How to Organize: Garage Storage Projects

One-day storage projects that organize odds and ends, clean up your workbench, and clear the garage floor.

These three garage storage projects—a cabinet for tools, corner shelves and pet food dispenser—help organize the clutter in your garage and open up more space. The tool cabinet keeps your workbench clear and the tools stored close at hand. The corner shelves contain bins that hold paint cans, car cleaning supplies and numerous other small items. It rotates for easy access and to maximize use of a garage corner. And the dog and cat food dispenser allows you to get those bulky food sacks off the floor and tucked away. These are all inexpensive projects you can complete in a day.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

TIME

One day

COMPLEXITY

Simple

COST

$20 - $100

3 simple garage storage projects

These projects organize odds and ends, clear clutter and clean up the workbench and garage floor. They'll even improve your attitude. You can build each in one day using only basic tools.

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Project 1: Rotating corner shelves

Set aside a Saturday to build this handy bin and you’ll clean up all those loose boxes of screws, bolts and other small stuff that clutter your garage or workshop. This bin rotates on a pair of lazy Susan rings to maximize corner space and provide quick, easy access.

A stationary upper shelf secured to the wall steadies the bin so it’ll spin easily and won't tip over. You can add as many shelves as you need. We left one bay open top to bottom for storing tall things like levels and straightedges. You won’t need special joints or fasteners to construct it; simple butt joints and screws hold it all together.

Project Materials and Details

We constructed this project from one and a half 4x8 sheets of birch plywood. Birch plywood is easy to work with because it’s smooth and flat, but you can cut your costs by about half if you use 3/4-in. CDX-grade plywood. Buy two lazy Susan rings, 12-in. round and 3-in. square diameters from a woodworkers’ store if your home center doesn’t carry them. You can find all of the other materials at most home centers, including the 3-in. vinyl base we used for the shelf edging (4-ft. lengths).

Note: To see a complete Materials List and a Cutting List for this project, go to the Additional Information at the end of this article. You’ll also find a Cutting Layout diagram (Figure B), which shows you how to get all parts from 1-1/2 sheets of plywood. You can download both Figure A and Figure B and enlarge them.

Tech art of rotating shelves Bin Details
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Step 1: Assemble the shelf tower

Cut all the pieces to size from the cutting diagram (Figure B in Additional Information). Accurate cuts will result in tight, clean joints. Clamp a straightedge to the plywood to guide your circular saw when making the straight cuts. Use a carbide blade with at least 36 teeth to minimize splintering. 

Photo 1 shows you how to mark the circle for the plywood bottom. Substitute a narrow strip of 1/4-in. thick wood for the compass arm if you don’t have Peg-Board. Use the bottom as a template to mark the arcs on the quarter-circle shelves (Fig. B). Use a bucket to mark the arcs on the tops of the dividers. Before assembling the pieces, lay out the shelf locations on the dividers. Make the shelves any height you want, but making them different heights in adjacent sections simplifies the screwing process. Fasten the shelves to the two narrow dividers first (Photo 2), then set them upright and attach them to the wide center divider (Photo 3).

Tip: Mark the centerline of each shelf on the opposite side of the dividers to help position the screws (Photo 3).

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Step 2: Attach the rotating base and top

At first glance, attaching the 12-in. lazy Susan is a bit mysterious. The lazy Susan rotates on ball bearings with the top ring secured to the bin bottom and the bottom ring secured to the base. Securing it to the base is straightforward—you center it and screw it down. Once it’s fastened, you have to drive screws upward to fasten the top ring to the bin bottom. The bottom ring of the lazy Susan has a special 3/4-in. access hole to help here. Drill a 3/4-in. hole in the plywood base at the access hole point (Photo 4). Then poke your screws through the access hole to fasten the top ring to the bin base (Photo 5).

Tip: Use a magnetic screwdriver tip to keep from dropping the screws. It's a hassle to retrieve them!

The 3-in. lazy Susan rotates on square plates. You won’t need an access hole to fasten them. Just screw through the holes in the corners (Photos 6 and 7).

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Step 3: Fasten the shelves in a garage corner

If you’re placing the base on a concrete floor, rest it on treated 1x2s to avoid rot. Level it with shims, if needed, for smooth rotation. Fasten the support shelf to the walls (Photo 8).

Anchor the base to the floor with masonry screws set in the exposed corners. Predrill the holes into the concrete with a 5/32-in. masonry bit or the size the screw package recommends.

The vinyl base provides an edge for the shelves. Buy the type that’s not preglued. The 4-in. wide type is most common, but buy the 3-in. wide type if you can. Otherwise, use a sharp utility knife to trim an inch off the 4-in. one.

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Project 2: A folding tool cabinet

Peg-Board is a great way to organize tools. It displays them in clear view so they’re easy to grab and, just as important, easy to put away. This cabinet has the hanging space of almost an entire 4 x 8 ft. sheet of Peg-Board, yet packs it into a compact 24 x 32 in. package. Two overlapping doors open, utilizing the front and back of each for tools. About 4 in. of space separate each panel, leaving a 2-in. depth for tools placed directly across from each other. If you place fat tools across from skinny ones, you can utilize the space even better.

Figure C: Project Materials and Details

We used high-grade boards to construct this cabinet. The knot-free poplar drives up the price, but the straight, stable wood allows the doors to fit well, minimizes twisting, and keeps the cabinet square. In addition to the materials in the Materials List, we purchased four eye screws and 2 ft. of small chain to hold the doors open. All the supplies are available at a home center or lumberyard. You don’t need any special tools to build this cabinet, but a pair of 1-ft. clamps is helpful when you’re attaching the hinges. Note: To see the complete Materials List and a Cutting List for this project go to the Additional Information at the end of this article.

Note: You can also download Figure C from the Additional Information at the end of this article. Then enlarge it to the size you need.

Tech art of cabinet Figure C: Cabinet details
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Step 1: Cut accurately for tight-fitting doors

Cut the 4 x 8-ft. Peg-Board sheet lengthwise into two pieces, one 24 in. wide and the other 23 in. wide. Then cut the two pieces into 31-1/2-in. lengths. You must cut the Peg-Board panels accurately for the doors to fit evenly. Carefully measure and use a straightedge to guide your circular saw cuts. Some lumberyards will cut the sheets to size for you. Ask them to be precise.

Then assemble the Peg-Board panels (Photo 2), following the pattern shown in Fig. C. You don’t have to make fancy joints. Cut and screw on the 1x2 side spacers first, then measure and cut the 1x2 ends to fit between them. You’ll have one 23 in. Peg-Board panel left over to hang on the wall for items that won't fit in the cabinet.

Substitute one half of the cleat for the top 1x2 on the back panel (Photo 1 and Fig. C). Watch the angle. Orient it so it hooks onto the other half you screw to the wall (Photo 5).

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Step 2: Assemble the boxes

Cut the 4 x 8-ft. Peg-Board sheet lengthwise into two pieces, one 24 in. wide and the other 23 in. wide. Then cut the two pieces into 31-1/2-in. lengths. You must cut the Peg-Board panels accurately for the doors to fit evenly. Carefully measure and use a straightedge to guide your circular saw cuts. Some lumberyards will cut the sheets to size for you. Ask them to be precise.

Then assemble the Peg-Board panels (Photo 2), following the pattern shown in Fig. C. You don’t have to make fancy joints. Cut and screw on the 1x2 side spacers first, then measure and cut the 1x2 ends to fit between them. You’ll have one 23 in. Peg-Board panel left over to hang on the wall for items that won't fit in the cabinet.

Substitute one half of the cleat for the top 1x2 on the back panel (Photo 1 and Fig. C). Watch the angle. Orient it so it hooks onto the other half you screw to the wall (Photo 5).

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Step 3: Mount the cabinet on the wall

The mounting cleat is an easy way to hang this heavy cabinet. If you’re mounting it over a workbench, hang it at least 16 in. above the work surface so you can open the doors without disturbing the project you’re working on.

To hold the doors open when working, we installed eye hooks on the bottom of each door and on the wall. A short chain with small S-hooks holds the doors open.

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Project 3: Pet food dispenser

Build this bin and you can fill the dog dish with the flick of a finger and do away with that crumpled bag of dog food lying on the garage floor. It easily holds two 20-lb. bags of food and allows you to dispense it right into the dish. This bin even holds two types of food so the cat won’t get jealous.

You can put it together in a half day with basic power and hand tools.

Figure D: Project Materials and Details

You’ll find most materials at a home center or lumberyard. We used 3/4-in. clear aspen, because it’s straight, soft and easy to work with. You can save a bit by building it out of No. 2 pine boards. If possible, buy the 18 x 24 in. acrylic sheet already cut to size. To cut it without chipping it, you’ll need a fine-tooth blade and a table saw.

“Blast gates” make handy food dispensers. Woodworkers use them for dust collection systems, so they’re readily available at woodworking shops or by mail order. Get the metal ones—the plastic ones don’t slide as well. These gates do have limitations. Medium- to large-sized food works best; they can jam with small stuff like birdseed. If the gate jams, quickly open and close it firmly.

Note: To see a complete Materials List and a Cutting List for this project go to the Additional Information at the end of this article. You can download Figure D from the Additional Information at the end of this article. Then enlarge it to the size you need.

Tech art of Figure D Fig. D: Dispenser Details
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Step 1: Cut out all the parts

Follow the photos for step-by-step directions. Cut the parts to the dimensions given in Cutting List in the Additional Information.

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Step 2: Assemble the box

Follow the directions shown in Photos 3-5. Getting the blast gates to slide easily might take a little trial and error (Photo 3). Tighten or loosen the wood screws as needed to get them to work smoothly.

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Step 3: Mount the acrylic front and hang the box

The acrylic requires special handling. Leave extra room around it so it can expand and contract freely. Carefully nail the perimeter molding so the nails don’t nick the acrylic and crack it (Photo 7).

Most types of hinges will work to secure the lid. We selected a short piano hinge. Cut it to fit with a hacksaw. The cabinet hangs on the wall on a cleat cut to 45 degrees (Photo 8). The height of the cleat shown is perfect for a 6-ft. tall person to operate the gate. Lower or raise to fit your height.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Drill/driver, cordless
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Level
  • Drill bit set
  • Glue
  • Hacksaw
  • Jigsaw
  • One-handed bar clamps
  • Speed square
  • Utility knife

Spade bit set, Compass

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • See the materials list for each project.