I am setting up my new home shop and am considering a smallish yellow metal chemical safe to store alcohol, varnish, etc.

I am wondering if I would not be better off for fire safety and indoor air quality just storing this all outside of the house on a shaded north face of my house.

  • 2
    "indoor air quality" think about it, if this were a legitimate concern then there's something seriously wrong with some of the storage containers. You should be able to open a cupboard used to store MS/white spirit, acetone and other 'hot' solvents, paint stripper, various varnishes and other oil-based finishes, shellac and DA/methylated spirits and essentially get zero solvent odour that you can notice.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 12:51
  • While this isn't technically evidence of anything, probably every woodworker stores their finishing supplies and sundry solvents in the same room as everything else. Where space does allow someone might site their finish/solvent storage in an annex space or separate room, but this is quite rare in home workshops — it's quite clear that the great majority are single-room setups. Not uncommon among pros either. The main focus re. fire safety, and secondarily air quality, should be finish applicators, and any paper towels or rags with any finish on them (assuming a flammable finish naturally).
    – Graphus
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 12:55
  • The only caveat to any advice here is that even the strongest solvents contain a little water, and rooms always contain a little humidity, depending where you live. Visit your storage area regularly and check to see which metal containers (and metal lids to glass containers) have rusted through. In SW Ontario I regularly have to decant fresh and used solvents into new containers as the old containers thin out. Ask me how I found out about a container of something-or-other that started leaking in the back of a shelf. I bought a bunch of plastic tubs I store some like chemicals in, just in case.
    – user5572
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


Billions of chemicals are stored correctly and safely indoors all over the planet.

If it does not freeze or get very hot in your area and you can safely lock it up to prevent children or pests from access them then go for it. Temperature is a consideration for some chemicals.

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