59 Handy Hints to Keep Your Workshop Shipshape
It’s a lot easier (and more fun!) to do projects in a space that’s neat and tidy, and these clever tips will help you achieve just that in your home workshop.
Saw Dust Filter Fan
My workshop doesn’t have air conditioning, and it gets pretty hot while I’m working. I used to blow a fan directly at myself, but it sucked in dust from around the shop and blew it at me. I had a few extra furnace filters lying around, so I tried attaching one to the back of the fan using hook-and-loop fasteners. This made a huge difference! Don’t use a super-high-performance filter, as it could cause the fan to have to work too hard to pull air through, resulting in an overheated motor. — Larry Brannock. These 34 incredible tips will help you complete your woodworking projects faster and better than ever before!
How to Remember your Grits
Hook-and-loop sanding discs work great for sanding jobs, and you can reuse them several times before they’re worn out. But it’s almost impossible to read the grit labels on the discs after you’ve used them once because the markings get scrubbed off by the loops. Below is the incredibly simple way to remember sandpaper grits without needing to squint to see a faded number. Learn 7 pro-approved tips for hand sanding right here.
The Greatest Shop Tip in History
Last fall, I was out running the leaf blower and noticed my filthy shop vacuum filter sitting on the slab waiting for a cleaning. That meant hauling the air hose outside and holding the filter at arm’s length while I became enveloped in a giant dust cloud. Not this time. It took me about five microseconds to put two and two together. Five more microseconds with the leaf blower and that filter was cleaner than ever. Now the filter—and the dust—are 5 ft. away from my lungs, clothes and hair. Can’t call me Pigpen anymore. — Travis Larson
Don’t recycle all of your half-gallon plastic milk bottles. Save a couple for cleaning paint brushes. Cut out one side halfway down, pour in paint thinner and stick the brush handle through the side and up the bottle spout. Slip a dowel or nail through the hole in the brush handle to keep the bristles from resting on the bottom of the container while soaking. Check out more workshop handy hints here.
Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Work Surface
I use peel-and-stick vinyl tiles on all of the work surfaces in my home shop, especially cutting areas. The smooth surface makes cleanup so much easier! From sawdust to glass shards, the tiles make cleanup a cinch. — Carol Cordero
Vinyl is also great for cleaning up liquid spills, as it prevents the mess from soaking into the surface. We covered a plywood-topped cart in the Family Handyman workshop, and the adhesive-backed tiles were very easy to work with. Compared to the rough plywood, the tiles make the cart much easier to wipe clean with a dry or wet rag after any project. Learn how to build one of these carts right here.
Pencils on the Double
Can’t find your pencil? Try this sharp idea from Ruth Brunner. Saw a package of pencils in half with a fine-tooth saw and stick pencil cap erasers on the eraserless halves. You’ve just doubled your stock of pencils and made them a lot harder to break!
Bring Universal Power to Your Shop
With a retractable extension cord in the shop, there’s no more searching for the extension cord, no more tripping over cords on the floor, and no more constantly bending over to plug in whatever you need. But stay away from wimpy 16- to 18-gauge corded models. They don’t carry enough current for many tools. The Husky 14-3, 50-ft. model ($70 at Home Depot) works great, but any 14-3 model with a 13-amp rating will do fine. But as you know, the more you spend…
The ReelWorks Extension Cord is the best heavy duty retractable cord out there. Click here for it on Amazon.
Use a Garden Hose Reel in Your Workshop
Here’s a neat way to store air hoses or extension cords without the fuss of knots and kinks. Use a garden hose reel. It stores 200 ft. of hose or cord, and it’s easy to transport in the back of a truck or trailer. — Michael VanSant. Try out some of these 50 extraordinary uses for ordinary items.
Safe Blade Disposal
I was recently removing a lot of old caulking on my boat with a utility knife. To safely dispose of the used blades and eliminate the risk of cutting through a trash bag and injuring someone, I put the used blades in a soda can and pushed the pop top back over the opening to contain the blades. — Justin Zack
Check out these DIY Safety Tips. Our field editors tell of the DIY mistakes they’ve made and the lessons learned from ladders, electricity, roofs, power nailers, drills, pressure washers and more.
Use a saber saw to cut lengthwise notches in a 30-in. long piece of 3- or 4-in. dia. pipe then glue on a PVC end cap. Drill pilot holes in the pipe opposite the notches and screw the quiver to a shop wall. Your notched-out quiver will hold any size dowel—from standard 36-in. lengths to stubby leftovers—for instant access. Thanks to George Marchalk for sending this tip down the pipeline.
Need more storage for your dowels? Check out this high-rise storage option.