Darle Baker’s crystal ball must have been firing on all cylinders when he built his shop in 1979 because, with only a few modifications, he would build it the same way again.
The 50'x64' building, with 14' eaves, offers room for the Ohio City, Ohio, corn and soybean grower to work on three projects at once, which he considers ideal. "I can bring in both of my planters and tractors, as well as another implement," says Baker, who operates 20' planting and harvesting equipment. "My Gleaner combine will come inside with the bin extensions up."
In the spring, Baker uses one corner of the shop to store seed, close to where he works on his planters.
Machinery enters through two bi-fold doors—30'x12' and 13½'x24' in size. "Originally, the small door on the end of the building was a sliding door, but I wanted something that sealed better and could be controlled remotely, from a truck or cab," Baker says. "Being able to open the door from inside the cab is really nice when you’re bringing in machinery at night.
"The big door in the side originally was two overhead doors," Baker continues. "But they covered up some of the lights when they were open. So I took out the center post and put in a wide bi-fold door.
"Bi-fold doors provide shelter from the rain or shade from the sun, if you want to work outside," he adds.
The right temperature to work. An overhead radiant heater warms the shop. "A setting of 40°F is adequate, and 45°F is really comfortable," Baker says. "At 50°F, you start taking off layers of clothing."
The shop is insulated, but there’s no inner lining on the walls. "A liner creates an echo effect," Baker explains.
"I’ve thought about adding a through-the-wall air conditioner," he says. "I usually work with the doors closed, which keeps insects out, especially at night. It wouldn’t require a big unit because the cool air would stay down low. Just a little moving air would make a big difference."
Light comes from 21 banks of 8', 110-watt, cold-start fluorescent bulbs. There are five banks of bulbs over each of the three bays and six banks over the work area, which contains Baker’s
tables, tools and welders.
Baker started out with several workbenches but has cut back to one metal table for all jobs, including welding.
"I once thought I could never have too many benches, but I discovered that jobs accumulated on them. Limiting your work space enforces discipline," he adds.
If he has a job involving long pieces of metal, Baker rolls a second metal table into place alongside the main table.
The shop gets lots of use. Baker is a devoted do-it-yourselfer, and some of his inventions and machinery modifications have been featured in Farm Journal. He prides himself on keeping his tractors in top shape and running them for many years (although with up-to-date modifications, such as RTK auto-guidance).
"If I were building the shop today, I would go with 16' eaves instead of 14'," he says. "I would make the building 60' wide and both doors 30' wide. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change much."