I spent over a third of my recent life in a small home with a single-car garage. One year for Christmas or my birthday, my wife bought me a set of Simpson Strong-Tie brackets designed by them to be all you needed (metal-wise) to build a shop bench. You got to pick the dimensions and, in part, the layout, but the bench would have a top surface and a shelf. I never got to build it while married to her because she kept filling up the garage with yard-sale junk. I had a narrow path from the garage door to the tool chest and shelving in the back and enough room to stand at a used kitchen base cabinet for a work-surface.
After she passed away, I decided to move – for more than one reason – but a move, none-the-less. Got rid of that house and rented a place with a two-car garage. I thought I was in woodworker’s heaven until I realized that the new place, in spite of having almost the same square footage, had about 1/3 the storage of the old house! I’ve been here nine months, now, and the garage is still very much like those kids’ toys we used to have. The ones with 15 numbered squares in a frame – and one space that had no square. The object was to have someone scramble the numbers up, and you had to re-sort them into proper sequence, moving one square at a time. Well doing anything in the garage has been like playing 15 squares. You’ve got to move a bunch of other things to get to or make room for the one thing you wanted to place in a certain spot. It’s still that way, to some degree, but I think I have about six or seven numbers in the right places, already.
The first number to fall into place, after getting things like the treadmill and electric clothes drier as out-of-the-way as possible, was the workbench, using the strong-ties. Here’s an idea: most benches I’ve seen in shops are open to the bottom shelf on all sides. I took a painter’s drop cloth and a shower curtain and, cutting them to fit where I needed them, stapled them all around their perimeter to the sides and back of the bench, leaving enough at the bottom to go all the way to the floor. In front, I made two panels of shower curtain (my bench is long enough it needed a central support) that I stapled only to the top. This allows me to raise them up and get to tools and whatever I’ve stored on the low shelf, underneath. When done, I simply drop the panel back in place. Also in front, I stapled a short (height) strip along the front of the bottom shelf so it reached the floor there, too. The upshot is that very little sawdust, chips, or curls get on the shelf to make it hard to find tools and supplies or under the bench where it’s hard to clean up. As an afterthought, I mounted a short fluorescent fixture under the front edge with the switch close to hand, so I could see better when looking for items under there. Hah! Number one is now in place! And it’s time to start on number two…
-- Rob II, Sparks, Nevada