Improving the DIY experience

Messages
25
Location
Midwest
Thread starter
Twenty years ago, I hated working on my stuff but did it because I was poor. Today, I have undertaken more and more work on my own. Mainly because I have a couple teenage boys who tear things up and I'm still not independently wealthy. However, along the way I've acquired some things that make the jobs so much easier and (sometimes) enjoyable. I thought it would be interesting to have a thread detailing what things I've done and what other people have found to make the DIY experience better. 1. A lift. $800 from Craigslist plus another a few hundred more in parts to repair and install it. This has made the biggest difference as I don't have to roll around on the floor. Obviously not everyone can afford or has the space for one. 2. Alldata subscription. I don't pay for this as the local library provides online access from the comfort of my home. I used to buy factory service manuals on DVD from ebay but I really prefer Alldata as it is easier to navigate and some of the DVDs didn't include all the wiring diagrams, etc. 3. Better lighting. I installed eleven 4300 lumen led lights in my 40x60 building. Much nicer than the eleven 100 watt incandescent bulbs they replaced. About $10 per fixture from Rural King plus shipping because my store didn't stock them. I also bought some small magnetic lights with swivel heads to use under the vehicle, etc. 4. Better air. I moved the air compressor to a far corner (less noise) and piped the air overhead to various places in the building. I bought a nice retractable hose reel and hung it on the ceiling. Bought some more air tools. 3/8 drive rachets, etc. 5. Bought a cheap cart from Harbor Freight to place tools and parts on. This keeps all my tools right next to me and I've stop laying them inside the engine where they might get lost or forgotten. Wish list 1. Heat. It gets cold in my building during the winter. I doubt this will ever happen. I have thought about hanging some plastic around the lift to make a small "bay" that would be easier/cheaper to heat. 2. Welder & torch. I get tired of taking stuff to my dad's shop to work on. 3. Hose clamp pliers. Seems like channel locks get the job done but frustrate me in the process. 4. Manual fluid evacuator. 5. More specialty tools. Serpentine belt tool, ball joint separators, etc. Hard to justify some of this stuff that I can rent from the parts store 6. Cordless tools. I see lots of people using cordless impact drivers now. 7. Better storage and organization. Since I put the lift in my barn, I need to build a workbench and move the rest of my stuff out of the garage. Too many trips walking between them to use a vise, etc.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
44,449
Location
New Jersey
I live in a house with a basement. And a detached garage. Selected this setup by choice, and it is preferred. The one downside is that if you keep your nice tools inside, you end up going up and down a lot. So I got a nice Kennedy tool box, and keep a set of tools in it for the job Im going to do. Its a bigger box with fold out tops, so it holds a lot of stuff, but its still portable by me in/out or anyplace else I wish to go. The list you have is great, but Ive found the biggest detriment to doing a DIY job is getting stalled. Having the job planned out, all the tools and parts plus some extras in one place, thought out for what you would need, and minimize the time wasted looking for some tool or other item halfway into the job, causing a stall and a lot of frustration.
 
Messages
325
Location
Reno, Nevada
Originally Posted by agarb
Twenty years ago, I hated working on my stuff but did it because I was poor. Today, I have undertaken more and more work on my own. Mainly because I have a couple teenage boys who tear things up and I'm still not independently wealthy. However, along the way I've acquired some things that make the jobs so much easier and (sometimes) enjoyable. I thought it would be interesting to have a thread detailing what things I've done and what other people have found to make the DIY experience better.
Great post, thanks for taking the time.
 
Messages
7,930
Location
Champlain/Hudson Valley
I agree. As above, "Great post, thanks for taking the time." My "dream wrinkle" to the personalized shop is to include a hinged section of concrete floor and a pit beneath it into which my tool box descends. The floor section hinges closed. Robbers wouldn't even see it if they broke in and would take time and effort to lift if they knew it was there.
 

Astro14

Staff member
Messages
11,638
Location
Virginia Beach
For 13 years I've lived without a garage in which I can work. Car repairs took place in the weather, on a sloped driveway. This presented challenges of timing. Weather. Safety. Tool security. Now, I've got nearly all of what you list. Took me long enough. But very happy to have security, a roof, lighting, compressor, quickjack lift, tools, space. And a beer fridge. [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
 
Messages
421
Location
Seattle, WA
To me, the cordless high-torque impact has been the best improvement to my DIY experience. I think a lift is probably out of the typical DIY-ers budget (both in terms of cost and space required), but having an impact that pulls off virtually any rusty bolt is a godsend. It's now ~$200 so economical, and easy to store, over an air setup.
 
Messages
25
Location
Midwest
Thread starter
Originally Posted by Trav
A decent size compressor, torch set w/cutting tip also and gas/mig welder (not flux core) are indispensable and IMHO a must for more in depth work especially in the rust belt. Something like this will work fine and is cheap enough for DIY. https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200342921_200342921
Thanks for posting that link. What does it cost to have a set of bottles filled? The other thing that I'm really glad to have purchased was a set of racheting wrenches. Relatively inexpensive. Should have bought them years ago. They are my go-to set now and especially great in those tight spaces.
 
Messages
24,072
Location
MA, Mittelfranken.de
Its not much but I cant say exactly as I have larger bottles, they do not refill yours but exchange for full ones. Call airgas, I think its probably around $30ea for that size.
 
Messages
1,065
Location
Maryland
Thanks for listing the many things that make for a good work space. This July I am finally getting a garage. Two car 24x32. I can't wait. I have been working in the weather for years. I am right now in the planning stages for how I am going to set everything up. Lots of fun just figuring all this out.
 

Astro14

Staff member
Messages
11,638
Location
Virginia Beach
Thanks! - The "Shop" as I call it, is a 42x20 storage unit with a 20x20 loft. Lots of room. I'm finally able to work indoors and take on car projects, in this case, a bunch of work on a friend's 1975 450SL (which shows up in one picture). The intent of that much space was storage above, room to work below and storage for the 1932 Packard. For nearly 15 years, I had no real place to work. I had to work outside, which presents a huge number of challenges. It, frankly, sucked, and not just because of things like weather, but because I had to take extra steps to get at every tool, slowing down my productivity. The Sjobergs bench is in my garage, a tight one-car affair at my house. In which are a workbench, cabinets, the Sjobergs woodworking bench, tablesaw, drill press, jointer, planer, 220v dust collection system, clamp rack and indoor wood rack. Ideally, all that stuff, wood shop and car shop, would be co-located at the house. But there is no way to accomplish that in our present house, so the "Shop" is an interim solution to that.
 
Top