A place for everything…

Organization is not my strong suit.

Navigating my desk at work is an adventure.  I’m getting better, but I routinely  find some important note from a few months ago  – say – about a task I had to do back in March.  Not a good thing, especially when my boss was really counting on that task being accomplished by – say – the second week of July.

The shop?  It’s not much better.  I am really having trouble finding a good home for everything I have amassed over the past dozen years.

At least in my shop I have one area that stays pretty well organized – my rolling tool chest.  I picked it up during a sweet holiday deal at Lowe’s and call it black beauty. Actually, it’s two stackable units – a four drawer base and a three drawer mid section – topped by my old tool box.

I know what you are thinking… and, yes, you are right.  A glossy black surface in a wood shop?  You betcha. My wife and I used to wipe it down every so often when the dust would accumulate, but now, we just let it get covered and clean it when the layer of sawdust is thick enough to support agriculture.

This rolling chest has been a godsend when it comes to holding on to easy to misplace items.  The top two drawers hold all of my fine measuring tools.  Squares, striking knives, calipers… the works.  It’s nice to know that when I have to measure something precisely, I just have to look into two drawers instead of through boxes of other items to find what I need.

The bottom drawer of the mid section holds my scraping and shaping supplies.  Rasps, files, scrapers and all of the items that go along with them are stored here in one place.  So, when my scrapers no longer do what they are supposed to do, all of the items I need to sharpen are in one place.

Below that in the top of the base cabinet are my chisels.  Yes, I have recently become a collector of chisels.  I have to admit it as part of my 12-step program.  From the Marples Blue Chips I started with to the set of WoodRiver beauties I traded a drill press mortiser for to the ultra sweet Japanese chisels used by my neighbor’s father, they’re in there.  Keeping them in the drawer protects the tips and makes a handy place to find them.

Below that is where I store my fine cutting saws.  One day, I’ll build a proper saw till to display these babies and keep them closer to the bench, but, for now, they are protected from bumps and broken teeth in this drawer.  It does take a little digging around here to find them when I do need them, but I’m good with that.  For now.

One level down, and we’re in the realm of the table saw.  No, this storage drawer is nowhere near the saw itself, but I have discovered that table saws require more accessories than my children did when they were very young and it took us half an hour to collect everything for a trip to the supermarket.  Dado blades, push sticks, featherboards … again, this is a great place to stash the stuff when I don’t need it.

And, finally, there’s the – uhhh – miscellaneous drawer.  My hammers and mallets are there along with my laser level, cold chisel, pry bar… well, everything I chuck in there.  OK, it’s not so organized.  There, I can’t give up all of my bad habits.

Some folks have told me that by storing my tools in enclosed drawers is a waste of time.  That perhaps I would be better off keeping them out where I can see them and find them easier would be a better idea.

Uhhh, no.  This way, at least, I keep my searching down to a minimum – for me.  That allows me more time to do what I really enjoy… building.

8 thoughts on “A place for everything…”

  1. Tom

    You aren’t working hard enough at collecting tools if you can fit them all in there!


    PS I love the Floridian safety boots in the last picture

  2. Tom,
    you’re reading my mind with your last two postings. I too love mechanics toolboxes for the usefulness of their drawers. I have picked up four of the mid-section TaskForce drawer cabinets from Lowe’s. I put them all in a vertical rack and now I have a bank of 12 drawers to store everything from planes to sandpaper to marking tools in.

    By the way, way to fit your table saw accessories in a drawer. Mine are in a big plastic tub under the fence rails (I’ve yet to build an extension table) and they’re overflowing onto the floor around.

  3. I don’t know man; I kind of figured that you’d have a little more organized set up.
    I guess that I have to give you your props though if you can produce the nice stuff you do using only whats in that box.
    And if you’re looking for the shoes you need to wear in the shop, I found them under that tool box in picture one.
    And just for the hell of it, when you’re pricing out the wood for that new bench your going to build, splurge and get enough to build yourself a tool cabinet.
    You owe it to yourself.

  4. Tom, ironically I was doing the same thing last weekend, and bought the same 4-drawer cabinet at Lowe’s with the intention of putting one of my benchtop tools on top. Did you see the extra large version of this toolchest that included the stereo, Bose speakers and mini-fridge???

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