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(Not) feeling the heat – Part one

I gotta do something about the temperature of my shop.

Winter’s approaching (it’s here next week!), so it’s no surprise my basement shop’s getting colder. But as I get older, my tolerance to cold isn’t as good as it once was. Put those two things together, and I have to address the issue.


Being cold in the shop isn’t a new thing. In certain latitudes many woodworkers suffer the chills this time of year. My garage shop back in West Virginia was especially susceptible, but I dealt with it. Initially, all that meant was better sealing around the garage doorframe, not opening the door in winter, and supplementing warmth in some manner.

Early on I used a kerosene heater that, although a bit smelly, did the trick. In my last five years there, however, I had a gas line plumbed into the shop and added a real heater for odorless warmth that was awesome. In truth, summer heat when the garage could go up to the 90s was the real issue there. (That was easier to address. I just worked half naked…)

But here in Pennsylvania it’s the opposite. My basement never gets hot in the summer – in fact, my shop is wonderfully comfortable for seven months out of the year – but boy does it get chilly in winter. Left alone, the temperature gets down to the low 50s. Now, that’s not terrible, and my shop hoodie kept most of my body toasty. But my hands just don’t take the cold like they used to, and it’s just not safe to wear thick gloves while woodworking.

As with most basements, however, all the heating ducts are on the ceiling so it was no issue to cut in two additional vents in my main work area, which went a long way to making things more comfortable. But that was when we moved in four years ago. Since then, I’ve not only expanded into areas not serviced by the ducts, but a touch of arthritis in my hands has lessened my cold tolerance even more.

But I don’t know enough about HVAC things to know if I can simply cut in more vents, and a kerosene heater is out of the question here. We woodworkers tend to be general home handymen (and women), but this is one of those times I need to get someone in here who really knows what they’re doing. It’ll be a very long winter otherwise.

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