Tool/Materials Organization and Storage

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JonathanF1968

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
94
Location
Massachusetts
I'm interested in seeing what your ingenious methods are for storing and organizing tools, and also, fasteners, finishes, lumber, etc. Basically, I want to see the clever details of your shop, and also, hear your ideas about general philosophy of these matters, such as what goes on a pegboard, what goes on a cart, what goes on a shelf, what goes in a drawer, etc., and why.

Photos would be greatly appreciated.

Most of my chisels are half buried in a heap of sawdust on my workbench. This is to say, my preference is that really good ideas be suggested here, rather than "Well, this is how I do it...." if the way that you do it is just awful!

I will share one thing I'm doing now that's helping me, which is that I'm using a label maker to indicate what is in a series of plastic bins (from dishwasher detergent pellets). So, I've got one marked "Hole Saws," one marked "Jointer" (all the bits and bobs from a little jointer that I took apart and will put back together someday maybe), one for "Angle Grinder Discs," and so on, and they are neatly aligned on a shelf. (Some are in close proximity to things they support, while others are independent.) The label maker makes it tidy and clear.

And recently, I built a big shelf on wheels, on which I store all my hand-held power tools. (I expect to move it once a year to access something behind it.) It's nice that they all have a home, rather than being scattered around my house, barn, kids' rooms, etc. And it makes it harder to forget what I have (and also a reminder that I need to stop rescuing cheap broken drills from the dump.)

Here's a question. Say you find a screw on the ground. It is in perfect condition. Where does it go? Trace its journey, for me, from being in chaos to being in a perfectly ordered system.

Me, I have an embarrassing number of buckets/jars/etc. with miscellaneous doodads in it, and that screw will currently have a one way ticket into just another area of chaos. Not only that, but I have quite a few similar stashes from my grandfather's shop. His junk collections are more interesting than mine. Mostly cigar boxes, where he might have a playing card, a corroded penny, a random part from a sewing machine (he was an upholsterer), a human tooth, a box of staples, and a few screws of different sizes. And often, a very worn, very poor quality pocket knife. (I have a lot of his terrible pocket knives.) But I digress. The point is, I need some systems, or I'm going to be on one of those TV shows, soon, where someone stages an intervention.
 
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MDWine

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Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Messages
2,577
Location
Manassas Park, Virginia, USA.
I have piles... some items in the piles are related, some are not
piles are everywhere
I tell my kids when the use a tool, put it back where you found it, NOT where you THINK it goes...
That is an ever evolving thing in a shop methinks, organization. I have some pretty neat ideas, and little time to implement them.

One thing I know I am doing this summer, removing my shelf units and making a SLAT WALL!!
I've gotten lots of ideas from YouTube.
This thread should be fun to watch... I hope to get ideas and hopefully contribute.
 

TonyL

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
6,760
Location
Alpharetta, GA 30004
I have all sorts of systems, containers, etc.. they last about a day, then I go back to my random piles of stuff method. I did buy this for half price and hung it right behind one of my lathes. It is not designed for small parts, but it is able to store a lot of tools. https://www.amazon.com/WOODRIVER-WoodRiver-Red-Tool-Rack/dp/B07B8T83CY. I also have lots of these things stick just about every where - mostly to the front of my work/lathe benches. I also get these when they are half price: https://www.ptreeusa.com/shop_magnets_tool_rack.htm
 

budnder

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
399
Location
Chicago/Tucson
I really like the "magnet bar" ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010Z9S52 ) I have on the wall behind my lathe. Common stuff I use, drill bits, dead center, collet chuck, drill chuck, etc. goes up on that bar. I'm really bad about putting stuff away after I use it, but for some reason I'm good about the take and put back from anything on that bar. Maybe because it's so handy.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2010
Messages
280
Location
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
You are by no means alone in your collection of miscellaneous hardware items, old tools etc. Welcome to the club. I too still have tools that were my fathers and grandfathers, and wife's grandfather.

One of my very best assets in shop organization is my Brother P-Touch label maker. I use labels from the 1/4" to 3/4" wide. Mostly black on white, however I do use the red on white for safety related or something I wish to really stand out. They have a small printer operated via your computer, they just introduced a newer model that operates from cell phones, or computer.

For pen making materials I use an 8-drawer file cabinet. You can still find them at used office furniture stores and other places. It was designed for double rows of 3 x 5 file cards. 8 drawers. Ideal for pen making supplies.

I keep a small aluminum tray ( 3/3/4" x 5 1/2" x 1"- repurposed) on my workbench where little hardware items are placed when found. When somewhat full, I just put them where they need to be. I make frequent use of an inexpensive sorting tray (Funnel Tray) from Harbor Freight (item # 38770, $2.99, yellow about 10" square, maybe 2" deep, with an opening at one corner for pouring. It's priceless for sorting and searching hardware or any small items. I also keep a small plastic tub on another corner of one workbench with pen kits such as next or soon to make. My shop buddy (big ginger tabby cat will sweep on floor and play with pen kits or components if I don't store safely.)

Pegboard covers a good part of my shop walls. Don't make the mistake of purchasing the 1/8" board, as I did, then after some years decided to paint it. Had to be coated with sanding sealer first because it absorbs paint like a sponge. Purchase the white prefinished, it's a little thicker and uses the larger diameter (wire) peg board hooks. Also is not as prone to warping as the thin stuff. mcmaster.com has the hooks that you can't find at the box stores, and the little red caps to go on the ends.

A 22-drawer hardware cabinet sits near the lathe to hold bushings and small items, all drawers labeled. I have numerous other small plastic racks of drawers made by Akro Mills, purchased from Lowes for various hardware items. Another item I built was a rack for those 1# boxes of nails, drywall screws etc that I had laying around. It holds 27 of these 1# boxes. Built from scrap, should have built it larger. One of Murphy's Laws (Your junk expands to meet the space available.

For my chisels I made a rack that can hang on one of the pegboard walls. All 9 are labeled as to size on the handles with a spiral wrap of P-Touch label stating the size of the chisel (no matter how it lays on a work surface the size is visible. Rack was made with approximately the rear 1/3 of the feet able to pivot on miniature hinges so it will sit nearly flush against peg board and yet be self supporting if placed on a workbench. Not sure why I went through so much trouble for a swap meet purchased set of chisels that were improperly cleaned with the plating destroyed. Nothing wrong with the steel, just it's now an ugly gray color.

I keep my small power hand tools 18 x 36" steel shelving, with a total of 8 shelves in a single rack. I regret not purchasing a rotary storage unit such as you use from a private sale some years ago. Very space efficient.

I'm by no means well organized, not by a long shot. Just able to find most things most of the time when I need or want them. Now if I could only do something about those things that hide right in plain sight.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2017
Messages
891
Location
Wolf Creek Montana
First off, I have dedicated workbenches for various tasks. Above each bench are the tools needed for that bench space on shelves. As an example, one bench is for pen making and leather work, another is for knife making, reloading and other heavy work stuff. I keep all my pen bushings in bobbin boxes made by Art Bin with lables on the outside. I can store a lot of bushings in a very small space this way. All items needed for pen turning are stored on shelves above the pen turning lathe.
My lathe tools are put on a movable canted rack that can be moved from the pen lathe to my large lathe with a single lift. I have peg board on the wall behind each work bench where specific tools are kept. When I buy nuts and bolts I keep the original containers and place like items on the shelf.
I keep accessory parts for the lathe in drawers, i.e. extra chucks, mandrel savers etc. They are all stored in their original boxes.
If I find small nuts and bolts, for example, on the floor I put them in the corresponding box on the shelf. If I don't have a box for them then usually they get tossed. I used to store about a ton of nuts and bolts in old coffee cans. Big waste of time and space trying to store something that you have no idea what it's used for. But that's just me.
Extra wood is stored in the back of the shop stacked against the wall out of the way. All my pen kits, seam rippers, coffee scoops and other items are stored in marked plastic shoe boxes that I get on sale each spring at Lowe's. These are then stacked 4 high on shelves out of the way. Same is true for knife blanks, all are stored in these same plastic totes.
I have found shelving to be my best storage options and I have a lot of shelf space through the entire shop. Since I have 9 1/2' ceilings I can go quite high and keep the not-so-often items up high out of the way and when needed I get a step stool to get them down. Many shelves are stacked 3 high and plenty of working space under them. I also have dedicated lights over each bench that have their own on/off switch. That way I just light the areas I'm working in.
While turning, the lathe tools are kept in their rack and between each turned item, prior to finish, I use a small Sears vacuum to clean up the shavings. I hate trying to work and find things in a mound of sawdust. The floor is also vacuumed clean after a project is completed.
I think that about does it but did want to mention that in my shop I also store a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.
 

monophoto

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
1,484
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
Random thoughts:

- pen components stored in plastic containers, either bought for that purpose or recycled containers from the deli department at the supermarket
- bushings stored in 35mm film canisters (OK- may be hard to find, but I have a bunch of them). Also, old-time photographers may also have metal cans that were originally used as packaging for bluk-load 35mm film (100 ft lengths) - another convenient thing for either general storage, or for packaging shop-made sanding wax.
- finishes are stored in either squeeze bottles from Harbor Freight, or recycled cooking spice jars. I leave bulk finishes (and finish components) in the original factory container, and mix up small working quantities for actual use. Eventually, the container holding the working version gets gummed up and the container is just thrown away.
- magnets are handy. I have a couple of the Harbor Freight magnetic strips that hold miscellaneous tools. I also drill holes in tool handles, and glue in rare earth magnets - great way to store diamond honing paddles, small brushes and shop-made go/no-go gauges.
- a Dymo labelmaker is a great way to mark storage containers and tools. I have one of the older models that embosses plastic tape, as well as the newer version that uses heat-sensitive paper or plastic tape - the heat-sensitive unit is easier to use and more flexible, but the embossing version is great for putting labels on things that are going to be exposed to weather.
- Sharpies are a great asset in the shop, but the standard Sharpie will eventually rub off some materials. Sharpie also make markers that use paint rather than a pigmented solvent that work better on some materials. The problem with paint markers in general is getting them started, and then keeping them writing - they tend to clog over time. My experience is that Sharpie paint markers seem to work better over the long haul.
- I've made 'for purpose' holders for some tools. For example, I have a rack to hold chuck jaws made from a scrap of plywood - individual jaws hang from 'pegs' made by cutting the heads off of ordinary carpentry nails. Also, a rack for the chuck body made from a scrap of 2x4, and with a shop-made dowel that holds the chuck - the face of the block of 2x4 is cut at an angle so that the chuck angles up when it is stored. My face mask lives on a similar holder. I also have a hanger that I turned from a scrap of oak to hang a shop-made donut chuck (for spoon making) - a simple spindle turning with an on-axis hole for a screw to attach it to the wall.
- my current solution for sanding discs (2") is a plastic Harbor Freight compartmented box. I say 'current' because it's the best idea I have found, but I'm still looking for something better.
- I have a wheeled three-tiered rack that I bought at a dollar store that I use to hold my sanding disc box, my collet chuck (iin its original plastic box), and a food-container that is used to store my buffing wheels. The rack sits next to the lathe, but can easily be moved when I'm inspired to clean up the shavings on the floor.

I'm a strong advocate of always returning a tool to its designated storage location so that you will know where it is the next time you need it. Unfortunately, I subconsciously tend to put tools down when I finish using them without returning them to the designated storage spot - - - so I spend entirely too much time looking for stuff.
 
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leehljp

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Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
6,913
Location
Tunica, MS,
I have about 50 of these(click the link below) Dollar General clear plastic shoe boxes, and made shelves to hold 2 side by side; after I did that, then I added a second 2 bin shelf - from the floor to almost the ceiling. They don't have locking tops but they are only $1 each. I keep and have on hand white duct tape. I tear off about 4 - 5 inches and write the contents with a magic marker and stick it on the end. Easy to see quickly.

I keep pens, blanks, small tools, cutters, rubber bands, and those "often purchased items that I don't use for a few weeks and then can't find" - I have several dedicated to that, and have made a habit of putting newly purchased small items there. I might forget which one I put it in but it only takes a minute to find it. Since I started doing that, my hair has started growing back!

 

MRDucks2

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Joined
Jul 17, 2017
Messages
1,844
Location
Franklin, IN
I use most of the methods mentioned. I find developing “workstations” or areas for various types of work helpful. My plastic rack like Tony mentioned collapsed of of my pegboard like Tom uses. Guess I overloaded it a little. Actually ended up better organized hanging the stuff directly to the pegboard.

My magnetic bars come from Harbor Freight where I get them anywhere from free to $2 on sale.

The plastic shoe boxes, as my wife calls them, that Hank uses are great for blank storage me after buying another turner out. You can label boxes and see the blanks well enough to verify what’s in there. I have small parts boxes with all the bins and bigger versions for holesaws and such. Pegboard in 2 or 3 places. 2 rolling toolbox bottoms white tool chest tops and intermediate draws. I have found that if I have them face each other they actually take up less space.

I also use the tubular hooks you get cheap at Rural King or HF to hang bundles of cords, pieces of hose, etc.

In short, I look at a space and try to find something that fits both the space and the organizational need.


Sent from my iPhone using Penturners.org mobile app
 
Joined
May 13, 2019
Messages
9
Location
Cape Town, South Africa
I have a very small work shop, 7 feet by 9 feet.

Use pegboards, plastic storage containers, about 30. Make maximum use of wall space. Every tools has its place, have to keep it clean and organized due to size. See photos:
 

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elyk864

Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2017
Messages
269
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I just mounted a big piece of wood to my wall then I screw everything into it. That way I can make custom hangers for whatever I want.

Only pic I could find right now. But I have a lot more hanging on the right side.
220998
 

TonyL

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Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
6,760
Location
Alpharetta, GA 30004
I have a very small work shop, 7 feet by 9 feet.

Use pegboards, plastic storage containers, about 30. Make maximum use of wall space. Every tools has its place, have to keep it clean and organized due to size. See photos:
I have a very small work shop, 7 feet by 9 feet.

Use pegboards, plastic storage containers, about 30. Make maximum use of wall space. Every tools has its place, have to keep it clean and organized due to size. See photos:
Beautiful! That is better organized and cleaner than the operating room I was born in! Inspiring!
 
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