DEAR MIKE: I need to organize my garage. Yesterday, I went to throw the garbage out and I could hardly squeeze by the shovels and rakes that had fallen over. What is the best way to clean up this area? -- George K.
DEAR GEORGE: Give it away, throw it away or have a garage sale. You know, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
For the stuff you want to keep, get a garage organizer or pegboard to hang it on the wall.
There are lots of options here. The most basic and inexpensive method is a tool organizer. These are heavy gauge steel strips with prongs that stick out. They cost about $8 for a set of two, and are 4 feet long. You can hang shovels, rakes and other tools from them.
Use a stud sensor and anchor these organizers into the wall studs. If you don't, the weight of the tools will pull the organizer down and then you will have nice holes to patch. The hardware is included with the package.
A similar organizer features spring-loaded clips that clamp around the handle of the tool. The downside of the springs is that you have to rely on the springs to hold the tool, whereas with the other style, you just have to rely on gravity.
There are many different types of hooks for specific jobs. You can buy large hooks to hang bicycles or ladders from either a wall or ceiling. They are vinyl-coated and won't scratch the bike. Again, these must be anchored into lumber.
These hooks have large threads and shanks so you will need to predrill a hole before you screw in the hook. Choose a drill bit that is just a little smaller in diameter than the shank of the hook and screw it all the way in (you might get a little testy if the ladder fell onto your car).
If you have lots of hand tools you want to hang on the wall, you can go crazy with pegboard. Pegboard is sold in 4X8 sheets for less than $10.
You can cut it to any size you want and then insert peg hooks into the holes. However, you must create a space behind the pegboard so that the peg hook can go in. This is easily done with furring strips, which are just strips of wood that will shim the board out slightly from the wall.
After you cut the pegboard to your liking, cut some lengths of the strip so that you can go around the perimeter on the back of the pegboard. Depending on how large the pegboard is, you will likely have to add some strips inside the perimeter to stiffen it up. Glue the strips to the back of the pegboard and use some brads to hold it in place while the glue dries.
Grab the stud finder and locate the studs in the wall. You want to use screws at least 1 1/2 inches long so that you can anchor into the stud at least three-quarters of an inch. Screw the pegboard to the wall by going through the furring strips. Depending on how much weight the pegboard will have to support, you should screw it in about every 12 inches (that goes for the interior strips, too).
When the pegboard is in place, you can install the peg hooks. They make peg hooks for hanging just about anything. The only caution here is not to put too much weight on the peg hooks, since they can tear out the pegboard.
Another good (and cheap) idea is to use discarded jars for storage. You can use the underside of a shelf or cabinet and screw the lid to the bottom of the shelf or cabinet. Fill the jar with whatever and then screw the jar back into the lid. Baby food jars work great for small items and mayonnaise jars are good for bigger stuff. Not only is your junk off of a work surface, but you can see it when you need it.