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Archive for Sunday, April 25, 2004

Organizing garage or workshop begins with tools

April 25, 2004

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When it comes to organizing your garage and workshop, easy access to tools is a necessity -- and having items hanging on a pegboard where they're easy to grab is a luxury, says Jay Baker.

For those who want something sturdier from which to hang their tools, Baker, host of the DIY -- Do It Yourself Network show "Ultimate Workshop." recommends slat wall, a heavy-duty plastic siding that functions the same way as pegboard with various attachments that stick out of it.

But before you get to storing your tools, says Paul Ryan, host of DIY's "Weekend Handyman," you have to be prepared.

"Develop a guide of how you want things to look," he says. "It's a good idea to step back first and plan. What kind of things do you do on a regular basis? What kind of things do you need in the space and what kind of things do you want in the space?"

New modular shelving systems made specifically for workshops often come installed with cabinets and adjustable sets of shelves in which you can store tools that don't fit on your pegboard, Ryan says.

For those who don't want to invest in large shelving systems, Ryan recommends new laser levels to help set up straight lines along the wall for installing shelving. You "set 'em down and they automatically level across the wall," he says.

Once you've got your tools stored either on pegboard or in a shelving system, find something to do with all the small parts.

"The difficulties that I have are the odds and ends," Baker says. "And to be honest with you, the thing that I've found to be extremely useful are these ... little plastic canisters that are clear and have a screw on top. Rather than having to having to read the side of boxes and things like that I just look across all these clear little plastic bottles and see what I want."

Store larger tools like rakes and shovels in special, snap-together storage pieces designed to fit in tight workshop corners. "It's specifically made to hold those larger garden tools that are kind of hard to hold," Baker says.

Find new uses for old objects. If a lid on your kitchen garbage can breaks, take the can to your workshop. "You need a garbage can in your workshop anyway and the last thing you need on it is a lid," Baker says. "So just take that down and use that as your workshop garbage can to throw things away."

Baker constantly finds new uses for old objects in his workshop. One of his recent additions was taking an old shoebox and attaching a thin saw blade to the side of it. "It gave me the edge like on Saran Wrap," he said. Now, he said, "I can tear sandpaper and different kinds of paper goods that you use in a workshop."

For handymen tired of getting tangled in extension cord, help is here.

"One thing that I think is very cool that they're coming out with nowadays is a retractable extension cord, because nobody on earth likes to roll up an extension cord," Ryan says.

And to prevent kids from getting into things they shouldn't, keep a lockable metal cabinet for petroleum-based liquids and similar materials.

For handymen without much space, new, portable "workmates" -- mini-workbenches complete with vises -- can be folded up and stored. "With the advent of that you don't necessarily need a huge space," Ryan says. "They just hinge down and snap into place against a wall."

Finally, Ryan has a great two-fold suggestion: First, "Tidy up after every job." Then, "twice a year, clean everything out. If you keep doing that, you're going to have a more organized space and it won't catch up with you."

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