Garage Organization By a Newbie #1: The Beginning - Getting Dirty

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Blog entry by CyBorge posted 05-26-2010 06:50 AM 7926 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Garage Organization By a Newbie series Part 2: More Demolition - and Junk!! »

It has only been four short years since I bought my first house. At the time I had no handyman skills to speak of; heck I didn’t even know how to use a drill without obliterating the screw heads. What can I say, I’ve been a bit sheltered, but life is good, and I have been learning more and more since moving in. At any rate, as far as I was concerned a garage was where the cars and outdoor tools lived. No more, no less.

Nearly a year ago, I decided to take up woodworking as a hobby. After spending way too much money on tools I had never even considered before, I found myself with stuff scattered all over the place. Soon after I realized how important and beneficial intelligent storage systems are. Unfortunately, winter was closing in by this time. The garage is insulated but not heated, which isn’t good enough for South Dakota winters, so everything got put on hold. When spring finally came I picked up where I left off, and my current focus is on figuring out just what the heck to do with the garage. Only now am I beginning to pursue the endless possibilities.

Task #1 is removing the old work bench a previous owner left. When I bought the house I thought to myself that a workbench would be a nice thing to have, even though I had no idea how to use one. As it turns out, this particular bench wound up being something of a white elephant. It is approximately 3.5 feet tall, with a work surface 2’ by 8’. The work surface is sound enough (if a bit nasty looking), though it has no place to attach clamps, no holes for bench dogs, no place for a vice, etc. Below the work surface are two simple drawers (think kitchen silverware drawers only not as nice), and four MDF flat doors that serve no real purpose. That’s roughly 56 cubic feet of garage space for one measely work surface and two drawers. What a waste.

So, tonight I spent about three hours ripping this abomination out. It was completely covered in all manner of odds and ends (sprinklers, tools, fertilizer, hub caps, license plates, pegboard clips, deck brightener, empty containers, etc.), so first I needed to find a place to put all that junk. That’s a lot of clutter I hope to never see again!!!

Once it was all cleared off, I got to work on the demolition. I’m not sure how many screws I extracted, but it was several dozen to be sure. No doubt my drill, which is “resting” at the moment, absolutely hates me right now. A few of the screw heads actually popped right off (I suspect the screws were already broken), but I only had to pry two pieces apart. Since I plan to reuse the lumber, I went ahead and removed the broken screws by clamping the empty drill chuck over the exposed shanks. They screwed right out, but I’m not sure that’s very good for my drill. :-)

After all that work I ended up recovering the following:

-6 or 7 eight foot 2×4’s
-several shorter 2×4 segments
-6 three and a half foot 4×4’s
-5 eight foot 2×6’s
-16 square feet of nasty-looking OSB
-4 MDF door panels with hinges
-2 drawers with hardware glides
-dozens of screws, which I will probably not reuse

Almost all of the lumber is in perfectly fine shape, though it could use a good cleaning and maybe some paint or stain for aesthetics. To think, that much wood went into such a pitiful work bench! I intend to use most of the 2×4’s for an upcoming shelving project, but first things first. I have a lot of prep work and painting to do before I build anything onto the walls.

-- "How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?"

6 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117711 posts in 4056 days

#1 posted 05-26-2010 06:53 AM

Demo is harder than it looks sometime.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3489 days

#2 posted 05-26-2010 08:24 AM

Wow, we’ve got a really similar history. I also got into woodworking after buying a house, not knowing a damn thing, and eventually getting into woodworking via home remodeling/renovation.

And I too started reorganizing my garage to better accommodate my tools. And it too began with a tearout of an abomination of an ancient workbench that simply took up space. Except that the wood is so old and so dry, I’m not sure I can even use it!

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3402 days

#3 posted 05-26-2010 01:50 PM

Great that you are reclaiming the wood.
First do yourself a favor and go over it with a metal detector. Saves on tools that way.
One suggestion if applicable would be to use “French” cleats for cabinets in your garage. They are easy to make and make arranging cabinets on the walls very easy.
I too had to operate out of a garage for a long time so most of my tools were on casters. You can build frames for most tools or you can buy “furniture movers” from places like Harbor Freight. Just make sure not to get top heavy.
Don’t be afraid to try new techniques(joints etc) and always strive to make your next project just a little better than the last one. And remember we all have a large scrap pile(g)

-- Life is good.

View velo_tom's profile


123 posts in 3495 days

#4 posted 05-26-2010 01:58 PM

Sounds like a lot of us out there. Start demo-repairs of a house. Then as you figure out you can actually build things you get the desire to not just upgrade parts of the house but the furniture and built-ins too.

I’ll be glad when I can concentrate more on furniture and less on house. Unfortunately I’ve got a pretty big job to do on the house I need to start pretty quick. It starts with Gutting two rooms, which I look forward to about like a root canal. At least it gets followed by the fun part, building.

Best of luck with your future projects.

-- There's no such thing as mistakes, just design changes.

View Marc's profile


101 posts in 3488 days

#5 posted 05-26-2010 02:04 PM

I too had to demo. an existing workbench in the house we bought last year. I already had a workbench and just needed the space back. I salvaged as much of the wood as I could too. Good luck with the rest of your project. :-)

-- Marc,

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4207 days

#6 posted 05-26-2010 03:10 PM

At least you didn’t have to demo a bench you built yourself. I did and still have one to go. It was an embarrassment of a bench, but it did get my by for 5 years. Now it has a new life as a lumber rack and will also be a part of a mobile dust collection cart.

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