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Workbench Rescue

One of the items I added to my “Long Term To Do” list after I retired last year was to clean out the garage, a major undertaking given we have 19 years of “stuff” that has accumulated there.  But a predecessor to this activity is another item on that same list:  Clean off/organize workbench.

In the two homes I have lived in over the past thirty years, both had workbenches where I could perform a number of manual activities.  In fact, in our current home, I actually custom built it myself to accommodate all the many tasks I would want to accomplish.  But invariably over time, the workbenches always seemed to end up looking like this where they become a convenient place to put stuff when we couldn’t immediately think of another home for that particular item.  While I was working fulltime, I didn’t have many opportunities to use the workspace and so without constant use, there was little resistance to preventing them from becoming this way.

Knowing that I would retire last October, I figured I would have more time for doing fun projects on my workbench but never seemed to find the time to get it cleaned off; at least not until August of this year when I had a couple of days between out of town trips.

Probably the last time I used my workbench on a regular basis was when I was making wooden doormats for all my relatives.  And that was in 2003.

In one small corner of my workbench, I laid down a couple of pieces of nice flooring and used this for my bar to open and pour a cold brew since our beer selection was housed in our outside refrigerator in the garage.

Then in 2016 when I bought my new Subaru WRX, which is a much longer car than my previous ones, I had to cut about a foot off my workbench so we could walk between the car and workbench to get to the garage closet where the refrigerator was located.  With a smaller work surface, it become much more susceptible to the accumulation of homeless detritus.

So nine months after my last day to work was way too long to put up with this mess.

As you can see this space is in desperate need of remediation.  In fact the small bar is partially covered up which is most unacceptable given that it is used for pouring a beer into a frosted glass (also kept in outside refrigerator) on a regular basis.

The first step was just to go through the plastic bags that had accumulated on top of everything else. No big discoveries there except I did find an old power invertor that I had not used in my car in years.  Well I wouldn’t have known where to look for it even if I had needed it (for those that do not know, it is used in your car for converting 12 volt DC to 115 AC for powering any household appliance).

I then removed most everything and figured out where I could more centrally store our lawn and painting chemicals (the few remaining essential ones from when the old shelving fell off the wall due to excessive weight).

For all the things I had removed from the work surface, I was able to organize them using a couple of plastic bins.

But before I started organizing everything back onto the workbench, I had one other task to perform while I still had easy access to an uncluttered work surface.

When I found out that our worksite was closing a couple of years ago and as a result, I would be retiring, I wrote about the need to relocate these old photos that had been on my office wall for longer than I could remember.  At that time, I decided I wanted to relocate them to my new “work office” above my workbench in the garage.

I tried to recreate the same grouping of the photos but realized my available wall space was smaller than my old office wall.  So I modified it a little and came up with this assemblage.

With that task satisfactorily completed, I could then organize my plastic bins leaving enough workspace for future projects.  I even enlarged my bar area so that if detritus encroached into this space in the future, that it would still be large enough to pour a couple of beers.

And that is exactly what I did that night to celebrate my accomplishment.

While I still have other tasks on my short term and long term to do lists to complete before I start any new fun projects, I know this new “office space” will be waiting for me. And anytime I go out into the garage, I’ll get to once again enjoy my photos hanging on the wall.

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