30 Ways to Upgrade Your Shop – Part 1

30 Ways to Upgrade Your Shop – Part 1

I don’t know how it happens and even less how it happens so fast but it seems like just overnight my garage becomes a disaster.  It gets to the point that I can’t find anything or move through it without tripping over something.  I just cleaned up the garage at the beginning of the year and this is what it looks like again…

It’s so cluttered on one side that you can’t even see the magnitude of the mess.  But you will.

I knew I had to get this place cleaned up and make it more user friendly.  I kept putting it off because I just didn’t know where to start.  While I was contemplating this, I saw one of my friends on Instagram doing a 30 day shop upgrade.  Each day he would do one thing to make his shop better.  It could be buying something, building something, or moving something.  It could be big or small but it just had to be something that was an improvement.  This was a great idea!  And doing it as one thing a day over 30 days seemed doable.  I made a list of things I wanted to do and let me tell you, coming up with 30 things isn’t really that easy.  Some are kind of lame but all of them are an improvement.

I’ve broken all the projects down to two parts to share with you.  Here is the first half!

Day 1

This trash can, guys!  It all of a sudden smelled like something died in it!  It was so bad that you couldn’t even stay in the garage after throwing something away.  I made sure to clean it out first because I knew I’d have to be in and out of it a lot over the course of the month.  Come to find out…there was something dead in it.  I put it there and forgot about it.  Long story.

Day 2

I desperately needed a place to corral my plans and notes for builds.  I also needed a better way to keep track of my pencils.  Those things are hide and seek champs! I painted a piece of scrap plywood with leftover paint and added clipboards for my plans and a marker board for quick notes.  A cup was used to hold my pencils and markers.  Everything I used was something I already had on hand, including the 1996 Tulsa State Fair cup.  I’m a huge fan of fairs so it was the perfect addition.

Day 3

My garage only had two lights in it which is normally fine for general purposes.  When you’re trying to work on detail projects, it doesn’t cut it.  I found some LED lights (affiliate) that were perfect for my space.  They are super lightweight, not hard wired (which I didn’t want to do), and I never have to change a bulb.  Oh yeah, the best part was they are only $25 each!  I found them on Amazon and the difference they make is incredible!  Pictures can’t do them justice.  I added extra hooks for the lights closer to the garage door to be able to change the position of the lights depending on where I’m working and if the garage door is open or not. (You can also see what a mess my lumber pile was!)

Day 4

I do a lot of work on my chest freezer.  I’m always worried about damaging the lid and have had cardboard covering it for a while.  It looked super put together, let me tell ya.  It has been in my plans for a long time to make some sort of cover for the freezer but I just never got around to it.  Until now.  I cut a piece of plywood to fit the top with a little hanging over the front to allow for the lid handle.  I cut my planks from luaun (underlayment) and stained it different colors.  Once the planks were attached to the plywood, I put 1×2’s around the front and sides to hold it in place.  It works great! And it looks so good that I don’t want to use it for fear of messing it up!

Day 5

I’ve seen many other makers do this and have thought to myself many times that I need to make stain samples.  It’s great for me and customers to see how the stains are going to look on wood.  Some are true to the color on the can and some are quite different.  I wrote on the back of each block the brand and color.  I still have a few more stains to do and I’m thinking about doing it with different sheens of poly.

Day 6

This is one of my favorite upgrades!  This flip top tool cart is way too cool!  Brad at Fix This Build That created the plans and sells them on his website.  The cart takes up little space and holds two tools!  Previously, these two tools (planer and oscillating spindle sander) used to sit on the floor in their original boxes.  It was not efficient and took up too much space.  This cart takes some time and patience to build but it’s so worth it.  Brad did a great job of covering every aspect.

Day 7

When was Daylight Saving Time? Because that was the last time this clock was correct.  Changing clocks is so annoying and this one got put off for way too long.  Most of the time it was no big deal but sometimes I would forget to add an hour and would be running late.  Honestly, if it wasn’t for the 30 day shop upgrade, there was a good chance that this clock would have gone until it was correct again. (Remember when I told you some upgrades were lame but all were still an upgrade? This was one of them.)

Day 8

These sawhorses have been lent to me indefinitely (not necessarily by choice of the owner, ha! Just kidding).  The tops were getting pretty ragged and I had an idea to make them better.  The original tops were 2x4s.  I had a spare piece of 2×6 that was the perfect length to cover both sawhorses.  I chose to swap out the 2x4s with 2x6s because it gives me more overhang on the sides to clamp items.  If you’re a reclaimed wood junkie like me, you can see the potential in the old tops.  I saved them for a future project.

Day 9

I needed a second workspace away from the freezer/work bench.  Troy at Mini Wood Productions was kind enough to share with me his rolling work bench plans many months ago.  I finally got around to building it.  I altered the plans just a bit to fit my needs (then altered them again because I built it too tall) and it’s great.  Even Little Dog loves it!  It was a super simple build and adds so much to my space.  I’ve also been using it to store my table saw until I can decide how I want to build a stand for the saw.

Day 10

It. Gets. Hot. Here.  I wanted a thermometer (affiliate) in the garage to see…well…what the temperature was.  I had the gas pump thermometer in there for a long time but it was broken and of no use other than looking pretty.  Now I’m not so sure it was a good idea to add the thermometer because I can see just how hot and humid it gets in here.  Just kidding.  I enjoy having it.

Day 11

You may be wondering what pantyhose have to do with the garage.  Let me enlighten you!  Scott at Cutthroat Woodworks shared with me a tip for pantyhose and shop vacs.  If you cover your filter with pantyhose, it prevents gunk from building up in the folds of the filter and helps it run more efficiently.  My filter was in terrible shape.  A quick cleaning and a pair of pantyhose later, it works like it’s brand new!

Day 12

I’ve seen a lot of people on Instagram raving about these Fast Cap Glu-Bots (affiliate). I finally decided to order one and see what it was all about.  Oh my, you guys! Glue comes out of this thing like melted butter!  I’m honestly impressed at how well it works and I highly recommend it! Plus, it’s less than $10.

Day 13

One day I got an email from Vista Print about a sale on banners.  It was a really good sale.  I had been contemplating getting one for some time but it was put on the back burner because I didn’t think I really needed one right now.  The deal was so good that I couldn’t pass it up (less than $20!).  I made up a quick design and ordered a 2.5’x4’ banner.  It looks great!  This is not it’s permanent home but it’ll do until I figure it out.  I look forward to adding it as a backdrop in pictures.  Also, if I ever get to the point I have a booth somewhere, I already have my signage on hand.

Day 14

I had a couple tools and their accessories that didn’t have a home or were still being stored in their original box. I picked up a couple tool bags on a trip to Home Depot to get it all rounded up. It’s so nice to have the tool and its accessories in one place and to be rid of the cardboard boxes.

Day 15

The smaller tools and accessories around my shop contribute to a lot of my clutter.  I had no really good way to store them without it looking like a mess.  I capitalized on some of my blank vertical space by adding in some pegboards.  One piece went above my freezer/workbench and two pieces were attached to either side of the flip top tool cart.  It’s going to take a bit to figure out what I want to hang where but I’m looking forward to the organization possibilities the pegboards give me.

A lot of progress was made during the first half of the month but there is still a long way to go.  I’m excited about the things that have been on my to-do list for forever that are now done.  What are some things you’ve been wanting to mark off your list?  What would you do to make your shop better?  Check out the second half of the 30 day shop upgrade here!

2018-01-29T00:47:57+00:00

6 Comments

  1. TIM @WOODWARD_BUILDS September 29, 2017 at 3:52 am - Reply

    This an awesome blog post Jenn!!! So much detail and info that ill be applying to my shop reno this fall.

  2. […] my post about 30 ways to upgrade your shop, I talked about the saw horses I put new boards on and how I was going to use the old boards on a […]

  3. […] through took on a 30 day shop upgrade challenge.  It was hard.  You can check out my projects here and here.  I loved the result at the end, though, and have made other upgrades since then.  Since […]

  4. […] with you the first half of projects from my 30 Day Shop Upgrade challenge.  You can check them out here.  Now we’re onto the second half and the after […]

  5. […] year ago, I was in the midst of my 30 Shop Upgrade (check out parts 1 and 2 here!).  I can look around my shop today and say “well, that sure didn’t last long.”  […]

  6. Shop Light Upgrade - 7 Mile Designs August 22, 2018 at 9:03 am - Reply

    […] I’ve had these lights up for a few months now so I can give you a bit of a review on them.  I love the fact that I have not had to change a bulb since these were put up.  That in itself makes it worth it and why I love LEDs.  No bulb changing.  Because the light housing is plastic, I don’t have to worry about breaking anything when I accidentally hit it with a board (which happens often).  There is a small lag, just a couple seconds, when you flip the switch to turn the lights on and the lights actually coming on.  The first time I turned them on, I thought I screwed up the installation.  Nope, they just take a second or two but once they come on, they are on full power.  I do wish they were brighter.  Part of that may have to do with my garage setup, though.  They are at least as bright as the highest wattage bulb I had in the old fixtures so I didn’t go backwards.  I just remedy that with the supplemental lights I put up last year.  You can find them in my 30 Day Shop Upgrade post. […]

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