Tools & Workshop

Top Tips for Setting Up Your Garage Workshop

This is the classic garage work area. The bench is fixed on the end wall and your car is still comfortably situated in its bay. Maybe there's a little storage space on the side walls or in the rafters overhead. The arrangement is practical, compact, and interferes not at all with the business of the house.

Then comes the transformation: With the car removed (even temporarily), the real workshop can reveal itself. Some two hundred square feet of space is suddenly open and available. You can design a fold-up worktable from the bench; one or more stationary tools on casters can be rolled out from the side walls. The garage door up front makes loading and unloading tools and materials a simple matter, with no twisting and turning to squeeze through narrow doorways. There's a reason why this is a popular option.

One handy space-saving trick useful in the garage workshop is a roller table. Its top can accommodate a benchtop table saw and other tools, too, while the tool (or tools) not in use on a shelf are stowed beneath. Prefabricated roller tables are available from mail-order catalogs, but some two-by stock, plywood, a set of inexpensive casters, and a few fasteners are really all you need to make one for yourself.

One caveat regarding garage workshops should be kept in mind: Not all activities that can be done there are truly compatible with one another. Woodworking is a dusty occupation, while most automotive mechanical work involves grease and oil. Fine woods can be ruined when brought in contact with petroleum products; many engine and motor parts just won't function when contaminated with sawdust and other grit.

Keep your shop clean to minimize the risk of such problems. And try to avoid interrupting one kind of work with another: Do the tune-up first, then make those birdhouses.