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Shop Storage

A visitor to my workshop once told me, "Your shop is too small and you have too many tools." Well, I agree that my shop is too small, but that isn't going to change any time soon. And I certainly have more tools than I absolutely need, and more than I use regularly, but "too many" -- I just don't know about that. Organization is very important in a small shop, and here's how I approach space utilization in my shop.

Wood Storage

My previous shop was in my basement and I stored a lot of wood in the shop. When I built the detached shop I decided not to store any wood, other than what was needed for the current project, in the new shop. The old shop area is now used for wood storage, mostly horizontal on large shelf units, but partial sheet goods are stacked against the wall. I also store some lumber in the overhead area of my garage and the tool shed attached to the back of my shop.

Tool Storage

Tool CabinetI keep frequently used hand tools in a shallow tool cabinet over my workbench. It is 62" wide, 30" high, and 8" deep. The cabinet is built from select pine with machine dovetailed frame and doors and four drawers to provide storage for small tools and accessories. These drawers are made from 3/8" Baltic birch ply with box joints. The cabinet doors are hung with piano hinges, and magnetic latches secure the doors when closed. The fronts and insides of the cabinet doors contain pegboard panels separated by spacer strips and with the holes offset to prevent interference of pegboard fixtures. The cabinet is secured to wall studs with lag bolts and screws. The back of the cabinet is also pegboard which is mounted on spacer strips to provide clearance from the wall.

Here are some detailed photos of the storage cabinet.

Most of my Stanley Bailey metal bench planes are stored in a wall mounted plane storage cabinet near the workbench. This cabinet also holds a couple of #40 scrub planes, a #62 low angle block plane, and two carriage maker's rabbet planes.

There is a side cabinet next to my bench in which I store planes and shaping tools. The top on the cabinet and all the drawers are lined with cork to protect the irons of those planes that don't stand well on their side. I keep all my quick disconnect bits and drivers in a fixture at the back of this cabinet.

Whenever possible, I store small tools and accessories in drawers. I counted 54 wooden drawers in various locations around my shop, 46 metal drawers on the back wall and under my table saw, and countless plastic bins. For many years I kept a small maple desk, for which I paid $5 at a Government surplus sale, under my table saw. But it took up a little too much space and I decided to put a mechanics tool cabinet under the saw's table board. I hated to give up the drawer space and it occurred to me that the drawers would fit nicely under the overhang of my work bench top.

My Delta BOSS spindle sander shares some space on my jig saw cabinet and the two rarely interfere with each other, but if they do, the spindle sander is easy to move. My old thickness planer is stored under the newer 13" Model 22-580 and its weight makes the roll-about stand even more stable.

I certainly don't have room in my shop for a properly mounted anvil, but I put one on the back of my jointer tool base in an otherwise unused location. It is surprising how much use it gets.

Wall Space

Pegboard covers much of my workshop walls. The most used tools are hung over my workbench. The pegboard on the opposite wall contains saw blades and a number of accessories used with other tools. Additional pegboard panels hold some saws and jointer accessories, and tools which are seldom used. I use the pegboard tool fixtures which have a square peg on the bottom and do not come out easily.

Small parts, nails and screws are stored on the back wall of the shop in coffee cans, parts cabinets, and a variety of makeshift containers. There is also a stereo receiver and speakers to provide music while I work, and a TV for Denver Bronco games. I made a storage unit for my favorite square drive screws from small Lane aromatic cedar boxes that I have collected in my monthly visits to area thrift stores. These were given away for many years by furniture stores all over the United States to prospective buyers of Lane full size cedar hope chests.

Wall space in a small shop is at a premium, and sometimes you have to get creative, such as stacking jigs or putting items over or behind tools where they do not interfere. I store 1/2" and 3/4" bandsaw blades unfolded -- they fit nicely behind my radial arm saw. Sanding belts hang on pegs over some of the seldom used tools.

Pipe clamps are stored in the unused space over four of the windows, and Tru Grip bar clamps over another. Because I am tall, I can reach most of these if I stretch a little, but I use one of the more useful accessories in my shop, a clamp retriever. You won't find these in the Rockler or Woodcraft Supply catalogs. They are dispensed in nursing homes to elderly residents who use them to retrieve hard to reach items. For some some reason I believe my recently departed mother would approve of its new use.

C-clamps are stored in front of one of the windows, bar clamps nearby, and wooden hand screws over the door.

Shop Vac accessories and a few portable tools are stored in the corner behind the door.

Storage Ideas

Charitable organization "thrift stores" yield a lot of useful storage containers at very little cost. I pick up metal file boxes for a couple of dollars each, and use these to store infrequently used tools including circular saws, routers and accessories, and various other portable tools. Not only do they stack nicely, but they keep the contents organized and free from dust. They are also used to store owner's manuals and sandpaper.

Audio cassette storage cases can be picked up for a dollar at many thrift stores. They are no longer popular, but make excellent containers for Dremel burrs, pneumatic gun staples and brads, and a variety of lathe accessories, such as pen blanks and supplies, sanding pads and cup shaped jam chucks.

Old silverware chests make good router bit storage boxes. I reinforce the bottom and glue spacer strips to the sides to support the panels which hold the bits. Here are some of my storage boxes for quarter inch bits, half inch bits, and some three wing shaper cutters.

I have accumulated a number of Makita cordless tools over the years. I like the balance of the "in-handle" battery sticks, and 9.6 or 12 volts is plenty for hobby use. I made a charging tray to hold the battery chargers, a power strip, and spare batteries. It normally sits on the back corner of my workbench, but is easy to move when I need the space.

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