Garage Conversion: Mechanic’s Shop

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If you like cars, bikes or anything else with a motor, chances are you've had to fix it. Hauling your vehicles down to the local mechanic's shop can be a hassle, and a serious strain on your wallet. If you've got the time and the tools, here's how to create the perfect mechanic's shop, right in your own garage.

The Prep Work

The first step to any great garage conversion is actually having the room to do it.

  • Use your driveway, lawn or a specific room inside your house to become a "staging" area. This is where you will place items from your garage while you clean and setup shop.
  • If you don't use something, toss it! Valuable space inside your garage is better left for tools, cars and toys.
  • Wear knee or back braces during the cleaning process if necessary. Carrying heavy items to and from your garage may be necessary, but it can also be dangerous. Not to mention you can't rebuild that bike if you can't stand.
  • Once you've picked something up, deal with it then. Setting aside piles of junk to sort out later will only delay the process.
  • Plan to install as much storage as possible in your new garage. Cabinets, drawers and cupboards won't just be for tools. The things you decided to keep during your garage cleaning spree will need a place to stay.
Ready for Planting

Leave Room To Walk Around Projects

Finished Product

Organize Your Tools For Better Efficiency

Plan It Out

If you know you plan to rebuild a car, chances are you'll need more space and storage than someone simply looking to tune up their Vespa.

  • Clear enough space in your garage to fit the machines you plan to work on, the tools you'll need, and of course, space to walk all the way around.
  • Decide how much storage you can install around the perimeters of your new home mechanic's shop. Though too much storage is rarely an issue, be sure not to cramp valuable workspace with overly large cabinets and tool chests.
  • Decide during the early stages of your garage conversion what large tools you'll need to install. Mechanics often use heavy, bulky machinery to get the job done, like air tools and a compressor. Make sure you can fit it all in your garage shop.

The Essentials

Here's what you'll need to call your garage a true home mechanic's shop.

  • A Scissor Lift: At $1,000 dollars it is pricey, but this tool is indispensible for anything requiring you to work underneath a car. Small, wobbly jacks are too big of a risk for anyone, let alone a mechanic spending plenty of time lying beneath a one-ton car. This piece of equipment will save you time, and possibly save your life.
  • Tool Cabinets and Organizers: Don't just toss your wrenches, screw drivers or power tools on a shelf. A mechanic's shop thrives on its tools, which must be accessible and easily found at all times. Use containers and drawer organizers inside of tool cabinets to ensure you find the right nut, bolt, screw or nail every time.
  • Portable Jump Starter: Relying on a second car or vehicle to connect jumper cables to is a hassle. Make the jump start process a one-man job with a portable starter. Simply connect to your battery, turn on, and you're good to go. Some models also include air compressors for low tires and flashlights to help you look around under the hood.
  • Diagnostic Systems: For the home mechanic, electronic diagnostic systems can point you in the right direction, even if that direction is heading to a professional mechanic. Systems like GoLink and Car MD connect to your car's internal computer and interpret issue codes, letting you know what your car thinks is wrong.
  • A Designated Garage Computer: Imagine having immediate access to manuals, how-to guides and first aid instructions (just in case!). Install an old computer with internet connection in one corner of your garage mechanic's shop to provide instant help, advice or instruction whenever you need it. Avoid using your personal laptop if you can. Shops are dirty, dangerous and all around bad for expensive electronics.
  • Good Lighting: Trying to work in poor or awkward lighting is annoying and dangerous. Install florescent lighting along the ceiling, and horizontally along walls to reach under hoods, wheel wells and other dark spaces. Clamp or hanging lights are a necessity for any job in tight spaces.
  • Project Specific Tools: If you know you'll never work on cars, don't buy tools designated for that job. Contrastingly, make sure your garage mechanic's shop is properly outfitted for the specific tasks you do plan to take on. Having the right tools, and not taking up space with the wrong ones, will make your shop convenient and efficient. If you don't know what you'll need, just ask! Talk to a professional mechanic and research online to find out which tools are the best buy for you.

Building your own mechanic's shop inside your garage requires a little cleanup, some serious hard work and a solid understanding of what you plan to use your shop for. Make sure you find out what tools you'll need, then provide ample space to work with them. Building your own mechanic's garage is easier than you think!

Last Updated: July 23, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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