One of the biggest issues most amateur woodworkers face is not enough workshop space, most of us work out of our garage or something similar in size. Tools constantly complete for floor space and there just never seems to be enough storage. With limited space organization becomes woodworkers’ most critical skill. But organization does not only apply to a small shop but to any shop. A large shop can become cluttered with tools, materials, waste, and whatever else we drag in to the point where it takes longer to find a tool than to use it.
In my shop I have many medium sized tools that need to be secured to a bench in order keep them from moving around during use such as my scroll saw, morticer, dovetail jig, bench vise, and others. If I mounted all of these tools on my various benches around the shop…well I would have no place to put anything together. The solution I have for this is that I secure all of these tools to pieces of plywood. I use ¾” plywood so that I can countersink the bottom side so that the bolt heads I use to secure the tools is flush with the bottom. With the tool attached to the plywood I only need to clamp the plywood down to my workbench with a few C clamps and can work on a secure platform. Once I am finished I can store the tool away for the next use with only minutes of set up.
Like most woodworkers I have way to much “stuff” in my shop, the best solution I have found for this is using the heavy duty wall mounted shelves that can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowe’s. The shelves come with vertical brackets that allow the shelves to be adjustable and are extremely strong. I use storage containers labeled by category such as, finishing supplies. Storage containers are also great for grouping tools such as palm sanders or for keeping tools together, I keep my router in the same containers with my router bit containers, everything is in one place when I need it. The shelving also work great for a horizontal wood storage, with the shelves being adjustable you can take up only as much room as needed.
Organizing the shop does not have to cost a lot of our money, we need that for…….well, more tools. There are many things around the house, shop, and office that can be used to help. Food storage containers work great for organizing various screw sizes or for storing finishing rags between coats, when applying wipe on poly I keep a container with a little mineral spirits in the bottom to keep my cloth from setting up between coats. Stackable file trays work great for sandpaper storage. Too many clamps scattered around the shop? Just screw a scrap piece of wood into the wall and secure all of your clamps there.
The most important rules I have learned in keeping my shop functional is to keep everything in it place, label so that I can quickly find what I am looking for, and keep the shop clean. I have always made it a practice to take a few minutes before finishing up in the shop to clean and organize. Just a few minutes of cleaning and organizing can help you work faster because you are working in a more efficient environment.