A home workshop can be beneficial for anyone who finds themselves working on cars, either as a hobby, for basic maintenance and upkeep, or simply to avoid paying high labor costs at an auto repair shop. Moreover, quick fixes and DIY projects are bound to occur around the house, and having a space dedicated to such instances is very convenient. If you don’t already have a home workshop, here is your sign to create one!
Step 1: Assess the area
The first step in the process of creating the perfect home workshop is to evaluate the space you’re working with, as well as the intentions of the workshop space. For some, only a small designated area for simple tools and a workbench is necessary. For others, a whole room filled with power tools and space large enough to house a car is ideal.
When assessing the area, consider how many tables you want, how many tools you have, what tools you intend to get in the future, and any other additions you might want to add down the line, such as a second vehicle bay. Another important factor to keep in mind is where you will be storing materials, such as leftover metal scraps if you weld, or car parts that aren’t quite worn out.
Depending on the climate where you live, you might consider installing an air conditioner or a furnace. If one, or both, of these are something that you want to include in your workshop, it’s important to make sure their location is planned out ahead of time to allow for necessary airflow.
Step 2: Plan a layout
The arrangement of a workshop is more important than you might think. Without an organized layout, the workshop is more likely to become messy and cluttered, eventually slowing down your workflow during a project. A common workspace design follows a triangular layout for efficiency.
The first corner is dedicated to storage. For many workshops, this refers to large power tools and toolboxes, as well as any spare parts that you accumulate. A great way to prevent the dedicated corner from becoming cluttered is to create shelving. Shelves can be added to any wall for spare parts or oddly shaped tools and supplies that don’t fit anywhere else. Shelves can also be added underneath tables so nothing is scattered all over the floor.
The second corner is the main bay where the car would be parked. For smaller workshops, a large workbench for dealing with big pieces, such as body panels, would likely claim the space. For serious workshops, a vehicle lift can be placed in this area. If you decide to go without a lift, and your shop is big enough for a vehicle, you can instead use jacks and jack stands, or wheel ramps and risers to take the place of a full-sized lift.
The third corner is where the fine-tuning work takes place. This isn’t where the heavy-duty projects will be handled. Rather, it’s a place for using hand tools and smaller power tools. This would be the ideal place for the staple bench vice with an integrated anvil.
Keeping these “corners” separate for specific tasks makes the workspace extremely functional and organized, while also being close enough to move from one phase of a project to the next.
Step 3: Determine how you will finance the workshop
Creating a home workshop is similar to redecorating or re-furnishing any other room in your house. The cost of creating this space can add up quickly, especially if you plan on purchasing new equipment.
The most obvious means to tackle the costs of a project like this is to use immediately available cash. Unfortunately, this option takes time and if you’re in a rush to complete a workshop for your house, this might not be the best option for you. The other straightforward option is through private, personal loans, but these often have rather significant interest rates. So, if you’re not in a hurry, saving up cash will prevent you from having to pay interest down the road.
Another form of financing is to utilize a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or a Home Equity Loan (HEL). A HELOC is essentially the same as opening a credit card with a high limit, with the caveat of your house acting as the collateral to protect the lender from payment defaults. HELOCs are great because they can be used over a long period of time if you are interested in setting up your workshop in stages, and thanks to your house being collateral, they typically have a lower interest rate than private loans. HELs are different primarily in the way that they simply give you an immediate lump sum of money, versus a continuous line of credit. Forbes has a great article explaining the differences in more depth.
If you currently have a mortgage and are hoping to have the least impact on your total monthly payments, a cash-out refinance is definitely something to look into. This is a type of mortgage refinance that evaluates the equity you currently have in your home and provides you with a lump sum of cash in exchange for changing the terms of your current mortgage. Cash-out refinances are popular since they offer some of the lowest interest rates as well as some of the longest repayment schedules, making the monthly payments easier to afford. A cash-out refinance with an FHA loan actually offers some of the best interest rates and repayment options for anyone with a credit score as low as 600.
Step 4: Organize your tools
We all know the feeling of frustration being in the middle of a project and searching for a specific socket only for it to have seemingly vanished since your last project. Having an organized tool system in place is essential when creating the perfect home workshop. If you find yourself losing things in the vast, uncharted sea known as your toolbox, it might be time to consider buying organizers for your toolbox. In addition, it might be worthwhile to install a pegboard organizer so you can easily see and find the most common tools you need.
If you install a pegboard, start organizing by hanging the heaviest tools like drills and grinders on the bottom to prevent accidents if they happen to fall. From there, place your tools on a board in a way that makes the most sense for you and how you work. To ensure you’re maintaining organization in your workshop, consider tracing the tools on the pegboard with a marker so you know where they need to be returned after use, and quickly identify missing tools.
Step 5: Add outlets
The last thing you want to happen while you’re using a heavy-duty power tool is to run out of cord, or even accidentally unplugging it because you pulled it too far. Once you’ve determined the type of tools you’ll have in your workshop, it’s a good idea to assess your outlet situation. While extension cords are a life-saver, leaving them wherever you last used them presents a serious tripping hazard. Not to mention, having extension cords strewn about just looks sloppy. There are retractable extension cord reels that you can mount just about anywhere, giving you easy access to power and saving you the annoyance of having to manually roll cords to store them safely. Implementing a few of these around your workspace on walls or from the ceiling will bring you ease while you’re utilizing the larger, stationary tools.
One of the biggest benefits is that since the reels aren’t hardwired into the workshop, you have the freedom to relocate them if you find that your first choice wasn’t the best, or even if you want to rearrange your workshop later.
Step 6: Ensure there is proper ventilation
If you have experience in a workshop, you know just how messy and dusty the area can get in the blink of an eye. Ventilation is imperative because it controls unwanted exposure to airborne contaminants. No matter how much time you plan on spending in your workshop, it’s important to avoid the harmful effects of the inevitable fumes and dust.
There are a variety of ways to ensure your perfect workshop has the proper ventilation. Having a door or window to the outdoors is ideal for ventilation, but this is not always possible. Another option is to place fans throughout the workshop. Any bit of airflow and ventilation is beneficial. If your budget allows for it, installing an air filtration system will give you peace of mind knowing the air is being cleaned while you’re working.
As a last option, keep a respirator mask in your workshop for projects that involve heavy fumes or a lot of dust. This is a quick solution if you’re anticipating fumes and dust, but requires you to actively remember to use it.
The final step in preparing a perfect workshop in your home is to enjoy the process. While it may seem tedious trying to make sure everything is set up in the most efficient way, it will pay off in the long run. After you utilize the space for a few months, don’t be afraid to rearrange your tools and layout to enhance its efficiency.