Finding Things in the Shop (Without Hunting)

In last week’s editorial, Rob spoke of how he needs to “hunt” for things in his shop, and asked for some organizational advice. Technology seems to be useful in this case. – Editor

“One of the biggest issues I had to overcome was feeling the need to have everything in sight so I could find it. Needless to say, this resulted in much clutter and lack of organization. I addressed the problem by taking those tools and materials that are less frequently used, or that I kept ‘just in case I need them later,’ and storing them in boxes, totes, drawers, etc. As I put them away, I noted the location, the item description and quantity. I later entered the data into a simple word processor table. This can then be used as a database without having to learn database programing. The table allows you to search for keywords as well as to sort by any column in the table. Now I can find items that are out of sight, including those that are off-site.” – Dan Hall

“I took a computer and a new dedicated flash drive out to the shop and made an inventory of all the tools and equipment I have in the shop. I also alphabetized and categorized the list so that when I can’t find what I want, I use the find system and lo and behold, there it is. Some of the categories are routers, hand tools, electrical tool, drills, finishing, etc. Some of the tools and equipment are only used once or twice a year – so this is very helpful. It took some time but it was time well spent.” – Kenn Politowicz

Of course, for some readers, good old-fashioned tools – like pencils – are part of their shop organization plans. – Editor

“I tend to lose pencils as fast as I can pick them up. I bought a couple dozen 0.9 mm automatic lead pencils from Amazon along with a few containers of replacement leads. I keep most them in an old cigar box on my workbench and place a few in key areas around the shop. If you look for deals you can usually find a dozen for under 15 bucks, sometimes less than 10. 0.9mm holds up better for woodworking than the more common .5mm found in stores. If you want to mark a finer line just swipe the tip over a piece of sandpaper a couple times. Having a couple dozen available, I just keep grabbing them as needed out of the box. Eventually I have enough lying around that usually one is at hand. When I clean up, most of them show up again and get dumped back in the box or put back in their ‘areas.’”- Bill Koski

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