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

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.

Fridge/freezer

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

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.

Stereo

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!

Friends

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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Comments

    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.

    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.

    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 “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.

    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 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.

    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 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.

    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,

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