Are you planning to transform your garage into a viable workstation for DIY projects? Do you want to be able to handle the maintenance of your own cars? If so, you need to tools and equipment that will help you deal with projects you want to venture into. Make your garage a more productive place with these must-have items:
The workbench is the first thing you need to have so you’ll have ample space to work. Go for something wide and heavy enough so it won’t move around as you work. You can build or buy it. If you’re going for a DIY workbench, it can be as simple as a solid-core plank or MDF placed on top of two sawhorses. If you want something classier, you can buy from stores, or you can build your own workbench using 2 x 2’s and 4 x 4’s. You can opt for a thick workbench material, butcher-block work surfaces if you’re going to deal with heavy-duty projects.
On the wall behind your workbench, it’s best to install a pegboard, so you can easily store frequently used tools and keep them within arm’s reach at all times.
Once your workbench is ready, you’ll need a vise to hold your projects in place. A sturdy vice can come in handy when you need an extra pair of hands to hold something and keep it in place while you work on it. It’s helpful when you are gluing something, using sandpaper, using a saw, cutting conduit, doing some metal work, rebuilding a carburetor and other garage work.
It’s important for a working garage to have adequate lighting, because you pretty much need to see what you’re actually doing while working. Inadequate lighting can hurt the quality of your work and might lead to mistakes or accidents. Install task lighting above your workbench. It’s best to hang shop lights (these either have single, double or quadruple bulbs) that drop down from above the workbench. Use a portable shop light on a tripod stand, to use as a task light for anywhere in the garage. Also, you should get a portable work light for peering into the crevices and under your car.
The slab of cement in a garage can be passable as a garage floor for many. But if you’re planning to make it a workspace, an upgraded finish will be more forgiving to dropped objects. It will also make it easier for you to find objects, especially for instance, if you dropped a small screw on the floor.
Tiles is a common choice when it comes to garage floors, and also, it’s easy to install. Some prefer epoxy flooring, but modular tiles are a better way to go. But if you think the cement slab is fine, at least place an anti-fatigue mat on the floor in front of your workbench. This way, pain and discomfort caused by standing over extended periods of time would be lessened.
5. Hand tools
After ensuring safety and making a workable environment in your garage, it’s time to talk about tools.
Here are some of the hand tools to consider:
A hammer is perhaps the most basic tool. It’s a handheld tool used for striking and pounding, especially when driving nails, beating metals and the like.
Screwdrivers (flat head and Phillips)
Screwdrivers are used for inserting or removing screws. There are different types and sizes of screws, so you need an appropriate screwdriver for each. It is common to find a screwdriver set in any hardware store to tackle different screw applications. There are two common types of screws: a flat screwdriver (has a straight, flat end) and a Philips screwdriver (has four, cross-like points at the end).
Saws are cutting tools used in woodworking and carpentry. Saws are of different types, such as the basic handsaw, hacksaw, coping saw, Japanese saw, plywood saw and veneer saw.
A handyman always has a wrench handy. It’s a tool used to provide grip to turn objects like fasteners. At least have these three wrenches in your toolbox: a crescent wrench, socket wrench and a hex key set (also known as Allen wrench). A crescent wrench or an adjustable wrench is used for adjusting any nuts and bolts. A socket wrench usually comes in a set; it’s a hollow cylindrical tool with an end user for turning a fastener. Meanwhile, a hex key or Allen wrench have L or T-shaped handles with hexagonal shaped ends that match openings of bolts and screws.
Pliers (needle nose and vice grip)
Pliers are hand tools used for gripping round objects like a pipe or rod, and also for twisting and cutting wires. Needle nose pliers are used for gripping and cutting wires, while vice grip pliers are used for removing broken screws and loosening frozen nuts.
A breaker bar is a hand-held accessory used to break loose very tight fasteners, and for reaching under your car when performing an oil change.
A level is important when creating woodwork and other DIY construction. This can help you ensure that you have established a flat and even horizontal plane.
A utility knife is a must-have for every toolbox – it can cut a lot of different materials.
A measuring tape is a must-have, especially when dealing with projects that need exact measurements of materials.
6. Toolbox and tool storage
The more tools you own, the more important it becomes to be organized. Small hand tools and hardware must be kept in an organizational toolbox that has plenty of compartments for storing and keeping different items. It’s easier to look for items, for instance, a nail and a hammer, if both are stored in a single toolbox. DIYers with a larger haul of tools must consider a roller cabinet-and-chest combo.
For storing individual tools that you always use, a pegboard is the best storage area. You can customize it according to your storage needs and put up different kinds of hooks for hammers, pliers, extension cords and other tools. Open shelving and cabinets are great for storing supplies like oil, gasoline, and paint. For your large gardening tools, you can opt for individual tool hangers and mount it in your garage wall.
7. Power tools
Power tools are tools that are either operates through electricity or battery. There are many different kinds of power tools, but every garage should at least have a cordless drill handy when you need to drill a hole or screw in dash pieces. Also, a Dremel tool can come in handy if you need to cut, grind, sand, buff or shape materials such as wood, plastic, laminate, ceramic or metal.
An air compressor is another versatile power tool that will be very helpful. It’s not only used for blowing air into your car or bike tires, but it can also be used for cleaning small pieces under the hood or under your vehicle, painting, and staining with an airbrush, blowing sawdust and other debris off, and using different air-driven power tools.
Electrical-powered saws are considered power tools. Saws that you might most likely need are a circular saw, jigsaw, and chainsaw. Other power tools commonly used include sander, planer, and router.
8. Safety gear
When working in a garage, you need to protect your eyes and hands. At the very least, you should own safety goggles and a pair of work gloves. Your safety goggles must wrap tight to your face for protection from elements, such as chemical splash or sawdust. For gloves, go for a mechanic and/or leather gloves. You also need earplugs or earmuffs when handling noisy power tools to protect your hearing. If you’ll be doing some work that emits chemicals or debris, you would need a face shield (together with your safety glasses).
Also, always keep a first-aid kit handy. Workshop accidents happen, as there are many tools with sharp edges that can inflict some injury.
9. Power strips and extension cords
If your garage lacks enough power outlets, it’s important to keep power strips and extension cords for use at the garage. Use a 6-10-outlet power strip on the wall behind your workbench so you can easily plug your corded hand tools. Use smaller power strips for difficult-to-reach power outlets more accessible.
10. Fire extinguisher
This is a tool that no one wishes to need, but must always be in a garage. Because of the nature of work done in garages, a fire extinguisher is a need in case of fires. Make sure you get one that is rated for chemical and electrical fires.
11. Shop vac and cleaning supplies
After completing your (literally) dirty work in the garage, all the dirt and mess must be eliminated. A shop vacuum – not your typical home vacuum – is more appropriate for a garage because it’s a heavy-duty cleaner. It can tackle wet messes and can suck larger objects like wood chips and nails, which can be damaging to an ordinary vacuum. Also, keep a broom, dustpan, and mop handy.