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Garage Workshop Spring Cleaning and Organization Update (Spring 2021)

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I’ve been hard at work trying to clean and organize my garage workshop space. Most of this process involves moving loose items to the basement, which I am hoping will automagically clean and clear itself.

Working on optimizing my garage workshop space has been on ongoing challenge, but I’m making progress.

I started in June, installing new New Age Pro wall shelves. One of them is nearly fully utilized, and the other is a bit under-utilized for the moment, but I have some ideas on what will go there.

I’ve got to get my wood boards, plywood, and countertop materials under control, and the same with lawn and garden tools. But, that’ll come next. I’ve got a corner devoted to this.

Strategy Shift

For personal tools, I’m aiming for a modular approach. If I can pick it up and move it somewhere else, I will. This won’t be the case for everything, but there are too many non-essential tools in spaces that can either be empty or filled with more frequently-used tools and equipment. I moved my portable air compressor to the basement, so why are my air nailers still in the cabinet?

For samples, I’m aiming for a more streamlined approach. 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.

The test, use, review, and donate/give away process needs to be faster.

I maxed out what the local high school can accept, although every now and then they have specific requests. Local tradesmen and professionals will usually accept general purpose tools, but a lot of times there are brand or preference disagreements.

My next go-to donation source will be the local department of public works. They’ve indicated that they’ll take anything.

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 them 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.

The local zoo put out a request for tool donations – I can always see if their needs match up with equipment I’m looking to pass on.

The key takeaway is that I’m looking for new tool and sample management practices, with space efficiency in mind.

I know – I could send older samples to some of you, and I might get to the point where I can do that. But, there’s one small problem – I am absolutely terrible about shipping things out in a timely manner.

Why This is Important

Cleaning and organizing my garage workshop has been a never-ending 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. This has happened enough times that it’s become a chore.

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 have a new jointer, and that helped kick-start the cleanup process, but really it was a long-time coming. Better late than never?

It doesn’t matter how many tools you have, or what kinds of tools you have, if you don’t have a safe space to use them.

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 even with twice the space? I maintain a list of tools I’d like to buy, or rather tools that would facilitate some of my potential and planned projects. But right now, more tools is not the answer. What I’m after is a safe and efficient use of space that will allow for more productive use of the tools I already have.

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. I have two more cabinets, and I put one up on top to see how it would look, but it didn’t seem right. An upper tier of cabinet wouldn’t see a lot of use due to needing a stepladder to access anything. I could put another wall shelf here, but that seems less than ideal.

Hmm – maybe a lumber rack can go here – something like the Bora Portamate wood rack ($40 for 4 tiers via Amazon). But there’s a catch – I only have 56″ to maybe 60″ of horizontal space until I hit the garage opener rails. I do have a lot of smaller wood boards that could potentially go here.

Ah – maybe this is where my 5′ step ladder and work platform can go? But then how do I get them down? Work platform and guide rail storage? But that seems like it would waste most of this space.

I could put some milk creates up there, but then they’d end up filled with stuff I never access, which is what happened prior to today’s cleanup. After talking the photo for this post, I added an RC truck up there, and it seems at home.

What I might do is install adjustable shelf brackets, such as from Rubbermaid. They say each 48″ x 16″ deep shelf can hold 350 lbs, and so maybe that could serve as a more adjustable system where I can store either wood boards or other objects. I’d have to cut the uprights or do without a top rail. 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.

What’s your take on storing things above a garage opener door? There’s not much that could go there, though, maybe a shelf that could fit a couple of 5-foot boards or so.

Lighting Progress

My garage lighting installation process has gone well. You can read more about that here:

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.

A New Garage Door Opener

I had been wanting to get a new garage door opener to replace the Ryobi sample I had been testing out.

In no uncertain terms, the Ryobi opener was terrible. It lost its safety settings once or twice, reacting unpredictably until I realized what the problem could be. Its LED light was great, but it wasn’t that much brighter than a standard opener light and its occupancy sensor wasn’t perfect. The Ryobi opener’s light was convenient for when I needed something quick from the garage without having to walk over to the bright worklights I fixed to a stand in the middle of the room. I could never get the exterior keypad working properly, at least not outside the garage, and its replacement also didn’t work.

So, the door connected to the Ryobi opener was barely used and remained closed 360 days out of the year.

I replaced the Ryobi opener with a Linear, and cleaned everything around it for the install.

Part of why I replaced the opener now was because I wanted to see if I could remove the Ryobi opener’s keypad wires, but I couldn’t. So, the Linear motor went up and I installed my LED light over the keypad wires.

I’m liking the new motor a lot better, and with both doors fully functional, I switched everything over. So, for easy entrances and exists, there’s a shorter and straighter path out the secondary (now primary) door. And, this is where I have drawered tool cabinets, and so there *should* always be a walking path here. I can have the rest of the garage cluttered with projects in various states of completion, and I’ll still be able to walk through with groceries.

Upcoming Projects

I’m looking to build a new assembly/general purpose work table. I’m thinking drawers, and maybe a shelf for Systainers. Maybe part of it would feature a MFT-like grid of dog holes, similar to Ben V’s design:

DIY MFT Workbench Part 1: Design Goals and Frame Construction

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. So, either I’m running into it or it’s buried to where I can’t get to it. I don’t leave it open and out because there’s no way to build storage space beneath it.

I’m also considering getting a table saw, and this mobile table might serve as an outfeed table.

I need a lumber cart…

Somewhere, somehow, I need cordless power tool battery and charger storage. Maybe all this – but not the lumber cart – can be built into the mobile workbench/assembly table.

Even though I’m striving to do more with less, some tools, accessories, and supplies are best kept in this workspace rather than anywhere else, such as glue and dust collection parts, and I need a place for these things.

I need to figure out a miter saw station, but maybe that’s also something my mobile workbench can be used for. Right now my goal is to keep moving things out, and so this isn’t a big priority just yet.

I also haven’t been thrilled with my router table’s space efficiency, but the table is a joy to use. I need an enclosure for better dust collection, and it seems this will be easier to do if I build from scratch rather than adapting to the steel angle iron legs.

I have a couple of rolling light stands, which I don’t really need for general lighting anymore, but they could handy for when I start taking photos and even video in this space. But, where do they go for storage?

On top of all this, I need to figure out where some of the kids’ stuff can go. I already put their Power Wheels out in the yard with a tarp on top of it. I previously built a workbench that stood over it, but it took up way too much space. I put it vertically in a corner with safety bar, and it still took up way too much space. So outside and under a tarp it went. Maybe this year I’ll find a place to put a shed for things like that, my garden cart, digging tools, and what-not.

I realize this all sounds like a lot, but putting it “to paper” helps to keep me committed.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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