Horizontal garden tool storage, and handle care
April 4, 2016 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Our primary outdoor storage isn't tall enough to stand garden tools up in. They're currently on their side in an unsightly pile buried in dead leaves that blew under the porch. How to do it better? (Bonus Q: can you refurbish weathered wooden handles?)

We have a postage-stamp sized yard, so there's not a place to put a shed. We wouldn't be able to secure it to the side of the house anyway, because we rent. The primary outdoor storage space is about chest-high, under the stairs/enclosed porch - the house is elevated half a story off the ground. It's not tall enough to fit tools vertically. We keep push mower, wagon, and grill under the porch, and the garden tools (shovels, rakes, etc) are piled in the triangular area under the stairs. It's ugly and messy and hard to get to what you want. Has anyone else with a small place solved this problem? I'm not overly handy, but enjoy trying to be, and can follow a straightforward DIY plan if need be.

Question part B is, assume (completely hypothetically, you understand) that maaaaybe some of the tools weren't put away in a timely fashion and the handles are rough and weathered. Can you sand them down (by hand? With a power sander?)? Paint/stain them? With what?
posted by telepanda to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hard to picture your space, but if you are storing under the stairs could you make a little rack so that you could store them against the wall instead of on the ground? Could you post a picture of the space?

For handles, a hand sand is probably best. You could use a palm sander, but it won't be much faster compared to making a loop of sandpaper that fits over the handle. Apply linseed oil, tung oil, or another similar finish after sanding.
posted by ssg at 7:57 AM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Part B: Just grab some sandpaper in the 120-220 grit range. (whatever is cheapest that day at the hardware store; get at least a few sheets) and wrap the sandpaper around the handle and run it up and down over the wooden handles for a few minutes. The handles will be pleasantly smooth afterwards. You could varnish them with an outdoor urethane, but I honestly, just sand my handles once a year rather than varnishing them.
posted by gregr at 7:59 AM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

set some 3' lengths of 2" diameter PVC pipe and some pipe straps. Use the pipe straps to secure the pipes to the underside of the deck. (watch the screw length so they don't poke through to catch feet.) Store tools by sliding handle first into the pipe.
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:08 AM on April 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you're just storing garden tools, you don't have to go full shed. Something simple and weatherproof like this should work just fine, and you don't have to secure it to the house.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:27 AM on April 4, 2016

If you're just looking for a rack this Rubbermaid 5E28 Deluxe Tool Tower Rack works great for us (although we keep it in a shed).
posted by ShooBoo at 8:48 AM on April 4, 2016

telepanda: " can you refurbish weathered wooden handles"

Yes. Just sand them. Start with an 80-100 and then step up to a 150 working lengthwise with the grain of the wood. Coat with either a 1:4 mix of turpentine and Boiled Linseed oil; or Danish oil (basically keep applying until the wood won't take anymore then give a light wipe down). Both finishes can be touched up with a rag lightly dampened with the finish as needed.
posted by Mitheral at 9:37 AM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm not clear on what your space looks like either but Instructables has a plan for a horizontal tool rack. Personally, I'd just skip the spade bit and mitre saw parts and just cut angled slots in a 2 x 6 then attach that in a T orientation to a 2 x 4 and then attach that to the porch supports.

If there is no way to attach anything to porch supports, I might try something like this lumber rack scaled down for tools (only one-sided so it can sit flush with the house).

As far as treating the handles, sand down and seal with boiled linseed oil.
posted by Beti at 9:40 AM on April 4, 2016

If you already have some raw linseed oil but don't have any boiled, the raw works too; it just takes longer to set because it doesn't have the same additives that go in "boiled" oil. On a weathered handle that's going to be soaking most of it up, that won't matter much.
posted by flabdablet at 11:33 AM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had imagined that the thing you wanted to be flush to the underside of the porch, i.e. looking at Beti's Instructables link, turn that rack so it's facing down and all the tools magically don't fall out. Maybe all you need is a bunch of large hooks which you'd mount in a formation to put one at each end of each tool handle?

Or, hang a row of hooks about 8" back from the opening, and a long bar about three feet back from that, so that your tool storage method is to poke the end of hte handle between the porch joists and the support bar, then set the base of the handle (the neck of the tool head) into its individual hook support. (Works fine for smaller tools, maybe not for a leaf rake.)
posted by aimedwander at 11:37 AM on April 4, 2016

I'm not that keen on linseed oil. I would either just leave the wood bare, or find an exterior varnish of the urethane/polyurethane type.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:41 PM on April 4, 2016

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