Author Archives: bloom

Does my dream shed need planning permission?

(Last modified: June 20th, 2019)

Shed planning drawings

The humble garden shed has had something of a renaissance in recent years. Once a dusty dumping ground for tools, lawnmowers and anything without a home in the house, today’s sheds are as weird and wonderful as their owners’ imagination.

They even star in their own TV show. Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year is now onto its fourth series and has showcased everything from a shed made from wine bottles to a Nepalese mountain hut in Bolton.

One of the main reasons why sheds are so popular (and their owners can be so creative) is that they don’t require planning permission. As long as you follow the official guidelines of course. These lay out everything from the shed’s size to the things you are and aren’t permitted to do within their walls. Stick to these rules and you’ll avoid an unwanted (and potentially expensive) visit from your local planning inspector.

For the purposes of this article we refer to ‘sheds’ but these rules also apply to greenhouses and other outbuildings such as garden offices.

Planning permission is NOT required as long as:

  1. The shed is used for domestic purposes only. Feel free to invite your mates round to check out your recreation of ‘The Rovers Return’, but don’t charge strangers £5 for a pint of homebrew.
  2. Nobody sleeps in the building overnight. Home offices are fine but unfortunately your cunning plan to add an extra bedroom at the bottom of the garden will need planning consent.
  3. The ground area covered by the shed and any other buildings within the boundary of the property, excluding the original house, is not more than half the total area of the property. In other words, no sheds that take up more than half your garden.
  4. You might be extremely proud of your shed but putting it in the front garden for the whole world to admire is also a no-no. Rules state that no part of your shed can be in front of the main or side elevation of the original house when it faces onto a road.
  5. If you’ve got designs on a multi-storey mancave you might have to reign your ambitions in a touch. The maximum height of a shed that doesn’t require planning permission is 4 metres.
  6. Where you build your shed also has an effect on how high your shed can be. If it’s within 2 metres of the property boundary the maximum eaves height of the shed mustn’t be over 2.5 metres.
  7. If there’s a road to the rear of your home, no part of the shed can be within 3.5 metres of the boundary.
  8. If you’re lucky enough to live in a house within a World Heritage Site, area of outstanding natural beauty, or National Park then the maximum total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and pools situated more than 20 metres from any wall of the house is not allowed to exceed 10 square metres. You’re also not allowed to build a shed between the principal or side elevation of the house and its boundary.
  9. And last but certainly not least, your shed must not be used for keeping pigeons. Sorry pigeon fanciers.

Note: Measurements are always calculated using external dimensions. 

If you live in a house which is a listed building, it’s likely that you’ll need Listed Building Consent for any building operations. If the development is within the grounds of a listed building you may need to submit a planning application for the work unless listed building consent has already been granted. Your local planning office will be able to give you more advice.

Once you’ve got planning covered, it’s time to get cracking on the exciting bit; deciding what your shed’s going to look like and what you’re going to put in it.

Start by deciding whether your shed’s going to have electricity. If you’re going ‘full man-cave’ with a TV, fridge, fruit machine etc, you’re going to need more than an extension cable from your kitchen window. Ditto if you’re planning a proper workshop with heavy tools. Connecting your shed to the grid is a big job but it’s well worth researching if you’re planning a premium space.

bar stools in man-cave

Think about what you’re going to get up to in your shed. If it’s going to be your man sanctuary then start looking out for star items on ebay, freecycle, Gumtree and the like. Second-hand pool tables, sofas and even reclaimed fixtures and fittings from pubs can all be picked up relatively cheaply.

If it’s primarily a workshop, then storage is going to be key. Shelving, metal racks and other clever uses of space are all worth exploring, with Pinterest a good place to start for ingenious storage inspiration.

shed workshop

When it comes to the overall design of the shed, you’ll probably have a few thoughts already, but do spend a while looking at ideas online too. If you’re pressed for time there are also plenty of free plans for sheds on the web. Think about materials as well, for instance, do you want the added strength of a metal framed design?

And whatever you need for your build, from materials to tools, metals4U has you covered. Good luck and happy shedding!

Metallicar WIN Best Engineered Soapbox!

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

On Sunday 19th August, Team Metallicar were out in full force to see how quickly we could get down Harewood’s famous hill climb.

After doing so well last year we couldn’t wait to get back in the driving seat again ready for our first soapbox event of the year. With a bbq and beers in tow, we set up camp and geared our driver Dan Hoskin up for his first trial run. We tweaked the car after last year’s events and with performance enhancing changes under our seatbelt we felt pretty confident.

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With Dan ready for his first race, the rest of Team Metallicar covered the more important details – setting up our fantastically loud speakers and organising who would be on BBQ duty. With our race tunes pumping, Dan was ready and waiting at the start line. We usually get complaints regarding our speakers however, we were approached by the Harewood Event Coordinators and asked to turn it up as our speakers were louder than the ones hired for the event!

Running as Soapbox Number 9, we launched from the ramp and let gravity do its worst! All cars have the benefit of a practice followed by two timed laps. There aren’t many rules, mainly that soapboxes must be strong, safe and have decent brakes, plus sound steering, which is possibly the most important part!

We all anxiously watched as Dan set off for his first run. We awaited the sirens of the stand by ambulance but as expected, Dan did an amazing run!

Man in a soapbox racer being pushed up the start ramp

Besides the exhilaration, the spectacles really make the day. Soapboxes vary from incredibly serious aerodynamic cars, designed tested, modified and put through their paces yet again to the downright hilarious. Today we saw a fully-fledged furry dog chasing down the track, followed by Batman and Robin and even the police.

It’s a pretty hairy track, with racers reaching speeds of up to 43mph. Over 70 teams entered with two travelling from as far afield as America. Our driver notched up to 22nd place. Not bad. However, we were given the prestigious ‘Best Engineered Soapbox’. Something we’re extremely proud of due to the amount of work that has gone into building it! The overall event was estimated to have raised over £10K for local charities.

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After a long day of racing, eating and drinking, we packed up the Soapbox and headed back to Wetherby. A brilliant day enjoyed by all of Team Metallicar – roll on next year!

Getting to know Alec Steele

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

We’re excited to be working on some amazing projects with blacksmith and YouTube star, Alec Steele.

Alec is already a legend in the blacksmith world, even though he’s just 20 years old. If you aren’t one of the 725,000 people who subscribe to his YouTube channel, you should be, because you won’t believe the incredible things he makes.
YouTuber and blacksmith Alec Steele holding a hand forged sculpture of a hammer and anvil

Check out Alec’s Viking battle axe, or Damascus Rapier sword for an idea of his skills. He’s a true inspiration for anyone interested in getting into blacksmithing.

We wanted to get to know a little more about him, so we spoke to Alec about his current projects, his metalworking heroes and his love of PPE:

Q: How did you get into blacksmithing, Alec?
A: It became a hobby of mine age 11, after seeing a blacksmith demonstration at a county fair.

Q: What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of?
A: My million layer Damascus Katana! It took fourteen days to make and it taught me an enormous amount about blademaking and craftsmanship.

Q: What’s the one tool or piece of kit you couldn’t do without in your workshop?
A: My PPE. Over the last year or two I’ve become extremely committed to keeping myself as safe as possible and setting the correct example.

Protecting my lungs, eyes and ears is so important to me, because that means I can work tomorrow.

Although… the power hammer’s a close second!

Q: What else are you working on at the moment?
A: I’m currently working on a Damascus Rapier sword. The blade is over a metre long and extremely narrow. It’s been a real challenge but I love that.

Q: Who are your blacksmithing/metalworking heroes?
A: Claudio Bottero, This Old Tony, Brian Brazeal and Mareko Maumasi.

Q: What prompted you to start sharing your skills on YouTube?
A: As a means of growing my business and selling my products and courses when I still offered them. I never imagined it would grow into being just a content creator.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to someone interested in starting blacksmithing?
A: Go and find a weekend blacksmithing class and get some knowledge. You’ll make great contacts for future learning opportunities and will be able to get back to your own workshop knowing exactly the tools you need to make or buy to get started. 

Visit our blacksmith page for all the tools and supplies you could ever need for your project.

Want to see a master at work?

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Imagine you received a mystery delivery of steel and copper, and had 24 hours in a blacksmith’s workshop to create something cool. What would you do?

That’s the challenge we set YouTuber, blacksmith and all-round entertainer, Alec Steele. Though Alec being Alec, he said he didn’t need 24 hours to create something awesome as he could do it in just 12!

It turns out he was right.

Check out the video below to see what he made.


If Alec has inspired you to get into blacksmithing, or put your existing skills to use creating a sculpture of your own, metals4U has got you covered.

Visit our blacksmith page for all the tools and supplies you could ever need for your project.

Also, be sure to follow Alec on YouTube to see more amazing creations.

Blacksmithing is back with a bang

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

The word ‘Blacksmith’ whisks you straight back to medieval times. It conjures up images of cobbles, blackened hands, open fires and the odd horseshoe. But this beautiful craft is far from lost in time.

Blacksmithing is making a huge comeback and we’re joining forces with one of those on the front line.
Youtuber Alec Steel with question mark

Enter Alec Steele. This energetic entertainer is reviving the craft one YouTube vlog at a time. His channel gives you all the tips and tricks you need to get started with this rewarding hobby – and plenty of laughs to boot.

Expect videos filled with the clashing of steel on steel and sparks from yellow-hot metal, ending with weird and wonderful treasures straight from the flames.

Covering everything from forging huge machetes to dissecting ancient meteorites, his daily vlogs will have you itching to try blacksmithing for yourself. You only have to take a look at the comments section to see the passion he’s ignited in millions of viewers. And here at Metals4U, we’re no exception.

Obsessed with all things metal, we were eager to put Alec through his paces. We invited him to take on a tough 24-hour challenge using only Metals4U materials.

Never one to turn down a chance to get creative, Alec will be tackling the Metals4U challenge on his YouTube channel in the next few weeks. Make sure you follow us on social to see him in action.

Want to give blacksmithing a go? Keep your eyes on our blog for more about Alec and how to get started.

Weld wish you a merry Christmas

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

The tree is an essential part of every home at Christmas, but have you ever thought that maybe it’s time to mix things up a little?

Real trees look great, at least until the needles start to drop and you’re left with a sorry looking collection of bare branches. Artificial trees, on the other hand, are mess-free but can lack a little festive magic.
Real trees look great, at least until the needles start to drop and you’re left with a sorry looking collection of bare branches. Artificial trees, on the other hand, are mess-free but can lack a little festive magic.

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This year, if you’re up for the challenge, try welding your own Christmas tree.

The great thing is you can use any metal you have lying around in the shed, or choose the ideal materials to create something that’s pure bling. Make it right and it’ll not only last for years, but save you a fortune in trees!

If you’re new to welding, we’ve got you covered. We’ve written a whole blog on everything you need to know about learning to weld. Here’s a reminder of the key points:

Keep safe

Don’t scrimp on safety gear. You’ll be using some pretty powerful equipment so protect yourself.

Prep your space

Choose a workspace with plenty of room and good ventilation. There’ll be lots of sparks flying so make sure there are no flammable materials lying around.

Know your material

Read up on the properties of the metals you’re using, as this will influence how you tackle the project. A little research now can save time and trouble later.

Choose your power

Most homes have two voltages available: 110v and 230v. You’ll need to choose the right one for the machinery you’ll be using. Ask in-store if you need advice on this.

Stock up on fillers

Find out what fillers you’ll need for the type of metals you’ll be using – then stock up on them. You don’t want to run out when you’re in full creative flow.

So, all you need now is a little inspiration. Check out the amazing examples above.

And if you need any kit, remember that Metals4U are the cheapest online suppliers of welding equipment.

How to winterproof your home

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Winter has arrived, we’re ready for festive cheer, crisp snowy walks and relaxing by the fire.

But it’s not all sleigh bells and cosy evenings; falling temperatures increase the chances of your home fuel and repair bills rising.

Don’t let the outside affect the inside, take these few simple steps to make sure your home is protected throughout the colder months.
frost and icicles forming on a frozen outdoor water pipe

Wrap those pipes

Pipes need special attention in the winter months. With extreme freezing and thawing, metal pipes are more prone to fracture or burst, with the potential to cause vast damage to your home.

You can pick up foam jackets for your pipes and hot water cylinder quite cheaply, and the good news is they’ll help keep your water warm, saving you a few pounds on the heating bill too.

Protect your furniture

The great outdoors doesn’t always live up its name in the winter months. Constant battering from rain, snow and frost can leave your garden furniture discoloured and damaged.

Get ahead of the game, grab a tin of waterproof paint from our website and keep all your exterior woodwork and furniture looking fresh for spring.

Get the tools for the job

The last thing you’ll want to do in the winter months is try to find a hardware store if something does go wrong – especially over the Christmas break.

Make sure you’re all stocked up with the right tools to fix leaks and breaks as soon as they happen.

Stop the draughts

Nothing drains the heat from your home more than leaks and gaps in windows and doors. An easy way to tell where a draught is coming from is to hold a lit candle close to the frame, check for a flicker and locate the draught; then you can simply patch the gap with sealant to help keep your home warm.

Cover your electrics

Stormy weather can cause vast amounts of damage to outdoor electrics. Make sure you’ve bought some waterproof casing to protect electrical cables and keep people and animals safe; especially if you’re planning on using outdoor decorations at Christmas. This weatherproof box is a quick and easy fix.

Add some insulation

One of the biggest culprits for heat loss in your home is through your roof. If it’s not properly insulated this can hike up your fuel bills, especially in winter. Make sure you pad out attics, crawl holes and even basements to save energy, heat and money.

Do you have any top tips for weatherproofing? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook

Which metal’s 4 U?

(Last modified: June 20th, 2019)

If you’ve got a project in mind and you want a material that’s strong, durable and flexible, metal is your go-to option. But how do you decide which metal is up to the job?

The choice might seem straightforward; steel, copper, aluminium or stainless steel. But before you dive straight in, here’s a quick guide to make sure you punt for the right metal.

Steel

Mild steel box section

If cost is one of your main factors, steel is the cheapest of the four options. It’s also strong and easy to weld, which can save you time. It’s harder to cut than aluminium, for example, but can also be found in many more pre-shaped options than the other metals.

One negative with steel is that it can rust, so you’ll have to treat it to keep it looking good over time.

Copper

Copper metal sheets

Copper is a beautiful material that looks great, not only when first installed but also as it ages. Sure, it’s the most expensive of the four options, but the aesthetics you can achieve, combined with it being easy to form and work with, makes it a great choice.

It’s worth considering that copper has a low tensile strength, so best not to use it as a structural material.

Aluminium

Aluminium corner cleat

If it’s all about weight, aluminium is a winner. It’s the most practical lightweight metal around, but it has other benefits too. It’s easy to machine and can be found in all manner of structural shapes. It also has an oxide layer that keeps rust as bay, so long as it’s also protected from other metals.

On the downside, it costs a little more than steel and can also be tricky to weld unless you’ve got the knack.

Stainless steel

Various stainless steel tubes and blocks

Affordable, strong, heavy and the most protected of the four options. Stainless steel is a reliable choice and it won’t rust unless exposed to other untreated metals.

The fact that it’s difficult to fabricate may influence your decision, and it can also warp on welding, but this is balanced out by the fact it’s extremely formable.

So, there you have it. There’s a lot to consider, but now you know what you’re dealing with, get the right metal for your project then get to work.

So you want to learn to weld?

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

That’s great. Master the art of welding and there’s no end to what you can create. From beautiful art to urban furniture and pretty trinkets, you’ll make great original pieces – and save yourself a shed load of money in the process.

A person welding metal in safety gear

But like any practical skill, welding takes practice and patience to get the technique just right. Here’s our starter checklist for all you novice welders out there to get you ready to start learning.

Safety first

We can’t stress enough how important it is to think about what you need to keep yourself safe before getting started. You’re working with instruments powerful enough to melt metal, so don’t scrimp when it comes to safety gear. You’ll need welding gloves, a welding helmet, safety glasses, and a fireproof coat.

Prep your space

Whether you’re in a workshop or garage, you’ll need to give your surroundings some thought if you’re thinking about welding. Make sure you remove anything flammable, have plenty of space for sparks to fly and have plenty of ventilation. It’s also worth investing in rubber mats or boards to protect yourself against electric shocks.

Know your material

It’s a good idea to swot up on the properties of different metals so you’ll know which are fit for purpose. This includes things like melting temperatures, rate of thermal expansion, heat conduction and cooling rate. It’ll help you to apply the right techniques to stop materials cracking or distorting, for example metal clamps or heat treatments pre and post-weld.

Set your voltage

In most homes you’ll have two voltages available: 110v and 230v. The thicker the material the higher the voltage you’ll have to use. If you’re not sure which voltage to use you can install machines that match them automatically. It’s also worth checking your gas and electric connections at home to make sure they’re secure enough to handle the machinery.

Stock up on fillers

Fillers, or consumables as they’re known in the industry, are materials added to joints when welding. They’re a crucial part of the process. Different materials work best with different fillers, it’s worth asking in-store when you start your project as to which is best to use. Fillers should be kept in a shaded, dry place so make sure your workshop has a good area to keep them.

Now you’re all set to start learning to weld and as the cheapest online supper of welding equipment, we have everything you need to get going. Shop our range here.

How to win the war on rust

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Rust. It’s every metal’s worst nightmare. And with summer gone, now’s the perfect time to think about protecting your metal against whatever Mother Nature throws at it. Luckily, we know a thing or two about metal, so here are some of our top tips.

Know what you’re dealing with

A metal beam covered in bad rust

Firstly, it’s good to know what you’re up against.

Rust is nasty stuff. It’s the result of the reaction between iron, oxygen, water or air moisture. And when you throw salt into the mix, rusting can happen at an even faster rate. You’ve only got to look at the state of properties near the coast – where the spray of salty seawater can play a part – to see this in action.

If metal is exposed to the elements, and left untreated, rust can take hold. And it’s a slippery slope from there, with the metal flaking and disintegrating.

Start with prevention

Like anything in life, it’s easier to prevent rust than deal with it once it’s a problem. The best prevention is to either buy metal that’s already been treated, or to treat it yourself. But even with the best preparation, rusting can still sometimes happen, so regularly inspect any metal objects that are found outside to check for signs.

What to do with rust

A mechanic cleaning rust from a car wheel

If rust has already taken hold, the good news is there are lots of ways to remove it with a little patience and plenty of elbow grease.

Let’s start with the obvious choice. You can pick up specialist rust removal products at all good hardware stores. Typically, you spray this on the rust or put it on a cloth and rub the rust off. These products can be really effective, but because they typically contain phosphoric or oxalic acid, make sure you’re careful using them.

Now, for the fun ideas – and you’ll be amazed what you can use from around the house to remove rust.

Some people swear by white vinegar, which they leave the rusted item soaking in for 24 hours before rinsing. Others prefer salt and lime. This works by sprinkling salt all over the rusted area and then pouring lime (or lemon) juice over the top. After 2-3 hours, scrub the mixture off and see the rust vanish with it.

And if it’s strange you’re after, how about a potato? Cut a potato in half and place the cut end in some washing up liquid or baking powder. Then put the potato on the rusted metal and leave it to soak in. After a few hours the rust should scrub away.

There are even people who recommend using Coca Cola to treat rust. Crazy, but it seems to work.

If you’ve got any tips that we haven’t covered here, let us know on Facebook or Twitter.