Five Simple Steps to a Well-Organized Shop or Garage

April 21, 2010

Have you ever needed a tool and not been able to find it? Looked for that critical part for a plumbing project that you know is "somewhere around here?" You may be a victim of messy shop syndrome. Whether you have a separate shop or just a section of the garage, take the time to organize things and you'll save yourself even more time in the long run.

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Here are five easy steps to organizing your shop or garage area.

  1. Take some time to take stock of the area you have to work with. Do you need a bigger toolbox, more shelves, some cabinets, maybe a pegboard? Determine categories of tools and materials, and decide how to group them and store them so you'll always know where they are.
  2. OK, now you have a plan. It's time to put it in motion. Even if your toolbox is big enough, you still might want to purchase a second or third one. Put carpentry tools in one, automotive tools in another, and perhaps plumbing tools in a third. Arrange the tools in each box logically: wrenches in one drawer, Philips screwdrivers in another, Allen wrenches in a third, etc. That way, you can find the right tool for a project immediately.
  3. Next, tackle storage for materials. You may want to put up simple shelves with planks and L-brackets, or use enclosed cabinets if there is room. Again, put your paint cans and supplies in one area, plumbing parts in another, electrical stuff in a third, and so forth.
  4. Now to the workbench. Get some small parts bins with plastic slide-out drawers. These are ideal for small parts: nuts, bolts, screws, nails, staples, zip ties, and other little bits and pieces. Sort by size and type and label the drawers, so if you need a two-inch bolt, you can grab it right away.
  5. For larger items, particularly lawn and garden tools, pegboard is an ideal storage medium. Find a suitable expanse of wall and put up a large enough piece of pegboard to hold all your rakes, shovels, hedge trimmers, lawn trimmers, weed pullers, etc. Make sure you use spacers behind the pegboard when mounting it so that you can install the hooks and hardware in the holes without gouging the wallboard behind it.

Now that you have a place for everything and everything in its place, it's your job to keep it that way. When you complete a project, return all the tools and leftover materials to their rightful place, and they'll be right there the next time you need them.

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