This article was first published in 2007.
A convenient way of storing lots of flat items is
on an old aluminium security door suspended from the roof or ceiling. In this
case, perched on top are heaps of off-cuts of acrylic and polypropylene. It’s
not far above head height, so just a short stepladder allows full access. Six
super-strong cable ties are being used here to suspend the door but rope could
as easily have been used. This door cost nothing – it was being thrown away at
the local tip.
It’d be nice to have a retractable power cord reel
above each bay in a home shed but this achieves much the same outcome at no more
cost than the price of the extension cord. A bracket was bent out of scrap and
screwed to a rafter, allowing the extension cord to be coiled-up out of harm’s
way while still being fully accessible for power. The only trick is to get the
Talking about height, if you’re bench-mounting
tools, set the height that suits you. This hydraulic press is mounted
much higher than many but it puts the workpiece nearer eye level, while at the
same time the press isn’t too high that operating the jack handle becomes
difficult. Build a home workshop to suit yourself, not others.
Good lighting in a home workshop is vital.
Lighting is best split into two categories – general and specific. General
lighting (eg provided by fluorescent tubes or a high-mounted high intensity
discharge light) illuminates the whole space. But even if that lighting is very
bright, it will still be too dim for lighting specific points like the work
table of a drill press or the wheels of a grinder. Directional lighting is
needed in those areas. This can be provided by portaflood style directional
incandescent (filament) bulbs or directional high intensity discharge lights of
the sort often used to illuminate shop displays. The latter is being used here –
picked up for near nothing at the shop of a local tip.
A simple one but a goody. Always keep all the big
bolts that you pull out of cars – they’re very often high tensile, plated and
use fine metric threads, a combination that in some sizes is very hard to
obtain. But it’s no good having them if you can’t find the one you want when you
need it. Storing the bolts in an open metal tray makes picking out the right
bolt much easier without having to empty the lot on the bench and then, after
the correct bolt is found, put them all back in their container. A spray over
the top of the bolts every now and again with penetrating oil like WD40 or the
like will keep any corrosion at bay.
And, talking about WD-40 type sprays, it’s an
absolute waste of money to buy the stuff in aerosol cans. Instead, buy it in a
bulk 4 litre (or bigger!) container and then for application, pour it into a
pump-action plastic bottle. I’ve found that many universal plastic spray bottles
won’t last with the (presumably hydrocarbon) contents of penetrating oil, but a
spray bottle that originally handled window cleaner (which is normally dilute
meths!) works fine long-term.
If equipment is heavy and awkward to lug around,
chances are that it won’t be moved to the job as it should be. This welder was a
good case in point: the earth and electrode cables were always at full stretch
whenever any welding was being done. The answer is, as here, to put it on wheels
– but here’s the trick. Photocopiers are now available very cheaply (sometimes
on eBay from even a few dollars!) and as photocopiers tend to be pretty heavy,
any wheeled cupboards on which they sit are also heavy duty steel, with good
strong metal castors. Easy solution: buy the old photocopier, discard the copier
(or pull it apart – plenty of good bits inside like stepper motors – but watch
out for the High Voltage power supplies!), keep the wheeled cabinet and put the
heavy equipment on top. In this case the cables, gloves, electrodes and welding
mask also all fit neatly in the cupboard.