Shop Organization

After setting up my new bandsaw last weekend I realized I need to do some re-organizing in the shop.

I’ve got a couple of problems that are made slightly worse by allocating space for a new stationary tool.

First, I’ve got a pile of handheld poser tools that don’t have a home.  This started out innocently enough, a router in a box I’d bought sat here, then a pin nailer perched on top of it, and before I knew it they were breeding, and have spawned baby routers and palm sanders.  Lordy…

Custom concrete-lined tool storage

Custom concrete-lined tool storage

Next, I’m using my old woodworking bench for doing stained glass.  It’s not well suited to the task as it’s too narrow and doesn’t have storage space for sheet glass and supplies — and it’s taking up space.  There is a pile of art glass sheets stacked under it, layered between cardboard.  There is never enough room on top for all of the tools necessary for the process — of which there are only a few anyway.  And because the things that belong here aren’t well organized, other stuff tends to accumulate.

Stained glass bench disaster

Stained glass bench disaster

I also don’t have any place to store projects as I’m working on them.  I end up stacking parts on the table saw, jointer and anywhere else I can put them.  And then moving them when I need to use that tool.  Of course, part of the solution is to finish projects before starting another, and then move them into the house.  I’ve actually been doing a pretty good job at that though.

Cast Iron Project Storage Device

Cast Iron Project Storage Device

Simmilarly, the top of the table saw has become a place where stuff accumulates.  The table saw collects pieces of a project and bits and pieces for tools that are nearby.  Move the rip fence and router bits get knocked on the floor, not ideal…

The table saw doesn't fare any better...

The table saw doesn’t fare any better…

So I need some shop furniture to help better utilize the space I have.  Quickly, before this becomes unmanageable.

Thinking out loud, there are some simple things I can do today, and some things that will take a bit more work.  The old workbench and all of the stained glass supplies and tools are going to get relocated, as is, to the metal shop.  Instant win.  My ultimate goal for that is to build a roll-around workbench with storage for sheet glass and other supplies, and a built-in light table.  But relocating it will relieve the pressure in the wood shop, and let me focus on some other projects.

I have a metal shop cart that I can use to hold my current project, the Thorsen Cabinet, which will free up my tools so I use them to build some new shop furniture.  Here are my thoughts on that.

First, I think I need dedicated storage space for a few things:  A wall cabinet for hand held power tools.  A small wall cabinet for drill bits and maybe router bits.  And then one or two roll-around shop carts.

The shop carts need to serve a couple of purposes.  They should be able to work as an out feed table for the table saw, and perhaps the planer.  They can store materials and sub-assemblies while I’m building a project, and they can serve as finishing stands.  I’ve been searching the ‘net to see what other people do, and what would make sense to me.  I found a simple shop cart plan from ShopNotes magazine that could work as one option:

Shop cart from Shop Notes magazine

Shop cart from Shop Notes magazine

And perhaps even better is this one from Woodworker’s Journal.  It is probably a little simpler to build, and only uses a single sheet of plywood for materials.  I like the size and simplicity of this one.

Shop cart made from a single sheet of 3/4" ply

Shop cart made from a single sheet of 3/4″ ply (click for full diagram)

Going upscale, and looking at carts more suited to assembly and finishing, this one caught my fancy.  At 72″ x 40″ would take up a lot more real estate, but could be pretty handy too.  This is from the October 1997 issue of American Woodworker — the entire magazine is available on Google books!

Assembly cart from American Woodworker, October 1997

Assembly cart from American Woodworker, October 1997

So, Joe, what’s the plan you say?

First, move stuff out of the shop.  Then I’m probably going to play with inlay for a while — I’m on vacation today.  Well, starting now.  I’ve been working since about 3:30am.  I’ll need to decide which is more fun, building some plywood accessories or starting on the Blacker Serving Table this weekend.  Oh – and I’ll probably finish the Spider table today.  It just needs to be rubbed out with steel wool and the top re-attached.


Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Shop Organization

  1. Schwarz non-chalantly had a pretty cool cart picture posted the other day on his LAP blog. I’ll see if I can find it

  2. Pogo930 This guy thinks outside the box. No real plans but wonderful practical design. Notice in your plan parts are 32×28. He builds everything 23 1/2, no waste out of a sheet of ply. Cabinets are quick to build, sturdy as heck and pretty good looking. Well worth the money.

  3. It’s good to get ideas from other venues but eventually you have to make them work for your shop. Cabinets are my choice for storage – protection and dust control – but more importantly it eliminates a horizontal catch all. I would prefer the 2 smaller roll arounds. The american woodworker mag table looks to be in the realm of an assembly table too.

    • Ralph, totally agree. I like to see what problems I have, and see how others solve similar problems, then adapt what I like to fit.The problem with carts and assembly tables is that they take up precious floor space, and present a horizontal surface for “stuff” to accumulate.

      The giant DoAll bandsaw in the metal shop (it has a table that is about 48″ square) has such a tendency to accumulate junk that I’ve nicknamed it the CatchAll.

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