Through years of covering the classic car world, we’ve seen a lot of restoration shops, and it’s remarkable how many of these professional facilities —be they machine shops or all-out restoration/body shops—fail to keep an organized and safe environment. Often these places are a disorganized mess, which can also make them unsafe as a result. Beyond safety is the issue of efficiency—in a business where work is measured in terms of hours spent, technicians shouldn’t have to struggle to find what they’re looking for.
The first order of business in any shop, be it home or a business, is organization and neatness: A place for everything and everything in its place. This, in turn, improves safety. Parts left on the floor can be a cause of falls and other personal injuries, not to mention damage to the part itself. Any equipment left in a poor state of repair, with missing safety shields, tooling, or other parts on the edge of catastrophic failure can be problematic, as can power equipment that’s not properly grounded.
So, if plenty of professional shops are disorganized, home garages and other workspaces are likely to be even worse. Most of the home garages and workshops we’ve seen are frustrating places to photograph technical articles, because so much time is spent searching for parts and tools. Due to the very nature of repair shops and home garages, there’s rarely the time to organize and clean up. For many, it isn’t even a priority.
How tidy and safe is your shop? Begin your evaluation with organization. A sloppy, cluttered shop is an accident waiting to happen. It is also a huge time suck because of how much effort is wasted in search of missing parts. Cars are stripped and the parts tossed to the four corners, with no idea of where these items go when it’s time for reassembly.
Whether you’re doing a simple remove-and-replace procedure or a full-scale restoration, all parts must be labeled and cataloged to make reassembly easier to accomplish. And don’t kid yourself: You’re never going to remember how something came apart months or years later. Under optimum circumstances, parts should be cataloged, stored together, and properly identified while the assembled car is fresh in your mind. Pictures of the assembled vehicle or component should be taken beforehand, even if you have a shop manual to refer to later.