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Blog entry by Recycler posted 02-27-2008 06:15 PM 898 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a slob. SWMBO has pretty much given up on getting me to not leave random stuff on every horizontal surface in the house. But now, in the tiny shop, a turning point is reached. I simply don’t have room to be sloppy!

A few simple rules are helping a lot. They won’t be news to you non-slobs, but they’re almost a revelation to me:

1. “A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place”. I’ve always heard that, but … just never got it. Inspired by Chris Schwartz, I’ve put a tool rack across the window behind the bench. It started out as basically a chisel rack, but at the moment, it holds chisels, try square, 12” steel squat, sliding bevel, marking gauge, tenon saw, dovetail saw, coping saw, razor knife, spokeshave and mechanical pencil. I think I can cram a few more items on there before I have to start another one.

The real trick is getting in the habit of putting each tool back in the rack when I’m done with it rather than laying it on the bench top. Just doing that makes things a lot easier.

2. Tables Are Not Shelves. How many times have you seem somebody have to move a bushel of junk off of the table saw before they could make a cut? Ever since I set the bandsaw, I’ve made it a rule not to leave anything on the table. I might set something there momentarily, but nothing gets LEFT there.

I’m trying to do the same thing with the workbench, but old habits die hard.

3. Don’t be afraid to throw stuff away.

‘Nuff said.

I wonder if there’s a 12-step program for slobs?

5 comments so far

View Scott Hildenbrand's profile

Scott Hildenbrand

71 posts in 3740 days

#1 posted 02-27-2008 06:27 PM

How about you come over and help me get my new shop space organized.. We’d been moved in for 6 months and I still have yet to get things in the right place.. And my table saw makes a nice shelf.. Holding my bird seed, miter saw and a pile of other stuff.. ;)

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

770 posts in 3907 days

#2 posted 02-27-2008 06:32 PM

I am in the same boat. I moved into my house in November and the garage still looks like a bomb went off in it. I have been concentrating on the inside of the house so I can find the everyday stuff but the garage still takes the back seat. Not to mention I am still adding items that I find on CL or other sites as well. I really need to take a weeks vacation and concentrate on the garage(shop) so I can get some things done.

I have taken the time to use the Grizzly shop layout program to design how I want my 20X20 shop to look. I have the piping laid out for the DC and need to work on the electrical also.

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4217 days

#3 posted 02-27-2008 06:50 PM

I have learned to compromise…. I clean up (at least) between projects. When I am in the middle of something, I tend to leave whatever tools I have used laying about, sawdust piles up, etc. But my firm rule is that I will not start a new project unless the shop is clean and organized.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4123 days

#4 posted 02-27-2008 08:03 PM

I too have a tiny shop situation, I’d love a bandsaw, but don’t know where I’d put it, right now my tools are a drill press (stuffed in an alcove under an attic access ladder), a benchtop planer on a roll-around table, and a big stack of Festools, with a router table that clamps on to my Festool table. Everything’s chosen for its dust collection, although my dovetail jig and router table situations right now both generate copious amounts of sawdust.

Aside: I really can’t justify new tools right now so soon after buying a house, but I’m looking at both the Akeda dovetail jig, and a router table solution that’d have a permanently fixed router in it so that I can leave the vacuum shrouds in place, both because they’d mean less sawdust to clean upt.

The thing I’ve found to help with the “a place for everything and everything in…” is working with my partner in the shop. A few hours of that and I’m migrating from slob to telling her “there’ s a place to put that ruler, you know”. Nothing like squeezing two people into a 1940s era 1 car garage with a few hundred feet of board lumber to make the “everything goes somewhere specific” mantra stick.

And usually I get out to the shop in the evening before she does, she runs through email and the like after getting home from work, where I work from home, so even though I’m the guy who has to be constantly reminded to put my clothes in the hamper, I take that time to put all the tools back in their boxes and hang up the rulers and clamps, that way when she comes out and we start figuring out which section of board we’re using for what (yep, we spent a good hour last night figuring out exactly which portions of the nicely figured boards we’ve got are becoming which drawer faces and door panels, and then went back and measured everything again just to be sure) we’ve got space to lay out the wood.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4159 days

#5 posted 02-28-2008 01:15 PM

oooooooh so that’s how it’s done!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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