Year End Shop Cleaning Plus How to Install Retractable Cord Reels 1


EVERY shop struggles with organization and cleanliness. Here is a motivational story on how I cleaned my DIY Metal Fab shop up and got organized so I can rock some projects in 2019!

The end of a year is a great time to sit back and reflect on what you have accomplished and set yourself up for success in the next year. I got a lot done in 2018, but it seems with every project finished my shop progressively got a little bit messier.

Why waste time cleaning?

You may feel that cleaning and organizing the shop is a waste of time when you could be working, but I beg to differ. I spend extra time to organize, label, and categorize my tools and supplies so not only I can find them quickly, but in the rare case that I have somebody helping me I can either tell them where it is or they can find it on their own by looking at the labels on my toolbox drawers and tubs.

Not to mention, clean shops generally have less safety hazards. Less cords on the floor, objects to trip on, things to hit your head on, etc.

Before pics:

I have a 3 car garage for my ‘shop’ which is mostly a tease. The 3rd car bay isn’t full depth and by the time the mower + strollers + bikes get put over there it is pretty much full. Therefore I have to be super efficient about how I store stuff. Lately I had gotten lazy and wasn’t putting stuff away like I should have and it was getting out of control.

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
Here is a before picture. I couldn’t even get to my workbench anymore, much less do any work on it.
DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
So sad…

I had an idea for storing my big ladder above the garage door so I bought some cool hooks for mounting in there but the ladder ended up being too wide to fit in that spot. I might use them for something else down the road, for now I think I will just toss the ladder in the basement or under the deck. Below is a link, maybe they would be helpful for you.

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
Big ladder stuck behind my press. This spot is kind of inconvenient now that we have two kids and have to open both rear doors on my wife’s car, so I wanted to get it out of there.

In place of the ladder, I was able to hang my bolt bin that was taking up real estate on my workbench. There was no reason for it to take up space on my workbench other than I couldn’t figure out a better place to mount it (until now).

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels

If you ever need motivation for getting organized and setting up a sweet shop, be sure to check out the ‘Garage Gallery’ section over at www.GarageJournal.com/forum

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
The next step was to drag out the ladder and remove some old 8ft florescent tube lights that didn’t work and got decommissioned when I went all LED in my shop
DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
It must get worse before it gets better…

Installing Retractable Electric Cord Reels

While I was going about cleaning, I realized I had two electric cord reels. One was mounted in a somewhat awkward space below my workbench on the shelf (above the blue generator) and the other one was not installed laying smack in the middle of my welding workbench (total waste of space).

Late at night in the garage I was pondering possible solutions while enjoying a winter adult beverage (white Russian) when I came upon a gem of an idea. Why don’t I mount them to the cieling and use the garage door opener plugs for power! The beauty here is that I figured out these plugs are on a different circuit than the wall outlets (less tripping of breakers).

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
First step, find a good spot to hang the electric cord reel
DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
Find the stud using a studfinder.
DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
Use some lag bolts to attach the bracket.
DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
Voila! I now have a cieling mounted electric cord reel that just happens to be on a different circuit than the wall sockets (no more tripping breakers when 2 people are working at once).
DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
I also installed one above the third car garage door opener. Since the opener braket was really long and this reel had a simple eye bolt hole, I was able to bolt it to the bracket with a single bolt and nylock nut.

If you were looking closely above, you would notice the yellow reel I looped a knot in the cord so the plug end would hang low enough for me to grab it. The red reel was a little bit fancier with a moveable plastic stopper ball that I was able to push up the cord so the plug would hang lower.

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
The electric cord reel drops down right next to my vice and welding table where I do most of my work.

In my opinion, cieling mounted retractable cord reels also increase safety. When mounted in proximity of the workstation they can keep wires off the floor where they can get tangled or even worse, become a trip hazard. One of my biggest annoyances is when I get multiple cords strung out during a project and have to constantly untangle them and trip over them.

After pics:

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
Example of labeled drawers and organization. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

These Brother label printers are great for getting organized:

DIY Shop cleaning and organization; installing extension cord reels
Cleaned, organized, and ready for the next project!!

Not one of my most exciting posts, but I hope it is inspirational. I have lived in this house for over a year now and it didn’t occur to me to hang those two cord reels until this project. So I hope it drums up some ideas for you and your shop.

Now YOU, go out there and work on something!

Thoughts, comments, additional ideas? Post below!


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