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Monday, October 13, 2008

5 Tips for Organizing Your Tool Shed

Keeping your tool shed organized is one of life's baffling challenges.

this tool shed needs organizing! jcb 2008 An outbuilding for tool storage can quickly become an unmanageable shelter for all sorts of useless junk, unless you start out with a system. Two problems contribute to the ill-repute of tool sheds: (one) they are usually too far from your house for convenience, and (two) you often end up storing things away in a panic when bad weather descends unannounced.

Here are five tips for avoiding tool shed nightmares.

First, decide what belongs in your tool shed.

Is this building your lawn and landscape management center? Or is it your own private workshop? Make a decision, and banish all unrelated items from the premises. If your 20-horse John Deere lawn tractor lives inside, then keep your table saw somewhere else. If your shed houses clay pots, potting soil, peat moss, and garden implements then leave the skis, golf clubs, and bicycles in the garage or basement.

Second, un-clutter your tool shed's floor.

Stop thinking of the floor as a place to put "stuff." Things get wet and rusty down there, and then you trip on them and get angry and break valuable possessions. If you simply must store things on the floor, put them in cheap plastic bins and label them clearly. Then, when you need to move that junk just to get at the important things, it's easy. Not only that, you'll actually know what you have stored in there.

Third, add shelving right away.

Shelves make organizing and retrieving your tools and supplies easy, and they help keep the floor navigable (see previous tip). For damp sheds, choose easy-to-assemble plastic shelving. For heavy boxes of supplies or tools, choose metal shelf systems when moisture isn't a problem. If you're a bit handy, build in some wooden shelves for the most versatility. Make your shelves twice as strong as they need to be for the load you will place on them, and that whole ugly "sway-back" shelf syndrome won't be your undoing.

Four, use rafter storage carefully.

When you start loading up your little shed's rafters with boards and long tools and other junk, you are admitting that you really don't have enough room in there. Face it, things placed in the rafters often remain there undisturbed for years. They sit there getting moldy, gathering black dust and spiders, useless. Consider using hooks instead. Hang up tools or other items that you use MORE often, not less. They'll be at eye level and easy to find, and you'll soon learn which objects belong where. "Hey, who took my good garden rake?" You'll know it's missing because its customary spot will be empty and quickly noticed.

Five, and finally: keep your shed clean and ventilated.

If you've sensibly organized your gear, then a quick sprucing-up will be a breeze. If possible, add an outlet and lighting so you can run a shop-vac out there. The spiders won't like this approach, and you'll smile when you open the door to get inside. If you can add a small window for natural light and ventilation, even better.

Invite outside air inside by installing a couple vent grilles in the sidewalls, if a window isn't practical. Gable or ridge vents similar to the ones on your house can also be used to keep air flowing inside. Why does this matter? Because fresh air makes your shed a better place for you, and for all your valuable stuff.

It's all about your attitude, in the end. If you see your tool shed as a nice place to visit you'll take better care of it. Your things will be where you expect them to be, and you won't just toss junk in there hoping to "get back to it later." One final thought: put a good lock on the door. No sense inviting burglars into your little sanctuary, after all your hard work.

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  1. Hey Jim!

    Great tips, and thanks for all you do writing and helping others at Helium. You are much beloved in the Helium community. Hope others will visit your articles there and find a writing home with Helium too!

    Barbara Whitlock

  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by, Barbara. I know just how busy you are.

    For anyone who'd like more info about writing at, please don't hesitate to contact me. Or just follow the Helium link!


  3. One of the most daunting things about building and maintaining a design can be wading through huge, disorganized style sheets. Nothing is worse than opening up a style sheet someone else has worked on and thinking, "What the heck happened here?" On occasion I've opened up some of my old style sheets and shed a single tear. Styles were strewn throughout the page like I blindly copied and pasted code as if it was still 1999. Needless to say, I've learned the hard way why keeping styles organized is beneficial.
    Internet Marketing

  4. Now thats a tool shed! You realy need a lot of organizing there. Thanks for these tips. My tool shed is a lot worst than your picture.

    thanks for sharing and good luck for the great blog.


  5. Thanks for reading, Myke!

    My shed doesn't really look that bad. It sure was fun making it look disorganized, though. -grin-

    My garage, on the other hand...