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How to Keep Your Workshop Tidy

More and more people are now converting their garage and other rooms in their properties into workshop space. Whether you're working from home as part of a small business start-up arrangement, just pursuing a creative hobby, trying to save a bit of money by making your own furniture, or fixing the car - getting down and dirty with your hands can be a thoroughly rewarding experience in more ways than one. As you probably already know, an efficient workshop is one that is tidy, well organised and allows you to find what you’re after for without having to dredge through a ton of boxes, shelves or cupboards.

Get It Right from the Start

Every clean, tidy and well organised workshop is born out of a good plan. Take some time to look at the space available for your workbench, tool racks, cupboards and other associated equipment, and then make a number of sketches that look at the best use of your space. Obviously you’ll need to take other considerations into account – for instance if you’re going to be working on a car, then you’ll need to either get the car into the workshop or have some way of mounting power tools on a caddy to take them out to the car. You should also make some space for adequate litter bins, as well as thinking about what type of flooring you’re going to use. You’ll want this to be as easy as possible to clean and waterproof is always a good choice, as it can be mopped easily to remove spills and stains.


Without question one of the most useful materials in helping keep any kind of workshop space tidy and well organised has to be a pegboard. This is often supplied as wood or metal with a grid-like array of holes in it, into which pegs can be set that can be used to support all manner of small tools and implements. This is perfect for everything from saws right through to scissors – some people even like to draw the outline of each tool in its prescribed position to remind them of its position within the arrangement. It is even possible to make a caddy out of pegboard that can be used to wheel your tools around the workshop, which is especially useful if you're working on larger projects.

Colour Code and Label

Most people have large amounts of working materials that they need to store alongside their tools. Whatever kind of business or hobby you're pursuing, its likely that these items range from the small, such as screws or pins, up to the large – for instance rolls of fabric or planks of wood. It doesn’t take too much common sense to install some kind of storage in your workshop, but many people make the basic error of assuming that they can remember where everything is stowed within the numerous cupboards and drawers they put in place. Then when they need something, if it isn't where they expect it to be, then they have to rifle through other units looking for the desired item. Of course, these situations can be avoided with a little bit of organisation. Simple colour coding systems and label strips will allow you to find the item you’re looking for with the minimum of fuss, and perhaps more importantly, the minimum of mess, as you won’t be turning out cupboards in frustration as you frantically search for the one thing you need.

Regular Purges and Clearance

Are you the kind of person who likes to keep everything they come across, as you feel it may have a use at some unspecified time in the future? If so, there's a good chance that your workshop is becoming overrun with items that you don't really need. At least once a year you should make time to have a consolidation where you go through an honest process of examining your stock, questioning whether you really need each item or if you just can’t bear to throw it away. Generally anything that hasn’t been looked at for over 18 months should be a candidate for eviction from your valuable workshop space. Of course, you don’t actually have to throw all your good finds into the rubbish tip – why not organise a garage sale if you’re short on cash, or if you’re feeling good natured then you could always donate some of the better pieces to your local charity shop.

Be Practical, Be Methodical

This one sounds a little bit like common sense, but it’s amazing how many people overlook the basics. If you’ve been hard pushed to complete a task to a demanding deadline in your workshop, then you may feel like dropping everything and hitting the sofa for a good old session of brain-dead evening TV when you’re done. However, the smart worker always takes those ten additional minutes to make sure that all their tools are returned to the correct place within their workshop, all the materials are put away, the floor is swept, and the space is returned to a good, clean working order. By making sure that you instigate a good routine of regular practice you can stop mess, rubbish and general untidiness building up to a situation where you have to take a day off just to clear up.

You’re Imaginative – So Innovate

You’ve chosen to be a creative person, making and doing things with your hands, so make sure that you apply some of this inspiration to your workshop. If you’re having problems storing aerosol paint cans for easy usage, why not come up with a system of large tubes that can each hold a single can around your workspace? Equally you could create a special kind of shelving out of two rails that could be used to store reels of wires, threads or fabric that would usually roll off standard flat shelving. With a little bit of mental muscle-power it is possible to come up with all kinds of clever solutions to make your life that little bit easier, whilst keeping your workspace clean and tidy.

Photograph of Lee

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