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When people gripe about their workshops, they most often complain that they don’t have enough space. I’ve been watching the workshop photos to pick up some good ideas on space-saving, and I’ve gleaned a few smart ideas.

Going back to the basics, I’ve found that most Toolmongers employ shelves. Whether they’re bought or built, you can configure shelves in many ways: wall-mounted, freestanding, or stacking, for workspace or for storage. A lot of Toolmongers lift their freestanding shelves a few inches higher — with risers, “bed risers,” or something like bricks — so they can slide stuff underneath.

Most Toolmongers already own a rolling cart, for good reason — they’re great. Some other tools on the market might help, like fold-up workspaces, workbenches, and storage lifts. And you can add a hanging rack on the shop door, if you don’t mind the clanking. But my ideas end there, so I come to you.

I know that a Toolmonger with a real problem is the most creative mind on the planet, so tell us: How have you made space in your shop? Let us know in comments.

Photo posted on Flickr by joejoetheclown.

Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]


10 Responses to Reader Question: Workshop Space-Saving Tips

  1. PeterP says:

    Well, I think that workshop need about four hours with a garbage can and a broom, first.

    My favorite technique has been just to throw away crap I don’t need. Shelves are great, but without a little discipline, they are just space for more clutter to build up (says the guy with about four bottles of antifreeze on his shelves). That, and I’ve started budgeting cleanup time into my projects, because I’m not a neat person by nature. If I don’t stay on top of it I rapidly get where I can’t walk through the garage without heavy boots and a safety line.

    I’ve also found that the rubbermaid stackable shelves are nice for lightweight items, provided you take the time to label what the drawers are for. I don’t usually arrange the contents of the drawers themselves, but knowing that all the sandpaper is in one place at least makes the search for a specific grit faster.

  2. forlerm says:

    wow wow i fill a little better about my mess now thanks.

    that looks very dangerous though clutter makes danger lack of good light makes it worse.

  3. jim says:

    Like forlerm said, visibility is #1 — if you can see the mess, you’ll clean it up, so open shelves and pick bins are best. If you need doors, drawers, and boxes for dust control or security, label them.

    Prioritization is #2 — hand tools I use every day are in a plastic holder over the workbench; once-in-a-while are on a pegboard three steps away, and blue-moon are in a labeled box. Same for power tools: drill, grinder, sawzall, and charger are on a tool shelf right under the work surface. I ran flex conduit to electrical boxes on the bench so the tools stay plugged in without running cords across my work surface.

  4. fred says:

    Most of our rolling plumbing toolboxes are actually Ford E350’s – outfitted with bins and shelves with grating doors.
    We organize our carpentry tools into Knaack boxes that we fit with interior bins – to organize and provide visiblity.
    For toolkits that we do not use all the time (e.g. PEX tools) we like Waterloo steel toolboxes into which we store a complete kit for the specialty job. We organize these boxes on steel shelving – placed such that the most used are most accessible. We also build/buy rolling carts that complement and are built around a particular tool. As an example we have our Oster pipe threaders on carts that also store everything else needed to do that job (from spare dies to cutting oil). They are stored on the shop floor – ready to be lifted into a truck and moved to a jobsite.
    Our carpentry shop is also organized around the major tools with everything that goes with them either stored below or in quick access (e.g. shaper cutters with the shaper) . We still use pegboard and have spray painted them different light colors with tool outlines in black – so we can see what goes back where and what’s missing. We used to spray a bit of the pegboard color on some tools to make it easier to tell where errant tools belonged – but we found this was more nuisance than worth.

  5. Hank says:

    If you don’t put a tool in a drawer, on a shelf, or on some structure, then you will lose it a lot. If that happens, the tool becomes somewhat worthless.

    Crap goes on self-made hanging shelves from the ceiling. Lesser crap goes on shelves high on the walls; more important stuff goes on lower level shelves or in drawers, or hung in plain site. Everything always returns to the same place, eventually. Always.

  6. James says:

    All of my “oughta go in a shed” crap takes up an entire wall of my garage (mower, blowers, wheelbarrow, spare tire, dolly down low, bikes and golf up high), but I made use of the jagged line between the high stuff and the low with a bunch of bike hooks to keep my powered hand tools and their freaking cords out of my way.

  7. bob says:

    I installed some shelves near the ceiling the whole way around the garage. It is all out of the way, as I’m only 6ft tall, so I never hit my head on it, but I need a ladder to get stuff down. I store the seldom used stuff in the area above the garage doors since it’s not accessible when the door is open.

    I have attic space above the garage that I use as an additional storage area. It was hard to get stuff up there climbing the ladder, so I securely mounted a cheap harbor freight. I’ve used it to put a spare engine, transmission & car doors in the attic, as well as my seldom used engine hoist & engine stand.

    I also have a small house with little extra space, so I modified my couch so it has a flip up storage compartment under the cushions. It was big enough to store a blanket & pillow for guests as well as hide my subwoofer for my home theater. In the kitchen I built a shelf above the upper cabinets for pots & pans. It the bedroom I installed an upper & lower clothing rack, so I can store twice as many clothes in the tiny closet. I built risers to bring my bed up about 15inches higher. I keep all my out of season clothes under there in large plastic bins. In the laundry room I bought front loading washer & dryer & installed it like you would a dish washer with cabinets on both sides & a counter top above.

  8. Jeff says:

    I see that back wall has one shelf on it, first thing put shelves floor to ceiling. Organize your boxes there. Then take down the christmas lights and install proper lighting including a light over your work area to replace the swingarm lamp that looks like it gets in the way. Put some plywood on top of that ceiling for large and long item storage of items you don’t use much (you may need to buy a stepladder for access). That should clean up about 80% of the clutter.

  9. Francois says:

    First of all, use the rope hanging from the ceiling to hang the owner.
    Then use a lighter and set the place alight.

  10. Alex says:

    im just about to takle my shed and im goin to put all my screws bolts ect into jars and nail the lid to the underside of a shelf that way they dont take up sehlf space and you can just unscrew the jar when u need them. altho i do need ideas for the rest of my junk.

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