As I’m coming down the home stretch on getting my new shop space operational I’m thinking about projects I want to start, and details I want to improve to make my new space more efficient.
My current “system” for organizing my hand tools is a pair of roll-around utility carts. It’s not ideal, but is a huge improvement over my previous “system”. Which was, to have them piled on my welding bench, until I needed to weld something. Then I would move them all onto my bandsaw, until I needed to cut something, when I would move them back. Downsides of the roll-around carts are they waste floor space and catch dust. It’s also just a glorified (albeit mobile) pile.
I had planned to build a Schrawzian tool chest to store my hand tools — and I probably will still build one just for fun. There are two downsides, for me, to the Anarchist’s Tool Chest: The first is that it takes up floor space which I never seem to have enough of — and I do have available wall space in the new shop. The second downside to the traditional tool chest is self-inflicted. I don’t think it will hold all of my tools. It’s my fault because I have more tools than is perhaps necessary. No one needs one of every size Stanley plane, but I like tools and don’t want to get rid of any just to fit everything into a tool chest. My bad.
I’ve been doing my homework on designing a wall-mounted chest for storing my hand tools. There are loads of designs floating around, here are the things that I need to think about to come up with a good solution:
First, I need to fit any design into my available wall space. In particular, the cabinets need to be located near my workbench, which is going to be along the back wall where the generator and blacksmithing power hammer currently live. I also need to build a doghouse for the generator so it can live outside, but that’s another story. I have a good 50″ width to the right of the window — even allowing for trimming out the window — by 48″ tall (or more). Just guessing, that’s way more space than I need for my planes. In fact, I could probably fit my planes, saws and chisels all in that space. I also have room to the left of the window for a 24″ wide cabinet, with space to spare, between the outlet and the dust collector.
Second, I need to make the design fit the tools I need to store. I’ve looked at a number of tool cabinets that are beautiful, but when you open them the tools don’t really fit nicely. Either it’s crammed, or sparsely filled or just inefficiently used. To my eye a tool cabinet needs to look full and make good use of space. The tools need to fit in neatly. Here are the planes I’ve accumulated, I also have a dozen or so moulding planes. And, this will surprise you, I plan to add more. I’ve got a few odd hollow and round planes that I’ve picked up piecemeal. They need to be sharpened (some need to be re-ground because the blade doesn’t match the profile). I’d like to get a proper set (well, matched and ready to go half set).
Just eyeballing this, it looks like the planes and saws will fit comfortably in the space to the right of the window, even if all I do is a simple open till. I need to als fit in my chisels, layout tools and other odds and ends.
Which brings me to design and construction. Designs can range from (relatively) simple open tills like this.
To Fancy cabinets, which is my inclination.
I like the style on this one, but the way it’s set up for storage isn’t adequate. I’m not sure having a lot of drawers is the right thing for me either. Drawers tend to accumulate junk.
I like the “ramped” plane till in this one, as well as the galley for smaller planes below. But look on top — tools that don’t fit.
The last consideration is material and construction techniques. I like the idea of a case with lots of nice had work details made out of solid wood. But at the same time, I want to move on to other projects beyond setting up the shop. Planks or Plywood? I need to think on that one some more.