How To Equip Your Garage: A Comprehensive Guide

How To Equip Your Garage: A Comprehensive Guide

You’re doing an assessment of your garage gear, only to find that you don’t really have everything you thought you did.

Your garage is the workplace in your home where everything happens. You need to be better equipped to handle every task that comes across your workbench.

We’ve created this comprehensive guide to show you what you really need to hand on-hand at all times.

We’re not going to go over individual tools (e.g. screwdrivers, hammers), but the big equipment that will keep you well-prepared for come-what-may.

Must-Have Items

Garage Door Opener

Liftmaster Garage Door Opener

Manually opening your garage isn’t just a hassle, it puts you in a terrible position. You’re crouching all the way to the ground and putting pressure on your lower back.

No matter how good you are at lifting, garage doors always target your lower lumbar, and it hurts after a while.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot to consider with a garage door opener, such as the horsepower in the opening mechanism.

You don’t need a lot, but if you have a double garage door, ½ HP might not cut it.

Garage door openers make everything easier: parking after work, hauling items out of your garage, and ensuring it’s secured when you leave for vacation.

A locked and alarmed garage door opener isn’t going to budge for anybody that doesn’t have access.

Jack Stands

Two Red Jack Stands

Not everybody has time to dig a pit or install expensive hydraulic mechanic-quality lifts.

That’s okay because some quality jack stands will do the trick just fine, and are reliable when the power goes out.

Even if it’s not your go-to, it’s important to have them on-hand. They can fit additional purposes besides just jacking the car up if you get creative with them.

Since most of these stack with one another, you can never have too many.

A dozen or so might be enough to hoist up your car and your neighbor’s car, or you might pull them out when you get that project car to put in the driveway and work on.

Either way, you never regret having spare jack stands in the back corner.

Compressor

Red Air Compressor In Garage

Filling up your tires or clear out debris from under the hood; whatever you want to do.

Air compressors are one of those things where you go, “Oh crap, of course, I need one right now,” and then you don’t have one.

This may not be the most essential piece that you need to get right now, but they’re good to have on-hand.

Use for spray painting, for DIY auto repairs, and hook up your pneumatic nail got to it. They’re versatile, must-have pieces of equipment that always crop up when you need them.

Fire Extinguisher

Two Fire Extinguishers

You’re going to see a fair deal about safety here.

Your garage is one of the most common places that you’ll ever get hurt in your own home. It’s often thought to be more dangerous than the kitchen, and that’s saying something.

In our post about securing your garage, we talk a bit about the likelihood of a fire and what you should do to prepare for it.

A fire extinguisher is something that you never regret having because they’re a literal lifesaver when the moment of glory arises.

Fire extinguishers should be visually inspected once a month, and have a maintenance inspection once a year.

If you’re uncertain whether your fire extinguishers are still effective, inspect the expiration date. If it’s within a few months, it’s best to replace them.

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just bring these to your local fire department for inspection. They’re not going to do anything for you.

You’ll have to find someone who inspects them locally through a native directory if you want to get them all inspected at once.

Battery Jump Box

Battery Starter

We talk a lot about the different reasons for having a fully decked-out garage, and one of the most common reasons is to work on your car whenever you like.

Well, that is if you can get it to actually back up into the garage in the first place.

Having a battery jump box on-hand is always a good idea.

Some gentlemen we know will keep one in their garage, and another in the trunk for safe measure, whether to help themselves or another person.

These are commonly referred to as portable jumpers, and they don’t only need to be used for your car.

You can jump older emergency backup generators that are having a bit of trouble getting started, or review old deep cell batteries that have been collecting dust (excellent to do if you’re trying to make some cash by selling stuff from your garage).

Above all else, having one of these means that you’re being stoic about come-what-may. You don’t know when you’re going to need it, but you’ll know where it is when the time comes.

Air Filtration System

Air Filtration System In Garage

Any project that you’re doing—woodworking, metalworking, car repairs (with testing)—there’s going to be lower air quality.

Even if you’re just standing in your garage and not doing anything, there’s less air quality than the rest of your home for a few reasons.

One, you probably have an unfinished concrete floor, which kicks up dust.

There are likely exposed insulation, wooden framing, and dust covering most of your tools or stored items in your garage.

When you turn a table saw on or work underneath a car, there are wood shavings and exhaust fumes to worry about.

It’s a bit of a problem.

We can’t stress this enough—you need an air filtration system to maintain your health while working in your garage. It’s a big deal.

Air filtration systems pull most of this stuff out of the air if you know where to place them.

HEPA filters usually work very well in garages, just keep in mind that they can put more stress on the filtration system, so watch out for wear and tear.

First-Aid Kit

Orange First Aid Kit Box

It counts as equipment. You can be as safe as you want to be in your garage, but accidents and injuries are still a possibility. A very real one.

Be prepared, no matter what. A solid, proper first-aid kit should include emergency bandaging, antiseptics, and cool packs to ice down any swelling from a fresh wound.

First-aid kits aren’t just for a simple injury, either. Your garage is one of the first places that you’re most likely to run to in the event of a worst-case scenario.

It should be stocked with a first-aid kit that includes aspirin, a space blanket, rehydration packets, and splints.

If you’re prepared, you can also see a reduction in your homeowner’s insurance by the way. There’s seriously no reason not to add a first-aid kit to your garage equipment list.

Workbench

Workbench In Garage

This is such a universal piece of equipment. Every single garage should have one, regardless of what you do in it.

Workbenches can be used to assist with woodworking, metalworking, carving, small construction projects, arts and crafts with your children, repairing individual motor vehicle components and parts, and the list goes on and on from there.

A good workbench should have about the same surface space as a dining room table, whether you use it from both sides or you’re pushing it up against a wall.

Your workbench should be centrally located in your garage, giving you access to all the different sectors of your workspace.

Hang tools above it, put them in the tool chest near it; you just need a workbench.

The great thing about having one is that you can augment it with attachments and additional tools as time goes on, giving it more purpose.

Safety Attire for Woodworking, Metalworking, (Whatever You Use Your Garage for)

Woodworking Safety Equipment

Safety is beyond important. Every single year in woodworking alone, there are nearly 40,000 injuries from table saws that require emergency attention.

A vast majority of those are in homes. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a mechanic (which is anyone currently working on the integrity of a vehicle) has a higher risk of death or injury than an average worker in the United States.

Basically, you’re running higher statistical risks, and you’re not geared out properly to handle them.

You need the right safety gear on the walls, in your rolling tool chests; just keep it somewhere in your garage.

The argument to this is that it will get lost in the garage and that it’s better to keep it in the living section of your home.

In our experience, if you keep a neat garage space, you’re not going to lose your safety equipment. Just put it back in the same spot every single time, and you’re good to go.

Emergency Backup Generator

Emergency Backup Generator

This isn’t just so you can use the tools in your garage when the power goes out, this is just the best storage space for one of the most necessary pieces of survival gear that everybody should have.

Being without power isn’t the end of the world… unless it’s the dead of winter and everybody is about to freeze.

Most homes nowadays are refurbished or built with electric heating systems in mind, so wood-burning stoves and brick fireplaces are less commonplace.

That’s right—we’re turning to emergency electric heats, which need a power source to run off of.

Backup generators are best stored in the garage since it’s a widely accessible portion of the home, and it’s likely already fitted with nearby extension cables to run any necessary appliances off of.

Optional, But Recommended Items

Heaters

Garage Heater

Winter is harsh, and that’s an understatement.

The cold can snap the springs on your garage door opener, mess with your insulation, and even split concrete if you introduce heat to it too quickly. It’s pretty serious stuff.

That being said, you need a heater to even the playing field.

If you’re working on a car in the garage, chances are you’re either on your back on the concrete floor or in a garage pit. Either way, it’s going to be freezing.

Garage heaters aren’t dangerous like they once were. You can get high-output, 100% efficient infrared heaters for dirt cheap compared to old propane models.

On top of that, you can opt for propane and still meet 95-99% efficiency so you aren’t burning through fuel (and money).

If you’re working in your garage during the winter months, you need one of these.

Since everybody will regulate their temperatures in their own way, we put this and air conditioners in the recommended section, but both are strongly advised.

Air Conditioners

Air Heater In Garage

Garages usually don’t have the best insulation. They get seriously cold during the winter, but they can also heat up drastically during the summer, turning your workshop into a hotbox.

Air conditioners keep the quality of air at a good medium, but there is energy efficiency to keep in mind.

On average, most single-car garages are 200-225 square feet, while two-car garages are 400-450 square feet. That’s about 8,000 BTUs that you’re going to need out of an AC.

You should run the air conditioner fifteen minutes prior to going into your garage in the middle of summer, especially if the temperature is in the low 90s.

We put this in the recommended section since it’s not required to use your garage, but we strongly advise temperature control in your workspace.

Rolling Tool Chest

Red Rolling Tool Box

Storing your tools on the wall isn’t the way to do it anymore.

You’ve been collecting tons of them over the years, and it just looks like a cluttered mess up there.

Those traditional Craftsman-style steel rolling tool chests are what you should be looking at.

Not only is it better organization (because who really knows what they’re looking for on that wall of tools anyway?), but it’s better to deter thieves from breaking into your garage.

If they catch one glimpse of what your garage has, they might be more inclined to break in and steal from you.

Rolling tool chests also give you a quicker way to move items in the event of an incoming storm. You can quickly pack up the tools or move them to a more secure part of the house.

That, and you can just roll it over to your spot depending on what project you’re working on, whether it’s at the woodworking table or in your garage pit to inspect your vehicle.

Extension Cables

Blue Extension Cord

Having quick access to extension cables are important, sure, but you can’t just get along the cable and call it a day. You also need to have cable conduit systems to prevent injuries.

Extension cables that are just laying on the floor are a huge occupational hazard.

You’re walking around your garage focusing on your project, not what’s on the floor in front of you. As far as you can remember, you didn’t leave anything in your path.

There’s always going to be a situation where you need extension cables, especially if you’re running power from your garage to the driveway while working on a larger project.

Lots of Overhead Lighting

Garage Lights

This one should go without saying, but visibility is absolutely everything.

Whether you’re using your garage for woodworking or storing tools for a general repair, nobody wants to be stumbling around in the dark.

Not just that, but it’s dangerous to not have enough lighting.

Think about what you’re dealing with: chemicals, sharp blades like saws and utility knives, heavy items; it’s a cluster of confusion unless you make sense of it, and how are you going to do that without enough lighting to see what you’re doing?

But it’s not enough to just think about how much spade it covers; you have to be aware of what type of lighting you should get, and how many hours they are expected to last.

Most garage lighting systems are notoriously made out of fluorescent lighting, but it’s become apparent over the years that the blue light emitted from these lights strain the hell out of your eyes.

Instead of wearing blue blockers, just opt for a different light type. LEDs are growing in popularity, and allow for impressive lifespans.

Some LED garage lights can go up to 50,000 hours of use, or over 17 years of life if you’re spending eight hours in a well-lit garage, every single day.

If you left the light on continuously and never shut it off, that’s still over six years of constant light.

Your Garage Should Be Prepared for Anything

It’s not just repairing cars; woodworking, metalworking, carving, whatever comes to mind, your garage should be at least somewhat prepared to handle it.

We could go back and forth about tools all day, but this is equipment. It’s a different story.

These are things you need to operate your garage effectively, so what are you waiting for?

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