Welcome To The Garage Of The Future

Over the last several years, hackerspaces have cropped up all over the world. These places have become a home base for hackers, tinkerers, makers, designers, and engineers alike. One of the biggest problems associated with these creative environments is the hours that are typically available. A lot of the time you just can’t walk in at odd hours of the night and expect to do anything at all. Granted, the best hackerspaces give out 24 hour access keys to those that pay for it, but sometimes it just feels better to do the work from the comfort of one’s home. Also, if a person doesn’t have the privilege of having a hackerspace in the area, then transforming a garage into a work shop can provide a nice entry point into the continuation of the maker revolution.

A trend is emerging where garages are being turned into hackerspace-like workshops that are neatly packed away within ordinary neighborhoods. A great example is EdsJunk Home Shop. His two car garage was converted into a maker shop complete with 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, and more tools than one can dream of. The key, as [Ed] states, to creating such a useful home shop is organizing everything strategically.

This project has been a 5 year venture so far and there is still plenty to do. Years of experience have taught [Ed] to coordinate the tools in out-of-the-box ways. His air compressor, for instance, is stored in the attic with a retractable hose descending from the roof down into the garage which helps to save space and reduce noise.

Another technique involved the setting up the benches for different purposes and combining tools into 2-in-1, 3-in-1, and 4-in-1 devices. One such item fashioned together an electric radial arm saw and a table saw that was installed directly into a woodworking bench. Of course, just like any other builder’s garage, EdsJunk Home Shop has a hardware section with a tool box and drawers full of nuts, bolts, and screws for countless amounts of possible combinations. The metal working bench, although small, is a nice addition to the space as well. A bench grinder, belt sander, and radial sander is just enough to get started.

IMG_1752More fun tools include a 2 foot by 4 foot CNC router that was picked up for $1000, broken, fixed up, and now it works great. He made the dedicated MACH 3 CNC control panel with a few old arcade buttons, a handful of other buttons acquired via Radioshack and a keyboard giving it a fun retro gaming style to it. The CNC machine is great for making art and lots of parts, like the case used in this portable XBOOK 360 laptop.

EdsJunk Home Shop also has 2 Makerbots (a Replicator 2 & a Replicator 2X). With this setup, both ABS and PLA plastic filaments can be used to create almost anything. The filament spools are placed above the printers which are stacked in an effort to gain more space.

One of [Ed]’s favorite machines in the shop is an Accuris 40 Watt laser cutter/engraver. He mainly uses it for cutting acrylic, wood, and cardboard. The vacuum for it is stored in the attic for more consolidation. Another cool tool that [Ed] has is a vinyl plotter which can cut material for sign making and fashioning graphics. He tested it out by creating Dexter’s Lab, Jurassic Park, Johnny Bravo, Lion King, and Simpsons characters, which can be seen in the colorful picture below.


[Ed]’s garage is a prototype for maker-related garage transformations for those who looking to develop their own household work shops in the future. A natural next step after this conversion would be to open up the doors for trusted neighbors allowing them to occasionally come in and use the tools for their own community projects. Experiments with monetization of everyday neighborhood services could also happen too, primarily surrounding the support of 3D printing and other types of making.

If you have a similar garage setup, document what you got inside and send us the link. To see the rest of what [Ed] has, check out the video:

32 thoughts on “Welcome To The Garage Of The Future

  1. That’s a really nice setup. My garage is similar, but much smaller. I’ve got a laser, CNC mill, and a lathe crammed into about a tenth of that area. The 3D printer’s still in the house. Entry is via an NFC implant in my hand. I’ll try to get round to an up to date summary, but if you click on my name you’ll find some bits about it on my blog.

    1. I’m wanting to get an NFC Implant, i’ve read of people doing it and seems safe. But where do you go to have it installed? My guess is to buy the “dangerous things” sterile injection unit and have an implant artist install it?

        1. I was hoping it would be enough for my phone to pickup on when it’s in my hand. Other uses much like your door lock included. I heard of a few implant artists in my town but I haven’t had the time to check them out. How much were you charged for the installation if I may ask.

  2. That’s a really nice setup. I have just moved into our house, I’ll be sure to keep the link for this when I can finally get around to decking out my garage. It’s only small – single car, but it’ll do for the next few years :)

    One thing I didn’t see is where he keeps all his stock – I am assuming it is there, but hidden away.

  3. This is fantastic. Everyone needs a workshop in their garage. My cars live outside! They only get to be in the garage with me when I’m working on them ;) I have a 30×32 steel shed and lots of pegboard like Ed, but nowhere near optimized. Thanks for the tips and keep up the great work, Ed!

  4. Very neat Ed. . I’ve only been building mine out for 3 months, but its already going chaotic and needs better space management. I figured i’d apply my coding rules, build a fast prototype, throw it away and start again fixing the base mistakes.

    Like finishing the drywall first !

    1. OK I feel somewhat sorry for you, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret about setting up workshops. Most of us folks that do it successfully carefully plan it first. The ones that don’t really bust their asses doing things over, and over again too. They’re what I like to call stupid.

      Now with this little nugget of knowledge that I’ve just generously imparted to you, you can use it, and at least act smart, or not. It’s your choice.

      But if you do intend to go down the intelligent path then I heartily recommend that you model your workspace. By that I mean construct a scale model of your space, and what you have to put into your space too. As crazy as that sounds it really works much better than many may intuitively think that it does.

      It certainly worked well for me here. If, and when, I ever have it to do all over again, I won’t hesitate to do exactly the same all over again, either. I’m just saying.

      I actually wrote an article about the process here

      I’m a hell of a guy ain’t I? I am! It sucks that when I moved I lost access to that account. But my password got lost, and my email address changed in the move. Oh well. Moving can be a real bitch. Now I’m pfred2 on instructables. Creative, I know!

      The biggest gripe I get from people over it is why I didn’t use SketchUp for it. I just like physical models better I guess. Everything was actually pretty fun to make. So much fun in fact that while I was doing it I scrapped some of my earlier models for better made, more detailed ones. Towards the end I was making some pretty elaborate miniatures of my tools. heh

      1. yeah its good advice, the problem i had was that my garage was stuffed full of gear as our local hackerspace moved and i stored a lot of the stuff, so literally couldn’t move, my new stuff came in, and i setup as best i could around it. I just have no free time since work has me traveling a lot, so its come home for a day, unpack cnc, test run, go away again , come back install wiring/heating etc.

        but its not really as bad as it sounds, i built tables and they can move away from the walls so i can do the drywalling, i’m dropping in 240 20A and 110V’s today, then some mini splits since its pretty hot here, currently about 104F

        so while its summer time, and no ac’d garage it sucks moving about, mostly waiting til winter.. I’m happy with the throw away prototyping for now, its not really a big deal i’m still setting up the cnc and figuring out what machines will play nice next to each other, installing the dust collection etc. I haven’t bolted stuff down and i can re-org it all in a day, if i had a day.

        Part of it is also i’ve just changed my mind on what i was going to use the space for, and where i was going to put the tools that are in there now, so yeah lets call it that.

        Since we just moved into the house recently, there are lots of other projects the missus wants done first anyway.

        I wish i had the time to make models of the tools, i did the house in autodesk’s online architect tool but didn’t really use it, since part of my day job is 3D rendering and CAD programs, its the last thing i wanna do when i get home. Tiny models of everything would be cool, now all i need is to figure out the space to build them


        1. What you described sounds like the worst nightmare scenario possible to me. Still, I can’t help but to think that you can use all the advantages you can get to dig your way out of it. Which would make careful planning even more important to you. Good luck!

          1. Are you his dad or something? You have this tone that is British in nature when talking down to people.
            Use Minecraft or the Sims to model your area quickly ;)

  5. Very nice and hope to have one as nice one day. Still got the crappy tinkering desk until then :) The main problem I had with my local hackerspace was threefold.
    1. The People-organizers were Make: shills and the members weren’t always very much fun and LOUD and drinky beer because that is apparently what you do instead of actually building something. Take up 3/4 of the space with a CNC machine that you and three other guys basically stand around and stare at with beer in hand, talking about work and others’ projects (much like a county road crew). It took you guys 3 months to build something that took a single person two weeks to get right. Then there were the learning sessions where the kids parents pay to have them build kits 4 days a week.
    2. Location- like I want to drive downtown and parallel park my car so it can get bashed and puked on, only to carry said expensive item past heavy door and then up or down flights of WWII era stairs. If you wanted to sneak in late hours, you had to deal with the drunks on the street and random douchebros that just want to pound something before their dbol cycle/adderall buzz wears off while their drunk girlfriends all lean on and scratch up your car. You would have to lock up every time you got a piece of gear out to take in so no open hatch unloading at that hour as the street folk eyeball you walking in.
    3. Private F-ing property- ours had the insanely dumb notion that you would pay for rented space that gave you a tool-less bench. Said bench would often be found to have your project shoved back in disarray so that some person (or overflow kids Make: class) could do their project and gank your parts. This one reallllllly got to me quickly. I started reversing the polarity on my PSU when I left so that other folks could learn about protection diodes lol. Left out a breadboard with pulled traces and bad ICs (the usual grifts). Pretty sure it worked too as I found my leads across the workspace near the trash ;)

    The good part is that I have always been a kinda lone captain so it wasn’t hard to let the second month go unused and it solidified my resolve to have something like this guy’s set up one day. Perhaps my next living location will have a better hackerspace, but I am just really looking to find an older engineer to hang out with and fix things (carry heavy things for them lol) and learn from a person in 20 seconds what would have taken me a couple of weeks on my own. That would be pretty sweet, especially if they like to fish also. Anyhoo my CSB and kudos to Ed :D

      1. Solution: get rid of all your cardboard boxes and plastic bins. Anything you don’t use, donate it to Goodwill or a friend (or sell it fast-cheap and db condo with it). I got rid of all my CD cases, extra tools, and things I never use. Some extra care in setting up yard edging made it unnecessary to have a weed whacker. Got a leaf mulched which folds up, so no more leafblower. Get a shed and install cabinets in it, so you can fit more garage stuff in it (example, I was storing fertilizer and grass seed bags on the floor…). Get rid of your desktop computer, and use a Mac Mini, Asus, or Raspberry pi. Use metal wire shelving on WHEELS so you can make space to hour advantage (tip: wire shelving can make an acceptable standing workbench).

        1. Solutions for you perhaps, but our situations differ. I appreciate your suggestions though. I’ve even done some of them already. I actually have two sheds on my property now. Although one is pretty remote, so it is less convenient for me to use.


          No, I can’t even see it from my house either. It really is that far away. So I don’t care that it’s a mess.

          1. Yep. It’s all about prioritizing what you really need to keep, store the important stuff close by, but the rest can go somewhere false.

            I know so many people who can’t use their garage for anything except Sterilite bins of forgotten contents, and kid clutter.

  6. Nicely done, organization is key. It would have been worthwhile to talk about power distribution. Looks like he has a circuit panel in the garage, but given that wires exit directly I’m just guessing that’s not the whole house circuit breaker, and instead he has one just for the garage. (Maybe not. In any case, i suspect this is much more than a single, typical US 120V 20A circuit for the garage.)

  7. If that was my garage, I’d never leave home.
    I did think it was funny to see a washer and dryer in the garage with the 3d printers in front of the washer. I hope he doesn’t have too many unbalanced loads! This is another reason engineers smell. We can’t get to the washing machine.
    I like the combination radial saw, table saw and. router table. That would work well with my Incra jig. Hmmmm.

  8. Gah, I envy people with not-300-degree garages. Hot as hell in texas most of the time, and AC would be prohibitively expensive, as garage doors are not famous for their insulative properties.

    What a lovely setup though. I love the CNC control panel, what a nice pile of big friendly buttons.

    1. The metal garage doors are typically well insulated. Your door should also seal on all sides; you should not be seeing lots of daylight. Note that AC units themselves don’t seal well in windows… those plastic accordion shields have no insulative value, and they typically have gaps. A permanent wall mount unit is more efficient.

      I’m not running garage AC, yet. First I need more purpose for the space, and then I need more power drops (1970 home, single 15A circuit plus a nice 50A welding outlet a previous owner added).

  9. I don’t climate control my garage either. It ends up losing me about half of the year (for hot and cold). The last time I worked in the heat I got so distracted I ended up blowing up a power supply. The rest of the time I was at it wasn’t much fun either. Sure, I suppose I could run AC, I have the units already, and everything. Garage is even pretty decently insulated. Still, I feel kind of funny about the thought of the power it’d take. It just seems too decedent to me somehow. I do run fans sometimes to manage. Those don’t make me feel guilty.

    I liked their CNC panel too. I still think I’d rather have a remote pendent though, even if the buttons would have to be smaller.

  10. WTB – 2 Car Garage…

    :( im trying to re-organize my bedroom right now. I have a 3D printer on an L-shaped desk and large metal rack packed with storage bins… If I had a room or garage to use as a workshop, I would be in heaven :P

    Ed sure is lucky to have such a nice space (attic, etc), he’s really made the most out of every inch/

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