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Start with a clean slate. Clear everything out of the garage, from projects and tools to half-forgotten junk. Once the space is empty, clean it thoroughly and plan the workshop renovation. Think about what activities and equipment will need to fit, and the most convenient way to work.
Tip: This is a great time to go through the garage contents and purge anything that's no longer useful or enjoyable. Less junk means more room to get things done.
Without a ceiling, a workshop can look dark, cold and gloomy. Measure the garage, including the distance between the ceiling joists. Cut sheets of oriented strandboard (OSB) to size, mark the location of the joists on the sheets and use a nail gun to attach them to the ceiling joists. Nail battens (thin wood strips) over all of the joints between the ceiling boards to cut down on drafts and give the room a more finished look.
Paint the walls and ceiling a light, uniform color for a clean look and to help make the most of available light. The DIY to the Rescue crew used an air-powered sprayer to make this a quick job. Wear eye protection, a respirator and a disposable paint suit when using a sprayer on a large area.
Amy recommends using fluorescents in workshops because they're energy efficient and don't generate heat. Assemble and install the fixtures according to the manufacturer's instructions. For this project, Amy used plug-in fixtures; to install hard-wired lights or move an electrical box for a plug-in fixture, call in a qualified professional. For task or work lights, remember that incandescent bulbs generate heat and can throw off sparks if they shatter. Encased fluorescents or sealed halogen lamps can be a safer choice.
Install a large, sturdy workbench that can handle a wide variety of projects. To cut down on the unsafe tangle of electrical cords, Karl installed a long power strip running the full length of the workbench. A rubber mat in front of the bench helps take the strain off feet, knees and backs.
Invest in a storage system that fits the garage and the work that goes on there. For this project, Karl included short, rolling storage cabinets that slide under the workbench. For wall storage, he used cabinets that slide on wall-mounted tracks. To install the cabinets, use a hammer drill to pre-drill a hole in the wall, and attach the cabinets with masonry bolts. Repeat this for the bottom track. Fit the top bracket into the track, then adjust the bottom bracket from the inside of the cabinet until it clicks into place. Use hooks and bins on the tracks to store items for fast access.
Always store chemicals in their original containers in a cabinet that can be locked, away from any heat sources. If projects will generate oily rags, dispose of them in a waste can designed for that purpose. Keep fire extinguishers in all work areas; extinguishers rated "ABC" are effective for all types of fires.
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