Adding Cheap And Classy Storage To Your Shop

If your garage is like mine, it’s a mess.

Periodically you spend a weekend cleaning up; cramming your tools and scraps each into their respective spots (or wherever they will fit), and sweeping up the sawdust and shavings, leaving your shop spotless… until you start your next project.

At that point you dislodge a tool and the materials necessary to complete your project, and you may has well have just pulled the pin on a grenade.

A short time later your garage explodes in a flurry of tools and shrapnel, that leaves your garage as bad as it has ever been, and quite possibly worse, while it waits for another free weekend to be cleaned up.

Making matters worse, I have many times promised to get the garage clean enough for my wife to park her car, but I have thus far been unable to maintain the upper hand for long enough to actually pull the car into its place.

After extensive study of this phenomenon, I started to study the root cause. Surely this is not merely a symptom of being a lazy slob. Surely this is not merely my own fault….

…surely…

Thus, having ruled out personal flaws, I decided that the heart of the problem was simple: Storage.

I had some wire shelves, a rolling toolbox, a workbench, a hanging shelf, and a pegboard, but every tool I owned and used was living in increasingly cramped quarters, and there were some obvious opportunities to add enough space to get a little more capacity and flexibility in the storage system.

The first and largest opportunity: my metal working station.
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When I designed my metal working station, I left large openings with the intention of someday building drawers and shelves.

About a week ago I realized I was never going to find it worthwhile to spend a day building a bunch of drawers while I had a backlog of so many more important/interesting projects (swingset, porch lights, shed, small truck for my daughter, speargun, radius cutter for my lathe… and whatever else comes up between now and the finish of those).

What if I just bought some drawers?

At first I thought I thought I’d use a coupon to buy a couple Harbor Freight toolboxes, since they are so much cheaper than anything equivalent from Sears or Home Depot, but I’ would have still ended up spending a few hundred dollars.

What should I do?

Begin theme music! …Possibly after advertisement!

<Note: Please leave this playing while reading the remainder of this article>

Enter the Swedes, stage left!

IKEA TO THE RESCUE!

$40 KULLEN 3 Drawer Chest

$59 - Oh MICKE You're so fine!

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Granted, there’s still a lot of cleanup to do, but I have now added more than enough storage for all of my metal working tools and work pieces.

And at a total of $100, it costed me less than I would have spent on the plywood and drawer slides to make the drawers that I would have never taken the time to build.

Those clever Swedes.

Quick and Dirty Clamp Rack

I have been accumulating too many clamps to keep them on my pegboard (not so much because I have a lot of clamps, but more because I have a lot of other things on my pegboard); so I grabbed a scrap of plywood and 10 minutes later the clamps had a new home.

Yes, I used my milling machine.

ClampRack

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It works.

Next time I’ll tell you about my new 1000-pound granite surface plate…

Hide-Away Router Table

One of the first projects I took on after buying a welder was making a router table.

I made it 36″ tall, 18″ deep, and 32″ wide with a 10-gauge steel top and an aluminum insert/adapter plate. Shortly after completing it, I realized that it was too big for my garage.

Even though it is a lot smaller than my table saw, I will not be using it nearly as much as the saw, so I am not willing to dedicate as much floor space to it.

I considered making the table short enough to slide under the workbench, but this would have made it too short to work on comfortably.

Another idea I had was to use drawer slides mounted on the bottom of the workbench, but again, this made the table surface too low once it was set at a height that would accommodate the workbench frame and the router table fence.

And so I came up with a solution: Hang the table from the bottom of my workbench and swing it out when I want to use it. This would allow me to store it away when not in use, and bring it up to a usable height for use.

Here’s the concept in sketchup:

To accomplish this in reality, I basically cut up the legs on the router table, and bolted them back on upside down, and then hung the whole thing from the bottom of the bench.

Since the table is made of metal, it’s heavy, so I added two 30lb gas springs to the back to help lift the table into position.

Once the table is raised, I have two pivoting legs that I drop into position to hold the table up at a comfortable working height.

Here is the finished product:

Table Saw: Support and Storage

My table saw is huge… but unstable.

I noted near the end of my previous post on the topic, that I would need to revisit the saw, since it is top-heavy and in danger of tipping to the right due to a lack of support under the expanded table top. So that is how I spent my free time this weekend.

I wanted to continue using my table saw’s mobile base, so I needed to find a way to extend it to support the far-right end of my table. I decided the best way to do this would be to install a plywood floor in the mobile base and then install a support from this floor to hold up the right end of the saw.

For some reason I thought 1/2″ plywood would be sufficient, so I measured out and cut the necessary pieces with my circular saw (I used an offset straight-edge to guide the saw).

I was planning to use some angle iron to extend the mobile base frame, but was having trouble figuring out how to attach it to the existing frame without having to redesign the whole thing.

I was also starting to realize that the 1/2″ plywood was far too thin to make a stable floor for the saw, as it would bow significantly in the middle (the mobile base only supports the corners).

To solve both of these problems I figured I needed a rigid floor that I could simply attach the ends of the mobile base to, instead of trying to make the mobile base itself support the length of the floor.

I happened to have a piece of 3/4″ plywood on hand that was about the right size, and I screwed it to the bottom of the 1/2″ piece I had already prepared. This alone was pretty sturdy, but I decided to further reinforce it by attaching the angle iron to the sides.

This made for a very solid floor that did not bend at all when I attached the mobile base ends to it and tested it by standing in the middle.

After wrestling the saw onto the base, I secured it by clamping it down with pieces of plywood screwed to the main floor.

In order to support the right end of the table, I built a box out of the 1/2″ plywood to act as a single leg.

I glued and brad-nailed the box together and installed it with a combination of glue and brad nails on the bottom and an angle iron bracket on the top.

The table saw is now fully supported and the extra space on the right side is perfect for housing my compound miter saw (I had considered putting my shop vac here, but then I bought the compound miter…). I’ll probably put a shelf above the miter saw to keep other miscellaneous tools and scraps, but that can wait. For now I am happy that I have sturdy table saw with enough surface area and fence capacity to do anything I need to (and plenty of things I don’t).

Note: In the pictures the saw appears to be leaning to the right, but this is mostly an optical illusion, and partially because I should adjust the feet of the mobile base, but a slight tilt toward the fence won’t impact performance or stability, in fact, it might help both.

Hello World

My friend told me last week that his new year’s resolution was to start blogging. Since I didn’t have any resolution of my own, I stole his.

I am a Husband to a wonderful wife, the proud Dad of the cutest 7 month old girl in the world, a project manager at Qualcomm, a homeowner in San Diego, and a somewhat compulsive and ADD tinkerer.

I’ll be posting mostly about the projects I’m doing around my house and in the garage, sharing tips, tricks, and screwups.

I’m currently working on:

Other projects I will be starting/continuing will be:

  • The Backyard
    • Applying stone veneer to my BBQ installation
    • Building planter surrounds for the palm trees
    • Installing sprinklers and drip irrigation
    • Laying grass sod
    • Installing lighting
    • Building a pergola and childproof railing
  • The Front Yard
    • Installing sprinklers
    • Laying Sod
    • Installing lighting
  • The Inside
    • Making a cabinet for our printer and office supplies
    • Making a barn door type sliding door system for the master bathroom
    • Installing a ceiling fan in the second bedroom
    • Figuring out how to configure my gaming setup (xbox and projector)
  • The Garage
    • Figuring out how to store a wheelbarrow and a lawn mower and get them out of the way
    • Making shelves and drawers under my workbench
    • Making room for my wife’s car and my workshop to coexist in a 2-car space

Overall, I should be able to manage to keep myself busy…