Introduction: Project Ideas to Organize Your Garage Workshop

For the last few months I've been overhauling my garage workshop.

The goal was to organize a space where I could do quite a bit of woodworking, but that was flexible enough to handle whatever kind of creative projects I might want to undertake.

This instructable is a two-part affair. The first half covers the building of a large workshop/outfeed table, and the second half covers the variety of shelves, cabinets, additional worktables, and other features that make up the rest of my shop.

If you're looking to make yourself a versatile outfeed table or just looking for a few organizational ideas for your own garage workshop, perhaps there's something here that you'll find useful.

Thanks for taking a look!

Step 1: Part 1, Super-mega-ultra-deluxe Outfeed Worktable

This table was made to be a multi-use, central hub in my shop.

It features a 5- by 6-foot top, built-in vise, a storage cabinet with full-extension drawers, and it serves as an outfeed table for my table saw.

It has been a fantastic addition to my shop. Here's how it was built:

Step 2: Cabinet Case

Let's start with the storage cabinet, which supports one half of the table top.

This is made from a full sheet of 3/4" pine plywood, which is currently about $40 a sheet where I live. Alternately, a person could use melamine or even subfloor particle board to save a few bucks. Whatever material is used, it comes with inherent qualities that you have to work with/around when using it. Basically, make sure you pre-drill all of your holes and use appropriate screws as needed. See step 3 of my shed instructable for a quick guide on fastening materials with screws.

I began by breaking down the sheet of plywood according to the diagram above. Pieces were then screwed together, using clamps as needed to make sure joints were tight and flush.

Note that the shelf had to be created by joining two pieces with glue and clamps, followed by a bit of trimming to fit the opening where it was to go. (The material was there, I just couldn't extract it from the sheet of plywood in one piece!)

Step 3: Finish Cabinet Case

The cabinet case was painted with black paint, and a backing board made of 1/4" MDF was added, which made the case more rigid and squared it up. This was simply fastened with screws into pre-drilled holes.

Step 4: Build Drawers

I built five very simple but sturdy drawers for this case using baltic birch plywood. It is definitely spendy, but well worth it in my opinion for ease-of-use and long-term durability.

The side pieces are made from 15mm plywood that were glued and fastened together with 1" crown staples. The bottoms are 9mm plywood and were fastened in the same manner.

The drawer boxes were all finished with several coats of spray lacquer.

Step 5: Install Drawer Guides on Drawers

For the drawers I used heavy-duty full-extension ball-bearing guides, similar to these. (You know they're good if you have to use three hyphenated compound adjectives to describe them.)

Drawer guide positioning was determined by various factors, and I used a few tricks to make sure they were all fastened precisely as needed. See photo notes for tips on this.

Step 6: Install Drawer Guides in Cabinet Case

The other halves of the drawer guides were then fastened into the cabinet case.

This requires a fair amount of planning and measuring, but can be aided greatly by using supports as detailed in the photo notes.

Step 7: Add Drawer Faces, Door, and Hardwear

I made the drawer faces and door out of old aluminum road signs. See my easy workshop cabinets instructable for more info on where I got them, and the specific methods used cut the pieces and install them.

For this cabinet I chose to install the sign pieces with the bare aluminum facing out, and I really like the classy look.

The drawer pulls were then installed, as well as a magnetic catch on the door.

Step 8: Position and Level Table Saw and Cabinet

At this point, I carefully positioned my table saw exactly where I wanted it in my shop, and shimmed the legs until the top was perfectly level.

The cabinet was also placed precisely and leveled in the same manner. There was quite a bit of additional adjustment needed to ensure that the cabinet and saw were at the perfect height in relation to each other (this was done later on, after the table top was in place).

Step 9: Build Support Frame for Table Top

The table top was made from two recycled solid core doors that were perfectly flat but extremely heavy.

The doors are basically thick pieces of particle board sandwiched between two MDF veneers. They may not be as durable as some other table top options, but they were a great solution for the price--I found them at a local ReStore for $15 apiece!

To support the heavy doors, I built a framework out of 3/4" pine plywood. This frame was attached to the cabinet on one side, and held up by adjustable 2 by 4 legs on the other.

See notes in photos for details on how I make quick and dirty adjustable table legs.

Step 10: Add Table Top

The two solid core doors were trimmed as needed and fastened to top of framework through pocket holes drilled in the frame.

Now both the table saw and the outfeed table were carefully adjusted and shimmed (with laminate sample pieces) until they were perfectly level and the heights were where I wanted them, with the outfeed table top about 1/32" lower than the top of the table saw.

I'm not going to lie, getting everything adjusted perfectly is a lot of work!

Step 11: Fasten Saw to Outfeed Table

To fasten my table saw to the outfeed table I first bolted pieces of wood to the sides of the saw.

Then I screwed additional pieces of wood to the underside of the outfeed table, and then to the boards attached to the saw. This was actually quicker and easier than I had imagined it would be.

With both tables connected, they are rock solid and there is even less vibration when using my saw now.

Step 12: Install Drawers

For drawer liners, I used pieces of anti-fatigue floor mats from Harbor Freight. I like the extra padding, and the cost isn't much different than using other typical drawer liners.

The drawers were then placed into the cabinet and filled with tools.

Step 13: Extend Miter Track Slots

If you've got a table saw, I cannot recommend highly enough that you make a really large cross-cut sled to go with it.

Don't make a wimpy small one. Go big; you will not regret it!

There are a few gazillion tutorials out there on how to make a decent table saw sled.

To extend the miter slots from the table saw into the outfeed table, I used my router with a 3/4" bit and a rigged-up and firmly-clamped straight edge.

I made a couple of passes with my router, adjusting the straight edge so the slots in my outfeed table are actually just a little bigger than the ones on the table saw.

These outfeed slots don't have to be perfectly precise, as the actual guidance to the sled comes from the precision-ground slots on the table saw. (With the blade all the way through the cut area on my sled, the sled base still rests halfway on my table saw top, with the table saw miter track still providing all of the necessary guidance.)

Step 14: Install Vise

I bought a basic woodworking vise (this Shop Fox one) to attach to my table.

Rather than try to fasten it to the particle board interior of the door-table top with lag bolts from underneath (the typical manner for mounting to a solid wood workbench), I opted to bolt it fully through the table top.

Holes were drilled and then bored down a little to fit the bolt heads and washers. After shimming the vise as needed and bolting it in place, the top holes were filled with epoxy putty. This was covered with a bit of wood filler, sanded smooth, and then primed to match the table top.

I don't do a lot of traditional woodworking (using planes and such), so I have no intention of adding bench dog holes to my table (I don't think they'd hold up well in the particle board mush anyhow).

But on numerous occasions I've wished I had a simple broad-area vise with wooden jaws, and now I do.

Step 15: Paint Table Top

I wanted a uniformly colored table top, so I painted it with several coats of appliance "epoxy" spray paint thinking this might add a little bit of durability. I'm not sure if it did or not, but it looks okay.

This was sanded lightly with 220 sandpaper between coats.

On top of this, I sprayed several coats of semi-gloss lacquer, sanding between coats and after the last with 220. This left a really smooth, slick table top.

I originally wanted to do a poured epoxy top, but was turned off by how much it was going to cost (being already several $100's into my shop overhaul at this point).

However, someday I would like to upgrade to an epoxy top.

Step 16: Add Maple Faces to Vise

Two jaw faces were made for the vise out of maple wood.

On the table side, the face was screwed to the edge of the table itself. On the other side, the face was bolted to the vise jaw with small bolts that had been epoxied into the maple below the surface of the wood face.

A piece of maple was also added to the edge of the table top as trim.

This concludes the build of the work table.

There are a handful of additional ideas related to the table though, as you will see in Part 2:

Step 17: Part 2, Bonus Features!

The following steps go over all of the other new features incorporated in my workshop overhaul.

There just wasn't enough reason to write up full instructables on every idea, so they've been lumped together here for anyone that might be interested. Enjoy!

Step 18: Roll-out Table

This little table is something I built a long time ago, but I use it so much that my new outfeed worktable had to be built to accommodate it.

It has two fixed casters under the legs on one side, and adjustable feet made out of carriage bolts (just like the ones shown in step 8) on the other two, so it can be rolled around the shop and used wherever I want it.

This works great as an assembly and finishing table, but also as a table to hold my oscillating sander or my half-homemade router table. It is 30" by 48" and 28" tall.

Step 19: Scrap Bin

This is my scrap wood bin.

It is just a simple frame made from 2 by 2's and sheathed with OSB, with some kind of scrap piece that sits on top.

It rolls around on casters, and is incredibly useful as it has the exact same dimensions as the roll-out table from the last step. I often use these two in conjunction for glue-ups, finishing, and whenever else I want a large squarish, but low surface to work on.

Step 20: Dust Collection

I don't have a big fancy dust collection system, but I like what I have.

I made a wooden cyclone separator that I use with a simple shop vacuum on top of a six gallon bucket. I've filled this bucket up dozens of times and you can see how much sawdust has collected in the actual shop vacuum!

If you're not familiar with cyclone separators you should look them up. Pretty brilliant idea, I have to say.

Here's the basic plan I used: http://woodgears.ca/reader/walters/cyclone.html

The pvc inlet pipe is just glued in place with copious amounts of hot glue.

The orange hose is usually connected to the table saw or the roll-out table, but when I want to clean up the rest of the shop . . .

Step 21: Shop Cleanup With a Loooooong Vacuum Hose

. . . I have this 35' hose that reaches all corners of my shop. This is actually sold as a pool vacuum hose, but it is exactly the same (minus the fittings) as the orange hose from the last step.

I purchased the orange one several years ago and it came with several fittings, so when I bought the blue one I had the needed fittings to put on it.

I use the blue one primarily for cleaning up around the shop and for vacuuming out my car (the long reach makes this possible without the need to pull the shopvac and cyclone bucket out of the garage).

The photos show how I made a simple storage place for it, right under the table's vise.

Step 22: Another Base Cabinet

I built a second cabinet using the same basic layout as the one for the outfeed table, but with two full extension drawers on top and larger open bays below.

For the top I used the laminate top from an old desk.

One of the drawers now holds all of the hardware boxes I made for this instructable (since I reorganized all of my wall space that had to go, unfortunately).

Step 23: Upper Cabinets

Part of my workshop overhaul was to build some cabinets to hang on the wall. These have been great for storing all kind of fasteners, finishing supplies, and other miscellaneous things.

The building of these are covered in full detail in an instructable of their own: Easy workshop cabinets

Step 24: Tool Cart

Another new addition to my shop is this mobile tool cart that holds my jointer and planer.

This has it's own instructable as well: Simple workshop cart (with hidden drawer)

Step 25: Hanging Shelves

These are my hanging shelves which were built to take full advantage of every foot of space in my garage.

I'm not including a lot of written detail on these, but figured I'd share some photos with a couple of notes for anyone that might be interested.

They are extremely useful and were well worth the effort to put them up.

Step 26: Lumber Storage Rack

This is a great way to make a pretty quick and simple lumber storage rack.

I'm not sure where the idea originated or who all I ought to give credit to, but I saw a nice tutorial on this style of rack from the Wood Whisperer.

See photo notes for details on how this was made.

Step 27: Other Ideas!

See photo notes for details on a few more features from around my garage.

Step 28: Organize Yourselves; Prepare Every Needful Thing

Hopefully you're inspired to go forth and overhaul your own garage workshop, and organize it into the creative space you've always dreamed of.

Thanks again for taking a look at this. I hope you've found some of these ideas useful!

Comments

author
RexW6 (author)2016-12-04

Awesome post, thanks for the ideas!

author
HollyMann (author)2016-09-15

Sam, I really love all your Instructables. I am amazed by them. I could really use some storage and organization like this. I was just thinking of taking pics in the garage and using measurements and sketchup to plan out how to build in some storage. This Instructable helps a lot. I was wondering also, where did you get those red clamps from? I am looking for some like that...thank you!

author
seamster (author)HollyMann2016-09-15

Thanks for your kind words. Those red clamps are Bessey brand clamps, and they're not cheap, let me tell you!

I lucked out and found those at a garage sale that was selling all the tools of an old woodworker who had passed away, and got them for about 1/3 retail.

These are current version of that clamp on Rockler.

author
Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-18

In the fifteenth step, It looks like you coated the tabletop with spaypaint (epoxy, whatever that is) Can/do you paint it again every couple years to hide all of the scratches?

author
seamster (author)Yonatan242015-12-18

Yes, it could be sanded down and repainted if needed.

author
espdp2 (author)2015-08-31

Two questions. One, do you now park your cars outdoors, and two, roughly how big is your garage/shop? You have a lot going on there, but it seems very well put together.

author
seamster (author)espdp22015-08-31

Thank you!

Yes, the car now lives outside. Where we live this means a lot of snow removal and ice scraping in the winter, and a damn-hot interior in the summer. But it's worth it! :)

My garage is 18' wide and 20' deep.

author
manuelmasc (author)2015-08-24

awesome workshop man! I really like it!

author
seamster (author)manuelmasc2015-08-24

Hey, thank you!

author
jessyratfink (author)2015-08-17

Amazing!!! I just got a garage and now have to work on filling it. This instructable gives me pretty good goals. :D

author
seamster (author)jessyratfink2015-08-17

Thanks! I'm excited that you've got your own workshop space. Can't wait to see what comes out of it!

author
bricobart (author)2015-08-15

Exactly what I expected from you. And far above my limits, also. Well thought, executed like a pro and spiced with just enough creativity to make it all workable. Only one feature is missing: the beer cooler. Make it visible & accessible.

author
kamuelaboy (author)bricobart2015-08-16

I'm not sure someone who is "preparing every needful thing" needs a beer cooler :)

author
CarlTheDabbler (author)2015-08-06

This is excellent! Thanks for all the inspiration.

The spiky toothed, threaded washer-thing is a T-nut.

author
seamster (author)CarlTheDabbler2015-08-14

Thank you!

author
cameraeyes (author)2015-08-06

Fantastic work.
What do you make in there when you're not building the shop itself?

author
seamster (author)cameraeyes2015-08-14

All sorts of crazy stuff! See my profile for a few of my projects from the last few years.

author
tpasqualucci (author)2015-08-06

The "spiky toothed threaded washer-thing" is called a T-nut.

author
seamster (author)tpasqualucci2015-08-14

Hey, thanks!

I think I knew that at one point, but had a brain fart when I was typing this up. That happens a lot! :)

author
mlelievre (author)2015-08-10

What's the project in the fourth picture?

author
vincent7520 (author)2015-08-07

Great !

Thank you so much for this cornucopia of ideas !

But maybe a small sketch showing how all these contraptions are laid in your space would have helped to see how we could use your ideas ?

This really is a minor remark.

author
scmeyn (author)2015-08-06

Ideas and more ideas, I just purchased a secondhand Triton Workcentre with router table for $100 AU and want to set it up the Workcentre to just about cover most bases with what I have to do with working with timber. This is just great, thanks for your great effort as I will be employing some of your projects into the new workshop which is about 11.5M x 5.5M with a 2M x 7M mezzanine for storage. It already has a reticulated air system coming off a 18CF capacity air-compressor. Once again thanks for you time in putting all this together.

author
swimspud (author)2015-08-06

wow, cleanest garage I've ever seen! this has got to be a great place to work. Great job!

author
SpoonMax (author)2015-08-05

Most impressive, thanks for sharing. I shall try to copy your vacuum system, which seems very practical.

After going to the expense of Baltic plywood for the drawers, it seems a pity that the elements should only be tacked together - is this not a little cheap for such a worthy structure? I'm aware that dovetail joints are very time-consuming, but finger joints should not present you with any great difficulty, as you appear to have all the necessary equipment. Even if this were too much effort, surely some rebates with screwed connections (especially for the base) would have given greater stability, with a more professional touch.

author
mikecz (author)SpoonMax2015-08-06

I think you would be totally amazed at how durable drawers like this can be. I recently retired from owning a hardware store for 30 years (and working in my Dad's stores for years before that). In my store we had what were apparently shop-made drawers constructed like this from solid lumber with 18 to 27 bins in each drawer that held all our small screws that we sold by the each. There were 24 of these drawers in a cabinet, The drawers that held the longer screws were quite heavy and were not on any sort of suspension system. Most days theses drawers were opened and closed (collectively) AT LEAST a hundred times a day. The store was opened in 1912 - the drawers MAY have been there on opening day! They didn't have the adhesives we have now and the corners were only reinforced by 3d or 4d box nails. I suspect "seamster"s drawers will last a surprisingly long time.

author
seamster (author)SpoonMax2015-08-05

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, I appreciate it.

Regarding the drawer boxes, I felt that the combination of quality plywood + rabbets + glue + staples would be sufficiently sound enough for my liking.

See photo 3 in step 4 . . . a completed box with four of these joints (plus the bottom panel) is not coming apart anytime soon.

Dovetails are the gold standard of course, but in my opinion not worth the added time or effort for plywood shop drawers.

The vacuum system is great and you should definitely give it a shot!

author
turnhandle (author)2015-08-06

Lots of useful stuff here. I'll put some of it to use once I get a shop that's a little bigger than the one I have now. Your out feed table is almost bigger than my whole shop.

author
deedee4212 (author)2015-08-06

So very impressive! Much admiration for your creative/organizational and phenomenal DIY skills. I've been on-line organizing my mess of a garage for several weeks now and got some great ideas from your post. Thanks for sharing with us!

author
Jobar007 (author)2015-08-05

This is incredible and when I actually get a shop space of my own, I'll be using some of these ideas. Just one question though, where do you get your sign material? Legally, of course, but where?

author
seamster (author)Jobar0072015-08-06

Thank you for the compliment!

I got the signs from a small-town road department by simply asking for any old or damaged signs. There was a pile out in a back lot that was never going to go anywhere, so they let me take as many as I wanted. I've been using them for projects like this ever since.

author
Jobar007 (author)seamster2015-08-06

Thanks!

author
BennyS3 (author)2015-08-06

wow dude very nice! could u do a how to on the wooden cyclone?

author
monkeywork (author)2015-08-06

I must first... get a garage... :)

Well done!

author
sunshiine (author)2015-08-05

Hubby is drooling over your design. Thanks for sharing your hard work and do have a great week~

sunshiine

author
makendo (author)2015-08-05

Lots of great ideas to borrow from here, thanks. Looks like you have commandeered the whole garage, well done... I still work around the car! Am slowly moving the other non-workshop stuff out, though - just finished a little recycling shed to reclaim a little more shelf space.

author
seamster (author)makendo2015-08-05

Nice! One bit at a time makes a difference.

Once we committed to keeping our car out of the garage, that freed up a huge amount of space. But it snows a lot where I live so I frequently have these really great winter mornings cleaning snow off of the car.

It's worth it though!

author
studleylee (author)2015-08-04

Awesome work!!!!!! I needs one!!!!

author
amberrayh (author)2015-08-04

Great job on this Instructable! Your garage is beautiful and must be the envy of all the neighbors :)

author
buck2217 (author)2015-08-04

That is brilliant!!! WELL DONE SIR

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