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A New Home Workshop, Part 8

Organising storage

By Julian Edgar

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With the workshop erected, approved and wired, now it’s time for storage. I chose to take some unique approaches.

Alternatives

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Something that most people into working with the hands end up having is… stuff.

Lots of stuff!

I am no exception to that and so in the new home workshop I wanted a lot of storage space. That was in fact a major reason I went for a shed with a wall height of 5 metres.

But, even with the tall walls, it’s very easy to lose a lot of floor space by using conventional floor-mounted storage shelves or racks. But I wanted a storage solution that didn’t intrude too much on floor space.

One approach that could have been taken was to hang shelves from the shed structure – for example, using the wall beams to support high-mounted shelves. However, the shed isn’t designed to take these loads, and it would be pretty easy with long, multiple shelves to add a tonne or more to each longer wall - fifty 20kg boxes = 1000kg….

Instead, for the main shelving, I chose to use tall pallet racking.

Pallet Racking

As its name suggests, pallet racking is designed to hold pallets. Because pallets can have substantial loads placed on them, pallet racking is very strong. (How strong? Many pallet systems uprights are rated at 9 tonnes...)

Different makes of pallet racking have different attachment systems - that’s important to know if you’re sourcing second-hand bits and pieces.

The beams (horizontals) and end-frames (verticals) also come in different lengths.

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My starting point was to buy 50 Dexion-compatible pallet racking beams second-hand on eBay. These cost me $200, and the seller was kind enough to deliver them to me free of charge. The beams comprised:

·       8 x 1600mm

·       33 x 1680mm

·       7 x 2130mm

·       1 x 1880mm

·       1 x 2155mm

·       2 x 2280mm

·       3 x 2740mm

Note that the minimum number of beams to form a rack is four, so in this collection only the first three listings above are really useful. But for $200, that was fine by me…

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The next step was to source some end-frames (the verticals), and I decided that ones 4.877 metres (16 feet) high would be best. It is difficult to find second-hand end-frames of this height (and even more difficult to organise transport – although a car trailer would do it) and so I decided to buy eight new end-frames and have them delivered.

This cost $2000 – a big expense, but then they’re big racks!

This price included feet on the end of the uprights, dyna-bolts (to allow the uprights to be bolted to a concrete floor) and a delivery distance of about 250km.

End frames of this length can be manually carried and erected by two people – they weigh about 40kg each.

Approach

I decided to place all the racks at one end of the shed – the end where cars will not be positioned.

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On the end wall of the shed I used four end-frames (ie forming three bays) and the 1680mm beams. This gave a rack about 5 metres long and just under 5 metres high. One of these bays has racking extending down to about 1.2 metres above the floor, while the other two bays have floor clearance of about 2.3 metres, giving plenty of working space beneath them. (One of these spaces is for the lathe and the other is for the vertical mill.)

I placed a single-bay rack on each of the other walls, one rack 2.13 metres long and the other 1.6 metres long. Both racks have working floor space beneath them.  

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Under one of these bays I placed a bench containing a small drill press, grinder, belt sander and hydraulic press.

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Under the other bay I placed a shelving unit that contains fasteners and other parts.

Where working space has been provided beneath the racks, the head clearance is substantial. In fact, because the first shelves in these bays are at a height similar to (or greater than!) the roof height of many sheds, there’s no feeling of claustrophobia.

The pallet rack uprights are dyna-bolted to the concrete floor. Note that without dyna-bolting, racks of this height are quite unstable. To easily drill the concrete for the bolts, I hired a professional Ramset rotary hammer drill and masonry bit. This cost $75; it chewed through the concrete like you were drilling through wood. 

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To form shelves, I screwed 70 x 35 x 900mm pine timber pieces across the rack beams. These pieces of timber came pre-cut and cost $1.50 each. The timber slats are stronger than needed, but it means that you can walk about on the racking without any danger of the cross-pieces breaking.  If small items are to be stored, it’s easy to add some plywood or MDF sheets on top of the cross-pieces to provide a continuous shelf.

The screws used to hold these slats in place were self-drilling types designed to attach timber to metal. If you’re not familiar with these, they are tricky designs with dual cutting edges that form the hole in the timber but get torn off when the screw meets the metal, so allowing the screw to self-drill into the metal in a conventional manner. They’re great screws – but expensive at about 30 cents each.

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The pallet racking results in a total shelf space of about 30 square metres (not far off the floor area of a typical double garage!) and yet the intrusion on the floor-space is quite modest.

Of course, the downside is that accessing many of the shelves requires the use of a ladder, so it is best to keep boxes small and/or light. (I have also hung a temporary pulley and used a rope to lift small but heavy boxes to the top level.)

Smaller Shelves

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The pallet racking handles the items that are needed relatively rarely, but what about the day-to-day items? These are stored on shelves formed from a combination of veneered chipboard bookcases and steel shelves placed on top. The highest shelves can be reached with a short stepladder.

Pipes

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To store plastic pipe I made a rack that uses top-hat purlins, offcuts of channel and U-shaped brackets that are designed to suspend 300mm diameter plastic pipe. (The latter brackets were picked-up cheaply at the shop at a local rubbish tip.) This rack is mounted on the shed wall.

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Another rack using the U-shaped brackets was also made to store lengths of plastic sheet and bar. (Since this pic was taken, this rack has become a triple-decker.)

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The brackets were also used to make this holder for short lengths of steel bar stock.

Cable

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Reels of cable are stored on an upright comprising timber and multiple lengths of threaded rod. This assembly is mounted on one of the pallet rack uprights.

Clamps

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Clamps are stored by being wrapped around a horizontal bar – in fact, a front strut bar I once made for my Skyline GT-R!

Conclusion

The storage approach chosen isn’t cheap but it is strong, allows excellent access to most frequently used items, and most importantly, doesn’t intrude too much on floor space.

Pluses:  There is heaps of storage space, and it intrudes only a relatively small amount on floorspace

Minuses: Placing the timber slats on the pallet racking took forever!

The Surprise: Using only two people, erecting the tall pallet frames was straightforward

Cost:

Pallet beams - $200

Pallet end frames - $2000 including $600 delivery

Pallet timber slats - $170

Screws for slats - $75

Concrete drill hire (cost takes into account additional use for installation of workbench) - $35

Other timber and pipe support clamps - $100

(Steel shelves, chipboard shelves, parts drawers, etc – already available.)

Next issue: building workbenches

The parts in this series:

Part 1 - Clearing the space

Part 2 - Planning the design

Part 3 - Gaining planning authority approval

Part 4 - The concrete slab

Part 5 - Getting the shed erected

Part 6 - Stormwater handling

Part 7 - The electricals

Part 8 - Organising storage

Part 9 - Building the workbenches

Part 10 - Evaluating the outcome

Interested in home workshop projects and techniques? You’re sure then to be interested in the Home Workshop Sourcebook, available now.

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