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Small Garage Workshop Organization Ideas

Have a small garage or basement workshop? Get woodworking plans and tutorials for lots of workshop organization ideas here!

small workshop organization ideas collage

You don't need a giant garage to build amazing furniture! All my woodworking projects are made in a one-car garage in our basement, and I've managed to fit a LOT of tools into this small space.

garage workshop with tools

But it didn't always look this way! I started off with an old door up on sawhorses as my workbench, and a miter saw as my only power tool. After a big project, the space was a complete disaster!

basement workshop space after fireplace remodel

Today, I'm sharing how I transformed this dark basement room into my dream wood workshop, and my tips for getting the most out of a small space. Even if you only have a small shed or a corner of the basement or garage to spare, you can make your own DIY workshop!

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Start with bright white walls

White walls are key to making a small space feel larger! This garage had dark wood paneling on two walls, and it made the entire room feel dark and dingy. Sawdust collected in the grooves, and exhaust fumes from decades of old cars stained the lower half. I painted the wood paneling on the wall behind my miter saw station, and it instantly made a huge difference!

wood paneling before and after painting

There was one giant wall next to the door that was in pretty bad shape and would take forever to paint. So I decided to cover up the entire surface with cheap laminated hardboard material to create a giant whiteboard! I mounted a lumber rack over the whiteboard, so I can write the species or size of the boards right on the wall to help keep it organized.

lumber rack with whiteboard wall

The whiteboard wall is also handy for keeping track of all my clamps! I write the length of each set on the wall above my DIY clamp rack so I know where they all go at the end of the day.

clamp rack on whiteboard wall

Use exposed studs for storage

This basement garage had a really steep incline, and the previous owner got so fed up with it that he walled up the garage door and filled in the slope. Now there's parking for two cars on the side of the house, and a garage-like room in the basement.

I quickly slapped together a few boxes to attach to the top of the wall under the windows, but realized there was more potential storage here.

exposed studs in garage wall

I used scrap wood to create these little shelves between the studs for storing quart and pint size paint cans, plus all the small odds and ends that didn't really have a home anywhere else in the workshop. We generally don't get below freezing here, so I haven't had any issues with the paint separating.

lots of paint and stain on shelves between studs

Keep scrap wood organized

I love scrap wood projects, and I tend to keep WAY more than I really should! The wall mounted lumber rack is helpful for storing longer boards off the ground, and plastic bins underneath hold smaller chunks. But I needed something for plywood sheets, and those pieces that are too short for the lumber rack but too long for the bins.

lumber storage cart

This rolling lumber cart holds half sheets of plywood on the back, plus plenty of offcuts in the two upright storage areas. It lives in front of the stud wall shelves, and I put it on wheels so I can slide it out of the way when I need to pick a paint color. You can get the woodworking plans for the lumber cart here.

Organize similar tools together

If you're constantly switching bits in your drill or need different sanders for specific tasks, you'll probably end up with multiple tools that do the same job. Keep these tools together with their accessories in one spot to make it easier to find what you need!

This cordless drill storage rack fits multiple drills and impact drivers, plus a shelf for battery chargers above. I mounted some drill bit storage to the side so everything is in the same compact space.

taking drill out of cordless drill storage rack

A random orbit sander, palm sander and corner cat sander all do the same job a little differently. I was tired of hunting down the specific sandpaper for each tool, so I built this sandpaper storage to house everything together. You can get the woodworking plans for this project here.

sander and sandpaper storage

Put tools on wheels

When you have a small workshop, it needs to be flexible! Everything from the workbench to the table saw stand is on wheels, so I can move things around on a moment's notice.

DIY table saw stand

For big pieces like the t-track table that usually stay in one spot, I prefer these removable casters. They mount to the side rather than underneath, and allow the cabinet to rest flat on the ground most of the time. When it's time to move, just slide the casters into the brackets and pop it up on wheels!

engaging workbench casters with toe of shoe

Other tools are always on wheels so I can roll them out to use them. I designed this miter saw station to fit four major tools into one compact footprint, with separate tool stands for each section. You can get the set of four woodworking plans to recreate this entire set up in your own workshop here!

miter saw station with router table, planer stand and benchtop sander

Not all tools need to be at countertop height! The planer stand fits under the miter saw section, because you're just feeding boards into one side and pulling them out on the other. It may involve a bit more bending over, but it saves a ton of space! You can get the plans for the planer stand here.

planer stand

The sides of the miter saw station are raised up a few inches higher than normal so I could fit the router table underneath.

DIY router table with Rockler top and fence

Creative space-saving solutions

Necessity is the mother of invention, and sometimes you have to get creative with your workshop storage to fit all the tools you need! I thought about making one of these flip top tool stands to house two tools in one space, but I didn't have enough room for the flipping action in this corner.

tool stand with mixer lift

Instead of flipping the top, I decided to use a mixer lift for my benchtop sander. It raises the sander up to counter height when needed, then glides easily back underneath the workbench when I'm done! You could make this tool stand as a separate piece, or integrate it into the miter saw station like I did. The woodworking plans for the stand can be found here.

You can also repurpose other furniture pieces to use as workshop storage. Instead of donating this IKEA piece from my son's room, I reconfigured the bins so I could fit a shop vac on one side. The height is perfect for a benchtop tool stand, and it currently holds my 6" jointer (since I upgraded to the router table you saw earlier).

benchtop tool stand IKEA Trofast hack

Use French cleats on the walls

Keep your wall storage flexible with a French cleat system! These simple mounting brackets make it easy to switch out shelves and racks as your needs evolve and change. You can use a single French cleat like on this spray paint storage rack, or install an entire wall of them for all your hand tools and clamps!

spray paint storage rack

I plan to add more French cleat storage behind the miter saw station in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those tutorials!


I hope this helped give you some ideas for your own small garage or basement workshop! All these projects really help make my workshop more productive and fun to use, and it took years to sort out what I needed from the space. It's come a long way from that basic workbench on sawhorses from years ago!

Check out these other workshop projects!

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workshop organization ideas

Small Workshop Organization Ideas

small garage workshop organization ideas

Have a small garage or basement workshop? Here are tips and ideas for organizing a small area to maximize the space.

Instructions

  1. Start with bright white walls to make the space feel bigger
  2. Use exposed studs for storage. Build shelves that are great for pint sized paint cans and small odds and ends.
  3. Keep scrap wood organized with a wall mounted lumber rack and rolling lumber cart for larger pieces.
  4. Organize similar tools together.
  5. Put it on wheels. Everything from the workbench to the table saw stand is on wheels, so I can move things around on a moment's notice.
  6. Come up with creative space-saving solutions.
  7. Use French cleats on the walls to make it easy to change out storage solutions as your shop evolves.
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Jodie Fitz

Wednesday 19th of September 2018

We need a workshop organization :) Thanks for sharing at Reader Tip Tuesday. I can't wait to see what you have to share at this week's party. Have a great week - xo

Theresa Huse

Friday 14th of September 2018

Thanks for sharing at the #inspirationspotlight party @dearcreatives I know someone who would and should see these tips. lol thanks for the tips! Sharing ;)

Cat Like Meow

Monday 9th of January 2017

Love my Ryobi! I built the Ryobi/Ana White station and love the pull outs to hide all that stuff that may match what's behind your white wall! The miter station is the perfect height to use as an outfeed table for my Rigid Tablesaw. I will be putting melamine and turning one into an assembly table-