Garage Storage: All Your Stuff and a Car to Boot
by Ron Marr
You might recall a time, far on the outer fringe of distant memory, when your car actually fit in your garage. This was before your garage became a glorified storage unit -- a repository of garden tools, lawn mowers, shop equipment, bicycles, canoes, camping gear, pool toys and countless boxes of unwanted junk.
The sight of a stuffed-to-the-gills garage might cause you to abandon hope.
However, organization is easier than you might think. All you need is a plan, a couple of weekends and some simple storage systems.
Begin at the Beginning
The first step to maximizing garage storage capacity lies in getting rid of junk. Open those boxes and either give or throw away things you no longer need or want. Then, keeping in mind that you'd like your car to enjoy an indoor home, analyze your garage's secondary use. Decide which items are most important, and group them together by function (hand, power or garden tools), season (snow shovels, sporting goods or inflatable dinosaurs) and need (things you use daily, versus things you might use once a century).
Once you have open floor space, or at least some distinct piles, think about installing your preferred storage system.
Look Both Ways
The vast majority of garage storage space is found on the walls. The simplest DIY solution is to screw vertical 2-by-2s (aligned at the top with either a chalk line or a laser level) to the garage's wall studs. It's advisable that you first drill pilot holes or use self-tapping screws to avoid splitting.
Once the 2-by-2s are in place, install shelves, pegboards, slats and any variety of racks. Be creative. Shelves cut from 3/4-inch plywood can be notched front to back, instantly becoming racks for long-handled garden tools. Long lengths of vinyl gutter, nailed to the 2-by-2s, are the perfect receptacle for everything from molding and dowels to pool cues and fishing rods.
Inexpensive pegboards and hangers will accommodate nearly ever tool you have in your giant tool cabinet. Hang hammers, screwdrivers and saws in specific areas. Hang cans for screws, nuts and bolts. Hang baskets for files and sockets.
All of these systems can be built from common lumberyard materials. On the other hand, commercial slat, pegboard and even magnetic storage designs are readily available for purchase.
Up, Up and Away
The least used space in your garage is directly overhead. Ceiling garage storage systems come in an array of styles and sizes, ranging from simple nets to permanent units attached to rafters or ceiling joists. Metal frame systems often hold up to 500 pounds, and a variety of ceiling systems exist for bikes, kayaks and canoes. You might even install or ceiling-mount a grid storage system to hold all those plastic tubs and cardboard boxes full of clothes and papers that you're not quite ready to part with.
Ron Marr is a long-time woodworker and luthier whose work can be seen at marrsguitars.com. He is also a frequent contributor to The Workbench Life.
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