March 27, 2015

The Essential Tool List for a Home Garage or Shop

Lots of people dream about converting their garage into a workspace, or at least a much more functional one. After all, the projects that you can handle in a good workspace are almost endless, but you do need a list of basic tools and gear if you are to update your garage to a true workspace or shop.

We’ve saved you a lot of time and headaches by compiling what we’ll call the “must-have” list of workshop essentials. These are things you’ll definitely use on a daily basis and what you must have in any garage, and when you do invest in all of them you will probably wonder how you have gotten anything done without them!


Safety First

We would be wrong to begin any list of essentials without dealing with the safety gear first. In your garage or shop you must always have, and use, work gloves, safety glasses, and a first aid kit. You should also have prescription goggles made if you wear glasses, and a good facemask is always handy.

Let There Be Good Lighting

In line with safety, you’ll need to be able to see what you are doing without any shadows or dim light. We suggest you have strong lighting above the work areas, and that you also invest in a portable shop work light (the kind mounted to tripod stands). They are always high intensity, halogen lamps that literally flood an area with light, and which help you to remain safe, but also allow you to see even the smallest tools or fasteners when doing work.

The Bench

Naturally, you need a safe and stable place to do your work, and that means you should invest in a good workbench. This is something sturdy and heavy enough not to move when you’re working, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive.

You will also need storage around this space to hold the tools you most often use, and any hardware. Pegboards are the usual choice because they can so easily conform to your needs and be easily hung or installed next to the bench. Be sure your lighting is adequate in this area too as it is the most important space you will use.

Will you need a bench vice for your workbench? We think so, but if you need to be convinced, here is what you’ll use it the most to do:

  • Sanding
  • Cutting
  • Gluing and clamping
  • Doing any sort of metal work

Finally, if you feel that you will be using the bench a lot (or already do) don’t overlook the benefits of a special “anti-fatigue” floor mat that supports your legs and back.


An organized workshop is a functional one, and that means you need storage and tool boxes. In fact, if you look at the most productive shops, you see they are a nice balance of toolboxes and storage shelves/boxes. One of the wisest investments you might make would be a tall, wheeled toolbox that lets you move everything easily.

Common Hand Tools

Everyone needs a good set of basic hand tools in the garage or shop, and our list includes:

  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer(s)
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
  • Hex keys
  • Wrenches (crescent and socket)
  • Saw(s)
  • Pliers (needle nose and vice grip)
  • Level

Power Tools

Though you might think you won’t really put them to use, and might feel that renting them is better, you absolutely must have the following power tools to get the most out of your workshop:

  • Cordless drill (with full set of bits)
  • Circular saw
  • Sander
  • Router
  • Planer

Air Compressor

It is interesting how few people think that an air compressor is a must have, but once you have one around you will wonder how you functioned without it. It will power some tools (pneumatic), inflate all tires, clean your bench in seconds, and allow you to use specialized tools like airbrushes for painting or staining.

One word of advice with air compressors is to buy more power than you believe you’ll need. The more pressure your machine can create, the more you can do with it.

Slow and Steady

Now, don’t look at this list and panic because you don’t have to purchase everything at once. Start with the basics and the hand tools and you’ll be well prepared. No one every filled their garage or shop with all it needed in a single shopping trip, so you shouldn’t try to either.

Now that you’ll be able to begin putting the garage workspace together, is it time to also consider a new garage door? It can keep that gear safe and let you enjoy fresh air when working on a project during good weather. Fill out our form for a free quote.


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