Building the Ultimate Garage Workshop with Plywood in 2024

garage workshop

When building a garage workshop that meets your needs while also looking stylish, you need look no further than plywood. This material is easy to work with, creates sturdy and attractive furniture, and doesn’t break the bank. In our ultimate guide to building a garage workshop with plywood, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of buying, cutting, finishing, and assembling your plywood garage.

workshop
Photo by Todd Kent on Unsplash

Why Should I Use Plywood in a Garage Workshop?

It’s a good question – what are the benefits of plywood over hardwood, or MDF? All woods have their uses, but plywood is able to meet most strength requirements, while looking aesthetic, and perhaps most importantly not breaking the bank. I have dedicated my professional career to utilizing plywood in new and innovative ways, and I truly believe it can be the best bang for your buck when building anything, including a new garage workshop.

How to Buy Good Quality Plywood for Your Garage Workshop

Wood Species

What wood you choose can have an impact on how your garage looks and the vibe it gives off – whether you are looking for a light and breezy design or a warm and cozy look, you can get either with plywood. There are many species to choose from, but some of the most popular are birch, maple and oak. All of these are durable and can support a decent amount of weight, and you can paint or stain them or simply leave the natural color to show – they are highly versatile.

Grades

Depending on your budget, it is better to purchase plywood with an A grade, which means it is of the highest production quality. B grade plywood is still worth your attention if you are working on a tighter budget. Grades are used to determine how many imperfections there are on the sheet – the lower the grade, the more knots in the wood. For the plywood that you’ll use on furniture, shelves, and cabinets, it’s always best to buy higher grade plywood. Lower grades are better for plywood that won’t be seen, such as structural elements and backboards.

Thickness

Sheet Good has an entire article dedicated to this topic, but what thickness you choose will come down to what you are building. A workbench, where strength and endurance are paramount, will require thicker plywood. On the other hand, a cabinet door won’t need to be quite as thick. Below we have a quick reference guide for when you are thinking about which thickness to go for.

Nominal Plywood ThicknessActual Plywood Thickness (inches)Actual Plywood Thickness (millimeters)Common Uses
1/4″7/32″5.5mmDrawer bottoms, cabinet backs
3/8″11/32″9mmWall sheathing
1/2″15/32″12mmFurniture, walls, roofing
5/8″19/32″15mmFloor underlayment, walls, roofing
3/4″23/32″18mmSubfloors, cabinets, shelving
1″31/32″25.4mmTable tops
1-1/8″1-1/8″28.1mmStair treads, walls (for soundproofing)
1-1/4″1-1/4″30.9mmLarger projects

Plywood Lined Walls in Your Garage Workshop

Versatile Mounting

Plywood-lined walls are a game changer for me because they let me mount tools and equipment anywhere I want. This flexibility means I can optimize my workspace for both space and accessibility. Whether it’s using wall mounting systems, French cleats, or even custom mounts, plywood walls make organizing my garage workshop so much easier.

Enhanced Aesthetics

Plywood is a material that has a very beautiful and natural appearance. The wood grains create patterns that leave each sheet feeling unique, and they bring an airy and characteristic feel to your garage. You can paint or stain the sheets as desired, but many people choose to leave the plywood untouched (other than adding a clear varnish) to let the natural beauty shine through.

Wall Mounting Systems

There are various ways to mount your cabinets, units, and shelves to the walls of your garage workshop. I am a big fan of french cleats as they are sturdy enough to handle a decent amount of weight, while being relatively hidden so that they don’t disturb the space.

Creative Storage Solutions with Plywood in Your Garage Workshop

Tool Board

A garage doesn’t feel complete without a tool board. Peg boards are popular but can sometimes be annoying as tools can be easily knocked off. Check out this video from One Minute Workbench, where they design and build a custom tool board using plywood. The results speak for themselves.

How to Make a Custom Tool Organization Board

Custom Mounts and Holders

Drill Holders

Plywood is strong enough to hold up heavy hand drills, allowing for efficient organization.

Sand Paper Organization

Building a shelf with individual compartments will allow you to keep sandpaper (or other small and varied tools) organized and easily accessible.

Clamp Rack

A clamp rack can be built easily using plywood, and it will keep your clamps nearby but out of the way.

Plywood Cabinets

I build plywood cabinets for concealed storage in my workshop. They keep my tools and supplies organized, dust free and easily accessible, while maintaining a cohesive layout. Plywood allows me to customize the cabinets to fit perfectly in my space. These cabinets not only help me to work better, but also give my garage a clean, professional look.

Functional Workbench Designs

There are a lot of great plans out there for different types of workbenches. Take a look at the various workbench designs by Ron Paulk. Another great workbench is the torsion box design. Both types can be made with hand tools or easily cut out with a nesting CNC router. They offer strength and durability for many years, and they would make an amazing addition to any garage workspace.

The Paulk Smart Bench is here! (PSB)

Sturdy Sawhorses

Plywood sawhorses are incredibly useful for supporting a variety of projects and offering portable work surfaces. I love how sturdy and reliable they are, making them perfect for cutting, sanding, or assembling pieces. They’re easy to move around and store, providing me with flexibility and convenience in my garage. Plus, building them from plywood ensures they’re both strong and cost-effective.

Practical Applications for Your Garage Workshop

woodworker
Photo by Bailey Alexander on Unsplash

Garage Workshop Setup

Setting up a garage workshop with plywood-lined walls is a great way to maximize functionality and organization. Here’s how I do it:

Layout Planning: Start by sketching a floor plan. I consider my workflow, ensuring tools and materials are within easy reach. I designate specific areas for different tasks, like woodworking, storage, and assembly.

Plywood Wall Installation: I begin by measuring and cutting the plywood sheets to fit the wall dimensions. I secure them to the wall studs using screws, making sure to align the edges for a clean look. This not only enhances durability but also provides a versatile mounting surface.

Tool Mounting and Storage: With the walls in place, I install various storage solutions. I use wall-mounted organizers like pegboards, French cleats, and custom shelves. These systems allow me to easily hang tools and rearrange them as needed.

Workbench and Workstations: I build a sturdy plywood workbench, such as the Ron Paulk design, for a multifunctional work surface. I also set up dedicated stations for different tasks, ensuring I have everything I need within arm’s reach.

Final Touches: I add labels to storage bins and tool racks to keep everything organized. Good lighting is essential, so I install bright LED fixtures to illuminate my workspace.

Home Office Integration in a Garage Workshop

Integrating plywood-lined walls into a home office within the garage combines workspace functionality with ample storage solutions. Here’s how I do it:

Designated Workspace: I start by sectioning off a portion of the garage for the home office. Plywood-lined walls help define the space, creating a distinct, professional work area.

Custom Desk and Shelving: Using plywood, I build a custom desk that fits perfectly in the designated area. I add built-in shelves and cabinets to store office supplies, keeping the workspace clutter-free and organized.

Tool and Office Supply Integration: I install pegboards and French cleats on the plywood walls to hang office essentials like calendars, whiteboards, and organizers. This keeps everything within easy reach and maximizes vertical space.

Cable Management: The plywood walls make it easy to incorporate cable management solutions. I drill holes and add grommets to keep cords tidy and out of the way, creating a clean and efficient workspace.

Personal Touches: I personalize the space with decor and accessories that inspire productivity. Adding a coat of paint or stain to the plywood walls can enhance the aesthetic, making the home office feel more inviting.

Lighting and Comfort: Good lighting is crucial, so I install task lighting and overhead fixtures to brighten the area. I also ensure there’s adequate ventilation and comfortable seating to create a pleasant working environment.

Enhanced Workshop Efficiency

For me, plywood-lined walls play a crucial role in optimizing workshop efficiency. They provide a versatile surface that makes it easy to mount tools and equipment exactly where I need them, ensuring everything is within reach. This setup not only streamlines tool storage and organization but also speeds up project assembly and completion. By keeping the workspace tidy and tools readily accessible, I can focus more on my projects and less on searching for the right equipment.

Cutting Plywood for Your Garage Workshop

Tools

A circular saw is great for straight cuts, while a table saw offers more precision for repeatable cuts. For more detailed work, a jigsaw comes in handy, and a track saw is perfect for long, straight cuts. You’ll also need a straightedge or guide rail to guide your saw, clamps to hold your plywood in place, a measuring tape, and a pencil or marking tool for accuracy.

Measuring and Marking

Use a measuring tape to measure the dimensions you need, and mark the cut line clearly with a pencil or marking tool. For straight cuts, use a straightedge or guide rail to ensure your line is perfectly straight. Taking your time with this step can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Using a Circular Saw

Start by setting up your circular saw with a fine-tooth blade to minimize splintering. Clamp your plywood sheet securely to your workbench or sawhorses, ensuring it won’t move during the cut. Align the saw blade with your marked line, and start cutting with the good side of the plywood facing down. Keep the saw steady and let it do the work, avoiding the temptation to force it through the wood.

Using a Table Saw

Set up your table saw with the appropriate blade for plywood, typically a fine-tooth blade. Adjust the fence to the desired width of your cut. Feed the plywood through the saw, keeping it pressed firmly against the fence to ensure a straight cut. Make sure to use a push stick to keep your hands safe from the blade, especially towards the end of the cut.

Using a Jigsaw

Jigsaws are great for cutting shapes and curves in plywood. Fit your jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade and secure the plywood to your workbench. Start cutting slowly along your marked line, keeping a steady hand and guiding the saw gently. For best results, make sure the good side of the plywood is facing up to minimize splintering.

Using a Track Saw

A track saw provides excellent precision for long, straight cuts. Place the track on your plywood, aligning it with your cut line. Secure it with clamps if necessary. Start your saw and guide it along the track, letting the saw do the work. This method is particularly useful for cutting large sheets of plywood accurately and efficiently.

Finishing the Plywood in Your Garage Workshop

plywood sheets
Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

Sanding

Sanding down the surfaces and edge of the plywood help to get rid of rough spots and blemishes. Our guide on sanding plywood delves deeper into what to do, from what sander to use, the best sandpaper for each stage, and the best techniques to create a smooth and uniform finish.

Varnish, Stains, and Paints

Check out our guide on how to finish plywood for more detail, but essentially you will want to decide how you want your garage to look. Many people choose to let the natural beauty of plywood show, and simply add a layer of varnish to protect it from moisture. If you want to change the shade of the plywood while keeping the “wood” aesthetic, a stain can achieve this. Paint can change up the look and feel of your garage with a splash of color.

Maintenance of Your Garage Workshop

It’s imperative that you keep the shop clean and free of dust by regularly cleaning. This is also your garage, and if you’re anything like me you are constantly moving between different projects. I find that having my space clean and tidy helps me be more productive. It’s also important to inspect for any signs of moisture damage and address them promptly by resealing the affected areas, and also checking and tightening any loose screws or joints. With these simple maintenance practices, my plywood fixtures stay durable and look great for years.