QOTD: Garage Nirvana on a Budget?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd garage nirvana on a budget

It’s a pretty safe bet that the majority of readers (and writers!) at TTAC wrench on their own wheels. Those who don’t likely don’t have the facilities in which to do so. Condo living, overbearing HOA, whatever. To you, we extend our deepest sympathies.

Today’s QOTD you get to dream … and spend imaginary money. Given half the average price of a new car in America to spend — half of $33,560 — how you would kit out your dream garage?

For the purposes of this $16,780 fantasy, not an unrealistic sum, let’s imagine you’ve already gotten the structure built. It’s a 30×30 garage with a half loft. The other half extends all the way to the ceiling. Use your imagination for how many doors it has.

I’ll set an opening bid with the purchase of — you guessed it — a lift! A decent two post lift runs at least $3,000 plus tax. By the time I’ve paid a professional a few shekels to install the thing (in my amateur hands it’s likely to fold like a cheap tent), we’ll call it about a $4,000 expenditure.

That leaves about twelve grand. Professional grade sixty gallon air compressors are around $1,500, plus about the same for tools. A snazzy box and shelves in which to place my shiny new tools is alarmingly expensive, bringing my total expenditures now to roughly $8,000. Halfway there!

Send out my wheels and tires to a third party to get mounted on rims? Pah! With our budget, we can easily afford a tire changer and balancing machine. Just put it on my tab.

Naturally, I don’t want to work in a cave, so a few stacks will be spent on epoxy floor covering (bright red, natch) and slick racing themed artwork for the walls. Having a good time is essential to this author, so dropping a couple of grand on an Xbox racing simulator with which to play Forza Motorsport 7 is completely logical.

Roughly, that’s about $16,000 worth of kit. How would you outfit your garage?

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3 of 58 comments
  • Erikstrawn Erikstrawn on Mar 06, 2018

    I'm planning on building my 30x40 dream shop once my kitchen renovations are done and I've been thinking through this a bit. $8000 for a box is too much. Buy a big, cheap toolbox, but pop for roller bearing drawers if you can. Sliders are okay if you're a cheapskate like me. I have an old, wide craftsman box with two end boxes I bought used. This gives me a long, low box with plenty of real estate on top. Sliders because I was a student at the time. Still in fabulous shape. Lots of lighting and lots of outlets. Put a 220v plug at either end and build a 15' extension cord. I have a 220v plug at the front of my current garage, and with the extension cord I can weld pretty much anywhere I need to. I still need to add a 110v plug at the front of the garage, and I'm always tripping on my extension cord. One two-post lift. Four-post lifts are always in your way. Make sure your foundation can support it. If I were starting over from scratch with tools, I probably wouldn't buy a compressor. Metal working tools are a must. Mig welder and plasma cutter are required. An oxy/acetylene torch is nice, but you can get most stuff done with a plasma cutter, cutting wheels and a hand-held propane torch. I'd like to buy one of the $400 Harbor Freight shear/press brake/slip rolls because I'm tired of forming metal over my bench vise with a hammer. A 3x6 metal work bench and a separate small welding table is advised. A small press is invaluable, as is a drill press and a big stereo for work motivation. Also, check out The Fab Forums on youtube. The guy has outstanding tool recommendations.

  • Shortest Circuit Shortest Circuit on Mar 06, 2018

    $1500 for a compressor? That's crack pipe territory, son. Buy an old propane tank for $90, a two-cylinder compressor and a 2-3HP motor on craigslist, booger-weld everything together, use one of those old crusty belts you have hanging on a nail for no reason and BAM! Literally. :)

    • Notapreppie Notapreppie on Mar 07, 2018

      You typed "booger weld" as though there was any other way to do it.

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