Text Resize

  • -A
  • +A
  • Your rating: None (1 vote)

    Build a Multipurpose Shop Station





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    This article originally appeared in Taunton's Garage Solutions (2005).

    For many folks, a garage often doubles for hobbies and light-duty home improvement projects. This multipurpose workshop area will create a space where everything is organized and within easy reach—and it’s easy to build on a base of ready-to-assemble cabinets. The cabinets are lockable, so they can keep sharp tools, paints, and solvents child-safe. Add a generous work surface and a handy pegboard to the setup and you’ll enjoy even more utility and convenience. All it takes is a little carpentry skill and a spare Saturday to transform a blank wall or corner into a useful workshop.

    Photos by John Rickard, Jerry Bates, and Robert J. Dolezal; Illustrations by The Taunton Press, Inc.


    How to Make

    Tools & gear

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeCheck for clearance

    Survey workspace: Before you purchase cabinets, make sure you’ve got the space and the clearances to accommodate them. Be sure vehicles will still fit in the garage once the workshop is finished, and that the doors of the upper cabinets can swing under or are clear of the garage door and its track or springs. The ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are built quickly and installed easily with a basic set of tools, including these items.

    Supplies to buy

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeSocket set

    Drill: You’ll need one of these to drive in the lag screws that secure the cabinets to the wall. In addition to a set of drill and screwdriver bits, consider a socket set. A set of sockets for your drill makes it easier and faster to drive lag screws and other hexagonal-headed fasteners than you could with a manual socket wrench. Each socket features a stem similar to a drill or screw bit that fits and tightens in the drill’s chuck. Sockets are sold in metric or standard fractional measurements (e.g., 3⁄4 in.), so choose a set the same size as the dimensions of the lag screws that come in the cabinet package you purchase.

    Assemble the cabinets

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeCabinet illustration

    Carpentry tools: Keep on hand a 12-oz. hammer, rubber mallet, hand saw, combination square, measuring tape, carpenter’s pencil, and 4-ft.-long carpenter’s level.

    Build the workshop

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeRTA Cabinets

    Stud finder: This electronic tool makes it easy to find the wall studs behind wallboard for attaching the cabinets.

    Finish the job

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeUse a stud finder

    Voltage meter: Use a voltage tester, both lineman’s and needle-nose pliers, electrical tape, and wire nuts to extend a circuit in the garage to the workshop area.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeBuild RTA cabinets

    Stepladder: You’ll need this to safely hold the upper cabinets in place as you attach them to the wall.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeAdd door hardware

    Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets: Pairs of premade wall and base cabinets, a laminate countertop, and a pegboard panel combine to make a tidy workbench with convenient tool and material storage that fits neatly against a garage sidewall. Kits that contain complete RTA cabinets you can assemble in minutes means that your workshop will be finished and ready for your use in record time. Always check the parts list; inventory the components, fasteners, and supplied tools; and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best result when you assemble factory cabinets.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeProtect the finishes

    Fasteners: For lasting durability, look for solid wood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) construction—as opposed to pressed wood or particleboard—on the box panels, frames, doors, and drawers.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeDrill pilot holes and hang in place.

    Pegboard and hooks: Unless supplied with the cabinets, get a small box of 2-in. lag screws to attach them to the wall. For the 1x2 frame, use 3-in. lag screws to fasten the frame to the studs.Use wood glue and 3⁄4-in.wood screws to attach the pegboard to its frame.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeWork with a helper

    1x2 Lumber and shims: You’ll need a 24-in. by 48-in. piece of pegboard and a set of hooks to hang your small tools.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeDrive in lag screws to attach cabinets to the wall

    Countertop: You’ll use a pair of 8-ft. lengths to frame the pegboard and a bundle of wood or composite shims to level the base cabinets, if necessary.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeAdd hooks

    Wire mold and outlet strip: Go with a premade laminate countertop over a composite wood substrate, sold in standard dimensions and easily attached to RTA cabinets.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeAttach countertop

    Locate an area: You may need a wire mold—a flexible, prewired plastic channel—to extend wires from the nearest junction box to a 6-ft.-long strip of electrical outlets mounted across the back of the countertop.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargePrepare electrical outlet

    Build the cabinet boxes: Look for a blank wall with one or two existing electrical outlets and, if possible, no foundation curb. The space should be 78 in. across, 30 in. deep, and 72 in. tall. Use a stud finder to locate each wall-frame member behind the wallboard; with a 4-ft. carpenter’s level and a pencil, mark along the length of each stud within the project area.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeFit the outlet strip

    Ready the doors: Working one cabinet at a time, remove all the components of the RTA cabinet from their shipping box and check them against the list provided with the assembly instructions, along with any hardware, fasteners, and tools. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly to assemble the four cabinets, repeating this process with each unit.

    Survey workspaceclick to enlargeTest the outlet

    Protect the finishes: Add door hinges and drawer hardware, as directed by the manufacturer. Attach the hardware first to the door, then to the cabinet’s walls. Mount and test the operation of the doors and drawers, and adjust them, if necessary, so they swing or slide open, close smoothly, and are flush to the cabinet frames with their latches secure.

    Hang the base cabinets: Once you are satisfied with the doors’ and drawers’ operation, remove them, as well as any adjustable shelving inside the cabinets, and set them aside in a safe place, where they will be protected from damage as you move and install the units on the wall. This makes the cabinet boxes lighter and easier to transport and shim, ensuring a good result. Most concealed hingesets have release clips that facilitate easy removal and reattachment of the doors without unscrewing the hinges from the cabinets or doors.

    Hang the wall cabinets: Place the base cabinets 24 in. apart, with at least one wall stud running behind each cabinet. Adjust the first cabinet for level, checking with a carpenter’s level and adding shims under the frame, if necessary. Drill three pilot holes through the back of the cabinet box and wallboard into the stud, then drive in 2-in. lag screws or the supplied fasteners to secure the cabinet to the wall. Do not overtighten the fasteners. Measure 24 in. across, position the other base cabinet, then install it the same way; use your level across both cabinets as you shim to ensure a level surface for the countertop.

    Frame and install the pegboard: With a helper, lift and place a wall cabinet directly over a base cabinet. Use your carpenter’s level to check that it is plumb—vertically straight—and level. Make pencil marks at the top, bottom, and sides of the cabinet for reference. Measure from the nearest corner to the stud and use your pencil to transfer the stud’s location to the inside back panel of the cabinet. Drill three pilot holes through the back of the cabinet box and wallboard into the stud, then drive in 2-in. lag screws or the supplied fasteners to attach the cabinet to the wall; avoid overtightening the fasteners. Repeat for the second cabinet, checking for level and spacing to the other cabinets.

    Finish with hooks: With a helper, lift and place a wall cabinet directly over a base cabinet. Use your carpenter’s level to check that it is plumb—vertically straight—and level. Make pencil marks at the top, bottom, and sides of the cabinet for reference. Measure from the nearest corner to the stud and use your pencil to transfer the stud’s location to the inside back panel of the cabinet. Drill three pilot holes through the back of the cabinet box and wallboard into the stud, then drive in 2-in. lag screws or the supplied fasteners to attach the cabinet to the wall; avoid overtightening the fasteners. Repeat for the second cabinet, checking for level and spacing to the other cabinets.

    Attach the countertop: Attach removable hooks, shelves, fittings, and other small tool hangers to the pegboard.

    Find the source: The base cabinets either allow for fastening the countertop through the cabinets’ tops or feature preinstalled cleats at each corner for this purpose. Position and shim the laminate countertop over the base cabinets and against the wall, then loosely fasten it to the cabinets from the underside with lag screws. Set each screw once all of them have been started, tightening them flush with the wood’s surface.

    Attach the outlet strip: Locate the nearest electrical outlet or junction box and turn off power to its circuit at the service panel, then remove its cover and expose the wires. Check the available amperage of the circuit you intend to extend before connecting a new outlet strip at an outlet or junction box.You’ll find the amperage of the circuit on the circuit breaker or fuse in the main service panel. If there’s not enough amps to power a full strip, consider a shorter strip or simply mount one or two new outlets on the wall above the countertop and extend service to them. Mount clamps for the outlet strip. It’s best either to fit the outlet strip flush to one end or to center it, then fasten it to the wall with screws at each stud location; you should have stud locations marked every 16 in. or 24 in. along the strip’s 6-ft. length.

    Connect the circuit: Fit the outlet strip along the back edge of the countertop or backsplash. If the garage walls are covered with wallboard or made of concrete blocks, install a wire mold as a bridge from the nearest outlet or junction box to the outlet strip; it will protect and hide the wires.

    Connect the outlet strip’s wires, following the instructions in the outlet strip’s package. Turn on the circuit and test the outlet with a voltage tester before pushing the wires back into the junction box and attaching its cover. Finally, reattach the cabinet doors, drawers, and shelving to complete the project, making sure they still swing or slide open, close smoothly, and rest flush and flat with the cabinet boxes. Adjust the shelves inside the cabinets as necessary to accommodate your storage needs. Mount and plug in accessory lighting.



    StartWoodworking