Articles about DIY


If you're planning on selling your house, organizing your house and workshop will make the house show much better. Clutter and disorganization turns prospective buyers off quickly – and in a buyer's market, organized houses have the edge. Organizing makes more space - and thus makes the house look bigger and more functional.




How To Creat Space with Storage

by Damien Andrews

I can recall watching a George Carlin standup comedy routine many, many years ago. In that routine he said that we all scramble to get 'space.' Once we get the space, we scramble to fill it up with 'stuff.' When the space is full of stuff, we again scramble to get more space – and the never ending cycle continues. I've never forgotten that routine. As much as I hate to admit it, he has a point.

If you find yourself running out of room in the house or the workshop, you can buy a new house, build onto the one you have – or you can look into organizing your stuff. If you're willing to go through a serious reorganization process, you'll be utterly amazed at the amount of newfound space that will avail itself for your growing needs. With a little planning, some knowhow and some sorting time, you can plan to double the amount of usable space you currently have.

Creating space with storage doesn't come for free. You are going to have to get some places to store things more efficiently, more compactly. A basic guideline for the acquisition of storage space is that enclosed storage units, such as cabinets with doors and shelves, do not offer as much room as efficiently as open storage units, such as adjustable shelves. This phenomenon has to do with the fact that cabinets have doors, sides and tops – which limit their capacity and also limit what things can go inside of them. With open shelving, if the end of the 4' level hangs 4" off the shelf, that's okay. With a cabinet, nothing can extend beyond the sides, door and top of the cabinet.

Step one for creating space with storage is to have a plan – and that plan will be best if made during and after a sorting/cleanup of the area you're working on. While this can be a somewhat daunting task, it's well worth the time and effort – and will almost invariably end up giving some Christmas-esque joy as you find things you forgot you had. Go through everything. Throw away the trash, sell the things you don't want ( works great!), and put things into groups. Get all of your loose drill bits together, collect and organize your hardware, put containers inside other containers, marry bottles of identical liquids together, and generally tidy up everything you'll be working with. This process should get your stuff into a smaller configuration already. See – we're making progress, but the best is yet to come.

Once you have straightened up and leaned out your stuff, it's time to decide what sort(s) of storage space you will require. Pegboard, wall-mounted shelving, cabinets, storage benches, wall hooks, and free-standing shelving are all great storage spaces. Rarely will any single storage space fill the needs properly. So think about using more than one storage space – such as a cabinet and two shelving units: one freestanding shelving unit and one attached shelving unit.

Pegboard is perhaps the most overlooked storage system I know of. Mind you, pegboard is not for every storage space need, but it is ideal for a great number of applications. Today, there are storage hooks made that fit ¼" pegboard and will hold practically anything you can think of. The array of pegboard hooks that's available is absolutely mindboggling. If you're going to go the pegboard route, I heartily suggest that you shop on the Internet for hooks. I regularly visit several large hardware stores, and all combined, they never have even one fourth of the hook configurations available. You can also buy small, inexpensive plastic 'anchors' for your pegboard hooks. After you attach the pegboard hook to the pegboard, use the anchor to hold it firmly in place. I get a lot of mileage out of long straight pegboard hooks and large curved pegboard hooks. By getting creative, I can store things on my pegboards that would otherwise not be practical. Pegboard is also very inexpensive – and easy to install.

Pro Tip: Pegboard does not have to be installed in full sheets. It can be cut to narrow tall sections, or narrow long sections. This makes it ideal for placement in places that have high access – such as near doors. It also means that it can be installed in 'leftover' spaces that would otherwise go unused.

Dremel on pegboard

In the above photo, two 2" straight pegboard hooks are used to hold a Dremel tool neatly in place and out of the way. The wrench sharing one pegboard hook is used to change tools in the Dremel – and is always close at hand.

Makita on pegboard
Using one large curved pegboard hook, and one 4" straight pegboard hook, this Makita screw gun is held firmly in place. Be creative with pegboard and pegboard hooks and the sky's the limit.

There are many types of heavy duty modular wall shelving available today. This type of shelving has brackets that are attached to the studs, and then the shelves, which are available in different sizes, are attached to the brackets. Many of these shelving units have a shelf capacity of 350 pounds - or more. As of January 2008, you could install such a shelving unit with five 2' x 5' shelves for about $200. That means that you'll turn the original 10 square feet of storage space into 60 square feet of storage space – including the floor under the shelving. That's six times as much space – for more stuff. I prefer the wire rack style of shelves when I install these types of units. If I need solid shelf somewhere on the wire racks, I use 1/8" masonite. The shelves are adjustable height and super strong, so you can put bags of concrete or 5-gallon pails of joint compound onto them.

Pro Tip: Get some various sized 'S' hooks and use them on the wire rack shelves. You can hang all manner of things on these hooks and then hook them onto the sides and fronts of the shelves. They can also be easily moved to other shelves when/if desired.

Free standing metal shelves are great, but can get a little pricey – if you want strong ones. Those thin sheet metal shelves sold at discount stores and hardware stores (much hardware and assembly required) are flimsy and not really very functional. Try looking online at industrial grade shelving. This type of shelving costs more, but you get your money's worth, to be sure. The biggest advantage free standing metal shelving has over attached metal shelving is simply that you can move it more easily. Cost wise, free standing metal shelving will cost you about four times what attached metal shelving will cost you.

You would have to have a gnarbitz seating tool from planet Ichibanto to not be able to find a wall hook system for it. They make wall hooks for everything – and most are plastic coated to avoid damaging whatever is hung on the hook. Getting good hooks and using them can be a real boon to creating space with storage. Try hanging the hooks (and items) from the ceiling. The ceiling is a great place to hang some pretty space-consumptive items. For example, I hang my chain saws, weed eater, 10' folding ladder, 100' extension cords, and power yard blower on my shop ceiling – along with a lot of other things.

Cabinets, as earlier stated, are not the most efficient storage spaces – at least not space-wise. But they are sometimes precisely what's called for – especially inside the housel If you're going to create space with storage cabinets, look for ones that have adjustable shelves – and a locking mechanism, if that's needed/called for. Get a cabinet that's sized for the things you want to store inside. The shelves need to be wide enough and deep enough – as well as tall enough.

Creating space with storage is a very rewarding project. And as you can see, it will free up oodles of space – so you can go and get more stuff!


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