11 Ways to Keep Your Workshop Neat and Tidy
Make your time in the workshop more productive by keeping it clean and clutter-free with these tried-and-true tips.
Ambient Air Cleaning on the Cheap
Can’t afford an air cleaner for those dusty woodworking jobs on the weekend? Sure, you can! Take a new spin on a classic tip. Attach a furnace filter with hook-and-loop tabs to the air intake side of a box fan (about $15 at a home center) and hang the fan between the ceiling joists so you won’t bop your head on it while you work. Just switch it on and fine dust particles from sanding and sawing will be drawn into the filter by the vacuum created by the fan. If you’re creating lots of sawdust, you can install this system that utilizes a shop vacuum.
Carpet Pad for Soft Footing
A double layer of foam carpet pad makes a luxurious but inexpensive anti-fatigue mat beside workbenches and power tools. Cut the pad to size with a utility knife, scissors or tin snips. To avoid tripping and to keep the edges from curling, tape down the perimeter with packing or duct tape. Shop safety is of utmost importance. To help you stay safe in your shop, our editors have compiled this collection of lessons learned from difficult and sometimes painful experiences.
In-the-Bag Shop Vacuum Filter Cleaning
Here’s how to clean your shop vacuum filter without filling the back yard (and your lungs) with a month’s worth of shop dust. Stick it in a plastic garbage bag, knot or grip the bag’s open end, then gently spank the filter to dislodge the dust. Set the bag down, wait for the dust to settle, then remove the filter and dispose of the bag. If you use your shop vacuum for workshop dust collection, make this adjustable hose holder and get the hose right where you need it.
When you spill screws, nails, brads or other small metal parts on a dusty shop floor, pick them up in seconds, minus the dust. Screw a 3-in. dia. pot magnet on the end of a wood dowel to create your ‘picker-upper.’ To use this tool, place an inside-out sandwich bag over the magnet and start sweeping the area. The hardware will leap up to the powerful magnet as you ‘sweep’ the floor. To unload and bag the metal pieces in one quick step, just pull the bag off the magnet. For another clever use for magnets, check out this bathroom storage project.
Onboard Glue Spreader
For years I used my finger to spread glue beads on the edges of boards. Then, in sweaty haste, I’d wipe my fingers on my pants and another pair of nice jeans would become ‘work-only’ attire. To make the job less messy, all you need is an old credit card (or new, your choice), a 3/4-in.two-hole EMT conduit strap (about 50? at a home center) and two 1/8-in.nuts and bolts. Crook the conduit strap in a vise to level the conduit strap wings with the bottle cap. This way the credit card stays flat when you bolt it on. Drill a couple of window holes in the middle of the credit card so you can monitor the size of the glue bead, then drill bolt holes in the end of the card, snap the conduit strap onto the bottle cap and bolt on the card. Practice applying glue on a scrap board and in a few minutes you’ll get it down (pun intended). Be sure to use fresh glue—the lightly bending card will spread it like butter. Want to get really good at edge-gluing boards? This video and these 10 tips teach you everything you need to know.
Here’s a slick use for that old wooden tennis racquet that’s gathering dust in the garage. Drill a hole in the handle and screw it to the underside of a workbench. Position the racquet so it can swing in and out from under the table. Use it to hold tools, parts or other small items. Do you enjoy finding unusual uses for everyday things? Here’s a collection of DIY home hacks you’ll love.
Rosin Paper Workbench Cover
Safety Glasses Insurance
Protect safety glasses by storing them in an old sock. Hang the sock on the wall in your workshop, and they’ll remain scratch-free, dust-free and easy to find. If you don’t have a pegboard wall in your shop, it’s time to build one! In just two hours you can make a versatile pegboard wall with a handy storage bin beneath.
Rubbery shelf liner works great in toolboxes, but there’s a cheaper alternative. Cut a nonslip rug mat to fit any size drawer and keep tools from sliding around. For the ultimate in tool storage drawers, check out this handy tabletop cabinet.
Top-Shelf Safety Glasses
Toss your safety glasses into the top rack of your dishwasher after a messy project. Smudges, sunscreen and sweat will disappear with no effort. Oh, no! The dishwasher’s not working? Here’s how to fix it without calling a pro.
Kick Up a Dust Storm
Most blow guns have a pinhole-size opening. That’s fine for blowing away small wood or metal chips. But these Typhoon variable-flow blow guns have multiple openings and a tapered tip that develops 2.1 lbs. of thrust. Use one to blow your entire work area or even blast the water off your freshly washed car. It’s the most powerful blow gun we’ve ever seen. And the trigger is a true variable-volume design, not just full on or full off.
Buy the traditional gun for workbench use or the 12-in.-long version to gain some distance between you and the dust cloud you’ll kick up. Find them at air tool sellers or online.