I’ve been hard at work trying to clean and organize my garage workshop space. Most of this process involves identifying and moving tools or materials that are not making the most efficient use of space.
Working on optimizing my workshop space has been on ongoing challenge, but I’m making progress.
I started in June, installing new New Age Pro wall shelves. That was a good start, but until recently I haven’t made many big changes since then.
Next, I’ve got to get my wood boards, plywood, and butcher block-type benchtop materials under control, and the same with lawn and garden tools. But, that’ll come next. I’ve got a corner devoted to this for now.
Shifting to Modular Storage (Again)
For personal tools, I’m aiming for a modular approach. Quite simply put, there are too many non-essential tools in spaces that can be filled with more frequently-used tools and equipment. I’ve got to pick and choose, and prioritize.
For example, do my air nailers still deserve a spot on the in the cabinet? Or can they be put up and further out of the way until I need them?
For samples, I’m aiming for a faster approach and better discipline about it. Smaller samples aren’t the problem – it’s things like tool carts, lawn & garden tools, and larger power tools that take up a lot of space.
I’ve been donating to the local high school, and my next go-to donation source will be the local department of public works.
I recently turned down a selection of cordless lawn & garden tool samples for review, not because I wasn’t interested, but because I don’t want a pallet sitting on my floor for 3 months until I can test them, and for who knows how long afterwards until I can find a donation destination.
I’ll run reader giveaways again if or when possible, but this tends to require a lot of time and effort.
As an aside, the problem with OPE tools is that if I don’t say yes right away, samples might not be available when testing is time-appropriate. This means that if I don’t say yes to say a snowblower in August or a mower in November, there’s a good chance I won’t get the opportunity again.
I’ve been developing new tool and sample management practices, with space efficiency in mind. I would say that I hope you’ll see benefits from this as well, but I know you will.
Why This is Important
Cleaning and organizing my garage workshop has been a constant process where I’ve been playing catch-up for a long time now. As soon as I clear up a couple of square feet, an unannounced shipment of samples arrives and I lose my wiggle room.
While this situation might be unique to me, I’ve seen others fall into similar traps, where work efficiency is diminished due to less thoughtful space utilization.
I see this with my kids and their toys. One cabinet holding a thoughtfully varied selection of toys and books will hold their attention much better than 3 cabinets and a tote bin overflowing with toys. Less can be more.
It has been more than 12 years since I started ToolGuyd, and I should be getting in a lot more workshop time than I am. I checked off a tool from my woodworking machinery list (8″ jointer), and that helped kick-start the cleanup process, but really it was a long-time coming.
ToolGuyd efforts have overrun my time, and also my workshop when it comes to time and space utilization.
Someone suggested that I could always rent out an industrial space. This has been popular with YouTubers and some others who have massive dedicated workspaces. Frankly, I don’t like that idea. I fear that doing so would make me too beholden to advertisers and sponsors. Higher costs require greater revenue, and I could potentially lose the freedom to work with partners of my choosing.
But also, I could likely fill any space. Who’s to say I wouldn’t have the same problem no matter what? I maintain a list of tools I’d like to buy that would facilitate some of my long-term dream projects. But right now, more space and more tools is not the answer.
Above-Wall Cabinet Space?
I have about 26″ of space between my wall cabinets and the ceiling (shown above), and am not quite sure what to put here.
Maybe a lumber rack can go here – something like the Bora Portamate wood rack ($40 for 4 tiers via Amazon). I have a lot of smaller wood boards that could potentially fit this ~5-foot space.
Rubbermaid’s Fasttrack system of adjustable shelves might also work. Rubbermaid says that each 48″ x 16″ deep shelf can hold 350 lbs, and the wire shelving should offer more storage flexibility than lumber bars would. There’s also the Ikea Algot system, which has a metal shelf option, but I don’t believe they come close to Rubbermaid’s load rating.
I’m of course open to any ideas or recommendations!
My garage lighting installation process has gone well. You can read more about that here:
- Overthinking Garage Workshop Lighting – Installation in-Progress
- Garage Workshop Lighting Plug-in Cord Wiring Update
I have 6 lights up, 5 with right angle plugs, and 2 more to go. I was worried I bought too many lights, but I’m convinced I made the right choice. 8 fixtures, each with 2x 48″ LED bulbs seems like a good fit.
Things would go a lot quicker if I had to do it again, and I’ve been kicking myself for waiting this long to settle on a solution. The two bright lights I was using worked, but my new LED fixtures work a lot better.
I’m looking to build a new assembly/general purpose work table. I’m thinking drawers, and maybe a shelf or cabinets for small tool boxes. I am also leaning towards a worktop with MFT-like grid of dog holes, similar to Ben V’s design:
I have a Festool MFT table that I love using, but it doesn’t store neatly. It can be accessible or neatly stored between uses, but there’s no middle ground. I don’t leave it open and out because there’s no easy way to build storage space beneath it, and because it’s not rigid enough as a general purpose work table. This has led me to use it more as a portable cutting table for track saw use.
So despite actually owning a folding MFT table, I need something more stationary and with wheels.
I’m also considering getting a table saw, and so this mobile table might serve as an outfeed table.
After the mobile workbench, I’ll turn my attention towards designing a lumber cart. Lumber storage is a challenge for many woodworkers and DIYers who have smaller workshops. I’ve seen a couple of good ideas, but many tend to require a lot of space.
Part of the new workbench will include cordless power tool battery and charger storage.
I will also need to figure out a miter saw station – maybe – and my router table needs some built-in storage.
I have a couple of rolling light stands, which I don’t need for general lighting anymore, but they could be handy. I tend to use one of them for PPE storage so that I can always find my safety goggles, face mask, and hearing protection. It will be interesting to see if I can design something similar into the new workbench.
I realize this all sounds like a lot, but putting it “to paper” helps to keep me committed. I hope to show you more on the progress once I start working on the organizational projects.