Aside from being a dull-as-dirt photograph, this empty box is not:
A) Evidence of my secret stash of cookies. I don’t have one, but if I did squirrel away a few boxes in the shop, they’d be Thin Mints. No question.
B) A rough idea of how many boxes of Girl Scouts Cookies® my kids have eaten this spring, although it’s probably pretty close.
C) Some sad prototype for my next Woodworker’s Journal project.
Actually, this Thin Mints carton, circa 2001, has been my poor excuse for sandpaper storage. Tattered, taped up and tossed around the shop, it’s been a dumping ground for the past eight years.
The second photo is only a fraction of what used to be stuffed in said cookie carton. And, what you see is pretty much how I’ve kept it all “organized” over time. Or, more accurately, dis-organized. Full sheets. Partial, unidentifiable sheets. Curled-up disks. Sanding blocks of one kind or another. Belts. Little bits and pieces I’ve used once or twice for sanding turnings. Even a paint can opener that’s been M.I.A. for months. All in all, a mess, and usually spilling over the top.
I can live with some shop clutter, just like any busy woodworker. It’s only sandpaper, right? Everybody has catch-alls. But, over the years I can’t remember ever reaching the bottom of my box. When I finally dumped it all out recently, I half expected to see a few petrified cookies roll out. But here’s the real problem: with everything thrown into the same hopper, I’ve never been sure about what I’ve had on hand at any given time. I’d just buy more to be safe, and pile it on top. So much for inventory control.
Bet you know where this is headed…
Recently I needed a piece of 320-grit to scuff-sand a finish. But, after a few minutes of scrounging through the pile, I couldn’t find a single full sheet. Three opened packs of 220 and thirteen 150-grit disks, but nothing finer. So, I had to play another game of “Name That Grit” with a couple mysterious little scraps that looked about right. Ever done that?
Enough was enough. Time to get organized.
Off to the drawing board I went, and I think the result was pretty successful. My Sandpaper Organizer ran in our August issue as our “Jigs & Fixtures” featured project. If you went ahead and built one, I hope you’re liking it. I sure am. If the project isn’t working out so well, maybe you’ve come up with a better design or a few more cool do-dads, and that information could help folks that are still planning to build this project.
Guess in a roundabout sort of way, Option C really was true. That sad sack of a cardboard box was just a project waiting to happen. Now it’s part of my burn pile for the next family bonfire. Good riddance to it. From here on out, I know exactly where my 320 grit is hiding.
Catch you in the shop,
Chris Marshall, Field Editor