Workshop and Garage storage, shelving, organization, cabinets–there are never enough ideas to go around.

If your shop is like mine, you’ve managed to fill it with so much stuff (your treasures) that it’s a mess. You’d like to up your organization, but this isn’t just a matter of adding a couple of shelves here and there.  You need more powerful organization ideas if there’s to be any hope.

Now, as I said, it’s hard to part with your treasures, so here is a whole list of Killer Organization Ideas to get that noggin’ started thinking about the possibilities.  Fear not–even the smallest space filled with the largest assortment of treasures can be helped!

#1 – Start By Building Higher

Industrial spaces use pallet racks, and if you have room for them, they’re great.  You can often find them surplus at good prices on Craig’s List.  Be sure to think about how you’re going to access the top levels, though.  Industry has the advantage of larger spaces and fork lifts.  Smaller Shops may not be so lucky.

With a little ingenuity though, we can adapt a storage solution to provide its own access.  Consider this mocked up garage shelving system:

garage storage shelving with steps

Pull out shelves provide steps to access the top shelves…

#2 – #6: Go Deeper

Once you’re floor to ceiling, you’ve used up one dimension of your space.  It’s time to go deeper, and the whole secret to going deeper is access.  If we put shelves behind shelves, how do we access the back shelves?

Try these ideas on for size:

garage storage nested shelves on tracks

#2 – Mount your front shelves on floor tracks so they can slide to provide access to back shelves…

garage cabinets pullout to access depth

#3 – Use a pullout to arrange shallow bins back to back in a denser format than if they were horizontally arrayed on a shelf…

Filing cabinet toolholder storage

#4 – Old filing cabinets have very deep storage.  They make great tool holder storage…

Side drawers

#5 – Pullout and extend side drawers…

garage storage vertical drawers

#6 – Vertical Storage Drawers like these from Sawdustgirl.com

#7 – Put Drawers or Shelves Under Every Work Surface

I love the post-Christmas and Father’s Day sales because that’s when rolling tool cabinets go on sale.  I feel like I can never have too many.  They are instant drawers for storage and they look perfect in any shop!  Plus, you can slap a work surface on top of them.   Take two waist-high rolling cabinets and put a nice sized work surface they both fit under.  Bolt the work surface to the cabinets to create a rolling cart.  The possibilities are endless.  Here’s my quick and dirty welding cart made with a healthy chunk of steel bolted to a rolling tool cabinet with fire bricks to insulate it:

Welding table on rolling tool cabinet

My simple welding cart.  Work surface on fire brick insulators, Supplies in drawers, and the square tube pullout holds a vise…

Look for spots in your shop where you could add a rolling tool cabinet, wait for the sales, and add one each year.  You’ll be surprised at how handy they are.

Track down old file cabinets–they’re sturdy, cheap and can be used as the carcasses for all sorts of custom storage.

under bench file cabinets

This one is on a rolling frame and nests underneath the workbench the Emco CNC Mill is on.

File cabinet converted to vertical locker

This filing cabinet was converted to a vertical locker by removing the drawers and making a wooden door of the same color.  Used filing cabinets are cheap and easy to modify!

#8 – Use the Space Behind a Work Surface or Cabinet (Great Garage Storage Idea!)

garage Storage Behind Bench

Behind-bench storage might be just the ticket…

#9 – #12: Use Marginalized Spaces in Gaps and Ends

Eventually, you realize there’s quite a lot of marginal space–space where you can’t fit a tool cabinet or shelves.  This is especially true for garage storage and basements.

That space is still useful:

garage storage rafters

#9: Don’t let your rafters go to waste!

Attic Lift

#10: Did you forget the attic?  I love this idea for a lift to make it easy to move things back and forth to the attic…

Cabinet Side Storage

#11: Side of a cabinet becomes a storage surface…

spraycanrack

#12 – Spray Can Rack is perfect for the little gap between the shelves and the door jamb…

#13 – #15: Create Special Purpose Parts Cabinets

Small parts seem like the bane of my organizational existence.  There are so many of them needed for CNC projects.  Plus we’ve got all the consumables such as cutters, inserts, and the like that go with the machines.  I decided many years ago to create a special purpose parts cabinet and It only took a couple of hours to make and I have loved it ever since.  I only wish I’d made a much bigger version with stronger shelves:

Small Parts Storage

#13: Small parts storage cabinet.  Eventually I will use most of the cubbies to hold multi-compartment plastic boxes.  Each one contains a particular size hardware.  I even put the taps for that hardware size in the box.  It’s great to grab the box and take it to where I’m working and have all the hardware that goes together.

spinning parts cabinet

#14: Take a bunch of those little benchtop parts cabinets with all the drawers and stick ’em on a Lazy Susan Carousel.  Voila!  Now you got room to organize a lot of small parts!

pullout parts box storage

#15: Here’s a really nice version of the parts-box-in-cabinet approach.  Each box is on a shelf with drawer pulls.

#16 – #23: Organize Shelves and Drawers

Okay, you’ve got shelves 15 levels deep.  You’ve got drawers that have drawers with drawers on their drawers (what did he just say!).  Some are vertical, some are diagonal, every nook and cranny has been turned into storage and there’s just no space left to poach.

Then you open a drawer and it’s a confused jumble of random stuff.  It’s time to start using the space you have more efficiently!

Milk Crate Shelf Organizers

#16: Use milk crates to organize shelves…

sliding drawer organizer

#17 – Sawdust Girl’s Sliding Drawer Organizers are easy to make and take advantage of drawer height…

pegboard drawer organizer

#18 – Another great idea from Sawdustgirl: use pegboard to make an adjustable drawer organizer

pocketed trays

#19 – Machine pocketed trays from plastic or wood to organizer bits, tools, and other items in your drawers…

power tool cabinet

#20 – Cordless tools in a vertical deep drawer–awesome!  We’ve all seen wall mounted versions of this, but using the vertical deep drawer maximizes the storage efficiency.  All that’s needed is a charging station for each type of battery that stays plugged into a cord fished out the back…

angle grinder storage

#21 – This angle grinder storage with the posts for the wheels is awesome, but a version in a vertical drawer like the cordless tools above would be even better…

Schaler Boxes

#22 – Of course you did know about Schaller Boxes, right?  These little injection molded boxes make it easy to subdivide a drawer…

French Fit Tools

#23 – I admit it: French Fitting tools into two colors of foam is my idea of the ultimate organization luxury.

#24 – Throw Something Away: Key for Garage Storage where space is limited

Look, I was hoping not to bring this up, but that 2000 lb elephant in the room we’re not talking about?  That’s all the stuff you are never going to fit into a nice neat place no matter how many nifty Kaizen foam drawers you manage to come up with.  It’s too irregular, too unruly, too messy, too, too, too–impossible to contain!

I did come across one idea that was interesting and totally different for how to approach this issue of throwing away your treasures.  It’s not really an organization idea, but rather a rationale for getting rid of things.  It came out of my research on Lean Manufacturing.  The idea is simple and logical, if hard to execute because it will almost certainly mean parting with some of your “treasures”.

Basically, the advice is to get quotes on shop floor space per square foot per year.  Then you go to your various stored items and decide whether they’re worth more than cost of storing them for a year or two.  If they’re not, and you won’t use them in the next year or two, get rid of them.  It’s cheaper to buy them again if a need turns up.

Try a 3 step program for your sickness: organize, strip, and toss.  You’re a scrounger, let’s face it, that’s part of the problem.  But let’s at least get similar things together.  And if some of those things are similar mostly because they have good bits you plan to scavenge, let’s do the first part of the scavenging up front and toss what isn’t scavengeable.  That’s the essence of the Organize, Strip, and Toss concept.  So, pick some basic categories.  For example, electric motors:

strip and toss bins

A bin of scavenged motors for future projects…

Grab a bunch of milk crates or other containers, decide what your categories are, rope off some weekend time, and start working through that pile of bones stripping what’s useful and tossing the rest.  In no time, you’ll have made your spare parts collection a lot more useful and gotten rid of a bunch of stuff you were never going to use no matter what.  Phew!

#25 – Don’t Forget the Labels!

So, after 26 consecutive weekends installing shelving, rolling tool carts, and sorting through all those treasures, you have a fabulously clean and organized workshop.  Wow, can’t believe it’s finally done!

As your tired but proud eyes survey the scene, you heave a happy sigh, but it catches in your throat as you think about tackling the next project.  You’re going to need a certain special tool that you thought you’d lost, but discovered again as part of the cleanup.  Unfortunately, all you can see is drawer and cabinet pulls in every direction.  There are hundreds of them, and you have no idea what’s behind each door.  There’s just too many of them and you were in a hurry to get things put away.

What new manner of organizational curse is this?  Noooooooooooooooooooooo…………

Wait.  Calm down.  There is help here too.  You forgot to label things as you went, but it isn’t too late.

In the old days, we would’ve turned to the ubiquitous “Dymo Label Maker”.  These pistol-shaped gadgets embossed raised white letters on colored plastic tape with peel-off stickum on the backside.  Those things are antiques nowadays though because of the advent of label makers that have full keyboards, LCD displays so you can edit and avoid that crucial mistake two characters before finishing, and they print on clear tape that will stick to most anything.  You can get different colors too, so for example if you want contrast versus a dark background you might want white letters instead of black.

Label Makers

The old Dymo Label Makers have been superseded by more modern technology in label making…

Using these goodies you can put a label on every drawer, crate, and shelf to make finding things easier.

Highly recommended!

#26 – Cheap and Cheerful Modular Tool Organizer

There are lots of useful organizer products out there.

I came across this neat idea while reading a post from Garage Journal.  It’s a neat blog for the garage and auto enthusiast, and I read it just because a lot of the ideas are also great for CNC’ers and machinists.  In this case, the post was about how to organize your 1/4″ bits.  You know, all those little goodies that you can pop into an impact driver or socket setup.  They’re handy, but easy to lose and hard to organize.  I’ve left most of mine in the rubbery cases they came in, but I really like this idea better:

FreeZone

The FreeZone® Storage System…

You can insert the bits directly into the squares or they also sell little clamps and holders that can secure things that don’t fit the holes.  I like French Fit drawers better for larger items, but this is very cool for organizing little bits and other goodies that will fit the holes.  Best of all, the system is available very inexpensively from Lee Valley.  I can see one of these to fit one of the smallest drawers in my tool chest and letting all these little bits live there.

#27 – Airline Food Carts for Stock Storage: Reclaim the Nooks and Crannies

airline carts for stock storage

Track down some old airline food carts for stock storage:  they’re long, wheeled, and open at both ends.  So handy!

#28 – Avoid Obstacles by Thinking Out of the Box: Tight Garage Storage Solution

Just because there is no room to open a cabinet door is no reason not to have a cabinet there.

#29 – Create Specialized Workstations

PolishingStand

Grinding and Sharpening Workstation…

This is such a wonderful idea we have an entire page devoted to different kinds of custom workstation.  Probably the most common type you will have seen are welding carts, and we have a page for those too.

#30 – Swing Up Storage

This is just another way to reclaim space that’s under counters and work surfaces where it is wasted.  These ideas are courtesy of the Family Handyman blog, which has a lot of other great ideas worth checking out.

Flip-up grinder storage…

Bench-Top Tool Storage Tip

Hide your vice until it’s needed…

Resources

Conclusion

There you have it.  You’re now armed with our Killer Ideas for Garage and Workshop Organization.  Go forth and try to be less messy.  You’ll find it makes working in the shop both more efficient and more fun.

Got your own Killer Ideas for Workshop and Garage Organization?  Please share them with us in the comments!

 

Like what you read on CNCCookbook?

Join 100,000+ CNC'ers!  Get our latest blog posts delivered straight to your email inbox once a week for free. Plus, we’ll give you access to some great CNC reference materials including:

  • Our Big List of over 200 CNC Tips and Techniques
  • Our Free GCode Programming Basics Course
  • And more!

Just enter your name and email address below:

Full Name
Email *
100% Privacy: We will never Spam you!

Killer Ideas: Organize Your Workshop & Garage Storage Now
5 (100%) 5 votes

 

Do you want to be a better CNC'er in 37 Seconds?

Get Better Tool Life, Surface Finish, and Material Removal Rates Fast.

It's that easy. You can install and get results in a matter of minutes.

 

Start Now, It's Free!

Home

Software

  GW Calculator

  GW Editor

  Gearotic

  Conversational

  Deals and Steals

CNC Blog

  Software

  Techniques

  Beginner

  Cool

  Projects

 

Cookbooks

     Feeds and Speeds

     G-Code Tutorial

     CNC Machining & Manufacturing

     DIY CNC Cookbook

     CNC Dictionary

CNC Projects

Resources

     Machinist's Search

     Videos

     Online Groups

     Individuals

     Reference Data

     Books

     CNC Dictionary

     Suppliers

     Tool Brands

Workshop

     Hall of Fame

     Organization: Soon!

 

About

     Customers

     Partners

     Our History

     Privacy Policy

 
All material © 2017, CNCCookbook, Inc.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This