There's probably a good way to short circuit the strike to a ground rod ... I donno? ... better that than the wiring in your shop and home.

I live in the wood with a bunch of 60 to 70 foot Oak trees withiin feet from the house, so they would get struck before the house, at least that's my "theory". I've thought about lightning rods, but that a back burner project. I'll take another look at it ..... someday?

Glad all turned out for the best in spite of the damage!

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)
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-01-2020, 03:00 PM
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Wow, John! Glad it worked out for you. That's a tough hit!



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post #4 of 8 Old 03-01-2020, 06:08 PM
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Worked on a house that took a direct lighting strike. The amount of damage done was unbelievable. 2x12 rafters shattered, about half the electrical fried, phone lines were vaporized, two phones were blown into pieces, a slate entry way broken were the lighting left the frame of the house to ground. There was more but that was some of the highlights.
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post #5 of 8 Old 03-01-2020, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Florida is the most lightning prone state in the Union with 25 per sq mile.

Anyone into ham radio shouldn't live there..... just sayin'.

The house we used to own, someone was into ham before we got there and there was a massive antenna on the roof. Someone had put up a wooden phone pole next to the shop with an even taller lightning rod on top. We never had to worry about it, especially after I pulled down that antenna.
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-02-2020, 08:26 AM
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You were very lucky. Glad the damage wasn't much worse.
BTW, 10M was my favorite band. KC5SDI. Only operated when I was working offshore.

Tony B

Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-02-2020, 09:38 AM Thread Starter
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this was my first experience of "close by" lightning strikes.
since then, I have had four more "near by" hits that I actually
felt the electricity in the air. one even knocked me to my knees.
so with 5 "experiences" under my belt, you can understand how
I get the heebie-jeebies with every clap of thunder in my area.
and like Woodnthings said - Florida is the lightning capitol of the world.
now, when I heard the voice: "John - it's time to go home" I went home.
but - I often wonder what would have happened if the voice had said:
John - it's time to "come home" - and my wife would have found my
charred body slumped over the desk.
I have a very profound respect for lightning !! (and electricity in general).
when I see people wiring things in their shop or home that clearly
presents a danger, I speak up. I never quote the Code Book,
I speak of the " WHAT IF " scenario.
just take your time when messing with electricity and be smart about it.
(granted - putting an 18ft Shakespeare Marine Big Stick Antenna "lightning rod"
in the top of a really tall pine tree is not the best idea I've ever had).

I used to do a lot of surf fishing on Florida's East Coast. . . . . .
guess how long I stayed around after this photo was taken.
metal chairs - metal umbrella poles - wet sand - bare feet in the water. . . .

Shop Damage - Lightning-yan-stormy-beach.jpg


I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things.

Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 03-02-2020 at 09:57 AM. Reason: added photo
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-02-2020, 11:50 AM
Mark Jones Ozark
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41 years working for a major communications company as a lineman in the communications aspect. I have seen balls of blue lightning rolling on past me or have seen what happens when it hits....I have seen hundreds of lightning shots and High Voltage Power line damage over these years.

I have been knocked down by it. Yes I did pee my pants. However after that incident as a young man I learned to get back in the truck when it's heading our way. Being caught outside on a Backpacking trip where no vehicle or shelter is with in reach makes these storms very real in the don't be in the path to ground.

I have seen dirt blown out of the ground 18" deep all the way around a 6 feet wide tree. Seen metal welded, fences welded. Siding blown off houses. Metal covers blown off boxes. Screw in fuses blown out of the sockets. Phones smoked and blown to pieces. I have done grounding mitigation tests.

Bottom line is check your grounding. Make sure it's tight AND GET OUT OF THE WAY.
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