Tool Organization So Thorough it Would Make Most Men Cry

Tool Organization So Thorough it Would Make Most Men Cry

Tool organization this weekend was the last thing on your mind.

But then it happened!

Your spouse just went into the garage and couldn't find anything.

There was yelling.

​You walked in and grabbed what your spouse needed in a second.

Who needs tool organization? You know where everything is!

But if you want to save your marriage, you should probably do something.

But what?

Is it possible to find a home for all your stuff?

​And maybe park the car in the garage?

​Will one weekend be enough time? The game is on Sunday afternoon!

If you suffer that dilemma:

​We're here to stoke the flame of your creativity and help you solve those storage problems.

Sorting Is the First Step for Tool Organization

Step One: Remove everything from your garage, storage shed, or whatever you are using for tool storage.

​ORGANIZED SORTING

  • ​Remove everything
  • Sort everything according to its purpose
    Lawn tools, power tools, hand tools, garden tools, stuff with motors and stuff without motors.
  • ​Avoid getting too segregationist
    Keep your sorting categories broad. You'll sort them down further in a bit. For now, screwdrivers and pliers are hand tools.

​Once you have things out and sorted, take a look at what you have.

This is where you nitpick sort

Start with your big lawn equipment. What has to have floor space? What can be hung up or placed in a rack?

Don't forget your fuel cans, oil, and other items that should be near these tools.

Move on to your power tools.

What needs bench space and what can you store in a toolbox, drawer, or cabinet?

Does your air compressor need floor space? Will it fit in a cabinet?

an assortment of air compressors

​An assortment of air compressors.
Image: CC BY 2.0 from Your Best Digs via Flickr

​Do you have a table saw that needs floor space? Drill press? A band saw?

Now on to your hand tools.

These can be sorted in many different ways. I usually keep wrenches, sockets, ratchet handles, and similar items together.

hand tools lying on top of a tool box

​An assortment of hand tools.
Image: CC0 1.0 via Maxpixel

​Screwdrivers, nut drivers, and similar items are grouped. Then pliers, channel locks, vise grips, and similar tools stay together.

Hand saws, hack saws, coping saws, and similar stay together.

different types of handsaws

​Variety of different types of handsaws.
Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

​You get the idea here?

If you have shovels, garden rakes, lawn rakes, and other manual lawn and garden equipment, it probably needs its own pile.

An array of shovels, rakes and other garden tools

An array of shovels, rakes, and garden tools.
Image from lynnmarentette0 via Pixabay

​Then your miscellaneous supplies -- lawn and leaf bags, the shop vac, and similar items should be together.

​Now you have to think a bit as we continue.

What to Keep and What to Let Go

Now is the hardest part.

Step two: Looking through everything you have sorted that was stored in your garage and deciding what to get rid of.

You might keep it all, but you should ask yourself a series of questions.

WHAT CAN I AFFORD TO LIVE WITHOUT?

  • 1
    ​Is the item seasonal? And do I use it during that season?
  • 2
    ​Do I use the item more than once a month?
  • 3
    ​Will I use the item more than quarterly?
  • 4
    Will I use the item more than once a year?
  • 5
    Is there another tool that would do the same job and takes less room?
  • 6
    Does that item have more than one purpose?
  • 7
    Why on earth did I even buy this thing?

​You may come up with additional questions on your own.

But what does this exercise have to do with tool organization?

I'm glad you asked.

While answering the questions, you will undoubtedly find at least one tool you have never used.

It's TRUE!

You bought a garden claw because your neighbor had one and said he loved it. You have neither a garden nor flower beds. Maybe you popped it into the ground and twisted it. Then you said, "Oh, hey, that's neat."

And there it sits.

You haven't touched it since that day except to move it out of the way to reach something else.

It's been seven years. Do you really need it?

​But I might need it later...

Stop right there.

Do you REALLY need that item?

If not...

Out it goes.

Donate it. Give it to your neighbor. Have a yard sale.

garage sale in northern California in 2005

​Yard sale in northern California in 2005
Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

​You're cleaning, not reminiscing!

Storage Options for Yard Equipment

Yard equipment is probably the most-used stuff in your arsenal.

In the summer you mow weekly, edge once a month, sweep or blow the walks off, rake, prune the shrubs and small trees. And so much more.

While you are determining where to store things, make sure you opt to keep all that yard maintenance stuff up front and easily accessible.

Storing rakes, shovels, mowers, weed eaters, and leaf blowers can be cumbersome. But it can also be compact and space-effective.

But how?

You keep asking that!

If you have wall space, you can purchase hangers.

Various garden tools and game equipment hung neatly on a wall

Various yard and garden tools hung neatly on a wall.
Image: CC BY 2.0 from Rubbermaid Products via Flickr

​You can also make hangers out of wood with a little creativity.

Simple wall-mounted rack storage system for long-handled garden tools

Simple wall-mounted rack storage system for long-handled tools.
Screenshot via YouTube video

​If you are a handy sort, you can make something like this cube storage unit:

DIY long-handled tool storage cube

​DIY long-handled tool storage cube.
Image from YouTube video

​You can make or buy racks to store your long-handled tools in one location.

​Now that you have an idea of how to store your lawn and garden tools, you can move on to the next group.

Storage Options for Hand Tools

Hand tools fall into two major categories: Power tools and manual hand tools.

Because they have motors, power tools don't always fit handily in drawers or cabinets. But they generally do well on open shelving depending on their size.

Do you have existing cabinets, shelves, drawers, or other storage options in your garage already? They should be empty right now if you sorted properly.

If you're still looking at this, you aren't quite there yet:

messy garage shelving and general clutter

Messy garage shelving and general clutter.
Image by Kasman via Pixabay

​An option for the larger hand tools is to sort them by the frequency of use.

If you use your electric or battery-powered drill at least once a week, it needs to be in an easily accessible area.

Don't forget about a charging station for miscellaneous batteries for your tools.

Likewise, if your circular saw is only used a few times a year, it can hide in the back of a cabinet or on a higher shelf.

Tool storage options don't have to be complicated. Sometimes a simple board and some nails will give you all the tool organization that you need:

​There are many tool storage options available.

Depending on what tools you have, your storage options may be quite simple.

On the other hand:

If you have a lot of tools, you might need to get more creative in adapting your space for the most efficient tool organization.

Open shelving options for powered hand tools

​Drills can be stored on open shelves.

We mentioned battery charging units earlier too.

Battery-powered drill with battery charging units well-organized on a shelf

Battery-powered drill storage with battery charging units.
Screen capture via YouTube video

​If you have a variety of different types of saws, most of them can go on one shelf or into one cabinet.

The simple rack system pictured below has individual spaces designed around the shape of each piece for stable, secure storage.

DIY wall mount shelves for different handheld saws

Saws with custom shelving for out-of-the-way tool organization.
Screen capture via YouTube video

​Determining what you need is going to depend on what you have.

But don't forget to purge some of those old things you never use.

Unless you are a construction worker, do you really need all four of those circular saws? Or all three battery-powered drills?

Pegboard Tool Organization Solutions for Small Tools

Pegboard storage is an excellent tool organization surface. The board is sold at your local home improvement center in sheets or smaller sections.

There are a variety of different style hangers, clips, shelf brackets, and hooks designed to hang everything in your tool collection.

And don't worry:

If you have limited wall space, you can make yourself a poster-style flip-board for your hand tool organization:

garden and home tools organized on poster-display style pegboard mounting system

Tool organization using poster-display style pegboard mounting system.
Screen capture via YouTube video

​As seen below, pegboard allows for a variety of storage options:

Tool organization of hand tools stored on walls using pegboard

Hand tools stored on walls using pegboard.
Image CC BY-ND 2.0 by mtneer_man via Flickr

​Use shelves for spray paints, cans, and items that don't hang well:

Pegboard and shelving used for storage of supplies

Pegboard and shelving used for storage of supplies.
Image CC BY-ND 2.0 by mtneer_man via Flickr

​And baskets, bins, and more shelves:

clean and spacious workspace and well-organized garden and home tools

Tool organization using pegboard, benches, and shelves.
Image CC BY-ND 2.0 by mtneer_man via Flickr

​If you need more pegboard ideas, we found a couple of videos:

​And a few more great ideas:

​Are you getting excited?

Pegboards can be mounted directly to studs in an unfinished garage.

If you have a finished garage with drywall, you'll want to mount the pegboard on strips to give at least a half inch behind the board to insert the various pegs, which go through holes and lock onto the back of the pegboard for stability.

Storage Boxes, Tool Boxes, and Benches

The custom bench assembly below has pullout shelves with fitted spaces for all kinds of doodads, tools, and whatnot.

And check it out:

The compound miter saw is located where it can be used without being moved.

Although a bit cluttered at the moment, the bench top is level with the deck on the saw, allowing for the easy cutting of longer boards that extend beyond the width of the saw deck.

bench tool organization for saws and sanders

Bench tool organization for saws and sanders.
Screen capture via YouTube video

​We'll be looking at more custom benches and help you build some projects in the next section.

If you need portable storage, there are a lot of rolling options available.

​Some you can buy in a local store or online through a variety of retailers.

Others you can build yourself, and customize specific features to meet your needs.

​Even if you have never built anything on your own, you can use some of the tools you forgot you had and get 'er done!

Select a design that isn't complicated.

Purchase the raw materials you will need (most plans have a materials list).

Then set aside some time:

If you are a novice, and design plans say something will take two hours -- do yourself a favor and double that. You might surprise yourself, but leaving the extra time will be a welcome buffer if you run into delays or problems.

Are you ready to RUMBLE?

And maybe grumble, bumble, and tumble a bit?

Building Your Own Workbenches and Storage Shelves

​Are you ready?

Tools all sorted?

1. Simple workbench from Family Handyman

Family Handyman is an awesome resource for free building plans, instructional videos, and a host of other handy information.

First things first.

Let's assemble your tools, then the materials you need.

Tools needed for this project

  • ​Drill (cordless or electric)
  • ​Miter saw (use a circular saw if that is what you have)
  • ​Circular saw
  • Straightedge
  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses

​When plans call for a specific tool that you don't have, don't give up on the project.

You can often use a different tool to accomplish the task. Although it may take a few additional steps or a couple of extra minutes, it can be done.

You will need the following materials

  • ​15 each -- 2 by 4 inch by 8-foot studs (standard 2x4 wall studs)
  • ​Miter saw (use a circular saw if that is what you have)
  • ​1 each -- 4 by 8-foot sheet of 1/2 inch plywood
  • ​2 pounds of 3-inch wood screws (about 100 screws)
  • ​1/4 pound of 1 5/8" wood screws (about 50 screws)
  • Wood filler ​(optional)

​Helpful Tip

​The plywood can be cut to size at most home centers, for free, so take your measurements and let them do the hard part!

​The Family Handyman shows this project being constructed using a pneumatic nail gun. We think the screws are more effective -- and not everyone has a pneumatic nail gun and compressor hanging around.

Now you're ready to begin!

Setting up and getting started with this project

We found additional tips and suggestions for this project at Ginger and the Huth.

cutting layout for the design plans

Graphic created by the author, used with permission, all rights reserved

​The cutting list for this project

  • ​9 each -- 71 7/8 inches long
  • ​4 each -- 68 7/8 inches long
  • ​4 each -- 35 1/2 inches long
  • ​5 each -- 24 inches long
  • ​4 each -- 27 inches long
  • ​5 each -- 15 inches long
  • 7 each -- 9 inches long

​Using the above diagram to lay your wall studs out will afford you the most efficient use of the wood. The measurements account for the kerf of a standard blade for a compound miter saw or circular saw.

Using this pattern will allow the sheet of plywood to be used most efficiently:

plywood cutting pattern for work bench plans

Graphic created by the author, used with permission, all rights reserved

​Putting the workbench together

This is easier to build if you lay out the pieces on the floor. You can see that procedure in the video.

laying out the bench top and lower shelf assembly on the floor

Laying out the bench top and lower shelf assembly on the floor.
Screen capture via YouTube video

​It's also displayed in images from Ginger and the Huth.

Once you have the bench top and both shelves together, add the legs to the top.

photo demonstrating how to add legs to the bench top assembly

Adding legs to the bench top assembly.
Screen capture via YouTube video

​Use an assistant if you need help.

​Once the four legs are attached, turn it right side up, allowing it to stand on its own.

To attach the lower shelf, you can rest the shelf, right side up, on paint cans.

​Helpful Tip

​Remember that extra piece of plywood left over from the big sheet? It makes a perfect spacer to raise the bottom shelf a half inch higher. Place it over two paint cans in the center of the shelf so that it supports the shelf!

​Attach the plywood to the lower shelf first, screwing it down securely.

Then attach the bench top and screw it down.

Put the top shelf together (using your brand new bench top). Then attach the plywood onto the frame.

Turn the top shelf plywood-side down and attach the four legs.

Position the top shelf over the bench assembly, then attach the shelf legs to the bench unit.

man adding the top shelf assembly to the base unit

Adding the top shelf assembly to the base unit.
Screen capture via YouTube video

​Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?

Here's the video of this project that we promised you:

​Even if you have never built anything, this bench is a great starter project!

2. Easy on your budget DIY workbench

This rolling workbench uses locking casters, which make it very handy.

The simple design creates a functional bench top with a storage shelf below for all your tools and stuff.

With a few alterations, you could add a second shelf easily.

The only tools this project requires are a tape measure, a drill, a circular saw, some clamps, a straightedge, and a level. It might be handy to have a compound miter saw.

Also, don't forget your safety glasses.

You will also want a supply of 2 1/2 inch decking screws, and some 1-inch screws to attach the top and shelf.

​The cutting list for this project

  • ​4 each -- 4 by 4 inch legs, 36 inches long (This length should be adjusted for the casters and overall bench height)
  • ​4 each -- 2 by 4-inch side pieces, 69 inches long
  • ​6 each -- 2 by 4-inch support braces, 21 inches long
  • ​4 each -- 2 by 4-inch end pieces, 24 inches long
  • 1 each -- 4 by 8-foot sheet of 3/8 inch thick plywood

​Additional Notes

The design calls for the use of 4 by 4-inch posts for the legs. You get the same result by using 8 pieces of 2 by 4-inch studs and nailing or screwing them together.


The top only uses a thin, 3/8 inch thick plywood. Depending on your uses for the bench, you may opt to use a thicker top. Just remember to adjust your measurements for the legs to account for the additional thickness.

Getting started with this project

Once you have all your cutting done, lay out your pieces so you can begin assembling your workbench. This can be done on an existing bench or right on the floor, as long as the surface is level.

Attach the side rails to the legs.

​Helpful Tip

​Remember that using only one screw in the leg initially allows you to use a bubble level to square up the legs before adding anchoring screws. This allows you to make sure that your bench will sit nice and level.

​Once you have the outside sides of the bench and legs together, add the support braces before turning it over.

Turn your bench over and repeat the process to add the bottom shelf.

If you have a table saw, you can cut the top before installing it. After watching the video, the technique described and shown is quite effective and looks a lot easier than trying to wrestle a sheet of plywood through a table saw.

Putting the finishing touches together

Turn your bench upside down again and install the casters.

​Helpful Tip

​If you have two locking casters and two non-locking casters, install both locking casters on one long side. If you install them both on a short side, the other end of your bench will still move freely.

​And finally, the video for this quick and easy project:

​If you didn't see something that you fell in love with, we found some other cool workbenches that are in the next section.

Other workbench plans on YouTube

Workbench plans can be simple, or complex. Depending on your personal skill level, you may want to tackle one of these other projects.

There are some with drawers, others with cabinet doors, some on wheels, and some that are stationary.

Tool organization is within your grasp!

Whatever you can imagine can be bought or built to make your space the most organized garage on the block.

This simple bench offers a lot of versatility:

​This bench incorporates a pegboard storage area, shelves, and floor drawers.

​Now, this is a simple design.

The builder used a planing machine to square up the pieces for the top assembly to remove the rounded edges. You can purchase boards with squared edges, so if you like the design but don't own a planer, you can still build this one:

​This workbench, although more complicated than many of the designs we have shown you, offers an adjustable top and is perfect for woodworking:

A simple search on YouTube, Google, or other search engines will net you more plans than you can count.

Putting It All Together -- Reclaiming Your Space

Well, you've gotten this far.

Your mind is racing with ideas. It is time to reclaim your garage and make it an organized mecca of usefulness.

But wait...

If your spouse sees all the neat things you have in there, your Honey-Do list is going to grow exponentially.

There will be weekly projects to do.

Little annoyances around the house will get fixed before they completely fall apart.

You'll have to finally build those window boxes for the kitchen windows.

Is it really worth it?

Heck yeah!

Because look at all that extra ROOM you'll have in the garage.

You can finally build that man cave, or she shed you've been dreaming of!

Imagine having cable out there and installing a giant screen TV for game day!

You can watch your favorite team (or even helpful how-to YouTube videos!) while you are completing even more projects.

How cool will that be?

Which project will you choose? Tell us all about your new claimed space in the comments!

Featured Image: CC0 by dashu83, via Freepik

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