8 DIY hacks for keeping your workshop tidy

Updated: March 18, 2019

Photo by Lorimer Images/Shutterstock

A well-ordered workspace means less time spent searching for tools and less money wasted on supplies — because you forgot you already had four copper elbows hidden in your messy shop. So let’s get tidy.

Step 1

Keep your tools at hand with a pegboard. Hooks will hang most stuff, but also include a few magnetic studs from Lee Valley ($16 for four); they fit into pegboard holes and hold up metal items that won’t hang on a hook.

Step 2

If your shelves are crowded, you can gain extra storage by screwing jar lids to the underside of said shelves and then threading the container to the lid.

Step 3

Take advantage of the space between ceiling joists. Fasten a full length 1×10 board to the underside to store things such as electrical wire, oil, antifreeze, or cans of paint.

Step 4

There is a 42″ window in my shop, and just below the frame I built a narrow shelf where I put small, shallow aluminum candy tins with transparent lids (from $3 on Amazon), which are ideal for tiny items such as small wire terminals, plastic plugs, and specialty screws.

Step 5

You can hang screwdrivers in a commercial rack, but making your own is easy: one piece of wood, with suitably sized and spaced holes, fastened to a mounting piece and screwed to a workbench or wall.

Step 6

You can also hack those empty plastic five-gallon paint pails for storage with stacking systems like the Bucket Boss ($14 from Amazon). Its round trays fit inside and hold screws, nails, nuts and bolts, plumbing and electrical supplies… just about anything, actually. Just grab the bucket and go.

Step 7

Lee Valley sells metal shelf brackets ($15 for eight) that take advantage of the wasted space between open wall studs. The brackets fit 1⁄2″ plywood shelves and are super straightforward to install. My shelves are 6″ deep, and I mitre the corners to reduce body-to-corner contact.

Step 8

I invested in two good-quality front-loading racks from Lee Valley (brackets start at $12) and placed them along two walls to store my lumber—one set for longer stock, one for shorter pieces. I positioned the former just far enough above the floor to clear sheet goods such as 4×8 plywood.

Illustration of an organized workshop
Illustration by Jacques Perrault

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