Set Up Garage Workshop
None of us have enough time or space for our old car projects, so we need to organize our work-space as effectively as possible (I know this comes more naturally for some than for others). The goal is to make everything convenient and assessable. Here are some tips for getting more work done in your garage workshop.
The nucleus of a garage workshop should be a workbench, with tools and toolboxes close by. You can build an inexpensive workbench yourself with a saw, a drill, and a tape measure. Use 2x4's for the legs, and 2x4's or similar lumber for the horizontal structure that will support the bench. Overall dimensions will vary, but on an average, a home-built workbench will be 32-36" high, 48" long, and 24" deep.
Most people tend to set up their workbench along the front wall, but since many garages are little more than a car-length deep, consider having your workbench and tools along the side wall as an alternative. The right side (passenger-side) wall is the better choice, so as to open car doors towards the other wall. I built my workbench with 2x4's with a 3/4" wooden top. It's bolted to the front wall and has been very sturdy.
Everything On Wheels
Aside from a sturdy workbench, having everything on wheels (air compressor, welder, engine stand, roll-around tool boxes, etc.) gives you the option of rearranging your workspace for different needs. Try this - move everything from inside the garage to outside, then start bringing in the biggest items and putting them in place. Play around with several designs, varying placement of large items that will take up floor space.
Of course you can buy one, but a cheap workshop dolly can be made with 2x4's, wood screws, and casters. Consider using 3" hard-rubber swivel casters and adding some carpet remnants to protect finishes and prevent slippage.
Good Lighting Is Essential
Good lighting reduces eye strain, and is essential to quality work. My garage has two large windows which give me great natural light during the daytime, but when working at night I rely on my fluorescent fixtures.
A four-foot-long fluorescent fixture is perfect to hang above your workbench or mount to the underside of a high shelf. For automotive bodywork, install enough light fixtures so that you can see everywhere without shadows. Painting the interior walls white will make a big difference in brightness.
Utilize High Ceilings
If your garage happens to have a high ceiling, use that to your advantage (high ceilings come with high walls). Install tall shelves, even if you need a ladder to reach them. Store things in them that you don't need to get to often, like old parts or rarely-used tools.
Have Enough Electrical Outlets
Extension cords take up room and can be dangerous. While 110v power outlets every ten feet or so are enough for most garage equipment, air compressors and larger welding machines need a higher electrical output. I paid a licensed electrician to install a 50 amp 220v circuit for my air compressor.
Have A Place To Move Your Project Car
If you block up the garage with your project, you'll have no room for minor maintenance on other vehicles, such as changing oil in your daily driver. If your driveway is large enough to park an extra car on, use it as a staging area for a day or a week.
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Have Storage Space Other Than The Garage
A shed is usually the best place to house all yard-related tools, as well as garage equipment you seldom use (sand blaster, engine hoist, etc.) I also keep large body parts underneath my rear deck (temporarily).
By organizing workspace effectively, you can attain maximum productivity in a minimal amount of space. I hope some of my Top Ten tips will help you with your garage projects.
Safety First and Always
When working in your garage workshop, please be safe. Proper protective equipment includes safety glasses with side shields, foam ear plugs, and gloves. When cutting and grinding metal, wear a face shield.