6 distractions worth having in your garage

Kyle Smith

Of all the tools people will tell you to add to your garage, anything that would derail you from efficient work would seem the least worthwhile. However, items that many would label as distractions can be very helpful in specific situations, and to ignore their benefits is to risk complicating your life.

Let’s take a look at six things that appear to be distractions but that deserve a place in your shop—even if you have to explain why to your friends.


Television in Garage
Kyle Smith

Let’s start with the ultimate distraction. When I’m cleaning, I’ll often put on the reply of an endurance race or a favorite concert, sideshows that I can tune in or out of without guilt. It also serves as a generously sized screen on which I can review my own race footage or watch a how-to video. Recently, the TV proved its worth when a friend was over with a motorcycle I’d never worked on before. We ended up watching a how-to video on the big screen and talking through the process together. Very helpful.


Garage fridge Kyle Smith 2
Kyle Smith

A staple of the garage for those who spend hours belly-up to the workbench. Kept stocked with cold beverages, a fridge is always a threat to productivity; all it takes is one pop tab to turn a night of productive wrenching to one of bench racing. Sure, some folks can enjoy a cold beverage and notice little change to their productivity, but any change in judgement combined with a high-risk task is a recipe for trouble.

Imbibe wisely, and remember that thermal changes can be very helpful during assembly of some pieces: That fridge or freezer can provide the perfect temperature differential to make press-fits just a bit easier.


Computer on workbench
Kyle Smith

I know it’s not just me that spends the whole working day on a computer. Therefore the last thing I want to do after hours is peer at a screen. Heck, that’s why my cars have carburetors. I don’t want anything on the car that requires a screen.

Yet having a computer on the workbench helps me assemble a parts order while looking at the project, and review reference materials or how-to outlines easily. My personal favorite is using a full-sized computer screen to review photos of assemblies I took apart weeks or months ago to know I’m putting them back together correctly. It’s far easier to scroll photo albums on a computer than on my phone. Do I need the laptop all the time? Certainly not, but it can really make life easier.

Comfortable chair

desk chair in garage
Kyle Smith

Sometime you just need to take a mental break. Personally I find it helpful to continue looking at what I’m working on while I think through the process. Even reading shop manuals is more productive when the parts are in front of me. (Plus, I haven’t sold the missus on bringing engine blocks into the living room.)

A nice place to sit is a luxury worth having in your garage. This could mean a barcalounger, if you’ve got the space, or even a supportive, bench-height office chair to replace that battered, wooden kitchen stool. Anything that creates a comfortable opportunity to get off your feet for a bit.


The right music can dial in your focus, while the wrong tunes can be attention-grabs that do nothing but sidetrack you. Background noise can help keep you maintain focus and motivation while plugging away on tedious projects, like parts cleaning or bodywork, so don’t be scared to have a nice stereo in your shop. Bonus points if you listen to era-correct music while working on your car. That’s just affordable time travel!


hood open Great Race Truck
Kyle Smith

Having a “helping hand” can sometimes mean that even less work gets done, but such is the cost of camaraderie. The human connection is more important than the cars. Never feel bad if the conversation ends up being your focus, instead of the project. Our friends bring a different type of joy into our lives and it is not to be ignored.

Are these the only common garage distractions? Of course not. Let us know the worst offender in your shop in the comments below.

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    I have all this and a few more things.

    The 65 inch TV came when we put a new better one in the family room. It is mounted to turn to any place I am working.

    Now with the I put in a DVD player, this compliments the Dish Network and Wifi.

    The old sound system also followed the TV and I have the speakers in each corner. The sub is in my original Space Shuttle tire. Yes I collect crazy stuff.

    Now with the TV I needed a place to sit so I have two Porsche seats on legs with a glass top coffee table in between. This has a complete Short Block Top Fuel Keith Black engine under the glass. You need a place to sit the beverage. The headers are from Tim Wilkerson’s Funny Car and make good arm rest.

    Then there is the Fridge hidden behind a Kendall oil sign the size of the door.

    I had a Sony Stereo system for years. I keep it loaded with an old I phone that provides web but also nearly 20,000 songs.

    Then for atmosphere I have a full size Corvette billboard, various posters signed by everyone from Richard Noble, Smokey Yunick to all the Corvette Drivers that won at Lemans one year. The poster is the one from France too.

    On the ceiling are my sons 3 soap box derby cars mounted wheels up. The rest of the walls are all signs broken parts. Greg Picketts hood off his SCCA TA Jag. Actually about half of it after the fire at Mid Ohio. Austin Dillon’s tailgate from his rookie year #3 Bass Pro NASCAR truck.

    This is my space. While it is a bit of a man cave it is still a garage where I will tear down an engine and or do brakes or what ever project.

    With it insulated and heated I can even go out and wash cars in the winter in my shorts and T shirt. I then dry it with blow dryer held in place by the weight of a wheel and tire of Earnhardt’s Monte Carlo from Charlotte.

    Garages can and should be a living space and working space not just storage.

    I have expanded to my other garage and will dress it up even though it is a daily driver space.

    I also would like to expend some day as no matter how big you built it is never large enough.

    they should be on your person, concealed or not…..but then, I live in Az where it’s normal for people to wear them everywhere……

    A firearm seems to be something that everyone thinks he knows all about, and needs handy — the NRA bunch to fight off confiscators, and the rest of us to fight off the NRA bunch! I have a pellet gun for strafing blue-jays and squirrels that devastate my wife’s hard-earned garden stuff, but not otherwise. What they have to do with cars is beyond this old (78) veteran! Eh?

    Guns and cars are similar and different at the same time. Lots of people can’t understand why we rebuild a muscle car or an antique but no law against it. But wait till the government comes to take away your hard earned (not garden) stuff or says you can’t have a car unless it’s electric and you’ll know why a pellet gun isn’t enough. Eh? (I’m Canadian and they’re doing that up here already). Not trying to start some debate here, just saying to each his own.

    Would like to see pictures of all the garages. I was impressed with the drill storage tubes. I did the same but use corded electric drill motors. I cut the cords off to about 6 inches because I need an extension cord whenever I use them anyway. This way I only need one cord for all the drill motors.

    Cutting the cords is a great idea. I would leave maybe 2′ to keep the connection a little further from the working area. Or just keep making it shorter as the cord frays at the tool end!

    Dang. If I had my garage fitted out like that I’d have to make my husband park in the driveway. As cool as the garage would be at that point I don’t think he’d go along with that plan!

    My garage is strictly a working environment and is not a social hub. Computer, yes, but that is more of a tool and less of a distraction. Stereo, yes, although a lot of times if I’m really working you can’t hear it anyway. I’m not the type that plays well with others when wrenching, so social hour is usually in freinds’ garages… chairs – there’s a milk crate or bucket or two…

    My very-car-oriented son-in-law has a small TV; he loves to watch baseball and all those inane car-oriented shows that proliferate nowadays. Me, just some oldies (1950s-60’s only) and the noise of my air-compressor, thanks. I wouldn’t watch RoadKill or that ilk if you paid me minimum wages to do so! Yuk!
    Rodding since 1960, and real, not ‘reality’.

    Sounds normal TG. The 6 most important things to me are: Welders (Mig, Tig & Arc), pedestal grinder/ Buffer, Drill press, set of TAPS and Dies, Steel welding work table with wheels and levelers, Milling and Lathe… and a Lift, opps thats Eight…plenty of Milk Crates makes nine. lol.

    I agree to a point: I welcome friends to stop by and “socialize”! Nothing better than a friend or two to stop by and have a cold adult beverage or two, and sit around and shoot the breeze. The key distractions in my garage are the fridge and stereo! Got to have classic rock to work by!

    Previous generations of my family had a huge coal furnace converted into a woodstove central to the shop area, and friends were always there swapping lies and expounding theory. I took out the furnace and put in a smaller, more efficient airtight — and then the building insurer made me take it out, since there are cars in there. Didn’t seem fair, culturally. To their credit, it wasn’t Hagerty who complained.

    Exactly. The only one of the above listed distractions I have in my shop is a small fridge and it’s empty and unplugged. Got rid of the stereo because it was a distraction. And though I enjoy it when a friend stops by I won’t get anything done until they leave…

    My “work areas” (garage, woodshop, barn and workshop) are spread all over the place in different outbuildings, so it’s not really practical to put all of those things in each, and the woodshop and barn often have high-decibel machinery running anyway, so listening to music or a TV is pretty iffy. And sawdust and “barn dust” aren’t too good for a laptop! There is a small radio in each in case I want to hear a newscast or the weather.

    But in the garage/workshop I do have the items Kyle lists – PLUS a phone extension and doorbell so that if the house phone rings or if someone’s at the front door, I’ll hear it out there. When at a workbench on a small project, or under a hood or car on something larger, I genuinely enjoy some of my favorite tunes on a stereo. The flat screen, swivel-mounted so that it can be seen from several different areas really comes in handy for how-to videos, or maybe one of my favorite movies, where I can tell what’s happening without even looking because I’ve seen them so many times. My cold beverages in the shop bench fridge generally are only bottles of water. The “manlier” drink stuff is in a bigger fridge in the shop office (also with a desk, computer, bathroom, wash-up sink, coffeemaker and microwave). That’s where I like to relax and put my feet up with a drink at the end of a trying day.

    Oh how I would love to have a wash sink in my garage. I have water because the well tank for the house pops up in the garage, but I just never feel I have the space to put a real sink in–let alone set up a real drain.

    The make small hand sinks for restaurants that don’t take up much space. For around $120 you get the sink and faucet. You can either use a bucket to catch the waste or sneak a drain outside. That’s no big deal if you only washing you hands.

    How is a sink a distraction?
    A water feature is a distraction. A fish tank is a distraction. A sink seems like a necessity but for my humble space it would be a luxury.

    Very true; good point. Now were talking about ‘features’. I have a big bus-boy stainless steel sink/counter. And, I keep a couple of gallon cans of water in it to cool hot parts and/or toss on possible conflagrations. My hand-filth is NOT welcome in our house sinks!

    Get one of those “mop sinks” like you would see in the laundry room. They are plastic and about 2’x2’x2′ on four legs. A small under sink instant on water heater and depending on where you are, grey water drain can just go on the ground outside.
    I’m still in the process of building my new shop/garage and all of the things you list are already on my list, leftovers from upgrades inside the house.

    Just put in a small stainless bar sink. Run the drain pipe into a french drain. Pretty easy to do and they are so nice to have.

    I build Retail Stores & Restaurants, I GET TO TAKE THE DEMO ITEMS ALL THE TIME! Stainless steel tables and a DEEP two sink from an Asian refit. Shelving from many stores. Track lighting, Granite Counter tops Lav fixtures. HW Tanks, the list goes on, So I’m comfortable with my 2 Olds 442s and my 928!

    Put in a stainless bar sink with a french drain. You can also add a 115V tankless water heater, takes up hardly any room and cleaning up with warm water is nice on a winters day.

    I installed a laundry sink in the garage of my last house. Took up a lot of space when mostly only needed to wash up. I installed a small bar sink at the end of my workbench in the garage of my current house – most of the time it’s just the right size to wash up after working on something.

    Easy. I have a hole in plywood top, a big black funnel in the hole and a wash basin in the funnel. There’s a used detergent jug with a push button spout hovering above the funnel. A five gallon pail under the plywood top. Wash up in the basin, dump it in the funnel and back to work. It’s worked for years.

    Fast Orange is okay, but if you want really effective cleaner, pop for Kresto (sp?) or equivalent paint-shop cleaners; no more using solvent to clean off paint, etc. Worth the money!

    Lenny Bruce talked about staying in Milburn hotels on the road. There was a small sink in the room, but the bathroom was down the hall. “Needless to say, you didn’t wash your face in the sink.”

    HA HA HA and a great Soap/ Cleaner also. I usually use hand cream before a job, especially around and under neath the nails. Makes for easy clean up of these hard areas afterward a snap.

    People who stand and watch while you argue with 90 year old parts, but don’t point out the broken safety wire still holding . . . ‘Thought you could see it’
    The audience is a distraction

    I think heat and A/C would be higher on my list than those items, although I do have a dorm fridge in teh building that would work if I plugged it in.

    Yes, added both a heater and ac unit and have never regretted spending that money. My problem is room…I have three cars, two motorcycles, a scooter and all my tools stuffed in my garage. Managed to put up lots of shelving to accommodate my stereo and spare parts but you can never have too much room in my opinion.

    I agree with the AC. When it’s over 100 outside, with high humidity, it sure is nice to worker in a cooler environment with less humidity

    have all of these and several TV’s so can watch from each of the main work areas, security system, and sink with hot and cold water, also added a fire sprinkler system (you can do it yourself).

    In my garage only the radio, I go out there to tinker to get away from the damn t.v. (and computer).

    Dartboard? Yes I have a full size fridge with beer etc.

    I agree with BBLHED with air and heat. I have a 1935FORD ROADSTER model 710 with a complete 1963 1/2 FORD 427,425hp engine, 4 speed and 4:11 ham in my garage . GOT the car in 1962 from an add in HOT ROD magazine. I have not seen much that competes with that

    I have a computer in my shop mostly because I also have a 3D printer in the shop, so I control the printer as well as tweak models that I’m about to print. The computer is also useful for doing troubleshooting research about what I’m working on. I also have a radio and a couple clocks.

    I hope this is allowed, although not exactly on topic. I need some antique ornate wood parts reproduced with a 3D printer. If that is something you have any knowledge on Harold, can I trouble you to contact me – peg.riou@gmail.com. Many thanks … I bet the printer comes in very handy for parts templates.

    I have 2 of 6. The stereo which is part of the whole house stereo. When my house was built I wired the whole house and the patio area and the controls/switching system is in my master suite. I bought a 500ft roll of speaker wire and I had to go back for some more! Second is the fridge, it not just serves the garage but is my overflow for the kitchen fridge so it serves a dual purpose. Not on the list, but several people mentioned it, a sink which I consider a necessity rather than a distraction so that is probably why the author did not list it. I have an 8 car garage, and the builder installed indoor/outdoor carpeting, no cement for me!

    The friends could be a distraction if all they want to do is drink cold beer from the fridge, sit in you comfortable chair and watch TV.

    Agreed, TV is the very last thing I need when wanting to get away and work on my car. Computer yes, as if I need a part looking it up and ordering it while fresh on my mind…absolutely. Radio with SIRUS 50’s, 60’s, CW and Elvis a must.

    I have a TV mounted on the wall above my work bench and I find I spend more time streaming XM on the TV and listening to music than I do watching shows.

    The best addition to my garage that works best for me is my Siberian Husky, Reacher. He listens without judgement, he keeps a watchful eye on the door and he lets me know when it’s time to turn out the light,

    A beer-loving friend of mine once said that the beer does not come out until the end of the job, because a lot less work gets done after the beer becomes available. I suspect he is correct.

    my beer loving friends are always to drunk to come over and give me a hand so its just me as always with my radio turned on

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