Tips to Create a Simple Garage Workshop

For less than $500, you can put together a well-lit garage workshop of your own.

garage workshop

Oftentimes a garage can serve a secondary purpose as a trusty home workshop. With noise insulation and rugged features, a garage space is perfect for a boisterous home renovation project.

You can set up simple lighting fixtures, shelves, storage and a workbench all on your own, while keeping costs under $500.

It’s still important to keep convenience and comfort in mind from the start when setting out to build your workshop, otherwise it may be hard to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Below are the basics of what you need to build a great garage workshop:

Workbench

Your best friend in the workshop will end up being your work surface. Either purchase or construct the sturdiest workbench you can muster. Make sure it has a robust top that will endure all types of work. Then make a solemn promise to keep your work surface clean — odds and ends always seem to pile up on the workbench area.

You can find a ready-to-use workbench at the store running anywhere between $100 to $500 dollars, available in a variety of lengths. The standard depth you’re going to find is 24 inches. While you can find heights varying as high as 42 inches and as low as 36 inches, your typical height will be around 38 inches. Keep an eye out for extra features such as shelves, vises and drawers.

You can create your own workbench using easy-to-find plans. A typical, reliable workbench will take a under a day to build and cost no more than $100. Many home improvement magazines provide in-depth guides for a variety of low-cost, basic workbenches. If you are interested in add-ons such as a miter saw stand or drawers, this may turn into a two-day project and bump the cost up to as high as $500.

Lights

A garage workspace isn’t complete without bright lights to illuminate your projects.

LEDs, halogen and other high-intensity lights will do the trick for lighting your workbench. A typical LED with an adjustable neck will only run you $75 to $150.

If you have a finished ceiling in your garage, downlights (recessed fixtures) are an affordable option for both task and general light.

The traditional, inexpensive option for lighting your workshop is the ceiling-mounted fluorescent light. A 2- or 4-bulb 48-inch light will cost you less than $50.

Remember: when lighting your garage workshop, lumens are more important than watts. The best way to compare energy saving bulbs is to look at the lumens. You can find this information on the labeling. In general, you want 130-150 lumens per square foot of garage.

A 40-watt fluorescent emits around 2,200 lumens, for example. A 60-watt incandescent emits around 800.

Electrical Power

Making sure your garage electrics are up-to-speed — both in terms of outlet accessibility and capacity — is essential if you’re going to support the use the power tools. Try to minimize the number of extension cords in use and install outlets nearby work areas. You don’t want to create unnecessary tripping hazards and create a dangerous workspace. If your garage electricity is on the weak side, get in touch with an electrician to upgrade your circuits to 30-amps.

Although rates vary across the nation, a typical contractor will charge $75-$100 per hour, on top of a service-call flat rate of $50-$100.

A qualified electrician should get the job done in only an hour or two. Bumping up your circuit capacity usually involves running new, higher-gauge wiring from your circuit-breaker to the garage site.

Storage

Save yourself the trouble of going through old tins to find your tools and materials: head on over to your local home improvement store to get great ideas for your garage storage.

Pick out a storage system that you can rearrange to fit your needs and even mount on your walls. Wall-mounted storage complete with configurable shelves, racks and bins will only cost you about $10 per square foot of wall.

Make sure to protect your tools, paper manuals and sandpaper from dust, insects and other critters by investing in several heavy-duty tubs and bins. A 10-gallon plastic sealable container will cost $5-$8.

An even cheaper storage route is to buy salvaged kitchen cabinets from your local depot that diverts materials from the landfill. You can even use these to construct your homemade workbench. Used cabinets will end up being 50-75% cheaper than new ones. The final step is to cover the top of your cabinets with 3/4-inch plywood for a sturdy work surface.