10 Organizational Tips for Your Workshop

Workshops can get quite messy. Messy in the course of creating stuff is one thing. Disorganization is entirely another. If you lean toward the latter, you may need some good organization tips for your workshop. The following ten tips will get you started toward a more functional work space (and maybe a cleaner one too!).

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1. Construct a Pegboard Tool Holder

Maybe you have seen this item in other workshops or on TV when watching DIY shows. The pegboard is a piece of composite wood that has several rows and columns of pre-drilled holes in it. Into the holes you can insert these question mark-shaped pegs. If you build a frame from 2×4’s, you can then nail a piece of pegboard onto the frame and create a pegboard tool holder. For added organization, use a thick permanent marker to draw around your tools so that you can see with a glance which tools are missing from the board.

2. Arrange Your Freestanding Power Tools in an Assembly Line

Next, arrange your free-standing power tools in an assembly line. Tools that cut first, then tools that drill, followed by tools that drive screws, nails or bolts, and then finally your finishing tools (if applicable). Give yourself plenty of room to move around each of these tools too so that you are able to manipulate your materials easier.

3. Have a Large Separate Workbench Area for Power Hand Tools

It helps to be able to sit with power hand tools so that you are able to steady them while you use them. As such, have a large separate workbench area where you keep power hand tools such as a belt sander, reciprocating saw, power hand drill, etc. This is also the workbench to which you will want to attach your vice grips and on which you can use your C-clamps without worrying about damaging the table.

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4. Keep a Clean-up Closet

In your clean-up closet in the shop, you should have:

  • A shop broom
  • A dustpan
  • A shop vacuum for really big spills and piles of sawdust
  • Shop rags and paper towels

All of these will be necessary when it comes time to clean up after your projects. The closet itself can be a physical closet or just a space underneath one of your work benches.

5. Have Both a Large-Number Clock and a Timer in Your Shop

Many projects have time limits on them. You will need to keep track of the time so that you do not wait too long or jump back in with too little time on the clock. To do this, most workshop owners have both a large-numbered clock hanging where they can see it anywhere in the shop, and a timer. A kitchen egg timer works just as well as anything else, and the clock should have big hands and a second hand you can see tick off the minutes and seconds.

6. Build Racks and Shelves to Store Materials

Lumber and metal materials are often large and cumbersome. If you attempt to store them on end in your shop, they may fall and injure you or injure others in your shop. For that reason, be sure to build racks and shelves to store long and heavy materials.

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7. Buy and Hang Hardware Boxes

You undoubtedly have seen the numerous hardware boxes at a hardware store. These boxes have numerous little compartments that you can label and use for every nut, bolt, screw, washer, nail and fastener you can buy. The best part is that these boxes can be mounted to the wall of your shop so you can see everything at eye level and then get what you need out of them.

8. Have LOTS of Good Lighting

This may not seem like an organization tip, but the truth is, if you can’t see everything you can’t find it. Making sure your shop has adequate lighting is monumental to everything you make. It is also a huge deal for everything you are trying to organize and locate.

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9. Buy an EXCELLENT First Aid Kit

Shop accidents happen, and they will happen even in the most well-organized of work shops. For that reason, buy the best first aid kit you can find. Make sure it has plenty of bandages and first aid supplies in it. If you can’t find something reasonably adequate, build it yourself by purchasing tons of first aid supplies and tossing them into a storate tote. Store the tote under the workbench by your power tools or under the bench by your hand tools. Clearly label it and make it as easily accessible with one hand as you possbily can.

10. Buy and Use “Tidy Cord” Items

What we mean here by “tidy cord” items are any supplies that help you wind up cords so that you are not tripping over them or accidentally pulling them out of the wall right as you are about to finish using a power tool. Some shop owners like to use zip ties, but then you have to cut them or use an extension cord if you want the primary cords to stretch to another outlet. You can use twisty-ties too, which work well because they twist and untwist to tie up and release your cords as needed. You can look for similar products at the hardware store to see what other commercial products are available for cord safety in your shop.