The Perfect Workshop
By: Danny Lipford
Our workshop here at Today’s Homeowner can give you some great ideas for the shop at your home.
Using recycled building materials not only saves money and reduces waste, it helps the environment by eliminating the energy and natural resources needed to produce new products.
Check local salvage companies to find recycled building materials for your next project.
When designing a workshop, make sure the existing wiring can handle the added load. Since power tools can draw a good bit of current, check to see if there are enough circuits and the breakers are properly sized. Installing additional outlets on the wall behind the workbench, or mounting them on the cabinet underneath, insures that a plug is handy when you need it.
Lighting is another important consideration when outfitting a workshop. This light grid was constructed by ganging six old fluorescent fixtures together and hanging them from the ceiling with chains.
Be sure to install the lights high enough so they aren’t in the way, but low enough to provide adequate lighting. Painting the walls a light color helps by reflecting the available light.
Cover any exposed insulation or open studs in your workshop to limit the places dust can collect. We lined the walls of our shop with wooden panels to provide a good surface to mount tools and hang shelves.
Since running water is often needed in a shop to clean up, we installed an old laundry sink the corner that was hooked to the cold water line.
An old bookcase is a perfect place to store cans of paint and caulking while a custom shelf unit mounted on the wall above the workbench allows easy access to smaller power tools.
Use screws—rather than nails—when hanging shelves and other heavy objects in a shop. Not only do screws have much greater holding power, but they’re easier to remove if you decide to reorganize in the future.
The kitchen cabinets we salvaged provide the base for the workbench as well as plenty of storage space for tools and supplies. Check to be sure the cabinets are level when you install them, so tools won’t roll off the workbench.
The top of our workbench was made from ¾” plywood with a strip of solid wood banding attached to the edge.
A 1”x 4” backsplash along the wall keeps small items from falling behind it. After the top had been assembled, it was stained and finished with two coats of polyurethane.
If you don’t have room for a dedicated workbench, build one supported by eyehooks and chains that folds up out of the way when not in use.
Another recycled kitchen cabinet was used as the base for a large moveable assembly table in the center of the shop.
Smaller portable worktables mounted on casters can hold bench top tools. This allows them to be easily rolled out of the way when not in use. All of the worktables are a uniform 3’ high so they can be used together to support large projects.
Magnetic strips were mounted on the wall behind the workbench for pliers, chisels, and other smaller tools, and a shallow lipped shelf in the center holds often used items.
A hose reel was attached to the wall near the air compressor to make it easy to use pneumatic tools while a shop vac positioned next to the workbench provides dust collection for sanders and other power tools.
Self-adhesive hooks attached to stationary tools keep safety glasses ready when you need them.
Wheels on table saws and other large tools make moving them a snap.
Before all the tools were brought into the shop, the rough spots in the concrete floor were patched with a resurfacer followed by a floor leveling compound.
Once the floor was dry, it was coated with Behr Concrete and Garage Floor Paint.
As a finishing touch, I mounted the first power tool I ever bought—when I was nine years old—on a plaque in the center of the wall behind the workbench.
Other Tips From This Episode
Pegboard is a good way to keep tools handy in a workshop, but often when the tool is removed, the hook comes off with it. To solve this problem, screw a 1” drywall screw into the hole with the hook to keep it firmly in place.
The Super Pencil™ is made from one solid piece of graphite composition material, so it never needs sharpening. It lasts up to seven times longer than ordinary carpenter’s pencils, and the marks are smudge and water resistant. The Super Pencil™ is available at The Home Depot stores.
Compiling a Home Inventory
Danny, what kind of records should I keep on my home? -Claire from Boston
It’s important to compile a detailed inventory of the contents of your home for insurance purposes in case of loss due to fire, theft, or natural disaster. The list should include a description of each item, model and serial numbers, date purchased, and the price paid. It’s also a good idea to take photographs or make a video tape of your possessions. Keep a copy at a secure location away from your home, such as a safe deposit box or at your office. Another option is to upload the information to a secure website which can be accessed anywhere from a computer in the event disaster strikes.
Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® are provided by Ryobi.