I am making a small bit of progress toward getting my working tools organized. I look at all the fitted tool cabinets and love how they look but I just can’t see myself working out of one. Come on, how do you work out of something like this?
It is beautiful. It is a tool shrine. But seriously, how do you work out of it? I need a chisel. Here, let me take out two saws, get the chisel, put the saws back, work, take the saws out, put stuff back in, put the saws back. You either spend the whole day shuffling stuff back and forth or end up unloading the chest to get started for the day and then pack it all in just before the whistle blows to go home.
I tried one of the little tool boxes like Roy Underhill has in his books.
Mine was even smaller but by the time you get some tools in it, you would need a forklift to move it around the shop. I can’t even imagine what it is like with one of the big ones that would actually hold a real set of tools. Shove 50 lb tool tills back and forth to get to the stuff you want. What do you do if you need to move it? Unload it, move the chest to the new place in the shop, then load it up again? It is for sure you are not moving it around to bring it close to your work. Accidentally leave it open and you will have to spend a couple of hours unloading and cleaning out shavings and sawdust. Keep it closed and you loose the convenience of having the tools at hand.
I realize that you could put casters on it, but lets see how that works out driving over a pile of wood chips and plane shavings. You move it to sweep underneath and you drag the shavings back and forth under the wheels and the plane shavings all wind around the axles. Not too practical.
I think that they were more geared toward deterring tool theft. Lets make it too heavy for someone to haul off. It sure makes it easier to track down the culprit though. Well, officer, since they just walked off with a 800lb box of cast iron, steel, and wood, I would either suggest searching the emergency rooms for someone with a hernia or go look for the Russian Olympic power-lifting team.
Then I look at some of the stuff that people design to hold chisels. Something like this is really cute:
Yeah, but how many times a day do you knock that over and have chisels all over the floor? Where do you set it? Do you nail it down on the bench to keep from knocking it over? Do you pick out the two small chisels on the right only to have it overbalance and tip over with the heavy ones on the left? I have paring chisels from 1/8 to 2” by eighths, a set of 10 Japanese chisels, firmer chisels, mortise chisels, a couple of slicks, a set of gouges, and a few carving tools. Should I set them all up around me like some weird, silent pipe organ?
Then I see something like this and wonder, who comes up with this stuff?
Hmm, let’s hide the blades so we can’t even see which chisel is which. Let’s stick up all the handles on the end of the bench so we can’t even use that side of the workbench which also just so happens to be where the vise is. How nice. Don’t these people ever work with something that has a board longer than 10 inches? Let’s see how that works out when they are building an armoire with 6 foot long stiles and you have 4 of them up on the bench, chopping mortises and dovetails, and cutting groves for the panels. By the way, notice the lack of chips and shavings? Where are all the other parts and tools? What are we doing here, just sitting around doing dovetail demos? What bizarre parallel universe is this picture from? Not the one where I live.
As a side project for my last big build, I picked up a one of the least talked about power tools, a sewing machine. Not a little dainty one for sewing clothes but a manly chunk of cast iron and steel that punches through multiple layers of heavy canvas and webbing with ease. I started sewing some tool rolls to hold chisels and such. That way I when I want a chisel, I just reach in and grab a roll that has the set. No more playing a deadly game of pickup sticks digging out the one I want. No more ruined files from them rubbing against each other in the drawer. No more resharpening because the chisels banged into each other and nicked the edges. Nice, neat, movable packages.
The sad thing is that sometimes it feels like I spend more time organizing and caring for tools than making anything with them.
-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/