Category Archives: Customer Projects

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!

How to build the ultimate home workshop

(Last modified: March 19th, 2019)

metals4U workshop

Once the decision has been made that a dedicated workshop space is needed, it is really easy to rush in and just get on with it. While that enthusiasm is a great force for getting things done, it is worth spending some time planning out exactly what you need and the best way to organise things to get the very best out of your new workshop. Everyone has tried to complete a project or task in an environment that made the job ten times harder than it needed to be; inadequate storage, poor ergonomics, and cramped working conditions are just some of the factors that can be easily avoided with a little forethought.

The secret to success is all in the planning.

The building.

Before investing time and money in a new project, it is always advisable to check with your local authority to make sure any plans you have do not violate any planning regulations in your area. You may find it useful to check out our blog post about planning regulations here.

When converting any building, whether it is an old shed, a garage, or an outbuilding, it is worth taking time to ensure it is fit for purpose; make sure it is watertight, well insulated with a non-slip floor.

It is recommended that a dedicated workshop electrical circuit should be installed to take care of the demands of running machinery in a home workshop, simply running an extension lead from an existing power supply is not a safe option.


electricity metals4U workshop

If the workshop is being set up in a garage, it is most likely that there are a couple of 13amp sockets; these are usually just run as a spur off the downstairs domestic ring main, if so, these should be upgraded to a circuit capable of handling the extra output or you risk overloading the ring main and tripping the fuse box.

A workshop in a shed or out-building will need to be supplied with power from the existing consumer unit in the house to a small two-way distribution board in the workshop. A circuit breaker should be fitted to the house consumer unit and RCD (residual current device) fitted at either end of the new cabling. The most usual solution is run an SWA (steel wired armoured) cable underground to a sufficient depth to avoid accidental damage.

None of these electrical solutions are a DIY job; these tasks are covered under Part P of the building regulations and should be undertaken by a certified electrician.

Placing power sockets over head can be really useful for some tooling requirements as it ensures flexes are not trailing on the floor. Forward planning is important here to ensure the socket and switch placement is as ergonomic as can be. It is a good idea to label each plug to identify which tool it is for- this can reduce the risk of injury if the wrong plug is disconnected in error during changing a cutting blade for example- most plugs look the same.


Although a workshop can be set up on quite a tight budget, securing it is a really important step. Motion sensor lights on the outside can help deter the ‘would be’ burglar but do make sure they will not disturb your neighbours every time a cat walks past. Some people opt for a shed alarm to emit a piercing sound to let you know if someone has entered, usually a loud siren will be enough to make any intruders leave quickly.

Good quality sturdy locks should be fitted to doors and windows to protect your property, for further security, grids can be easily constructed from mild steel welding mesh to cover windows and doors.

Plan your working area

metals4U workshop planning

The work bench is most likely going to be the hub of the action, so it is very important to get this right. When deciding where to place it, think about the positioning of light and power to ensure the best working conditions. A built-in work bench is the best option as it will provide a robust and secure working area that is perfect for securing bench tools to. If the work space is large enough, a free-standing bench with room to walk all the way around is perfect, however, if the workspace is housed in a garage or shed, then building the workbench against the wall will help utilise the space more effectively. If space is tight, or home building a work bench is not a viable option, there are some very reasonably priced workstations available that require simple home assembly- these are a great addition to any workshop as they have storage built in, have a reasonable weight bearing capacity, are economical to buy and are compact.


 Having well thought out and adequate storage in your workshop can be a real game changer. If the workshop has a built-in workbench, this will probably be the place that works best to store tools and equipment as they can be wall mounted for easy identification and ease of access.

metals4U workshop shelving

Shelves are a good way to keep tools and equipment out of the way, but easy to see- do make sure the shelves are constructed well enough to hold the weight. Heavy duty shelving units are available to buy that are easy to construct and can be extended and reconfigured as your needs change.

A wall mounted panel with plastic storage bins provides a clear open view of small tools and bits and bobs; as the bins are available in different colours it would be possible to use different colours for different categories of consumables and tools.

metals4U workshop storage

Storage boxes to lock your tools and equipment in can be a good investment- these help to keep children safe should they wander into the workshop and stop any intruders helping themselves to your equipment. A wide range is available to suit all pockets, from lockable tool chests and secure in-vehicle storage, to secure hazardous storage for gas and chemicals, and secure site storage.

A peg board with hooks can also provide a clear view of all tools without having to rummage through a tool box; some people decide where each hand tool will be placed and draw around them on the board to make tidying up even quicker. Wall mounted hooks are a great way to provide storage of bulky items to keep the floor space clear.

metals4U workshop pegboard

Hooks are available that can support bike frames, metal profiles, and cables, right down to handy small ones to hang your coveralls or welding apron on.

Keep it safe.

When embarking on projects in the home workshop it is important to pay attention to your safety. No job, however small, is worth risking an injury. Always wear eye protection and protect your hearing with ear defenders or ear plugs when using loud machinery. Heavy duty gloves are important when cutting and welding metal or using other heat sources and chemicals. A dust mask helps to protect your lungs from dust particles or for protection from irritant or toxic particles, a face mask with replaceable filters is recommended.

Don’t forget to wear protective shoes or boots, just because you can pop into the new workshop in your slippers, doesn’t mean you should; always maintain a responsible attitude to safety.

metals4U workshop PPE

Due to the nature of the projects that may be undertaken in the workshop, there may be a risk of fire- this may be from welding equipment or flammable liquids. To help protect yourself, a dry powder fire extinguisher is definitely worth installing. These can quickly put out small fires before they take hold, although never put yourself at risk of becoming trapped in the workshop or burned. If in doubt as to whether you can safely tackle the fire, it is best to get out quickly call the fire service.

Make sure you have a first aid box within easy reach of your working area, and that it contains eye wash, burn gel, and a good selection of dressings and plasters- although hopefully, you will never need to use it.

At metals4U we stock all the items you need to create your perfect workshop, just browse our ranges online or call customer services for more help finding what you need.

We would love to see your home workshops, so please do send us pictures; you may even get featured on our social media!

Useful links to products.

metals4U workstation

Work benches




metals4U hooks


metals4U storage bins

Storage bins

metals4U tool storage

Tool storage

metals4U weld mesh

Weld mesh






metals4U fire safety

Fire safety equipment

metals4U PPE









Metals4U helps to get a rare classic back to the races

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

We love to hear about your restoration projects and seeing how our metal helps to make them a reality. The enthusiasts among you will know that restoring a classic car takes a lot of time, effort and TLC. But with the right parts you can get off to a great start.

Metals4U customer Bill Cowling set out earlier this year to modify and repair a Ginetta G18B Historic Formula Ford. Only seven were ever made and just three survive in current day, making this restoration project truly unique.

Ginetta G18B Historic Formula Ford

A car with providence, the HFF was driven by a very young Adrian Raynard (above). Raynard went on to become one of the most influential race car designers, manufacturing cars that won races around the world. The G18 HFF is said to have influenced Adrian’s first chassis design and is also mentioned in his autobiography, where he crashes it (again) at Brands Hatch.

Bill is fully restoring the race car, returning it to its former glory, and plans to enter it into historical racing as soon as possible.

Chassis of G18 HFF racecar

Bill started by stripping his HFF down to the frame work. He used the tubes purchased from Metals4U to repair bracing struts at the rear of the car, and replace the copper alloy coolant pipes that run from front to back. Smaller alloy tubing will also be used in constructing struts for the radiator.

HFF racecar

Currently down to the chassis, he’ll be crack testing before constructing new bracings and brazing them in. Then working alongside his ‘chassis man’, an ex world champion side-car designer, some new designs will be drawn up to bring it to life.

Bill hopes to get his HFF completed by March 2016 and into the world of historical racing. He’ll be attending international events such as Spa, Monza, Pau and Zanyoort. We certainly can’t wait to see how this true classic will look crossing the finish line. Watch this space!

If you’d like to tell us about how you’re using our metal products, please get in touch and we may feature your project on this blog using

Jim puts time, energy (and metal) into restoring a couple of British classics

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

The ability to bring something from the past back to life requires great vision, skill, time, energy – and bucket loads of commitment. Let’s not forget that it might need some metal too!

Metals4U customer Jim Perkins is currently restoring two classic Austin cars from the 1930s – an Austin 7 Pearl Cabriolet and an Austin 12/6 open road tourer. Those of you who have an interest in classic cars will know how well loved these models were (and still are).

The Austin 7 was nicknamed the ‘Baby Austin’ and gave British families in the 1920s an opportunity to own a motorcar because it was made genuinely affordable through mass production. But of the 290,000 made, only 8,000 remain – in various conditions – and Jim has one of them.

He tells us that it’s being fully restored and has been replacing metal on the body and around the rear wings because the original metalwork had succumbed to rust. He’s using a metal plate to hold the check strap on the driver’s door.


The Austin 12/6 is also being fully restored, although this is more of a challenge since Jim bought the vehicle as a ‘basket case’.

“Someone had stripped it right down – possibly to restore – but never got round to putting it back together,” he says. “We purchased it as a load of parts. Some parts were missing and there were a few parts that weren’t even for this vehicle.”

Jim and his team are in the process of putting it back together themselves – and when the project is complete we’re sure it’ll look magnificent. We’re certainly keen to see how our metal has helped to restore a couple of British classics!


If you’d like to tell us about how you’re using our metal products, please get in touch and we may feature your project on this blog.

The Dash-Hound and the Black Knight

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

While metal is strong, it’s also remarkably versatile. From tall buildings to intricate sculptures, it can be practical or used creatively as integral parts to some impressive projects – even ones that aim to set new world records!

When customer Tony Lovering got in touch with us to tell us about his project – to build a remote controlled car that aims to set a new land speed record and earn itself a place in the Guinness Book of Records – well, we were seriously impressed.

Tony is chairman of ROSSA (Radio Operated Scale Speed Association), which was formed some years ago to run radio controlled (RC) cars for land speed records. The current world record, by the way, is 202.12 mph, which is held by American Nic Case.

Every year Tony organises the ROSSA World RC Speed Championships, which are so popular that they take place in countries all over the world, including Australia and USA. As you would expect, Tony doesn’t just organise the events – he takes part in them.

He’s building two cars for this year’s championships – the Dash-Hound and the Black Knight.

Here’s what they look like:

Dash hound & black knight

The Dash-Hound is 2.4m long and powered by a B300F jet turbine engine, with 320N of thrust (72lbs). Tony tells us that he’s agreed a deal with RAF Cosford to run the car on 28th and 29th May for an attempt at the land speed record. We wish him all the best with that!

The Black Knight is a hybrid rocket car that he’s been running since 2008. It’s reached a top speed of 174.83 mph and was the winner of last year’s fastest vehicle. Tony was able to capture evidence of this on video – and you can get a sense of how fast that really is by watching it on YouTube.

Tony has high hopes for the Dash-Hound. It’s a scale model of the Bloodhound Project (a full size car that’s jet and rocket powered). His goal is to incorporate the rocket engine from the Black Knight into the Dash-Hound, so it has a fully working jet and rocket engine.

The jet should take the car up to 200 mph, which is when Tony will fire the rocket. If all goes to plan, that should see the car accelerate from 200 to 400 mph in around five seconds! At that speed, Tony needs metal that is aerodynamic, lightweight and robust.

We really do hope Tony achieves the success he’s been working so hard for when it comes to race day – and we’d love to hear from him to let us know how he gets on.

The ROSSA World RC Speed Championships will be held in the UK at Shakespeare County Raceway, at Long Marston Airfield in Warwickshire, on 4th and 6th September. Good luck to all that take part, and here’s hoping the Guinness Book of Records has a new entry to write!


Metals in creation and restoration projects

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)


Creating something from scratch takes vision, skill and – above all – patience. We’re inspired by the level of ingenuity our customers show when working with metal to create things they’re passionate about. Take Ben Talbot, for instance, who is aiming to make a bicycle that’s sustainable, affordable and easy to manufacture on a large scale.

It’s what he calls the ‘Sustainabike’. It’s mostly wooden, but it’s all pieced together using various joining brackets made out of steel. It’s a work in progress – all the brackets are cut and welded according to the design. Now he’s got to finish tapping the holes and then make the wooden components before bringing it all together.



Ben has decided to use larger wheels and based the design more on a road bike – the image above shows this new design complete with forks.

Meanwhile another of our customers, Eric Rawcliffe, is using a flat brass bar and brass angle to restore the droplight window of a first-class carriage, which was built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1880.

The flat brass bar is mounted on a door with a 3/16th spacer and the brass angle is mounted on the underside of the window (which is called a droplight). To hold the window closed, the 1/8th inch angle sits over the flat bar.


To allow the window to be opened, it’s fitted with a leather strap that is recessed into the window frame. This clears the angle from the flat bar, allowing the window to drop into the door casing (controlled by the strap, which is yet to be fitted).

Eric is also encasing a steel tube within a wooden channel, which will form a guide for the passenger emergency cord.

Restoring treasured items can be hugely rewarding and extremely satisfying once the job is complete. Paul Geraghty was able to email us about his restoration project, but once he’s completed it he might have to let us know in a letter!

That’s because he’s hand-building a replacement space arm and ratchet mechanism in 3mm stainless steel for his 1920s Underwood Standard Portable typewriter.


The original space arm was lost to the mists of time, and the machine itself was sold as unserviceable for £20 before Christmas.

Apart from manually advancing each line, he says that the machine works beautifully – so he’s really pleased that he could find short lengths of good steel so easily. His ambition has been to get the typewriter up and running so he can write a novel in the traditional way!

Good luck to Paul, Eric and Ben with their projects – we’d love to see them when they’re complete.

Modified racing sidecar

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

One of our customers, Ginny Bourne, is a competitive sidecar racer. Using our CDS tubing he fabricated custom handholds for his sidecar (talk about putting faith in our products!), which propelled him and his partner to 2nd place in their championship.

To make them even more competitive, a second order of the same tubing was used to extensively modify a new chassis which they’re hoping will deliver the results needed to obtain their ACU National licence, and compete in Camathias Cup Championship races across France, Belgium, Netherlands, the Isle of Man and mainland UK.


Animal Skeleton mounting

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Chrissie has been using our metals to mount animal skeletons, one of the more unusual tasks our materials are used for.

Here are her project photos. In the first picture Chrissie has used brass rod threaded through the spinal canals of the Great Dane and the Alligator.

Skeleton mounting 1

She quickly left acrylic rod behind after these two, and in the second picture an Alpaca you can see brass uprights with mild steel sheaths attaching the uprights to the brass spinal support rod.

Skeleton mounting 2

This picture is Chrissie’s current project, a Swan using the same materials. the biggest hold-up to her work is having to wait for someone to come along and weld the uprights to the spinal rods.

Skeleton mounting 3

And here it is finished

Swan Skeleton

In all cases Chrissie starts by using a mild steel rod to bend into a ‘pattern’ for the final brass rod and, if the animal is large enough, she will re use the mild steel on decreasingly smaller animals until there isn’t a straight bit left.

Scale Model Landrover 90

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

We recently received this email from Jonathan Fewings.

land rover 1








My project is a 1/4 Scale 1984 Landrover 90 – for my Nephew to enjoy on the farm. Based roughly on a ‘Toylander‘ style design, however, only the basic Plywood shell has been used (with a multitude of alterations).

Power is provided by an Electric-Start 344cc Vertical Crank Briggs & Stratton Engine with a belt driven rear axle – incorporating a braking system. The exhaust system is made from Mild Steel Tube (Metals4U) sections (Lobster Back Style Bends) into a silencer from an Aprilia RS50 that was in the garage – and is pretty much an exact scale replica of a standard Landrover Part (who would’ve guessed?). The chassis is completely designed by myself and is made up of Rectangular Section Steel, Flat Bar and Tube purchased from Metals4U. The steering rack is borrowed from a Micro-car but heavily modified to suit its new use and the front Stub axles have been machined from EN24 – the steering system even includes Toe-in/Toe-out alignment! The body was originally going to just be painted ply, however, I chose to rivet an Aluminium sheet skin onto the ply in classic Landrover production style (originally riveted to a steel frame). The Aluminium was shaped by hand using a length of steel tube and a lump hammer……oh and a fair amount of elbow grease. Once this body had a touch of filler and a coat of paint the look was complete – especially the dipstick poking out the bonnet, or the OVH (overhead valve) sticking out the grill.

Things to complete:

  • Fit Fuel Tank
  • Fit Correct Rear Wheels
  • Paint Wheels
  • Interior
  • Lighting
  • Final Coat of Paint
  • TEST DRIVE!!!!

land rover 1


Scale Model Aircraft Handley Page H42 Airliner

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Model Handley PagH42 metals4u

This project blog entry comes from Peter Bruce who has restored a twenty year old wreck of a Handley Page H42 Airliner model, to full flying condition. Mr Bruce used our aluminium flat bar to repair the struts and the undercarriage. This model is 94” and powered by four 8.72cc two stroke engines.

Mr Bruce has also provided some background information on the Handley Page H42, that inspired him to undertake the task of rebuilding the model. The Airliner was named “Hannibal” and was handed over to Imperial Airways at Croydon Airport in 1931. This aircraft was massive even by today’s standards with a wingspan of 130 foot. The H42 was the first one million mile airliner in the world and was used on the far eastern route on the first schedule airline service in the world. Below are two photographs of this impressive model on the ground and in the air. The final photograph is of the original plane.

Scale Model Handley Page H42 metals4u

H42 Handley Page metals4u