Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Key to DIY - The Garage/Workbench

So, I've got a house!

A house... that also has a Garage.
Its a single car garage, 10X22 If I can remember.

So... A single Car Garage, basically means No cars go in the garage. Sadly, the garage will most likely become the repository of all things dirty, ugly, and unused. Bicycles, Lawn Mowers, Shovels, Garbage, Recycling, Tires, Car stuff, Sports stuff, scraps of wood/materials from other projects/renos, Paint cans, Decorations for Halloween  Christmas, and whatever else you dress up your house for. Fitting your car in there with all that stuff is unlikely, unless your lucky enough to get a two car garage. (Which I propose renaming to single car garage)

So, Give up, your car isn't going in there.

Make part of it your Work space.

A Garage well stocked with tools and work space can save you a bundle of time and money. You can build, repair appliances, soldier, paint, fix cars, bicycles, toys (both kids, and your own) etc.

Its a very practical space, and its important (to me, at least)

There are 5 key points to a decent garage.

1. Work space
You need a place to work. A higher than normal (36 inches, instead of 32) Counter top  I found one for 40 bucks on kijiji, and its doing the job perfectly. Mounting it is the tricky part. First, get some No more nails, and some plywood. You'll want to glue the plywood to the bottom of the counter top to give it more strength  You will be hammering, prying, smashing, pounding... (etc etc) on this counter top  so it will need to be better supported than your average kitchen counter top.

You can use 2 dollar shelf brackets to attach it to the wall, provided you hit studs on every one. (Get a stud finder, or knock until it doesn't feel solid. If your screw goes in to the wall too easy after an inch, you missed the stud. try again, but don't make swiss cheese out of your drywall...   ...get a stud finder)

You'll then want to build Legs and a support along the front, so you can basically sit on the counter top without it moving an inch. here's a picture of mine, before I put the legs in for support. You can see, however that I've started the "beam" along the front in which my legs will attach to.

Putting the legs on was the tough part. I used 2 2X4's and some Deck Mounting brackets to hold it all in place. The HARD part... was that my floor slopes. A Lot. In the photo above, the corner close to us is 38 inches off the ground. By the old TV (waiting for a garage sale) is 33&1/4 inches off the ground. Nearly 5 inches over 8 feet. Horrible.

Anyway, the legs are in, and pair of elephants could do the nasty on there, and it would hold steady.

2. Lighting
The single light bulb on your garage door opener or ceiling is not going to cut it.

If your handy, get one of those light socket replacements that has a plug in it as well. Then go to home depot, get a 17 dollar T8 Shop Light (4 feet long, florescent lights) and 2 bulbs (10 bucks) Mount it on the ceiling above your workbench. Wala! Light!  The long florescent lights are preferred as they cast less shadows and allow you to see your work with ease. They're also a nice "clean" light. Avoid the "warm" colored lights in the garage. Clean and white is what you need.

3. Storage Space
So, on top of all the stupid decorations and gardening tools that will no doubt find their homes in your garage, you'll also need to store your stuff. Car Parts, Tools, Sports equipment, Paint cans, solvents, nuts and bolts...
This is a little anal for my liking, but you get th  idea.
Drive some nails/screws into the wall, Hang tools.

I've got Rubbermaid totes stacked under my workbench with commonly used parts, but hand tools were starting to clutter up my brand new(used) re-purposed kitchen counter.

Easiest way to start doing this without an expensive tool box is to grab a spare piece of plywood, screw it onto the wall and drive a few screws/nails half way into it. commence hanging of the tools. Its awesome, its right in plain view and easy reach, and because its right in front of your face, you're more likely to put the tool back after using it, preventing a lengthy head scratching session trying to remember where you just put a tool down 3 minutes ago.

A double whammy is Shelving. You'll need a ton of it. its relatively cheap. under 20 bucks for an 8 foot shelf. a 8X12X1 white board is 10 bucks at Home Depot, then 5-6 shelf brackets are $1.75  This shelf should hold 100 pounds if you have it mounted on studs.

4. "MOAR POWER!!!"
My garage is horrible for this. I have one outlet. It currently looks like the grizzwald christmas light socket. (which is wrong. VERY very wrong)

It is on the same circuit as the front foyer in the house. It also powers my 7 amp pool pump.

So when I fire up my 12 amp skill saw (or the chop saw I keep stealing from my future brother in law...) Pop goes the breaker.
I will be running another circuit up to the garage, but will probably (PROBABLY) save up for an electrician to do this. We'll see. Bottom line... an outlet every 4 feet is awesome. No more need for extension cords. Try and do "splits" so the top plug is a difference circuit from the bottom one. that way you can put to heavy usage items on the same outlets without popping breakers.

Again, You probably don't need this right away... but if you're going to be spending a lot of time in the garage, and have a lot of high draw toys (Saws, Impact Guns, Electric heaters, Shop Vacs, Drills, Lights...) You'll probably eventually need more than the average home provides.

5.  Tunes.
Yeah... its important. Music makes any job so much better. Get that old crappy stereo your parents got you when you were an angsty teenager. You know, the one you used to make mix tapes with? The one that is stuck in "demo" mode forever cycling cheap LCD graphics of Rock, Pop, Classical, and Bass Boost propaganda all over its screen?  Yeah, That one. :-)  Put speakers on either side of the garage. (Yay Shelves)

See if it has an AUX in or TV in. Buy a 8 dollar RCA - 3.5 Headphone cable. Plug it in, turn it to AUX, and play the tunes from your phone. (or just listen to the radio like old people do)

That's it!


If you don't have any tools, and you don't know how to change a light bulb .. Sorry for wasting your time.

If you'd like to try fixing your own stuff and some projects, I strongly recommend getting a tool kit if you don't already have a decent selection of tools. You can get them for about 100 bucks, and they contain almost everything you need, and are much cheaper than buying the items individually.

Something like this is a great start,
Or this, as a more expensive (but complete example)

So, I've got most of this set up in my garage already, and I've already used it to work on both our cars, repair discovered Christmas decorations, Build Steps for the back deck, clean up a pool pump, Build a Bench, Vegetable Garden, Help a friend rip out his malfunctioning car alarm, Soldering electronics, and various woodwork projects. This is all in the last month!  Pretty useful "storage" space if you ask me!

While the car doesn't fit all the way in now (it might if I REALLY wanted it to) I can get 2/3rds of it in the dry of the garage to work on. A small area heater would prevent me from freezing my gonads off come winter, but I'm too cheap to buy one, and I'd probably pop a breaker anyway, until I get that other circuit added.

Now that I've got my garage "running" I'll be posting more and more DIY projects as I tackle them. Any requests?

Leave comments! I can see people are reading, but I don't know if you're liking it! (FYI, Just celebrated my 1000th visitor Yesterday! (Nov 14th, 2012))


  1. Amazing Alex, just amazing. And here I thought you were just a computer genius!

  2. It was amazing arrangement. so cool.. I like the way it was designed.