Low-Cost Tips for an Efficient Workshop

A workshop is most useful when your tools are easily accessible. To keep tools in order, try these inexpensive ideas.

the Well-Tempered Wokshop
A workshop is most useful when your tools are easily accessible. To keep tools in order, try these inexpensive ideas.

1. Make a tool holder out of scrap wire mesh (hardware cloth). Form the mesh into a handy U shape with flanges by bending it over the edge of a board. Attach the flanges to the wall with screws and washers. A mesh with 1/2-inch squares holds a variety of tools, such as screwdrivers or pliers.

2. Hold small tools with an old leather or canvas belt. Tack it along the edge of a shelf, leaving small loops between nails. Slip tools into the loops.

3. Line up hand tools, such as scissors, screwdrivers, and punches, where they are always at the ready by screwing a powerful magnetic strip to the side of a shelf over your workbench. The magnetic strips, designed to hold knives and available at kitchen stores, can hold all kinds of hardware items within convenient reach. They work equally well mounted on the side of the stand you use for your table saw and other large stationary tools.

4. To hold large tools, use hinged handles like those found on metal garbage cans. Mount them so the handle hangs away from the wall. You can slip a hammer or wrench into the handle for safe storage.

Versatile Perf
Perforated hardboard works not only on workshop and garage walls, but also inside cabinet doors and on the sides of your workbench. Lightweight 1/8 inch perf board is fine for hand tools, but you’ll want to use 1/4 inch perf board for heavier items. To keep perf-board hooks from coming loose, put a dab of hot glue on the end that hooks into the board. If you need to rearrange items and move the hook, a light tug will usually free it without much difficulty.

Control Work-Surface Clutter
Try these ideas to organize other odds and ends that clutter up the workshop:

1. Create a string dispenser by cutting off the bottom half of a 2-liter plastic soda bottle. Nail the inside of the top half upside down on a wall; place the string inside with the end dangling through the bottle neck. Tie scissors to the dispenser with a length of string for handy cutting.

2. Round up rolls of tape by slipping them onto a toilet paper holder mounted on a wall or workbench.

3. Holders for bolts, nails, screws,
picture hooks, and other small items can be made from small plastic containers. Use transparent tape to attach a sample item to the outside of each container so you can find items at a glance.

4. Make nail holders from gallon plastic bottles. Leave lids on and cut a section from the top of each one opposite the handle. When the bottles are stored on their sides and filled with nails, the weight of the nails keeps them from rolling. Off the shelves, the bottles can stand upright, and their handles make them easy to carry to any household job site.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest