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This article is about an older version of DF.
Production flowchart for all workshops.
Not all items are represented!
(Click to enlarge)

Workshops are where materials are processed by dwarves into more valuable or useful items.


Anything that is created, refined, cooked, altered, or decorated, or generally "produced" is processed at a workshop. There are many different types of workshops, for different purposes and different finished products. Just as they have specific products associated with them, they have specific labors that are required by dwarves to build them or to work there, and dwarves with more of the appropriate skill tend to produce higher quality objects*, and/or produce them faster.

(* If the finished product has any quality modifiers - not all do. Processed milk is just cheese, a stone block is just a stone block, and a tanned hide is just leather, etc.)

You can use workshop profiles to restrict the use of individual workshops to named dwarves, or to dwarves with specified minimum and maximum levels of skill.

Almost all workshops measure 3 tiles square, 3x3, but a few are 5x5, or even a single tile. Not all squares of all workshops are passable, in fact some, like the jewelry workshop, have what is in effect a three square wall down one side. These squares appear a dark green color during initial placement. Be careful not to block access when building.

If you have no stockpiles to put finished objects in, workshops will become cluttered and all tasks will take much longer.

Tier System

The tier system was developed to help understand how far removed a workshop is from the basic raw materials that can be found throughout your average map. A Tier-1 workshop processes raw materials directly; a Tier-2 workshop processes the output of a Tier-1 workshop (but may also include new raw materials); and a Tier-3 workshop processes the output of a Tier-2 workshop (but may also include inputs from lower levels) Note that containers (cloth and leather bags) are considered Tier 1 materials even though they are produced at a higher tier. This is because these items are reusable; your dwarves will not need to create a new bag each time they want to mill some flour. In some cases, a workshop may fit into multiple tiers, (ex. Mechanic's workshop). In these cases, the workshop is listed in the lowest applicable tier for its primary purpose.

Tier 1 workshops use Tier 0 materials (animals, ore, wood, plants, bone, etc).

Tier 2 workshops use Tier 1 materials (processed Tier 0 materials) and possibly Tier 0 materials.

Tier 3 workshops use Tier 2 materials (processed Tier 1 materials) and possibly Tier 0 and/or Tier 1 materials.

Tier 1 Workshops

Tier 2 Workshops

Tier 3 Workshops

Note that some specific products can be higher-tier than indicated above. For example, production of Steel weapons requires: producing fuel, producing Iron bars, producing pig iron bars, producing steel bars, then finally forging weapons (a Tier-5 process).


As your fortress continues to grow and diversify, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your workshops fruitfully busy without causing overproduction or underproduction or depleting your resources. Though no process can be truly automated, there are a few tricks to keeping your workshops working as needed.

The first is automation. Certain goods or materials are only useful for one thing, having no other use and requiring refinement before they can be made into something useful. Thus, workshops may automate certain tasks, keeping them queued at all times; this behavior may be changed in the "set workshop orders" menu (o - W). It can also be removed as with any other job, by pressing r on the orders menu, and reinstated just as easily. Note that this rudimentary automation performs poorly with multiple workshops, often queuing dwarves to carry the materials to the furthest available workshop.

  • The Tanner's shop will automatically enqueue "tan a hide" whenever a hide becomes available, generally as a butchering product. The shop has no other function, and hides have no other functions and will rot away if left untreated; thus you can build a tanner's shop (preferably close to your butcher and refuse stockpile), make sure some dwarves have tanning enabled, and then leave it untouched for the duration of the game.
  • Similarly, the loom's function is to collect webs and turn silk, plant thread, and yarn, into usable cloth - these products have no other function. All weaving jobs are automated. However, it can be beneficial to build an additional loom near the caverns specifically for web collection, and assign a profile that keeps your legendary weaver safe making high-quality cloth in the fortress proper. Unfortunately, the automation process cannot adapt to such an arrangement, but the automatic jobs can be suspended to prevent undesirable assignments.
  • A fishery will have "Process a live fish" enabled by default. Uncooked fish cannot be eaten as they are, and must be processed before being edible.
  • When an animal is marked for slaughter, "Butcher a dead animal" is added to a butchery by default, and once the animal is struck down a butcher should come along and rip it apart.
  • The Kitchen includes automation for rendering fat into tallow. The resulting tallow is useful for making soap and as a low-value "solid" cooking ingredient, however you will likely end up with an overabundance of tallow. Since the original fat apparently doesn't rot, and the rendering job is slow and tends to distract your cook when he should be cooking the quickly-expiring meat instead, it is often more convenient to disable the automatic rendering and manually queue the job (on an auxillary kitchen) if you run low on tallow.

The second method is to put jobs on Repeat. By default, you can queue up ten tasks, and tell the dwarves to repeat any or all of them for as long as possible. This is most useful if you want to process all of a resource that you have into something usable (such as lye and tallow into soap), but don't know how much you have, or can't be bothered with exact numbers. If you want to keep a workshop busy, repeating a task for a period of time is the best way; most fledgling fortresses have craftdwarves making stone crafts 24/7. It is necessary to check back on your stocks every one in a while, however, as you might forget about your mason for a while and upon placing furniture discover that you have 99 doors but no tables. The easiest example would be gem cutting; just queue up all of the gems you've dug up on repeat, and use the cancellation messages to monitor progress through the stack. Note that if you place multiple jobs on repeat your dwarves will cycle through them, so you can have your mason make doors, cabinets, coffers, tables, and thrones (the "welcome to the fortress" package) in equally large numbers.

The third is by appointing a dwarf to be the position of manager. The manager allows you to queue work orders, and although he has to first sign off on the orders (if you have more then 20 dwarves in your fort), using the manager has two major advantages. Firstly, it allows you to produce an exact number of items as opposed to putting a workshop on repeat, and secondly, it allows easier management of complex tasks: although you will get cancellation spam, the tasks will simply re-queue, to be fulfilled as soon as the prerequisites are in order. This makes complicated processes, such as the production of twenty steel breastplates for your military, much simpler and less time-consuming. You will be notified when your work orders are completed, so it has the advantage of timely organization as well.

Finally, for those who find the above automation options lacking, the dfhack "workflow" plug-in allows for automated job processing for many applications (e.g. auto process plants, auto mill plants, auto brew, auto make soap, etc.). Unfortunately, setting up the necessary rules can require some trial and error and a considerable investment of time, but the results can be well worth the trouble, at least until comprehensive automation support is added to the game itself.