Would you believe it if I told you that Corey and I have been homeowners for 9 years now and we have never had an organized workshop?
We’ve tried. Ohhhhh have we ever tried. Once we even got far enough to organize our garage and make some progress on the workshop space that we had…but if we’re being honest it was really never all that functional.
Nine years, y’all. It’s a little pathetic.
But. But! We are finally making some progress in this house with the garage and I think that by the time we hit 10 years of owning a home (in August!), we’ll be there.
We’re taking a “one wall at a time” approach to organizing our garage here, and I’m feeling really good about how far things have come.
I think that one thing that has always held us back from really getting our workspace organized is that I haven’t ever felt like I truly have the expertise to do it myself, so I’ve waited for a time when Corey and I can work together. The problem is, Corey works full time out of the house and doesn’t handle chaos well – so on the rare times that we have had the ability to work on it together, he immediately gets overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to do!
So basically what I’m telling you is that for the last 9 years every time we try to organize our workshop it ends with us both standing in the middle of the garage staring at each other and shrugging our shoulders before giving up and heading back inside to watch television.
We’re a good team.
But I finally decided there’s absolutely no reason I can’t tackle this on my own. I know enough about these tools to know how they should be stored, and honestly I’m the one who uses the workshop the most so why shouldn’t I decide where it all goes?!
I’ve put hours and hours into working out there over the last few weeks and things are finally starting to look so, so good.
I mean – I can’t complain about this before and after.
Today I wanted to share a few of the tips, tricks, and tools that we’re using in our garage to keep things organized. Our biggest problem in the past has been that we never really found a space for every single thing out there, so any progress we made was immediately undone as soon as we did a project.
This time around, I’m determined that eeeeeeeeverything will have a home, and so far it’s working!
Again…keep your fingers crossed for me. Toes too, maybe .
So, let’s dive into the tricks I’m using in this garage that gives me hope I’ll keep it more organized than ever before.
Garage Organization ideas, tips, & tricks
This post is sponsored by Rockler, but all opinions and enthusiasm are all me. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Love & Renovations!
1. A dust collection system
This is the one that always makes everyone’s ears perk up when I mention it on Instagram. A dust collection system will CHANGE YOUR LIFE, I promise. It’s definitely more expensive than just using a plain ol’ shop vac, but it’s approximately 7 million times more efficient – and there are tons of options to customize it!
How does a dust collection system work? It’s basically a ginormous shop vac that can attach to the walls in your workshop, and you run a hose off of it that can be attached to the various tools in your shop.
For example, we have one hose running right off of the dust collector that we use to clean the floors, and for quick vacuuming of work surfaces. Then a little further down there’s a port we can attach to for the miter saw or other mobile tools in the shop. Further down is another port that is at the perfect spot for use with our lathe, and at the end of the wall is one last port that’s meant to be attached to the table saw.
So, every time we use pretty much any tool in our shop, we can quickly hook it up to the vacuum, turn it on, and not have any dust flying around as we work.
I probably don’t need to spell this out for you but less sawdust flying around means less sawdust all over my garage floor…which means less sawdust that gets tracked inside my house.
And that means less cleaning for me!
You see why I’m so excited about this situation?
A large dust collection system like this isn’t necessarily going to be the most logical investment for the casual woodworker or DIYer, but if you’re doing regular projects in your workshop and struggle to keep up with the mess, it’s really truly worth it. I don’t have an exact pricing of what our system looks like, but you should easily be able to set up a similar setup with the tools linked below for less than $1,000.
You can also read more about our dust collection system here from when we first got it!
Here’s a rundown of the tools and accessories we have with our dust collector:
Dust Collection Tools + Accessories This is the newer version of the wall-mounted dust collector we have (ours is several years old and isn’t available anymore) Here’s a multi-port tool set that allows you to switch between several different tools. Here’s what the extender hose looks like – they have various sizes so you can get exactly what works for your space. This is the remote switch we have – it’s a little luxury but makes it so nice to be able to turn it on from anywhere in the shop without walking back to the dust collector! This is the quick change shop and tool set – it has the main vacuum connector we use (for cleaning off worktops, etc.) and the floor vacuum, which is probably my most used connector! And finally, these are the hooks we used to attach the hose to the wall!
If you want to learn more about all of the dust collection system tools and accessories that Rockler offers, just click here to go to the main page. The customization options are essentially endless, so you can mix and match to get exactly what you need!
2. Drawer Organizers
This was a bit of an unexpected hit for me – we recently got a new fancy workbench for the garage that has drawer liners in it already (so things don’t slide around) and I honestly figured we wouldn’t need any additional organization beyond that.
Oh, how naive and foolish I was.
We got to try Rockler’s Lock-Align drawer organizer system and hooooooly cow it’s a game changer. I can find exactly what I need in the drawers within seconds, and since things have a very specific place within the drawer (remember the goal, here?!), it’s a breeze to clean up when we’re done.
Also, there’s something oh-so-satisfying about opening up a drawer to get a tool and having everything hyper-organized and looking all pretty.
It’s the little things, you know?
Drawer Organization Accessories We grabbed this Lock-Align master kit and it’s a great way to get started with getting your drawers organized. This bit organizer is hands down my favorite thing we added for those pesky loose bits that always seem to get lost. It’s magnetic, too, so they stay put! A few of these larger bins and these small ones are great for all the loose things that get lost in your drawers. I use them for pencils, long drill bits, keys, and more. I also love, love, love this screwdriver rack and this pliers rack for not only screwdrivers and pliers but also scissors and other long skinny things that take up space in the drawers!
There are tons more drawer organizer options – just click here to see everything Rockler has in their Lock-Align system. I honestly want to use it for my kitchen too, now! Is that weird?
3. storage for very specific purposes.
Here’s where we really dive into the “have a place for everything” mentality. Over the years I’ve learned that a few things that aaaaaalways tend to float around our workshop with no home are the following three things:
Shop towels Hand sanitizer Cleaning wipes
We’re constantly using them, and so we’ve always just kind of left them all out on the workbench…but then they get used and don’t make it back to the workbench (since that’s not really an official “home”), and basically I spend half my time in the workshop looking for those three dang things.
In addition to that, we always are in need of a small “dumping ground”. When I’m doing projects it’s often while Grant naps, and when he wakes up I need to quickly clean up my mess before he starts getting into things – I don’t always have time to actually put everything away. So, I tend to just dump stuff on the workbench….which means it’s constantly messy and we have to spend 20 minutes cleaning it up before we can work on it.
So, I needed to solve both of these problems and I found a way to do it with just some simple metal shelves!
I added on shelf above the small workbench that holds our hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and a spare roll of shop towels. The other shelf hangs on the side of the small workbench and it holds a roll of shop towels as well, and has a little ledge that has become our dumping ground. It’s perfect because it’s small (which means I’m forced to deal with it regularly), it has a ledge all around so small things don’t fall off, and it’s right next to the door so I can toss things in it without even stepping foot in the garage.
So far these two little shelves alone have made a world of difference in things feeling more organized in here. Don’t you love it when a big problem is solved by something so tiny and easy?!
I also got our wood glue organized with a wood glue caddy (linked below) and it genuinely makes a world of difference. Wood glue is another thing that is always getting moved around and lost, and I love that we have this little storage system for all of our glue, our brushes, and everything else so that we can move it around as we need to without losing anything.
The lesson here? Get specific! If you have a problem with something always getting moved around or lost, look for solutions for that specific thing and make a new home for it.
Shelving Options Here’s the shelf I have above the workbench. Here’s the shelf I have hanging on the side that also holds shop towels. This is the wood glue caddy that I’m obsessed with – and as a bonus, here’s the silicone glue holder I’m really loving right now too. This utility caddy is a great option for things like your tape measure, scissors, and pencils. And this magnetic parts tray is a life-saver when you’re working on a project with a lot of screws or switching bits a lot. I keep it on the big workbench and we use it all the time!
See more specific organization trays and caddies here!
4. Plugs and chargers. EVERYWHERE.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret. It is impossible (I mean IMPOSSIBLE) to have too many plugs or chargers in your workshop.
It can’t be done.
If you have corded tools, you’ll want plenty of room to plug them in. If you have battery-powered tools like we do, you’ll want aaaaaall of the battery charging stations. Which means outlets, outlets, and more outlets!
In our last house we only had two (TWO!) pairs of outlets in our garage and it was just a giant pain all the time. This garage is starting off with notably more than that – I haven’t counted but I know it’s more than two – and we’re also adding more via some really awesome power strips to make things as functional as possible.
This small workbench near the door is a great landing area for assembly, staining things, or just about anything else (I haven’t had a chance to use it yet so I don’t know what I’ll do for sure yet!) and we added this really fancy power strip above it to make it even better. In addition to adding some extra space to plug things in, it has a few USB ports so I can charge my phone (and even rest it on the little built-in phone ledge) so it doesn’t die while I listen to my 12th consecutive crime-related podcast. It’s also got two powerful lights that will be so helpful on the (near constant) occasion that we’re working out here long past the sun has gone down.
Long story short? You need extra outlets – may as well also get a phone stand and some lights while you’re at it, no?
Power strips Here’s the awesome power station we have – we are loving it so far and can’t recommend it enough! We’ve also used these shop lights in the past to add some extra light to dark corners – they make a world of difference. This cord reel is such a nice way to have a built-in extension cord that stays out of the way. 5. Make it cute.
And finally, perhaps the most important tip of all.
You think I’m kidding, but I’m so, so serious.
I’m not sure if this is true for you, but I find I’m about 95% more likely to keep a space looking organized and clean if I love how it looks. A junky garage will always be a junky garage and there’s no point in really keeping it organized because it’s ugly already – you can’t make it worse!
There’s something magical that happens when I make a space look great that makes me so motivated to keep it looking great.
I have every intention of doing more projects like this on the other walls of my garage, but I kicked things off by adding this simple board and batten treatment to this back wall and painting it a color that makes me smile. It just took me a few hours over two days to install it and paint the whole thing, and now this entire space feels so much better. In fact, the whole garage feels better because of just this one side!
I also took the time to re-paint the metal cabinets we use under the smaller workbench, and I stained the workbench top and cut it down to fit better. Little touches like this look so great and make me feel so much better when I’m in the space.
It sounds silly, but give it a shot – I promise you’ll be surprised at how effective it is at motivating you to keep it clean!
If you want to see how this project unfolded, click here to watch my Instagram story highlights for the project!
I hope this post was helpful for you and I’m so grateful for all of your excitement about this space. Your enthusiasm and encouragement made it way more tolerable to knock it out, and gets me pumped to get started on the next section!
I’d love to hear your tips for organizing your workspace too – anything amazing that I missed?!
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