A garage is mainly used for storing cars right? Well, yes and no. That’s only one way that a garage can be used. It is a space in your home after all and you can use your garage in any number of ways you want, other than storing your cars that is. If you do a lot of home improvement projects creating an amazing garage workshop can be incredibly helpful. Preparing it well for your intended use is always the first step. If your neighborhood is safe and you can afford to keep your cars outside then congratulations, you just freed up more space in your home.
Have you always wanted a hobby shop but never found a place to build one? You don’t have the expenses that are needed to purchase another property and make that workshop there? Well, now’s your chance.
The First Step: Cleanup and De-Clutter
The first step is always, always cleaning it up. A cluttered garage will stop your mind from visualizing clearly what you really want out of it. Sure, it’s where you store your equipment but it’s not yet ready for your DIY endeavors. Not by a long shot. You need to free up space for visualizing what goes where.
First off, remove the household items such as kids’ bikes and other unimportant items stored in your garage that will not allow you to make those wooden masterpieces that you always wanted. When you have finished your workshop, it would be great if you didn’t have to rummage through the supplies in order to get the paint can to put the final touches on your first DIY masterpiece. But storage space is already short, unless you have a large attic, so there will have to be some compromises during the planning stage.
Mark Your Territory
One way to get around this problem of space is to define the boundaries of the garage. Which area will use to store household items and which area will you will use for your workshop? If you feel that you’re going to fall short on space, a workbench can be the perfect solution. Renting another space nearby or building a separate shed for storage can work too, but they’ll be extra efforts on your part, not to mention more expenses. So, we’ll stick to the small space workbench for the time being, and get around to building that in a while.
There’s no use having a garage workshop where you trip and fall every single time. It should be your top priority. Get the stuff that’s lying in the way, off to the side and prevent falls and accidents. Not only will this help prevent these workplace accidents but will also allow you better access to the equipment and tools.
Also, keeping the worktable clear of clutter is very important because then you’ll have adequate space to undertake your projects. You won’t go misplacing different nuts and bolts under the debris and tools. You’ll be able to visualize every new project in your garage workshop when you clean up the debris from the old one, making it clearer. This beats having to throw out old and unfinished projects before you decide on starting a new one. Clean spaces keep your motivation up so you don’t give up in the middle of a project or DIY altogether.
Additionally you should hire a professional to service your garage door every year to ensure optimal functionality and safety.
Second Step: Building or Buying a Workbench
There are woodworking supply catalogs and home centers in the US that sell workbenches that may work well with your garage workshop. If you can spend the money for a premade bench, that’s awesome, but if you don’t have the money for that, you can also build one for yourself. You’ll even have the additional satisfaction when you build a workbench that is customized for your personal needs at the garage workshop.
You can get help from DIY project books when you start to build the bench itself. They usually have plans for making a robust and quality workbench for your needs. Woodwork magazines publish stories about workbenches annually, so you can take your pick from one of the stories to design your ideal workbench.
To start off, know that you can choose from three types of benches:
- Utility Workbench
- Traditional Cabinet Maker’s Bench
- Metal-Works Bench
These are easy to build and of immense value to woodwork enthusiasts or people who enjoy home improvement tasks. They may look similar to cabinetmaker benches, but they can be affixed to walls as well, using wall studs. Or you can let them be freestanding. The other styles of a utility bench can be a sheet of plywood on top of two cabinets to store tools. Fitting a vise onto the workbench is optional, but it can increase the utility of your garage workshop. Alternatively, you can also have a bunch of C-Clamps or other clamps to hold your completed project parts in place so you can affix other parts to it. A clamp-on bench vise works well, too.
Traditional Cabinet Maker’s Bench
These usually have characteristically thick tops made of hardwood. The wooden legs that support the heavy hardwood are thick and sturdy. They’re not fixed to the ground so you can play around with where you place them in your garage workshop. Another great advantage is that you can move around freely to work on your projects from all different angles using this bench. The bench is almost 4 or 6 feet in length and 2 feet in width, with its top surface laminated with hard maple, rosewood or beech (or any other hardwood). This thickness helps to absorb the vibrations created while the project is being done.
Cabinet Makers Bench Ideas
The bench top usually has a number of holes along an edge or at the very end. The pegs that fit onto these holes are called bench dogs and can be either wooden on made of metal. They work together with a vise to fit larger working pieces of your project firmly for you to work on. A regular traditional bench would cost you around $500 if you buy one that’s of high quality.
They’re similar to utility workbenches in that they are the same shape but fit in with a metal vise to allow you to shape the metal you want to use in a particular DIY project. These can be affixed to the wall to give you free space underneath so that you can place your most important tools there for easy access. You can even have a pegboard up to store your most used tools there so you don’t go looking for them every time you begin a project. And of course, they’re made of metal
Third Step: What Tools You’ll Need Deciding Where You’ll Keep Them
This perhaps is the most important, as it will be in line with what you’ll be doing primarily in your garage workshop.The aesthetics and practicality of your garage workshop will also depend on this. The first thing that you need is to find a place to keep the tools you need, well within reach. You also have to select which tools you actually do need for your garage workshop.
What Tools You’re Going to Need?
You’ll need a standard set of tools to start off. A bunch of hammers, scissors, spanners, wrenches, different size screw drivers, screws, nails, pins and any other things that you can think of. The sooner you group these and store them appropriately, the better. You don’t want to be in a pickle when you actually start with a project. Your garage workshop won’t be very practical without the right tools. You’ll need some power tools for it as well.
Collect these to start off:
- Band Saw
- Belt Sander
- Table Saw
- Drill Press
- Compound Miter Saw
Think of what you need for your projects, if its wood, the tools mentioned above will suffice most of the time but for metal projects, you might need something more. Other tools can be rented just as easily. Thank heavens for the renting facility.
Storage of Tools
Have a quality tool chest in place for the tools so your investment stays protected and neatly organized in your garage workshop. Smooth ball bearing drawers near your workbench allow you easy access during projects, make sure they are coated with dust and rust resistant materials so your tools aren’t affected. Drawer mats can also help you in resting your tools on a softer base so you can increase their useful life.
Whoever made pegboards is a genius. Where else would you find a place to grab-and-go-to-work with the most needed tools. You can hang these tools on your walls with a provided outline to avoid misplacing them. Pegboards also give your garage workshop an overall organized look.
Fourth Step: Light it Up
Not on fire, man, focus! We’re talking about lighting up the workspace of your garage workshop.The garage workshop can be a dreary and sometimes frightening place without natural and man-made light. So make sure that there is enough lighting in the area so you don’t have to work in darkness and injure yourself. There should be windows and skylights in the garage to allow you to have adequate natural light during the day.
On top of this, there needs to be additional light from bulbs to illuminate the work area. Yes, you guessed it, overhead and task lighting need to be present. The task light, will help you shed light on the workbench itself so you can get around tough spots in your DIY projects.
While light bulbs with ceiling mounts cover only a small area directly under the mount itself, this light diminishes rapidly; the further you move away from the area, the lesser the light becomes. This gives way to shadows forming. When you plan to add overhead light fixtures to the garage workshop, make sure that they illuminate 16 ft² per mounted fixture. This will allow lesser fixtures to be installed, meaning a less cluttered ceiling and even lesser shadows. Don’t forget to add protective coverings on the lamps that are fit into these overhead mounts.
Other than these artificial light sources, you can utilize the light sources that nature has provided. Some windows, a skylight and a reinforced double glazed glass door can give you all the light you need to work during the day in your garage workshop. It can make your cold and dark garage workshop look brighter, warmer and cheerier. Not to mention, provide you with the best results and concentration during most projects in your garage workshop during the day.
Glass Pane Garage DoorAs a reference, if you live in a hotter region, the skylights will benefit you the most when you have them facing north or east. This is because they will allow indirect sunlight without a lot of heat to pour into your garage workshop. In cooler climates, the most benefit comes from direct sunlight so a southward facing skylight will allow you to have more direct sunlight and heat to warm up your garage workshop’s cooler surrounding.
Another great way to light up the garage workshop is to install glass panel garage doors. Check out the Avante Collection to see how glass can help illuminate your entire garage space.
Incandescent or Fluorescent?
Compact fluorescent lamps work better than incandescent lamps because they’re more energy efficient and provide the same or even more light out of the same bulb. Some CLFs also have the option to work with the standard or fluorescent fixtures. They can work with dimmer switches as well. You just have to know which ones work well.
Besides, fluorescent lights are better geared towards the lighting needs of your garage. They are even in their lighting so that the light illuminates every area of your garage workshop for improved efficiency. They’re not too hard on your pocket as well. They’re more energy efficient and provide brighter white light, allowing you to remain more alert in the projects you do in your garage workshop. As an added bonus, you won’t need to replace them as often as incandescent light bulbs.
If your garage workshop is of a sizeable area, you can use long, 8-foot fluorescent lights, which cost in the neighborhood of $50-$100. This is still considerably less than buying two 4-foot premium lights. And since they’re designed with commercial applications in mind, you don’t need to worry about them being of a high quality, because they will be. They’re even more suitable for colder weather. Plus, they’ll be installed more easily as your installation workload will be cut in half.
A Final Word on Ventilation and Adequate Air
Varnish, sawdust and other particulates may wreak havoc inside your body if not allowed to escape. They contaminate the air in the garage workshop, making it difficult to breathe. There should be some portable fans that you should use to direct these particulates and contaminants to vents, open windows, skylights or any other openings. Create a cross-breeze from one window to the next with these fans so that all contaminants escape outside and you stay safe, especially during sawing, sanding and routing. Have a dust collector in place — for especially dusty tools — to collect the debris as you start to add some professional power-tools in the mix.
We wish you the very best of luck for your garage workshop project and hope that our guidance paid off. Let us know how it panned out and if there’s something we missed.
Finally: Enjoy Your Garage Workshop
Leave a comment and tell us about your garage workshop experience.