Garage System Organizer

Us Manson’s have recently moved to a new home, and so we have a whole bunch of stuff packed all together in boxes and tubs and chests and the like.  We stepped up in the world, going from an 840 sq.ft. bungalow to a 2250 sq.ft. 2-storey, so you’d think we’d have enough space to store all that aforementioned packed stuff.  One area you’d be sorely mistaken?  The garage.

Feed me, Seymour! I hunger!

At our old house, we had an extra large garage, which was perfect for parking our two cars and still leaving me with some space to do work and store my tools.  Not so with this new place.  The garage is wide enough to fit two compact cars rather snugly, which makes it difficult to have a workbench or keep table saws or drill presses somewhat accessible.

What to do?  I spent some time measuring, CAD-ing, and researching until I decided on something that should meet my needs but still be out of the way: a 4-bay wall-mounted all-in-one garage storage and organizational unit (or 4bwmaiogsaou, for short).

I knew I’d need room for tools like my table saw and drill press, as well as for larger items like our tub of pool accessories and my oil change car ramps.  This meant that at least one of the bays was going to have to be ~2 ft deep.  The other bays I wanted to have peg board as a backer so I could finally have the well-oiled work area that I see in so many handyman and craftsman magazines.  Add a flip-out workbench and some adjustable shelving and we should have a winner!

Heading over to my trusty SolidWorks, I laid out my plan, as shown below.  There’s a “hallway” leading from where the cars park to the backyard, big enough for some shelves but not for a proper workbench.  It was really the only spot to put such a system, so that’s where it had to go.

I never had the chance to use the configuration feature in SolidWorks before, but I made good use of it on this project!  Hooray for continuous learning!  I also used the bill of materials feature to figure out just how many lengths of what sized wood I’d need, which saved me many needless trips to the store.

Imagine all that storage space!!

So, an idea in my head, a shopping list in my hand, and a desire for pure organizational bliss in my heart, I headed off to the big-box hardware stores for material.

Just call me Woody Darrylsson!

Man, did my garage smell good that evening.

Saturday morning rolled around, and so I pulled out my trusty table saw and got to it.  I decided to do all the cuts at once, because it reminded me of mise en place and made me feel like a renaissance chef.  By the time I finished cutting all the wood, I had made dozens of piles of sawdust and talked to my new neighbour for 20 minutes discussing all sorts of world-changing ideas.  More importantly than that, I had all my pieces ready to go.  Mise en place can be applied outside the kitchen!

Cutting finished, it was time to remove whatever hideous monstrosity the previous owners had decided was a shelf.  Various nails that had been hammered into the back of the shelves to hold them to the wall (not necessarily hammered into studs, mind you) were painstakingly removed and placed all together so they wouldn’t puncture any tires.  All the wood was placed to the side, either for burning or for sending to the dump.  Any remaining nails that were in the wall were removed (I learned the previous owners used the “6th time’s a charm” method for finding good nail spots) and I finally had a blank canvas from which to work from.

From this…

…to this!

First step in my quest towards organizational bliss: building the 2’ deep shelving unit.  Plywood and 2×2’s were my friend on these, helped out with #10 screws (2.5” and 1” lengths).  I made five shelves, and laid them in between two 8’ lengths of 3/4” plywood, 2’ deep.  I screwed it all together, then with some help from my floor jack and a couple levels I mounted the whole thing to the wall (at the studs of course – no way drywall is holding that up!).  After all the screws were in, I tested its strength by performing some pull-ups off the top shelf – let me tell you it didn’t even budge.  Success!

Quite structurally sound.

Next!  For the pegboard area, I decided to mount a 2×12 to a 2×2 on the top and bottom to create shelves, and place a 2×12 along the edge to hold it all together (since the other side would be attached to the unit I just built).  A handful of 2×2’s would mount to the wall across the full length, giving somewhere for the pegboard to attach to as well as providing some stability to the whole thing.

Pay no attention to those boards behind the pegboard! The great Tom has spoken!

Since 2x2x12’ boards are apparently as common as a $3 bill, I had to settle on 8’ lengths and a 4’ filler.  No problemo.  5 lengths were mounted to the wall, then the pegboard was hung and screwed to the lengths.  3 2×10’s were placed vertically so that I would have 3 4’x8’ bays (and give me somewhere to mount, say, a flip-out workbench).

Like a blank canvas…

Finally, I cut the last 2×12 to the proper size and screwed it into all the 2×2 and the 2×12’s that were left on the wall.  Et voila!  A fully functional 4bwmaiogsaou for me to add to and modify as we settle into our new home.

Still so much to put away…

I’ll update this as I add the workbench and other ideas to it.  It will be so nice to have everything all in one spot.  I’m even toying with the idea of getting a label maker and forming a system of identifying where things go – Bay 2, Shelf 4, Bin 1 for example.  That might be a bit much for a weekend warrior’s needs, but it will make my Type-A wife very happy, and isn’t that what really matters?