First steps: cleaning out the garage

Like many garages, mine has become a storage facility for just about everything except my car.  It’s a single-car garage, about 12 feet wide and 24 feet long, with a powered garage-door opener in the front, an outside door at the back, and a large window on one side.  It’s attached to my house, but there is no direct access from the house–I believe that at one time, this garage was actually a carport that was made into an enclosed garage somewhere along the way.

So anyway, one of the first steps in preparing my garage to be a wood shop is to clean it out, which means making a lot of decisions about what stuff I need to keep, what stuff I can get rid of, and what stuff I can relocate.  Tools and workbenches take up space, and when I began this process, there was very little unoccupied floor space in my garage.  Between the garden and yard tools and equipment, the bicycles, the boxes of stuff like painting supplies and equipment, bags of lawn care products, camping gear and other random junk, the place was almost overwhelmingly cluttered.

I began by getting rid of a big pile of what can only be described as hazardous household wastes–old cans of paint, insecticides, and gas cans containing oil and gas mixtures that went with things like gas-powered trimmers and chainsaws, some of which I don’t even have any more.  Fortunately, in my community there is a hazardous household waste disposal facility that accepts such items for disposal or recycling or re-use, and all I had to do was call for an appointment, load the stuff up and haul it over there.  They unloaded everything for me, no charge.  While I was there, I learned that they have a variety of products on the shelf that others have discarded, some of which are still good–paint, finishing products, and other stuff, which is free for the taking.  Good to know for the future, but for now, I’m just glad to have freed up some space.

The next step was to go through the piles of stuff and begin sorting out the stuff I no longer need from the stuff I want to keep.  Then I started sorting the stuff I no longer need into two piles–the stuff that needs to be thrown away and the stuff that I might be able to sell, trade or give away.  Some items, such as an old kitchen cabinet and an old aquarium, I was able to set out by the curb on my street, and within a day or two, they magically disappeared.  There are a few items that I will be cleaning up to sell on Craig’s List or in some other way, as well.  And a lot of stuff is just getting thrown away.

This is a hard process for me, because I am, by nature, a packrat–no, let me put that another way: I am by nature frugal, and I hate the idea of throwing something away if I think there might be some potential future use for it.  But at some point, this becomes a ridiculous and futile thing, and I’ve had to bite the bullet and say goodbye to a bunch of things that I probably never would have used.  (All of this at the risk of some day in the future when I will be looking for something to solve a problem and realize that I threw it out.  Sigh.)

One very cool thing I found in cleaning stuff out was the parts of an old couch that I had taken apart and stored to make room for new living-room furniture.  This thing was a heavy behemoth, constructed with 2-inch thick veneered particle board.  I tossed the cushions and the webbed cushion support, but I saved the back and the two end-panels, thinking that one day I might actually use them for something.  As it turns out, the back is a 23 x 79-inch slab of veneered particle board that will make a great workbench top, and the two end panels (made of the same stuff) will make great tops for smaller equipment stands or work tables!

I have a large pile of old electronics–I’m an amateur radio guy, too–and I’ve tried almost everything to get rid of this stuff.  I’ve listed it on Craig’s list, I’ve offered it for free to the local radio club, etc., but so far that big pile is still there, which probably means I’ll either have to find space for it in the house, or set it on the curb for the garbage collectors (or whoever) to pick up.  You’ve got to make choices, I guess.

The main things that will be left when I’m done cleaning up are the bicycles, the yard gear (yard tools, lawn mower, weed whacker, etc.), the camping gear, and a variety of things like painting supplies and equipment, ladders, etc.  My hope is that I can figure out efficient ways to store all of these items along one wall, leaving the rest of the floor space for shop stuff.

Looks like I’d better get to work!

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