Whether you’re a weekend DIYer working in your garage or a professional working in a shop, your workspace itself is key to getting things done right the first time. Pining to implement some upgrades in workshop tools and space? I have good news for you: It’s pretty easy. In fact, there are myriad ways to improve your work area. Here are just a few.
Try to get as much as you can up off the floor, and keep like things together. Organization not only helps you find what you need faster, but it also helps you quickly notice when something’s missing, cuts back on safety and tripping hazards, and gives you more room to work. On the ground, invest in a tool box that realistically fits your storage needs in the smallest footprint. Grab a magnetic tray to keep nuts and bolts from disappearing. On the walls, put up a few hooks and shelves. Use them. Use hanging storage to optimize your space vertically. If you must store bigger materials or tools under a workbench, fine, but keep them in stackable, labeled boxes.
The Better to See You With
Good lighting makes a real difference. Long-lasting, heat-reducing LEDs are a great option for the ceiling, but you’ll need to also think on a smaller scale — especially if you often work under things. Headlamps and handheld flashlights are fine, but they require extra effort to focus. Your best bet is to get a cordless, self-mounting flood. These are small enough to fit under a car, cast enough bright light to see clearly and don’t require constant adjustment. If they’re magnetized, they can sit on the floor or hold on to your project.
Kick-Start Your Work Flow in Comfort
It’s important to feel good in your space. Whether that means being surrounded by gadgets or listening to music, you want to set yourself up for success. Take the time to make a project-specific playlist. Set up a charging station for all your power tool batteries, power connections and USBs. Also, do what you can to maintain a comfortable temperature, whether it’s adding a little insulation, a fan or a space heater (safely!). It really does make a difference.
Build Your Tool Collection With Discretion
Have the right tools for the right job. Take stock of the projects you work on most, whether they’re automotive, woodworking, clock tinkering or whatever, and make sure you have a solid toolkit base to accommodate standard jobs. Don’t collect too many specialty tools outside the realm of your normal interests.
Embrace Your Inner Neat Freak
Stop making things more difficult for yourself and clean up as you go. Tired of tracking brake fluid into the house? Stop leaving brake fluid on the ground. Wear gloves to keep your hands clean, and you’ll cut down on dirtying everything else you touch. Also make a point to clean your tools occasionally — it keeps them in better condition.
Making only a few of these changes can improve your work space in major ways. It takes a little extra attention and effort, but the time and hassle it saves in the long run more than make up for it.
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Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.