Home Workshop #1: The War against Clutter

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by David Craig posted 02-24-2010 02:35 PM 3454 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Home Workshop series no next part

This week I found myself between projects and this is my on call week, so I decided to invest my time in cleaning up my basement shop. I have an on call rotation every other week which means that I could get paged anytime, 24/7. I do not like to do to many projects that require much concentration during my on call cycle because the infrequent paging makes it difficult to have a good stop point where a step is properly completed.

Every 6 months or so, I have a tendency to move things around, try out a different layout, get rid of more garbage, and see what I can do with the space gain. When I first moved in, the basement was a dark and gloomy place, filled with spiders and garbage, lighting was poor, and quickly became the storage location for all things unused, seasonal, or saved just because. I started trying to make a credible workshop out of it 2 years ago, with most of my purchases being within the last year. The last time I organized it, I was able to make the basement half workshop and half storage facility and was at this stage -

Cluttered but usable bench -

Cluttered bench

Corner table with tools piled on and wood everywhere -

cluttered wall area

I spent the last couple days cleaning out more garbage (I have to give credit to the trash collectors. They haven’t slashed my tires yet..), making a makeshift lumber rack from the joists out of some garbage wood, clearing out most of the garbage wood I had remaining, and organizing what I had. I still have a bit to go, but I really opened up the floor space in the basement and I am now using about 75% of the space for my shop.

Space utilized on the other end of my shop for storage, even have space for a little folding workbench for clamping and gluing -

expanded storage space

Clutter free bench where I might actually be able to work on items -

bench as it is now

And a free wall within the shop for carts, benches, tables, etc. -

clean wall next to tool rack

Now I can walk around my machines without turning into a contortionist. Garbage day was yesterday and I already have a full bin for next week. One more load after that and I will be sitting pretty decent. I have a router table on wheels and a portable workbench/tool stand with drawers at the planing stages. Once these are in place, I should be able to just move things where I need them without much sweat. I am looking at the HF 2 hp dust collector system and would like to get one more corner cleared out for it and run hoses above the joists. It would take some time but combined with a purchase of an air filtration system, the basement should be a fairly pleasant place to be.

Happy Woodworking everyone and thanks for reading.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

21 comments so far

View JohnnyW's profile


83 posts in 3057 days

#1 posted 02-24-2010 03:29 PM

Nice progress on the de-cluttering, it makes a huge difference to be able to see where things are and get around safely. The rack for your hand tools looks tidy and well organised.

Looks like you just need a slightly bigger lumber rack to store the sheets and offcuts….

-- John

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3081 days

#2 posted 02-24-2010 03:47 PM

Man, looks like you made good progress.

--, Making design and application one. †

View JimNEB's profile


239 posts in 3095 days

#3 posted 02-24-2010 03:55 PM

A never ending process. I wish clutter dissapeared as fast as it accumulates!

-- Jim, Nebraska

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3739 days

#4 posted 02-24-2010 04:03 PM

The next time you are not on call would you like to spend some time in my shop ?

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View nmkidd's profile


758 posts in 3199 days

#5 posted 02-24-2010 04:21 PM

Clutter is good… gives you something to do on rainy days!!!! problem is after a declutter day…......I can’t find anything!!

-- Doug, New Mexico.......the only stupid question is one that is never asked!........don't fix it, if it ain't broke!

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3699 days

#6 posted 02-24-2010 04:32 PM

Nice progress!

View Gary's profile


9333 posts in 3459 days

#7 posted 02-24-2010 04:55 PM

I’m proud to see you have your safety equip on your saw. That’s one of the only ones shown in posts that actually still have it on the saw. If I had mine on, my finger and thumb would still be in original condition.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View bobdurnell's profile


315 posts in 3923 days

#8 posted 02-24-2010 05:47 PM

Love the clutter, shows signs of good work. I can’t help noticing the hammer hanging on your bench. Could that be a Tim Allen signature hammer?

-- bobdurnell, Santa Ana California.

View Jason's profile


659 posts in 3535 days

#9 posted 02-24-2010 06:26 PM

I also seem to rearrange my garage every six months or so. Makes me feel productive without actually doing anything other than clearing a lot of dust.

-- Jason - Colorado Springs

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3075 days

#10 posted 02-24-2010 06:55 PM

‘A never ending process. I wish clutter dissapeared as fast as it accumulates!”

It will IF you put your stuff back where it belongs as soon as you used it.
I try to explain that to my wife.

When she cooks she piles up everything in the sink.
When I cook I clean and I put away as I go.
When I am finished the kitchen is not a huge mess.

I do the same thing in my shop, at work and at home.
This is just a question of discipline.
I cannot stand to look for my tools, noise nor mess, so I do everything i can to avoid one and the other.

-- Bert

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3151 days

#11 posted 02-24-2010 07:29 PM

David, you’re a lot like me – putting up with clutter until it drives you crazy and you revamp it all. Your little workshop looks about as big(or small) as mine – I just hate to throw little chunks of wood away for the ‘time’ I might need them. Well, I’m glad to see you’re in there anyways. The one thing I didn’t see in the photos was a carving started….hmmmmmm?


View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3235 days

#12 posted 02-24-2010 07:39 PM

Great progress! Every time I go to declutter it turns into an excuse to make something to assist in shop organization. That usually gets me a place to put away one tool… and three taken out to build it. I tell myself that if I keep at it, it will someday turn into progress.

View Swede's profile


191 posts in 3045 days

#13 posted 02-24-2010 07:45 PM

Good luck with you cleaning and organizing the shop. I built a lot of cabinets to put my stuff in. I still have junk sitting on the floor and all over the work bench. I have an upright air compressor in the corner and have run PVC lines with quick disconnect. I can blow off the saw dust to bad the air hose doesn’t work for clutter.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3075 days

#14 posted 02-24-2010 08:05 PM

I think that another issue with clutter is keeping stuff.
I believe that most people just keep “everything” just in case.
I am not a “keeper”.
I keep very few things.
My favorite friend is my trash can.
If I do not see an obvious use for something , up it goes.
Same thing with papers, books, records, pictures and everything else.
Not that necessarily waste stuff, but keeping is not my style.

-- Bert

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3135 days

#15 posted 02-24-2010 08:06 PM

Thanks for the comments all. Greatly appreciated. I am a frequent cleaner and my mommy taught me to put my toys away when I am done with them :) I just need a bigger toy box. Limited ceiling height and obstructions like the plumbing, the water heater, furnace, etc. has been a continued challenge. I have to keep my access to the maintenance of these items and still make shop space, plus deal with the garbage that has been there. Each org session improves things a bit but I also keep adding :)

rtb – send me a ticket to New York and I will be happy to help you out. Please make it first class with a decent food selection for the flight ;)

bobturnell – Yes, that is a Tim Allen signature hammer. I received it as a gift quite a few years ago when the signature tool line came out. I rarely use it but I keep a space for it because it reminds me not to play tool time in my shop and because it was a gift. Who knows, maybe it will be worth something some day. I did think the design was cool.

Gary – Thanks for noticing that I do use the splitter and blade guard. I have known too many woodworkers (even one is too many) who can’t brag about having all their digits. I have had some close calls where both saved my skin and my gut (kickback doesn’t sound pretty). I also have my fire alarm set up down there and next check will pickup the fire extinguisher and first aid supplies.

Jordan – I have an owl carving started, but other projects (birthdays and such) have put it on the back burner. I did do some overlay with the new dremel, mostly using the carbide cutters for shaping and rounding. I am getting the hang of it :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics