Project Garage Part IV: Getting Organized

By Sarah Forst

There comes a time in life when you realize you could have knocked out the family room and made the garage your personal auto shop. Of course, where would you put the 55" HDTV so you could watch the F1 races or Top Gear? Instead, you have to figure out ways to make the most of the space in your garage, whatever its size. My Obsessive-Compulsive qualities make me somewhat neurotically organized. The best way to keep your tools organized while your car projects are scattered around involves drawers and peg boards, shelves and of course… my (tool) rack!

Sarah's (tool) rack!
Obviously, this picture was taken when my tool rack was still pretty much "stock".  It hasn't looked this clean in quite some time!

Check out my rack!  Settle down, it’s just a Craftsman combo. A labeling machine made it even more efficient. That way, when your bonehead friend comes over to "help" and you ask for a 3/8" wrench with 14mm socket and a 3" extension, at least he or she knows which drawer to even start looking for it. I use the larger space on top for longer screwdrivers and pry bars that don't fit into the drawers below, tape measures, and torque wrenches. All flathead screwdrivers reside in one drawer, Phillips in another, allen and hex wrenches in another. Open ended wrenches are together. Sockets and wrenches are stored by drive size: 1/4", 1/2", and 3/8". Standard sizes are haphazardly bunched together in one drawer as I use them about as often as condoms are used by rappers.

Sarah's tools
Now this is more like it- my "modified" tool rack!

Pry bars and C-clamps share a drawer- once you tear stuff apart, you’ll need some way to put it back together, don't you? There's a drawer for BFH (um… hammers that is) and anything you can use to pound the gripping daylights out of certain bolts. Utilitarian items like vacuum hoses and timing lights are housed together. And the “junk drawer” in the bottom includes everything from touch up paint to a battery charger.  There are tons of tool racks out there.  Find the one that suits you best.  I would highly suggest getting one with ball bearing drawers, especially if you'll be storing a lot of weight in the drawers, and using drawer liners to protect both the tool rack and your tools.  Make sure your rack can support all the weight of the tools you plan to store in it.  You might also want to look for a tool rack with a lockable compartment, such as this one, to store expensive tools you don't want walking off when you host a wrenching party.  Although I've never had issues with my tool rack, a warranty is always a plus for any expensive investment like this.

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yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Monday, December 13, 2010 4:43 AM
I do enjoy a nice (tool) rack!
Monday, December 13, 2010 4:56 AM
Something I have done in the past is put my ratchet set into a drawer with it open (not all set will fit but mine did) keeps things super organized. Just thought I would throw that out there you can even cut it to make it fit.
Monday, December 13, 2010 7:58 AM
I can't stress how important it is to be organized when working on your projects. When I have my tools scattered around the garage, a simple 30min job turns into an hour due to hunting down the correct tools. (usually they're right in front of me the whole time)
Another good suggestion is overhead storage and proper lighting. I'm sure you'll cover those in other articles, but are very important to getting the job done. Most people don't even use the 8ft (or taller) ceilings in their garage. Get those dumb Christmas decorations out of the way and up above your work area. Your other half will also thank you for not getting grease, dust or welding splatter on them.
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Monday, December 13, 2010 8:57 AM
most of the work ive been doing recently has been with the assistance of others.
also, my tool rack is on the other side of the garage from where i can park my vehicles to work on them. (stupid new deed restrictions on dog cages makes me keep her kennel in the garage, it sucks)
no amount of organization and diligence can stop a careless friend from putting your 10mm socket down on the fender just to hear it get knocked off and have to go looking for it anyway.
i have a cart that i use mostly for moving heavy objects around, but when i work on my cars, it doubles as a mobile workbench that tools and important little parts can be rested on for quick access. my factory shop manual fits perfectly in the push handle of the cart so referencing it is quick and painless too, just squeeze it into the handle and flip pages with one hand while youre other is being used.
the cart then can also be used to cart groceries inside in one trip, can be used in landscaping projects to carry dirt and mulch, etc. the utility cart is the best thing ive purchased in the last 5 years.
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Monday, December 13, 2010 9:06 AM
A push cart would be very nice. Magnetic trays are by far and away the simplest yet handiest tool I've ever bought (because like jeffball I've spent countless amounts of time chasing down the tools and hardware I had in my hand just seconds ago).

I also have my toolbox organized like the author's, with everything in its specific home, though the drawers are not labeled.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 4:10 AM
Hey Sarah, did you change your last name? ;)
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 4:11 AM
I guess all these years I was reading it as "Frost"...

Man I'm an idiot.
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