You are here

Shop setup solutions

If your second home is your shop, make your time in it even more enjoyable with these handy shop tips.

  • Handy tape dispenser

    To organize your shop tapes, build a dispenser from scrapwood to keep all the rolls in one location. For the center, use plastic plumbing pipe or a piece of dowel as shown. A hacksaw blade reinforced with a wooden strip makes a perfect cutting edge.
    —Dwight Blakeney, Seaford, Del.

  • Boom puts power right above your bench

    Electrical cords that get draped across a benchtop are ripe for damage, and such a situation could easily result in a serious electrical shock. If you plug in your tools above the bench instead of behind it, you won't have to drag cords across the worksurface. For an overhead outlet that goes where you need it, fashion a boom like the one shown from 1x4 and 1x2 boards. It should be long enough to extend from the back of the bench to slightly past the bench front. Attach a power strip to one end and hinge the other end to the wall behind the bench. For a long boom, add a guy wire from the free end of the boom to a point on the wall above the hinge. Rout a groove for the power cord, to avoid damage. Add a clamp-on reflector lamp for a simple, adjustable worklight.
    —G.E. Wallauz, Painesville, Ohio

  • Stash your miter gauge in a PVC holster

    Changing from crosscutting to rip-cutting means finding a place to put the miter gauge. To keep it handy, build a holster for your miter gauge out of inexpensive 1"-diameter PVC pipe. Cut the pipe long enough to cover the guide bar of your gauge plus 3". To prevent the gauge from rolling over, cut a 3" notch in one end of the pipe as shown. Attach the pipe to the side of your saw with conduit brackets and sheet-metal screws. Now you'll never be more than an arm's reach away from the gauge.
    —Mark Albrecht, Houston, Texas

  • How to steady tools on wavy workshop floors

    You rarely find a garage or basement with a perfectly smooth and flat concrete floor. And for most of us, that's the workshop floor. If you move your equipment around at all, you can spend a lot of time trying to steady it in each new location. Buy a package of pine shims (the kind lumberyards and home centers sell for installing windows and door jambs). Drill a hole in the thicker end of each shim and tie a loop of twine through it. Hang one of these modified shims on each piece of equipment. From now on, when you move a tool, you can steady it instantly by sliding the shim under the wobbly leg.
    —Michael Tamarkin, York, Pa.

  • Store router bits on perforated hardboard

    When using multiple router bits to create fancy profiles, the bits tend to clutter up your work area unless you take the time to put them back in a case or holder. If you're using router bits with 14 " shanks, you can simply slip the shanks into the holes of any empty section of perfo-rated hardboard with 14 " holes. The shank of the router bit will fit snugly, and the bits won't fall out. If you use 12 " shank bits, you can drill a few 12 " holes in your hardboard near where you do most of your routing. Space these holes far enough apart that the cutters on your bits don't touch.
    —from the WOOD® magazine shop

  • Swinging lumber rack stores out of the way

    You can save a lot of floor space by stashing short lengths of lumber between the joists in your garage or basement. And with this rack, you can swing the lumber down to eye level where it is easy to sort through and retrieve.

    To build the rack, cut four 1x2 swing arms long enough to reach from the middle of the joists to about the height of your chin. Next, assemble the lumber rack from 1x4 stock and glue and nail a piece of 14 " plywood to the bottom. Make the length about 4' and the width equal to the space between the joists.

    Bolt the swing arms to the rack and the rack to the joists as shown. Finally, attach a chain with a screw eye to both sides of the rack so that you can secure it in the upright position.
    —Gerry Austin, Guelph, Ont.

  • Foil would-be thieves—wire the garage door to a switch

    A shop in an attached garage with an automatic garage-door opener poses a security risk if you leave the remote control in your car parked outside. All a thief has to do is to break into the car, press the remote-control button, and walk into your shop.

    To eliminate this risk, wire your garage-door opener to a wall switch as shown. When you park your car outside, just switch the door opener off before you step in the house from the garage. Your shop and house will remain secure, and you won't have to lug your remote control back and forth between the car and the house.
    —Robert Raquet, Norristown, Pa.

  • Motion detector offers no-hands light switch

    When I walk into my workshop at night, I need light to see where I'm going. But it's not easy to get to the switch with an armload of lumber or tools. The answer was simple and didn't cost much, either. I bought a basic motion sensor light—mine cost under $10—and positioned it on the wall so that it flips on the light every time I enter my workshop.
    —Denny Feller, Strasburg, Ohio

  • Give your tools a modular home

    For years, I've pondered how to keep existing tools in place in drawers and still leave room for new tools. Finally, I devised a modular system that gives me a solution to the problem.

    First, I cut a sheet of 14 " perforated hardboard to fit into the bottom of each drawer. Then, I drew an outline of each tool on another piece of perforated hardboard and cut a rectangular module around each tool outline. I cut the tool shapes with a scrollsaw, and glued 14 " dowels into two corners of each module. The dowels pin the modules into place in the drawers, and the cutouts keep each tool in its place.

    For maximum organizational flexibility, cut all the module dimensions to even 1" increments—that way they'll interchange more easily.
    —Jonathon Sommer, Roy, Utah

  • Retrieve lost hardware with a dustpan magnet

    I don't know how many times I've dropped brads, tacks, and small screws on the floor of my workshop, where they disappear into a pile of sawdust or wood shavings. Finally, I attached a strip of magnetic tape near the front edge of my dustpan. Now I sweep up the sawdust, shake it into the wastebasket, and the lost items--steel ones, anyhow— collect on the magnetic tape.
    —Lou Feher, Huey, Ill.

Read more about

Tip of the Day

Safely Rout Narrow Moldings

Routing narrow moldings can be a tricky—sometimes dangerous—undertaking. We've found a safer way to... read more