A garage doesn’t have to be a place to just store cars and junk. If you’re handy, it’s a great place to set up shop for do-it-yourself projects. Maybe there are some things you’ve been meaning to get done but haven’t because there isn’t sufficient space or an organized area to do it in. Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips to create your dream workshop.
Advance planning. You don’t have to get fancy and make up formal blueprints for your workshop. But try to roughly sketch what you have in mind, take some measurements, and try to imagine where you want everything. Sure, there will be changes to your original plans, but you want to make sure there’s enough room to work in and the layout of each component makes sense. Consider the types of projects you’ll use the workshop for and make sure you have adequate space to complete them, especially if you plan on keeping vehicles in the garage.
Storage. A workshop isn’t complete without lots and lots of tools and supplies, which means you’ll need lots and lots of storage. An efficient workspace requires organization and you don’t want to waste time searching for a screwdriver, nuts, bolts, or anything else. Head over to your local home improvement store and check out bins, shelves, and wall-mounted hooks. Not only will they keep you organized, but you also want to protect your equipment. Some tools are expensive so you’ll want to store them in a safe place. Having plenty of storage will also keep you, and any other workshop guests, safe. Tools and supplies won’t be littered on the floor as tripping hazards and you won’t have to worry about someone stepping on a nail.
Lighting. Garages tend to be very dark. Working in a poorly lit area is difficult and dangerous. You may have some recessed lights that were installed when the house was built, but they aren’t sufficient for the type of work you’ll probably be doing. Natural light is always best, so if you have a window in your garage, use that to your advantage. But it won’t always be enough. Consider installing track lights, LEDs, or ceiling-mounted fluorescents. It’s better to have too much light than too little.
Electricity. Not only do you need plenty of light, but you need to make sure you have a sufficient amount of electrical service to power your tools. You should have receptacles with high amperage installed at about six-foot intervals around the room. It would take some work, but you could also have flush-mounted floor plugs. It’s very dangerous to overload a circuit and some heavy-duty tools require a lot of service. Also consider other things in the workshop that need power – lights, heaters, air conditioning units, radios, etc. Try not to rely on extension cords, they’re a tripping hazard and can be a pain to drag around. It’s best to bring in a certified electrician to evaluate what you need.
Durable surface. This applies to both the workbench and the floor. You’ll be doing most of your work on the bench so it should be heavy and rock-solid. Why build a workbench if you can’t hammer away on it? The floor will also take a beating – dropped tools, oil stains, years and years of foot traffic. They can become slippery and can be really hard on the body if you spend enough time there. Consider an epoxy floor, which has extra grip. You could also purchase rubber floor mats to ease the burden on your feet.
Easy to clean. DIY projects can be messy and after putting in all that hard work, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning up. Epoxy floors are easy to clean. The surface of your workbench should be able to handle simple cleaning agents. You could also set up partitions if you’re working near an area not part of your shop. Dust collection systems and central vacuums are also handy.
Plumbing. If you have the room, a utility sink can be very convenient. You won’t have to leave the shop to wash your hands and cleaning paintbrushes will be much easier. Dirtying up your kitchen or bathroom sink probably isn’t a good idea.
Heating/cooling. Garages are stuffy, especially if there aren’t any windows, and they’re rarely insulated. You may want to buy an AC unit or a space heater, especially if you live in extreme climates. Wearing a heavy coat in the winter will only hinder your work process and the heat of the summer can be dangerous.
Entertainment. Some people build a workshop to get away from the noise of the world and prefer to work in peace. But others work better when there’s music or the baseball game is on. You could go to the extreme and install a full-blown audio system or hang big-screen TVs. But you can find simple, durable radios that would suffice.
Can you think of anything else that would be great for a dream workshop? Comment below.