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Hi folks,

I'm in the early stages of getting my home shop set up. I just finished assembling my table saw and want to launch into my first project (I need to take the groove off of some tongue and groove flooring so that I can do some patches in my living room).

I'm somewhat worried about the floor of my basement shop. I live in an old house in Boston and my basement is a compacted dirt floor with some of the concrete pebbles I associate with early turn of the century concrete builds. The floor is pretty tough but there are bumps in it and it's not level.

Am I going to encounter issues if my table saw isn't completely level? Are there safety concerns? Have any of you figured out solutions for dealing with this type of issue.

I was thinking about laying down sheets of plywood but I thought I'd check here first to see if anyone has any better ideas/solutions.

Thanks!
 

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Hi folks,

I'm in the early stages of getting my home shop set up. I just finished assembling my table saw and want to launch into my first project (I need to take the groove off of some tongue and groove flooring so that I can do some patches in my living room).

I'm somewhat worried about the floor of my basement shop. I live in an old house in Boston and my basement is a compacted dirt floor with some of the concrete pebbles I associate with early turn of the century concrete builds. The floor is pretty tough but there are bumps in it and it's not level.

Am I going to encounter issues if my table saw isn't completely level? Are there safety concerns? Have any of you figured out solutions for dealing with this type of issue.

I was thinking about laying down sheets of plywood but I thought I'd check here first to see if anyone has any better ideas/solutions.

Thanks!
I grew up in a house with a dirt floor basement. For a long time the gound was leveled with sand and covered with felt paper. It worked remarkably well. As long as it was just walked on it worked alright. The seams were glued together with something but I was too little to know what adhesive was used. Probably plastic cement would work. You might try it. Even if you put plywood down you will need a moisture barrier anyway.

My dad finally put in a concrete floor. I don't know how he did it. It was more than a thousand square feet and he mixed all the cement with a hoe. Funny, he didn't use any remesh or rebar and that was almost 50 years ago and the floor is still in perfect condition.
 

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My "shop" also has a dirt floor inside a Morton metal shed. Only have a miter saw and a circular saw, so I don't have the issues you do with table saw, etc. For my bench, I use large concrete pavers that are about 3" thick. Level them and then put the bench on top.

One thing you might consider for your table saw is to excavate out some of the soil and then pour a small concrete pad for the saw.

Definite issues with safety, primarily I would think with tripping/stumbling on the uneven floor. Would also be concerned with any power tool sitting on uneven floor and possibility of moving/shifting while in use.
 

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One thing is certain, you will want to make sure your table saw doesn't wobble as that is a big safety issue (binding blades etc).

You could figure out the best placement and just form up a small enough slab for the table saw to set solid and level. Easy peasy. You could also do some sand as if you were preparing to lay pavers and use some plywood or large pavers on it.

Doesn't this dirt floor result in lots of moisture in your basement ?
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Doesn't this dirt floor result in lots of moisture in your basement ?
I'm not sure to be completely honest. This is our first year in the house. We haven't seen any standing water, but we had some books packed down there and they're looking like they're ready to turn. I also stumbled upon a bundle of hardwood flooring from presumably three years ago and it looked a little off color and like it had taken in a lot of moisture.

It's not ideal. But I'm not convinced it's wise to finish off the basement either. We live on a steep hill and there could easily be drainage issues. It's one of those, if it's not broke don't fix it things that you encounter with an old house.

Should I expect the moisture to shorten the life of my tools?
 

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I would go buy a Radon test kit from home store first. Most likely marginal Radon in basement. IF so, have a subfloor installed with Radon vent that will also vent moisture outside. Just make floor plenty sturdy for your tools. Mind boggling.. I know.
 

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I know all about old NE homes and dirt floors. How high is the ceiling is a determining factor to solving your problem. I know if your home is an old colonial home, you have a short basement.

My shop is under my NH barn and at best, it was a half basement with crawl space in the corners. I dug out the space by hand and put down some vapor barriers, a 2X4 PT frame and plywood floor. I need to run a DE-humidifier during the non heating months to keep the moister level down... but the bare plywood flooring helps absorb some of the moister. It's been good for 13 years and no sign of rotting.

My ceiling space is a bit short at 7ft 3in, but I've learned to live with it. The floor has (and always has had from day 1) a bit of a bounce in places, but that easy on my back and legs. The tools and benches are very stable which is a must. Level ? I don't really know as they are level enough to work. The table tops are flat and stable which is great. Don't sweat the minor "out of level" as long as you have stability.
 

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location?

Radon test? Freeze thaw cycles? drainage issues? moisture in the "soil"? Content of the soils? Gravel/sand/dirt? Type of foundation walls, block or stone? It all makes a difference.

I would dig down several feet and see what conditions you have. Is there any moisture down there? What the soil like?

If it's dry and packed solid, then I would put in a 1" - 2" base of dry sand, followed by a sheet of 6 mil Visqueen, followed by another thin layer of sand and then lay sheets of sheathing down. You want "exterior glue" only. Let the Visqueen wrap up the edges of the walls and make the edges tight against them as possible. You could lay down 2 x 4 "sleepers" and frame it on top also. You could lay down a 1" or 2" thick layer of insulating foam and then put your ply or sheathing on top for less heat loss /cold infiltration. Sheathing will have tongue and groove edges for better flatness and less movement at the seams. Put any PVC pipes in for dust collection or plumbing or wiring in at this time! :yes:

My house is slab on grade construction and I basically followed the same procedure, sand, Visqueen, 2" foam, more sand and then 5" concrete. It's comfortable all year 'round. :yes:
 

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I don't know how it would compare but I wonder how the cost of doing concrete from the start would compare with the labor and materials of all this sand and plywood. You're talking about at least a few inches of buildup so the height loss won't be much different.

If it were me, assuming you can afford to give up some ceiling height, I'd spend some time with a pick ax knocking down the high spots and determine my finished floor height. Divide the basement into a grid for manageable concrete pours. Determine table saw placement and poor that section first. Once that is dry you can use the table saw and finish the rest of the floor as time or money allows. Having one section dry gives you a reference for screeding off the other sections and the finished floor will make the basement much more useful and add value.

Of course, checking into the radon and drainage are also advisable.
 
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