Ikea Kitchen Cabinets for Garage Organization - Vertical Wall Cabinet for Skis and Thule Racks

One of the things that was sorely lacking in the new house was any form of garage organization - just a huge, empty, 40 x 18 x 10 foot box.

Next to no organization - piles of boxes and a big open mess.

I did a bunch of research, and looked at the garage storage systems in the big box home improvement stores. My impression of the systems offerred, both in metal and in melamine - was typically of mediocre quality, and a lack of flexibility. Typically, only one or two base cabinets and tall cabinets were offerred, so getting a good fit with my space would be difficult or impossible.

Then I went to Ikea and checked out the Akurum kitchen cabinet system. Here - lots of choice in base cabinets, wall cabinets and tall cabinets. Lots of widths, height, door and drawer combinations. In essence - exactly what I was looking for - full flexibility to implement a storage design taking into account my space available. (Note - I understand that the Ikea Akurum system will be replaced in 2015 by a new kitchen cabinet system - Sektion - but that shouldn't change the principles of implementing a similar solution in your garage).

Here's my post on the Akurum cabinet installation. 

Here's a photo of the completed tall cabinet - loaded with racks and gear:

Completed Cabinet Installation - Perfect for Skis, Hockey Sticks, Thule Rack Bars
Empty wall - ready for cabinets.... I had been wondering what I could do with this space between the mandoor and garage door.

Bare corner ready for cabinet installation. I had to move an alarm motion sensor up to clear the cabinet installation. 
In order to fit the cabinet - it was a tight squeeze - I had to use the router to remove some material from one side of the cabinet - to clear the ceramic tile installed on the bottom 2 feet of the wall in my installation. Note the plastic levelling feet used - makes installation a breeze.

A router removed some material from the side surface of the
 cabinet to clear my ceramic tile on the lower part of my garage walls. 
A wall mounted plywood strip compensates for the thickness of the ceramic tile on the wall at the bottom. The metal hanging bracket ensures a solid installation - very simple and straighforward to hang the cabinet on the wall.

Plywood spacer and wall bracket for securing the top of the cabinet. You can also see the alarm sensor wire has been extended. 
Adding boxes to the initial wall cabinet. Levelling is quick and easy with the plastic cabinet feet.

Box installed, waiting for cabinet doors
Once all the wall cabinets are installed, its time for some doors and drawers. I went for the soft close hinges and drawer slides - makes for a polished installation. I also installed a second cabinet door with extra height to hide items placed on top of the cabinet. This space is perfect for wheel holders.

Top door - extra height to help hide items placed on top of the cabinet.
Door installation - checking the height of the shelf with my longest set of skis.
One tip for making the whole process go quicker - use an air powered trim nailer - brad nailer for tacking the back panels of the cabinets to the cabinet frames - this really speeds up the slowest part of the whole operation.

I also added some velcro ties to help store poles and accessories.

Velcro tie - held down with a wood screw and washer.
Pefect for holding ski poles.
Completed installation with the door closed. 
After about 15 months - this setup is still rock solid and very practical. I can't imaging working without it now.

Final touch - was installing a second garage door remote on the side of the cabinet for convenience. I ran all the wires in surface mount wiring channels - to hide the wires and neaten the installation.

Garage Door Control installed on the side of the cabinet

Door sensor installed - wiring channels hide bare wires.

Organization of the Thule Rack Parts


This was a super upgrade. When ever I need to rack up the car - my racks are right near the garage door - no running around and digging up rack components. The skis are also right by the garage door - just open the garage door - throw the skis in the car - and off to the hill. Excellent upgrade and time saver, helps the garage look neat. 

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. If you're interested, you can help support this site by using the following links to Amazon.com in the United States. Cabinets are available at Ikea - in person or online.


Workbench Task Lighting using Armacost LED Strip Lighting

It's been a busy summer - I haven't had much time for posting - so I figured I would get back into the game with a pretty simple one. I wrote earlier about my garage organization project using Ikea kitchen cabinets - full height wall cabinets, combined with upper wall cabinets above my table saw, mini fridge and mini freezer. You can check out that post here. 

Completed Installation - LED Strip Lights underneath wall cabinets, lighting work surface / freezer
The table saw and freezer make a pretty handy worktable when I'm not using the table saw. I thought I would add some task lighting over the table saw, and decided to try out Lee Valley Tools new LED strip lighting kits. They have all kinds of options - white or mulicoloured LEDs with various LED spacing for different intensities, and transformers of various capacities to match the current requirements of the installed LEDs. They also have some dimmers, switches to round out the installation. I made my lighting plan, decided to go with white LEDs with a one LED every 1/2 inch spacing (high intensity) and the appropriate transformer.

Power Supply Mounted in the Wall Cabinet - with all my tool chargers
The LED light strips are high quality - you can select between two different white colors - warm or natural white - and the light strips come with a 3M adhesive backing to apply directly to the application surface. I decided to go with the natural white in the garage, and the light is bright and clear - perfect for task lighting. Prior to application of the light strips, I used a bit of brake cleaner on a rag to clean off the melamine lower surface of the Ikea cabinets - just to ensure I would get good adhesion. This worked fine - 18 months following installation the LED strips haven't moved or delaminated.

The Lee Valley Kit comes with connectors to allow you to cut the strips to custom length
I decided to control the light strip 30W transformer with an Insteon switch for automation control, and installed the switch and a two plug outlet in a 4" junction box using a twin outlet cover plate. This way, I got 2 electrical outlets above the table saw. I mounted the transformer inside the Ikea cabinet on the plywood board I installed for all my cordless tool chargers.

Surface Mount Junction Box with Switch Adapter Cover Plate, Insteon Control Switch, and Power Outlet


The Lee Valley LED light kits are top quality, very versatile with many options. I have above average confidence that if I need to repair or modify this installation, I'll be able to get parts or components from Lee Valley in the future. The finished installation is neat and professional looking, the light quality is very good and suited for the application. All in all - very satisfied with this product.

Light thrown from completed installation.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. The Armacost lighting components were sources from Lee Valley Tools.


Troubleshooting Central Vacuum Suction Issues - Old Nutone CV-400 Power Unit and Upgrade to Cana-Vac

It's been a while since my last post - life has been flying by at a rapid pace - and I'd like to post how I verified my central vac performance and resolved the suction issue.

30 year old house, central vacuum was installed at construction, and when we moved into the house about 6 years ago - one of the repairs I had to do was to repair broken or unglued central vac piping that was accessible in the basement. The other thing I did at that time was move the central vac to a corner of the basement utilty room to get it out of the way. Once I repaired the piping issues - the central vac cleaned up about a pound of sand and grit that was lining the bottom of the central vac piping - and the system was serviceable.

In the past year however, it was clear that the central vac wasn't performing well - it couldn't pick small pebbles off the floor, and it really wasn't dealing with the dog hair all that well. I did some internet research - looked at my options - and the first thing I decided to do was to baseline the suction performance before doing any repairs - so I would have some data to show whether my repairs did any good.

I rigged up a suction test using a plastic shop vac adapter, some duct tape, and a vacuum gauge that I had in the garage for tuning dual carburetor motorcycles:

Shop Vac Tool Adapter - Opening Covered in Duct Tape - Vacuum Hose to Vacuum Gauge

Vacuum Gauge Hooked up to the Central Vacuum Port

Vacuum Gauge - Reading approximately 35mm Hg
35mmHg converts to about 19 inches of water column suction. Comparing that to specifications of new vacuum cleaners - new machines are rated to pull up to 110 inches of water column - so my system was performing at about 20% of a new machine. No wonder it was struggling.

The next step was to remove the Central Vac from the installation - so that I could get the covers off and inspect it - and once I had the central vac removed - I installed my Shop Vac on the piping system to check to see if I could remove any debris from the vacuum lines and improve the suction at the test port.

Install Shop Vac on Central Vacuum Piping to Test Vacuum Lines
This worked quite well - the Shop Vac was able to triple the suction at the test port - and I got to about 60 inches of water column. I think I was able to clean some debris from the suction lines as well - I tested each port in the house - however I don't think that I had any fully clogged lines that would have accounted for the poor Central Vac performance. One thing about this test - the Shop Vac worked quite well as a power unit for the Central Vacuum piping - you could probably do this in a pinch without the installation of a proper Central Vacuum power unit.

Inspecting the Motors of the Central Vac Unit
Next step was to remove the top cover of the Nutone CV-400 power unit to check motor brushes and the air pathways. I powered up the unit with the top cover off (you have to take care - there is live 120V AC in this compartment of the central vac - to inspect the running of the brushes. One motor was giving quite large blue sparks at the brushes - which seemed to be an indication that the brushes were finished. I also removed the motors from the installation and found that one motor inlet was almost completely blocked by a piece of plastic that had worked it's way by the bag filter at some point - which certainly would have impacted performance.

I then started looking for motor parts - brushes - for these two Lamb motors. The only numbers marked on the motors were these green letters on the vacuum housing. And guess what - no motor nameplate, no motor part number, and no part numbers on the brushes. No way to identify which motors these were, no simple way to order the replacement brushes online to make a repair with the confidence I would get the right parts. 

Casting numbers for the metal vacuum housings - these are not motor part numbers
Not cool - not putting part numbers on these motors / brushes - certainly not a way to support sustainable development and the ability to repair your appliances instead of replacing them. At this point - my option would have been to take the unit to a repair shop that would be able to identify the motors and make the repairs. When I assessed the time and cost of doing that - I decided to replace the central vac with a completely new power unit. I did some research on suction and performance - there is a liability with running two motors in parallel as this central vacuum is configured - you get much better performance with a single larger motor with a vacuum impellor of larger diamater, so I decided to go with a new, single motor, tangential bypass power unit made by CanaVac.

New Central Vac Power Unit by Cana-Vac
Measuring the suction at my test port - I was up to close to 100 inches of water column - a five times improvement in suction - and the performance increase was substantial at the end of the hose. This has turned out to be a great performance upgrade - although - I was disappointed that I couldn't repair the original vacuum but I figured that even once repaired it still wouldn't have great performance - it would have been limited by the sub-par performance of the smaller parallel motors.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions.