Welcome to Handy Across America, a new blog series where we’ll be working around the house with our hands. We’ll focus on home improvement, building projects, and other sometimes-intimidating tasks. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY guy or a nervous novice, we’ll have you pitching new projects confidently in no time.
This month, we’re starting with the most basic necessity of the helpful hands: a working workshop. See these and more product picks on our Ultimate Workshop Styleboard.
Fact: over half of America’s basements and garages are considered “creepy.” But, at the same time, they’re also home to whatever unsightly situation we call “the workshop.” So, before you start this project, you’re gonna have to tackle that project. Ultimately, this self-reflexive project-on-project pile-up consumes itself and you call another expensive contractor for another job.
But there are ways to master even the dustiest domain and create a productive, creative workspace for projects of all types. If you’re going to be more handy around the house, you’re going to need a home base. Let’s begin.
Cabinets and Shelving
First, the big stuff! Surfaces must be cleared, floor space created. Luckily, an incredible amount of flexible shelving and cabinet solutions are made specifically to make your space productive. Ideally, everything will come up off of the floor, but you can do this in a number of ways. Shelving units keep stored stuff and supplies visible, cabinet systems keep ugly stuff out of sight, and hanging solutions keep everyday items handy at a moment’s notice. For ultimate flexibility, look at modular systems that let you add and move elements as your needs and space changes.
Next, the medium-sized stuff. See a pattern here? Maybe you have a scattershot collection of tools that came from here and there, or maybe you’re the proud owner of a gleaming new set courtesy of a Father-in-Law and a December holiday. Either way, you can’t use even a single tool if you can’t find it. Start big, with a tool chest or cabinet that’ll hold the stuff you don’t carry around the house. Accent these with an easy handheld toolbox so you can go where repairs are needed.
With the big stuff off the floor and your tools organized, there’s still another level of sorting to be done. The dreaded trinkets. Screws and nails, caps, nuts, bolts, clips, connectors, plugs, cords, and who-knows-what-else that need to be sorted and stored. Storage solutions with lots of small, clear-fronted bins are best, and come in a ton of sizes from worktable-top to floorstanding.
And here we are. The heart of the workshop. The key to a good workbench is a broad, super-durable, completely flat, and reliable surface. Somewhere you can assemble, clamp, cut, hammer, disassemble, and repeat ad nauseam without worrying about the surface. There are plenty of variations, but every good workbench provides a place to work. Depending on your project type, you’ll also find specialty benches with electrical plugs, portability, storage underneath, and more. For general homeowner’s DIY needs, we love a good medium-size workbench with a pegboard back for keeping everything within reach.
OK, that’s a good start! Throughout Handy Across America, we’ll cover tons more DIY and home improvement topics in-depth and hands-on. For now, just get that workshop in order … and get ready to use it!
– John, hayneedle.com editor