Simple Ways to Organize Your Workshop
By Jennifer Lutz
Every handyman dreams of having a clean, well-ordered space to work on projects. But if your workshop has become a confusing mess of stray nails, sawdust, and disorganized tools, you may find yourself hampered by the clutter as you try to move from one project to the next.
A clutter-free workshop promotes efficiency. You can save time preparing for your next DIY project when you know exactly where each tool is stored. Below are some creative ideas for maintaining a clean and organized workshop -- and keeping it that way.
The Most Important Step
For many people, the planning stages of organization can be overwhelming. This, in no way, implies that planning should be done haphazardly. Make sure to develop a process -- one that involves actually getting work done.
Get a pen and notepad ready and do a quick inventory of the items you frequently use in your workshop and those you don't. Group the items, first, according to the frequency of use and, second, by size. You can organize around larger items, such as a sewing machine or a wood-cutting table.
Organization -- Simplified
The best way to simplify organization is to think of it as a series of steps, each with a particular goal. Keep these goals in mind to stay motivated to complete the entire process.
Step 1: Take care of the mess
A cluttered workshop is an unproductive workshop. Before even considering storage options, take stock and think about your actual needs. Do you really need those leftover cans of paint you've been keeping for years? Will you have use for that tool set that's been in storage ever since you put up your workshop? Thinking about your needs helps you consider your future projects and give you a clearer picture of the types of projects you're interested in.
- Start by de-cluttering your worktable and take it from there.
- Re-assess which items you actually need and dispose of the ones you don't.
- Divide the workshop into smaller sections to make organization manageable.
Step 2: Develop a storage system
After determining what to keep and what to throw away, it's time to consider a storage system that suits your most common tasks. Whether it's using color-coded drawers or numbered containers, the important thing is to create a system you're comfortable with -- one that you can adhere to for good.
- Recycle egg cartons as storage containers for craft items such as buttons, beads, or pins.
- Divide your workshop into functional zones and store related items together.
- Sort and store craft items in over-the-door shoe organizers.
Step 3: Get creative
This is the fun part. After getting your hands dirty, it's time to add some design touches. It can be anything from intricate drawer handles to DIY wall racks and shelves or even a brand new paint job. Whatever it is, aim to strike a balance between form and functionality -- something that makes the space more aesthetically pleasing while helping you become more organized and avoid clutter.
- Recycle old boxes by wrapping them in giftwrapping or decorative paper and using them for storage. Old, unused hat boxes are great candidates.
- Create a fun and quirky calendar or reminder wall by using a cork board and some craft materials. Design to your heart's content. The best part is that you can change the look every day if you wish.
- Create an overall theme. This will give the elements of your workshop a unified look.
Step 4: Maximize space
For many, maintaining a workshop comes at a premium -- especially after a few years when tools and leftover materials from previous projects begin to build up. The logical next step if you want to save space is to follow step 1 of this process.
Take care of the mess and think about what you can afford to throw away and what you can't. If you still find that your workshop is a mess, it's time to free up some floor space. You can also maximize available space by utilizing walls and ceilings. Use wall hooks, peg boards, lattice with "s" hooks, and wall-mounted or free-standing shelves.
- If your workshop is in the basement, use the space under the stairs, which is an oft neglected storage option.
- Paintbrushes and other metal tools or objects can be hung using a magnet strip glued to the wall.
- Convert free wall space into your very own sketchpad of ideas by installing chalkboard tiles.
Step 5: Say no to clutter
Clutter is one of the main hindrances to productivity. Cleaning up clutter is good, but preventing it from piling up is even better. Say no to clutter by anticipating the problem; label shelves, boxes, and other containers properly so you're not tempted to just toss something into the closest available space.
Open shelves may provide easy access to your tools and other paraphernalia, but closed cabinets provide a more organized look.
- Make it a point to always clear your worktable at the end of the day to avoid small messes that can build up over time.
- Store frequently used items near your worktable so you're not tempted to leave them lying there for another day.
- Cover open shelves with curtains, especially those where you keep objects that are not necessarily pleasing to the eye.
The next time you feel overwhelmed by a disorganized workshop, remember this simple organization process. With a little creativity and effort, you're well on your way to creating the perfect workshop.
About the author: Jennifer Lutz is the home decor expert and frequently blogs on topics related to the home, decorating, organizing, and more.