Where the Magic Happens

I recently came up with the idea to share what my workspace looks like with everyone as I’ve gotten a couple questions about it over the years. I think showing what I am working with might help to encourage some people and show that you don’t need a ton of fancy and expensive tools to get the job done.

My wife and I purchased our home back in the spring of 2010, just under a year after we got married. I was really excited about this as I had been storing my car at my cousin’s house in his pole barn about an hour away- and in my grandpa’s garage before that. It used to be really difficult for me to work on the car with needing to travel to do so, so having my own space attached to where I lived really helped me a lot.

Though I do often wish it was a three car garage, it is a pretty good size for what it is. It seems to be a bit larger than a lot of my neighbors’ two car garages so I am appreciative of the extra space. The garage was drywalled and hastily taped and mudded when the home was built, but was never fully sanded and painted. I have planned to do this many times over the years but have never devoted the proper time and money to doing so. With three kids at home now it’s tough to find the extra cash and motivation for such a project, so I’ve ultimately decided to live with it. Some day I will have a nice coated floor and painted walls, but for now this suits my needs just fine.

My wife parks our van on her side of the garage, along with the majority of the kids’ toys. It’s a bit less organized right now as it is set for winter storage mode. A number of their toys have been moved to the basement and the patio furniture now resides inside until the weather breaks in the spring. The system I have in place for separating the project car side from the family side seems to work pretty well and allow me to have the space to work should I need it.

For years I have worked in this garage under the light of only a couple light bulbs and the fixture connected to the garage door opener. The lighting has always been terrible, but I guess I sort of got used to it. My family surprised me with some cheap LED lighting from Amazon on Father’s day this year that I quickly tossed  up and have been enjoying immensely since then. It’s so nice to be able to see! I also have a Craftsman shop light hanging from the ceiling, but the wiring is messed up and it rarely works properly anymore. I usually just end up using the flash light on my iPhone if I am working under the car. You can see the piece of missing drywall due to a leak in my siding that I have not been able to track down yet.

The basis for my tool set consists of this cheap Craftsman 125 piece set I bought in college. It is always a total mess as my daughter’s like to “help” me when I work on things and I am usually too lazy to put everything away properly. A number of the ratcheting wrenches are broken and have been waiting to be replaced at Sears for years, but that could probe a bit difficult now that they are going out of business. I’ve gradually added odd sizes to the set over the years and typically have just about everything needed to wrench on an S13 at this point.

In the corner you’ll find my other tool box, a Husky setup my wife got me for Christmas one year. It’s the perfect size for the amount of tools I own and garage space I have to work with. Let’s have a look inside.

The top drawer includes screwdrivers and box cutters. It also has random things like razor blades, scrapers, “claw” tools and magnets for nuts that I drop in places I can’t reach, and even old skateboard tools.

The next drawer down consists primarily of various pliers, clamps, and allen wrenches.

The third drawer includes specialty tools like pulley pullers, oil filter wrenches, clutch alignment tools, brake caliper piston tool, some random sockets, hack saw blades, and some Team Losi RC car wrenches that I haven’t needed in over a decade.

The fourth drawer is for electrical work and includes my broken volt meter, random pieces of wire, various electrical connectors, a soldering iron, and electrical tape. Teflon tape is also stored here for some reason.

Moving on to the larger drawers, the first includes safety glasses, gloves, and masks. This is where my breaker bars, torque wrench, pry bars, and C clamps are also located. Hammers are found here as well.

The second large drawer includes a host of power tools I rarely use aside from the drill. I wired the drill battery up to my daughter’s power wheel at one point and now it doesn’t hold a charge for longer than a couple minutes. I have a few different Harbor Freight electric cutting and grinding tools in here that have served me well over the years. My rivet gun and drill bits are here too.

The third large drawer has some random items like my brake line flaring tools and my trusty Dremel. I think my compression test kit is here too.

And finally the bottom large drawer holds my Harbor Freight electric impact and impact sockets. That’s right! I do not have an air compressor unfortunately so this bad boy has to do the trick. I rarely use it- usually just for hub and axle nuts really. Also included are various brushes and my Ott light, which comes in handy when working in the interior.

As you can see, my shelving units are a mess. They house all kinds of stuff like fluids, cleaning supplies, extension cords, blankets, and other knick-knacks. I organize these once in a while, but it has been a minute. They could definitely use some help. But, I think I do know where just about everything is, so that’s good!

In the corner are my various jack stands, scissor jack, and floor jack. I still have not bought a low profile jack and really should one of these days. Lots of scrap pieces of wood are used to get the car in the air as well as my race ramps that my mom got me for Christmas one year- those always come in handy! I also have my grandfather’s bench vise that I need to mount on a workbench one day if I ever manage to build one.

Up towards the front of the garage is our trash bin, a broom and dust pan, and my shop vac. The vacuum is getting pretty tired since I got it for my wedding and needs to be replaced at some point. I hate having the trash bin inside my garage, but our homeowner’s association is really uptight about them sitting outside for some reason. You have to build an enclosure if you keep it outside and ain’t nobody got time for that!

Lastly, this is my trick for hauling tools with me on road trips. I am not sure why I came up with this method but it seems to work pretty well. I lay out all of my tools on a blanket, roll it up, and secure it with a bungee cord. That way it doesn’t take up too much space in the trunk and has saved me in a pinch a couple times. My theory is that if I bring my tools with me, the car will not break down. Seems to be working so far!

So there you have it- the garage where most of the work was completed on my S13. It is far from ideal and doesn’t really have any nice or name brand tools, but it definitely gets the job done! Once you get used to the tools you have and where they are located it makes tackling most tasks go fairly well. Having nice equipment is definitely a plus, but nothing will replace experience gained from working on your car.

A quick aside- I ended up attending Jake’s memorial service outside of Chicago last Friday night in the S13. It was great to see how many people showed up to honor him. Very tough on a lot of people, but I think it also brought everyone closer together. I did not end up going to the D Day event in Shawano where they spent some more time honoring Jake as I could not be away from my family that long, but it looked like a great event.

The car didn’t skip a beat on my short adventure to Chicago which was really nice. I really enjoyed having some solo drive time with the car and the cooler temps allowed me to drive with the heat on and the windows up which was great. It made me appreciate the car and the state it is currently in. It even got over 30 MPG to boot! A great cap on a relatively quiet season with the car. I’m planning to drive it for a couple more weeks until the roads are salted and then it will be time to put the car away until spring.

Thanks as always for reading!


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2 Responses to Where the Magic Happens

  1. Brandon Wheeler says:

    Great idea carrying your tools in a blanket like that! I bet they don’t make any clanking noises during spirited driving !

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