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Thread: Shop space and storage

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Shop space and storage

    Mods this thread could go in many places but i put it here to get best coverage for all.

    There is a lot of discussion and debate about storage and space in our shops. To me Stu has probably demonstrated the most thriftyness with ingenuity and use of space.

    Today i recieved a Fine Woodworking newsletter and it contained a article on Tool Cupboards.

    This has been something moving ever higher on my priority list as the next big project to get back in order and get some space back.

    Starting out i had built two of the draw cabinets that Tom Clark posted here. But now some time later with the awareness as to the ease of access and need to be more space efficient, productive and along with each tool really needing their own place rather than just their own draw and in some cases lying on top of each other ,I have been clustering together pics of tool cabinets. Here is an online readers gallery at fine woodworking with a load of them

    Take a look at this video slide show by John Binzen. It has an interesting collection of pictures. Specifically look at the first one. Thats what inspired me to write this post and share the story. Its a first one i have seen that is this size and loaded. You dont have to build it so fancy but it would be a nice shop piece and potential heirloom if you have someone in the family most likely to carry on woodworking.

    But more important there is a great looking book that is available on the subject with loads of info and pictures especially dedicated to this topic.

    You can preview the book with the google book review. I will try and see if it is in my library and review it that way before i decide on a copy. Its only $17 but once i have built one i wont really want the book so its not really a book i would buy.

    My point is to many folks out there , when you stop and think of a tool cupboard like the neaders of old, and think of it going to more than just table height ( thats been my issue thinking counter top space rather than space utilization) then i think in my case i could get a 3 for 1 gain in my tool storage as well as way better organization. It could also be mounted on wheels and created in the way many of the furniture manufacturers are making the buffet and hutch combos (two separate units mounted on top of each other).

    I have seen many have a wall unit for neader tools, or a tool chest, but if you give this combo type unit a thought its pretty much going to put all your tools at easy access in a dedicated place potentially one step from your bench if its mobile.

    Anyone have any further thoughts on this.

    Oh btw i share my shop with non woodworking tools such as mechanical wrenches etc. So i dont see why the tool cabinet cannot be made to take all of them and in such a manner that the draws if thoughtfully designed could be removed and placed in a carrier for portability.

    Jim D, Mike H what do you say? You probably my no1 reference for neader tools?

    What am i missing that a tool cupboard like this creates.

    Ken i hope you see this and offer some of your thoughts. Its the issue of all out versus put away.

    My one concern is i already have a small set of draws my grandfather handed down and to find a tool i generally pull out three draws. Yet when i have my tools clustered in draws together then its usually first time puts a hand on it.

  2. #2

    Thanks for bringing this up

    There's so much to think about; the tool cabinet, or chest, or whatever may not be the heart of the shop, but it's darn close. Being a hybrid woodworker myself, my hand tools are always close at hand. I built a wall cabinet of no particular design about 25 years ago. While I've frequently thought of redesigning it or replacing it with something nicer and of more capacity, that has not happened. At least yet.

    A couple thoughts:
    1. My wall cabinet is located over the bench. This is out of necessity in my shop (one stall of a three-stall garage, but that's shared with my old goldwing) The actual woodworking shop part is maybe 12 X 12. The bench is up against the wall and 3 feet away is a lower assembly table. All tools, with the exception of the bandsaw, tablesaw and SCMS are jammed together. There is a small set of drawers under the bench for storing miscellaneous tools. Mostly, the wall cabinet houses planes, chisels, joinery saws, Japanese saws, braces, marking and most measuring tools. That's fine as far as it goes, but the cabinet is too tall, so the less frequently used tools are nearly out of reach, and I'm not short. Being too tall, there is also unused space at the top. In addition, each time I want a tool, I either have to open the doors to get it and then close the doors, or I swing them wide open. Either way, the doors get in the way a fair amount.

    2. My next tool storage cabinet is going to be a drawered affair, similar to the Gerstner free-standing base unit on wheels with a smaller set of drawers on top. The base will be able to hold power tools like belt sanders, drills, disc and orbital sanders, etc. I would like the top unit to hold chisels, measuring stuff like calipers, rulers, etc. Even with the utility of a rolling base unit cabinet, I can predict that I would miss the ease of finding stuff just by opening a swinging door on my wall cabinet. Obviously, the jury is still out...

    3. I've had the FWW Toolbox Book a long time, and while it doesn't get as much use as I would like, it sure is chock full of ideas. When I do pick it up, I can blow a whole evening just daydreaming what an ideal unit would be.

    I really like the back cover of this month's FWW. There are similar units in the Toolbox Book. I drool a lot.

    I'd welcome a wide-ranging discussion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I am a couple months into a study. I have a file on my desktop that categorizes items by such technical classifications as: use lots, use some, use seldom. The desired end result is that use lots tools will end up near at hand to the location where they are, uh, used lots. I already have some duplicates of some items to accomplish this.

    Used some items can go in cabinets or drawers that are some steps away but, IN the shop.

    Used seldom items can go over the rafters or out in the shed to be retrieved as required. Such items would very rarely be needed "suddenly" and so being somewhere out from under foot should not pose a problem.

    As I just finished putting up the shed this weekend I am already preparing shelves and such for "used seldom" items. The desired end result is more space to work more easily and more efficiently. We'll have to wait and see how that dovetails into REALITY
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Santa Claus, In
    This is exactly what I am after doing my miter bench the way i am doing it. Storage. I have even came up with more ideas to put in place that shouldn't steal more room. In one regard the shoulder surgery has helped me slow down and plan, plan plan.

    Disclaimer: I do not recommend surgery just to have a reason to reorganize your shop

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Glenn your thoughts are quite shall i say thought provoking. Oh boy that one just slipped out.

    Ok Art made a good point of waking me up to further storage space i had not thought of using in my garage.

    I have been betwixed and between about what stays in the shop and what does not. I have been through taking everything that has nothing to do with woodworking out and off to the basement where i have house stuff and tools, but they find their way back to the shop when i use the shop to fix something that is house or garden related.

    You idea of duplicates is definitely a good one. Especially for little nusance items like the odd wrench reqired on ones jointer to set the fence or the allen key for my table saw insert screw. I saw the merit in this just last weekend. Previously i would have had the allen key in a common place with its cousins. Then i put the neccessary one by the TS and it paid off big time in keeping workflow smooth and not having the distraction of finding it when needed. Just like i keep my drill press on a flyfishing zinger. (i dont know what yu call those things with the spring loaded retraction).

    Now i am thinking it might be time to put a small bench back in the garage. Then move the uneccessary "stuff" out to the garage and free up some space. The trick is you list. To itemise what you have so you dont go and buy it again because you cannot find it and in reality you have stored it in such a place as to have forgotten it. BTDTGTS many more times than once. And as we age and memory gets worse, well this is only likely to happen more often.

    I think Allen had a good idea of using acrylic of some clear material for the draw front rather than just making it sexy with some nice hard wood.

    Sorting the tools is a definite. I also think culling a few is neccessary too. I am still paranoid about my kids destroying my tools so there are multiples but I always reach for the exact same one, my go to screwdriver or whatever. The rest might as well be put somewhere else more convenient for infrequent use like my garage.

    Its a tough one dealing with handtools and i dont mean just planes or spokeshaves etc.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    If you're interested in a fairly elaborate tool cabinet, take a look at the latest American Woodworker magazine. There's a really nice 26 drawer cabinet there.

    I have a 3 foot by 4 foot double doored cabinet in my shop (sorry, no pix) that has storage on the inside of both doors, as well as in the cabinet itself. It started out many years ago as a woodworking tools only cabinet, but now it has pliers, soldering equipment, a few wrenches, and assorted other stuff in it as well. I do too many other things besides woodworking to be able to have dedicated storage for each different thing.

    I do have some sort of dedicated 'go boxes' for frequent homeowner type tasks, though - you know, plumbing, electrical, tractor, etc. repair...
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

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