26 Household Items You Didn’t Know You Could Use in Your Shop
Before you purchase expensive storage systems or a specific tool for one unique task, try these genius shop hacks using stuff you already have in your house.
Always Have the Cards Ready
I keep a deck of playing cards in my workshop for making micro adjustments when I’m using a sacrificial fence on my table saw. For example, if I cut a dado that comes out slightly too narrow, I just stick a card or two between the rip fence and sacrificial fence and make another cut. The rule I follow is that one playing card = 1/64-in. — Les Beekman
Find more table saw tips and techniques here.
Another Use for Your Most Basic Tools
To make fast and accurate cuts in pipe insulation, use a hand miter box and a bread knife. You can get precise 45- and 90-degree cuts for a tight fit and a professional look. — Henry Haskell
I spend a lot of time on my ladder, and leaning against the rungs all day was taking a toll on my shins and thighs. Then I got smart and slit pieces of my kids’ pool noodles lengthwise and wrapped them around the front of the rungs. Instant relief! The cushions are easy to move as you work. Just make sure you never stand on the pool noodles, and always place them higher than you’ll step since they can create an uneven step or fall off if you step on them. — Dave Switzer
Milk Jug Handle Funnel
If you’re in need an easy to make disposable funnel, we have the perfect solution for you. Simply cut off the handle from a gallon water (or milk) jug, and use this to serve as a disposable funnel. This funnel will help you to drain anything from your left over wood glue to the old oil in your leaf blower. We’ll show you how to make your own milk jug funnel here.
Recycle Peanut Butter Jars
Plastic peanut butter jars work better for storage than glass baby food jars because they hold a lot more hardware and won’t break into shards if you drop one. Attach the lids of 28-oz. jars under a shelf with two screws (so the lid can’t spin when you loosen the jar) and screw on the loaded jar. For quick access, cut away half of a 64-oz. peanut butter jar with a sharp utility knife, leaving the neck intact, then attach the lid and jar to the side of a cabinet. If you load it with lemon drops, we won’t tell.
Garage Storage Tubes
Cardboard concrete-forming tubes are inexpensive ($7 at any home center or find them online on Amazon) and provide a great place to store baseball bats, long-handled tools and rolls of just about anything. Rest the tubes on a piece of 2×4 to keep them high and dry. Secure each tube to a garage stud with a plumbing strap.
M&M Bit Tubes
Driver and drill bits are easy to find and carry around in a pocket or tool belt. Buy some mini M&Ms in small and megasized tubes, evict the candy bits (mmm, good) and load up the tool bits. The shorter tubes are ideal for all styles and lengths of driver bits, and the megasized tubes fit commonly used drill bit sizes.
Paper Towel Roll Bag Storage
There are many uses for plastic grocery bags in the workshop. You can use them to seal up brushes and rollers during a painting project, so you don’t have to wash so much stuff between coats. The point is, it’s worth keeping a handful of plastic grocery bags on hand in the workshop, and here’s a great tip for storing them: Stuff as many plastic grocery bags as possible into an empty paper towel roll. Then toss the roll in a drawer or cabinet. The cardboard tube keeps the bags contained, and it’s easy to pull one out at a time when you need it.
Wine Cork Caulk Saver
Sealed and Stored
Here’s a slick shop storage tip to keep partially used caulk tubes well sealed and at hand in your workshop. Fold a piece of duct tape over the open tube to seal it, leaving a few inches of extra tape. Drive a nail through the tape and hang the tube on pegboard.
Did you know it’s recommended to caulk your toilet to the floor? Find out why here.
Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage
To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You’ll be able to find the right cord easily with this extension cord storage hack, plus you’ve made good use of the tubes.
If you need a mallet once in a blue moon but don’t own one, improvise: Use a heavy kitchen sponge. Get it wet, wring as much water out of it as you possibly can, then wrap it around the head of your hammer and secure it with a heavy rubber band.
Muffin Tin Hardware Bin
Work surface cluttered with miscellaneous nails, screws, hardware, whatever? Clean it up and still keep that stuff at your fingertips.
Attach a muffin tin under a shelf with a single 1/4-in. x 1-1/2-in. flat head machine screw. The tin pivots out from beneath work surfaces to organize and serve up any little doodad you frequently use. And you store all that little stuff without using up a single square inch of workspace. For best results when installing your muffin bins:
- Use muffin tins made from heavier gauge metal.
- Drill and countersink a 1/4-in. hole in the shelf top, so the top of the screw is flush with the shelf.
- Place 1/4-in. fender washers above and below the rim of the muffin tin.
- Tighten two nuts against each other on the underside so the threads won’t loosen.
Easy-Grip Tool Handles
Improve your grip and comfort when using hand tools by wrapping the handles of hammers, chisels, turning tools, clamps— just about anything with a handle—with the self-clinging tape used on hockey sticks (sold at sporting goods stores). The absorbent, textured surface keeps the handle from slipping around in your hand as you work, and you won’t have to grip it as firmly. It goes great on wheelbarrow handles as well and is just one of those common household items in some homes.
Tension Rod Storage Hack
It can be difficult to keep spray bottles and other cleaning supplies from falling over and making a mess under your kitchen sink. Thankfully, we have plenty of cabinet organization tips and tricks.
To keep your cleaning supplies upright, hang them from a short tension rod inside your cabinet. Another clever idea is to slide a paper towel roll through the tension rod for easy access. This tension rod organization hack is also a great place to hang dish-drying towels and rubber cleaning gloves.
Skateboard Workshop Helper
A skateboard isn’t just useful for rolling through the park, it also makes a handy hauler on the fly. Just load it up with your heavy items such as tires or large sheets of plywood, and easily tote them from one area of your shop to another. — Matt Boley
Shoe Holder for Spray Product Storage
Keep spray paints, lubricants, etc., organized and out of the way in a hanging shoe holder. The material is easy to clean, mounts quickly to a wall or door in your workshop and has pockets sized perfectly for holding various spray products.
Tin Can Glue Bottle Storage
Reuse a tin can for storing glue bottles upside down in your workshop. Then you won’t have to wait for the glue to slowly reach the top of the bottle in order to squeeze it out—it’ll be ready to go when you reach for it.
Six-Pack Shop Organizer
Six-pack cartons are useful for storing and transporting items like spray paint, lubricants and caulk. — Gerald Fitzgibbon
Better Bucket Storage
Stacked 5-gallon buckets fit together so tightly that it’s almost impossible to pull them apart. Prevent the problem by placing a large plastic pop bottle (with top on) or milk jug between each pair of buckets. You can still nest the buckets together, but they won’t stick together anymore.
Here are 17 more nifty ways to store tools.
Garage Ceiling Track Storage
Get those big plastic storage bins up off the garage floor and onto the ceiling! Screw 2x2s to the ceiling framing with 3-1/2-in. screws spaced every 2 ft. Use the bins as a guide for spacing the 2x2s. The lips on the bins should just brush against the 2x2s when you’re sliding the bins into place. Then center and screw 1x4s to the 2x2s with 2-in. screws. The garage ceiling is a perfect place to store light and medium weight seasonal items like holiday decorations and camping gear.
For more ways to use your garage ceiling for DIY garage storage, check out these 14 products for garage workshop ideas.
Magnetic Mini Storage
Want to build this handy storage roost for all the little screws, earplugs, nuts and washers in your shop? Pick up a pack of 4-oz. cups, a magnetic strip, several 7/16-in. washers and a tube of E6000 glue (available at craft and hobby stores). Apply glue to the cup’s concave bottom, press in a washer flush with the bottom rim and let the glue set for 24 hours.
That’s it. Mount the magnet, load the cups, snap on the lids and all your itty-bitties are easy to spot, nab and put away. Magnetic strips are available at woodworking stores and online. The magnetic strip provides more than enough magnet power to hold a cup crammed with screws.
Rx Bottle for Storing Fasteners
Repurpose your empty medicine bottles to store fasteners such as nails, screws, washers, etc. Remove the original label, so you can clearly see the contents inside.
Grocery Bag Shoe Covers
Reuse plastic grocery bags as shoe covers. The plastic keeps dirt and water contained, and the handle loops can be tied around your ankles to keep them on when you step inside your house for a quick break.
Rubber Band Clamps
You can buy special woodworking clamps to hold hardwood edging in place until the glue sets, but they’re expensive and you won’t use them often. Instead of buying specialty clamps, you can modify some of your spring clamps instead. Grab a few rubber bands and presto—instant edge clamps. These clever clamp storage tips help keep your workshop organized.
Magnetize a Screwdriver
This old trick could save you hundreds of dropped screws over your DIY lifetime. Grab a magnet and rub it along the shaft of a screwdriver a dozen times or so. Rub in one direction only, kind of like sharpening a knife. In about 10 seconds, you’ll have a magnetic screwdriver. Repeat as needed. Add a magnetic strip to the workshop for an even better use of magnets.