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View agallant's profile

Anyone else trash their shop?

by agallant
posted 07-05-2011 03:59 PM

46 replies so far

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2636 days

#1 posted 07-05-2011 04:05 PM

It’s you. You are the only one. ;=)

The rest of us clean as we go through the various phases of our jobs so that at the end the only thing to clean up and put away are those from the very last phase. Just like a great chef in his/her own kitchen.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2690 days

#2 posted 07-05-2011 04:07 PM

LOL with David. I also sharpen every tool after I use it;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Gary's profile


9331 posts in 3430 days

#3 posted 07-05-2011 04:37 PM

I’m a slob….. I clean AFTER I’m thru with the project and it takes forever. I’m the old dog and that cleaning stuff is the new trick

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

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3086 days

#4 posted 07-05-2011 04:41 PM

Yeah, I have to spend about 3 hours cleaning after I finish a project, though I try to spend 10-15 min sweeping and organizing each time I use the shop, it’s just not nearly enough.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#5 posted 07-05-2011 04:51 PM

When I am “in” to a project I do not stop and clean or organize. When the project is done, my shop is a mess. Then I have to spend quite a bit of time cleaning and organizing again.

I’ve also worked with a friend in his shop and he cleans up everything at the end of every day.

My theory – - Why clean up that sawdust on the floor today if I am just going to add more tomorrow? I can clean up 2 day’s worth of sawdust almost as fast as I clean up one day’s. The problem is that I use this logic for too many days in a row.

When I am into turning, the pile of chips and shavings under my lathe can get pretty deep (12”).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#6 posted 07-05-2011 05:32 PM

I agree with Rich. Why sweep today if I’m making more sawdust tomorrow?

The only time I ever clean up in the middle of a project (and this is only some of the time) is when I know, for example, I have finished milling all the pieces and I have a really large amount of sawdust. In that case, I might clean it up.

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

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3271 days

#7 posted 07-05-2011 05:37 PM

I’m with these two ^ .....charlie n rich make it sound about right…I clean in between projects so I have a fresh start to each project but when it comes to cleaning during a project I don’t touch a spec of sawdust. The only time I do clean during a project is if I am finishing and there is way too much sawdust around to do so….Then I’ll just tidy up until the project is over.

-- M.K.

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 3918 days

#8 posted 07-05-2011 06:03 PM

I wish we could keep our shop clean but we have to make a living out there. After a thorough cleaning inside a week its dirty again.

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3645 days

#9 posted 07-05-2011 06:07 PM

I put things away when they are in my way, and I sweep the sawdust off the floor when its too much and making me sink in ;)

it would be nice to have a clean/organized work space though…. one can always have dreams.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View dbhost's profile


5710 posts in 3229 days

#10 posted 07-05-2011 06:22 PM

My method is to work the project until it is either done, or the shop is so messy I can’t stand it, then clean, and proceed with the work. I find it is MUCH easier to keep going, if the shop is completely clean and organized PRIOR to starting a project though. Nothing worse than dry fitting parts to realize that piece isn’t a part to THIS project, but rather cut off from your last project…

An apprentice would be nice to have.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3985 days

#11 posted 07-05-2011 06:42 PM


-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2690 days

#12 posted 07-05-2011 06:50 PM

When my shop’s dirty, it gnaws on me during the day. I have clutter anxiety in my home and get anxious when stuff is lying around. Not the best personality defect for a woodworker, but it is what it is.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View smboudreaux's profile


51 posts in 2564 days

#13 posted 07-05-2011 07:04 PM

i depends on how bad it is. i understand the premise behind not cleaning until your done but at the same time i cant stand coming into my shop the next morning and having to start searching for where i left off.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3267 days

#14 posted 07-05-2011 07:14 PM

I have to clean up daily so that I can find my tools the following day or so….I do not get in to the shop everyday…so it is better that the tools are where I expect them to be…it also cuts down on me damaging them by knocking off of workbench…tripping over wire…etc.

I also sharpen and clean the edges before I put tools away…it was how I was taught….I like to start out with a clean slate each day…it insures that I have a good sharp edge everytime I use a cutting tool. The floor is where I might leave some dust at…if I expect to be in the shop the next day….use to do that to cut back on replacing shop vac filter…now with the separator I have…saves a ton on filters…and can vacuum at will so I will probably start cleaning up the floor daily (it doesn’t take very long).

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 2950 days

#15 posted 07-05-2011 07:31 PM

Hhhmmmm. Guess I’m in the continuous cleaning crowd. I have dust collection on all my machines, and even then I will clean up shavings or dust after one operation before I begin another. The shop vacuum is close at hand, so it comes out frequently. So, the shop pretty much stays clean. Yup, and I tend to put my tools away as well. A) it’s easier, and B) I don’t like working in a mess, and C) I hate looking for a tool under a pile of junk. Works for me.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2839 days

#16 posted 07-05-2011 07:44 PM

Cleaning in the middle of a project breaks my creativity like someone kicking me right in my rear with a sharp pointed boot. If you could only see my shop right now (I’m in the middle of a project). It looks like a hurricane hit it. When I am through with a major project, it usually takes me the better part of a day to clean it back up before continuing on to another project. It gets so messy that I have to spend that day cleaning and re-organizing before I can find anything that I need to start a new project.


View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2980 days

#17 posted 07-05-2011 07:59 PM

If I waited to finish a project to clean up, I’d never finish a project. I try to be a good putter upper but that doesn’t always happen. When I spend 15 minutes looking for a tool that is right there on the bench in front of me. Its time to clean the shop so things are where their suppose to be when I go to look for them. I don’t always sweep everyday, although I find myself sweeping a mess into a pile once in a while.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Billp's profile


804 posts in 4197 days

#18 posted 07-05-2011 10:23 PM

I swear after ending a project that next time I will clean as I go Fail !!

-- Billp

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2687 days

#19 posted 07-06-2011 04:31 AM

Im with Roger. Clutter and mess drive me nuts! I think it stems from my surgical training. Ive never seen a surgeon operate in a messy/disorganized environment. And if I meet one he wont be operating on me!!! Different stuff works for different folks but Ive yet to have to go buy a new tool cause I cant find the one I own already. I have a very good friend that does this every time he starts a project. It would make me crazy but he is a very happy guy.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2561 days

#20 posted 07-06-2011 04:41 AM

Must be nice to have a big shop. I pretty much have to break down one tool to set up another one. I really have gotta do some reorganizing to at least not have that problem quite so bad.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View jjagerson's profile


42 posts in 2974 days

#21 posted 07-06-2011 05:07 AM

I find that I get a little less messy each time because I find new places to put my most used tools near the most used places. I find that the stuff that gets left out is usually something I have to walk ‘all the way across the garage’ to put away. The more tools i can orient near, on, or under my workbench the easier it is to keep things clean as I go along…. well at least cleaner.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#22 posted 07-06-2011 02:58 PM

I once suggested that our cleaning lady add cleaning the shop to her list of duties. My wife vetoed that idea before I could even ask her.

In retrospect, I don’t want someone else cleaning my shop unless they knew exactly where every item is to go.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View dbhost's profile


5710 posts in 3229 days

#23 posted 07-06-2011 03:54 PM

I just last night finished the reorganiazation / cleanup from the clamshell cabinet projects. It is nice having everything put away. It is far nicer having an away for everything to be put. I may actually be getting a bit OCD about organization and storage. I have already planned a divided non clam shell storage cabinet / plane till for the space between the clam shell cabinets. I need a better place to put my pnuematic tools, saw blades, and table saw accessories. The idea will be slide out dividers where I will have blade / saw accessory storage, and possibly even a good place to mount up router bit boxes.

The organizing / cleaning bug is a nasty little beastie isn’t it?

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2559 days

#24 posted 07-08-2011 08:14 PM


In all honesty I am prone to just keep pulling tools out and piling up the chips, dust, debris throughout phases of a project if not the whole project. I’ve been known to go on a cleanup frenzy/fit when I walk in my shop to work on the project and can’t find my dang-nabbit-fill-in-the-blank-I-know-I-put-there! I will also get into a cleanup fit when I’ve been working at my bench, placed a tool (i.e. screwdriver) down on the bench and then can’t find it 5 minutes later AND I HAVE NOT SO MUCH AS MOVED MY FEET! When I clean up during a project it usually involves more of putting tools back where they belong and scraps of wood up. I definitely do a thorough clean up between projects (I’ve even vacuumed the walls when the dust has really flown).

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3007 days

#25 posted 07-08-2011 08:41 PM

The funny thing is I enjoy BEING in my shop when it is clean and organized. But during a project, it is anything but. Therein lies the paradox.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3582 days

#26 posted 07-08-2011 08:50 PM

I agree with Charle ( as usual) and the many others who save the cleaning till the end.I dont believe in a dirty workshop so I clean thoroughly after each days work unless the work takes 2 days then I tidy abit up so that I’m not falling over things but otherwise what Charlie said makes sense why clean out the saw after the first day if tomorrow you’re starting all over again.Generally I like tidy clean workshops within reason. I am not fanatical though and every six months I have a good old belt (slowly of course) at it. I couldn’t feel happy working constantly in a dirty old cobwebbedsawdust filled shop with tools splayed out everywhere to trip over.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2687 days

#27 posted 07-08-2011 09:44 PM

Oh I just wish I had the luxury of leaving even a little mess after working on something. I work in the carport of my Apt bldg. so I have to clean during and after working if I don’t want to get kicked out or told no more woodworking allowed.

Anybody know where I can find an apt or duplex with a garage in San Jose for less than an arm & a leg? :)

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3007 days

#28 posted 07-08-2011 10:10 PM

No Richard, being a woodworker in the Bay Area is not a good plan. :(

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3171 days

#29 posted 07-08-2011 10:13 PM

I had a really clear position on this one, but … I’ve been in the shop most of the morning, and … as it turns out … I would have been lying ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2690 days

#30 posted 07-08-2011 10:20 PM

^lol with Neil. I get very anxious and irritated when my shop’s a mess. I’m inclined to clean it, then immediately mess it up again. I’m working on this. Once I have proper cabinetry and my dust collection is permanently piped, I’ll probably keep my shop OCD clean.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View TechRedneck's profile


768 posts in 2854 days

#31 posted 07-09-2011 01:57 AM

I usually run a project until a natural stopping point, say it is all glued up, or all sanded and prepped for finish then take the time to put the tools away and clean up a bit, take a break and dive into the next process.

I can tolerate a moderate amount of mess but eventually (usually one or two days) it gets on my nerves and I have to clean up the mess. I find that cleaning up a bit is sort of mindless and allows me time to think about how to solve a problem. If I am stuck on something and get frustrated, I’ll step back take a break or clean up and come back with a fresh perspective.

Personally I find this method keeps me from making stupid mistakes.. you know.. measure twice and cut once.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4541 posts in 2406 days

#32 posted 10-26-2011 05:46 AM

I have a sign in the shop for guest. DO NOT MENTION CLEANING THIS MESS, in larger letters it says in Russian “Stoi Budu Streylat” meaning stop or I will shoot. (laughing)

Like most posted I clean up when the project at hand is done, but put tools away each time. Or, when the floor is so bad I cannot walk without tripping over something. It is not like the OWNER is coming to INSPECT the place like at that bad place called work. You are the CEO, who cares????

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2920 days

#33 posted 10-26-2011 02:10 PM

I’m with TechRedneck. I try to keep mine reasonably clean.
Another thing to think about is that sawdust absorbs moisture..not good for the tools.

-- Life is good.

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2883 days

#34 posted 10-26-2011 02:19 PM

“Sawdust absorbs moisture..not good for the tools”

I wonder if that is why my table saw keeps on getting rust on the top of it…..

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2475 days

#35 posted 10-26-2011 03:45 PM

i fight clutter in the shop all the time. i am always trying to find a better place for things as i am just setting up my new shop id like to be done and working in a chess set or my wife wants a set of book cases. i try to clean as i go my biggest battle is with the people who think my shop is the recycle station and they throw cans out there for me to clean damn kids i will let you know if i master the clutter it is my intent to have a clutter free shop and its full of planes right now many for sale many awaiting the past i always cleaned the shop at the end of the day say it with me no clutter no clutter no clutter ya that’s the ticket .

-- Please check out my new stores and

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3305 days

#36 posted 10-26-2011 03:55 PM

I always put my tools back where they belong at the end of each workday. I am constantly fighting the dust problem however, even with the dust collector and 4 air scrubbers in my shop… due to the grinding and sanding i do on my boxes. I am brainstorming again for an impoved design for my adjustable downdraft table…and I have re-designed it once already.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3095 days

#37 posted 10-26-2011 04:02 PM

When I’m on a project, I don’t do the sawdust thing every evening, but I do put all the tools back in their place or else I spend too much time trying to locate them the next day.

View helluvawreck's profile


31056 posts in 2863 days

#38 posted 10-26-2011 04:03 PM

I like to keep mine disguised as a pigpen. That way I don’t have to worry about anyone coming in to case the joint so they can comeback later and steal all of my tools. Pretty smart, hanh? Besides, my wife calls me pigpen anyways. She says wherever I go I make a big mess. Soooooo, there’s no point in me disappointing the wife is there? Not only that – I keep everything filed under M for miscellaneous. That way I only have to look in one place to find something. Now, I’m sure that you can see that I have this well thought out. Besides all of that if your shop is going to be a mess after you start a project why not just keep it that way. It seems like it’s going to be more efficient to just start out with it in a mess in the first place. Don’t you see the logic in all of this? There is method in my madness – I guarantee it.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View steviep's profile


233 posts in 2644 days

#39 posted 10-26-2011 04:08 PM

^Jim C. Truer words were never said. I am training myself to put tools back as I use them, but it def isn’t natural for me. I have spent SO much time looking for tools that were “in my hands 5 min ago”.

-- StevieP ~ Micheal Tompkins - you were not here on earth long but left a giant mark on us. RIP Brother

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15349 posts in 2615 days

#40 posted 10-26-2011 04:44 PM

Old thread, but one I didn’t see months ago…

My shop centers around my workbench, and that’s the one area where clean is the rule. I can’t go a day, ala: Al, knowing the benchtop isn’t cleared.

The floor is another story. Shavings don’t bother me much at all but the floor is swept, at best, once a month maybe.

Cut-offs / miscellaneous wood scraps and single pieces (size, or type, or whatever) of material are really what I struggle with. I built a bin for them two years ago, it was filled almost immediately, and I’ve not had a good approach since.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3095 days

#41 posted 10-26-2011 05:07 PM

I know what you mean by those cut-offs. I know if I get rid of them, I’ll need them the next day. HA!

View dbhost's profile


5710 posts in 3229 days

#42 posted 10-26-2011 05:23 PM

Tools, equipment and supplies go back where they belong at the end of the day most of the time, UNLESS I am going to use that specific tool right off the following day, for example right now my planer is off of my tool stacker and on the bench as I am planning on planing some stock tonight when I get home…

Honestly, the tool stacker, totes, and clam shell cabinet storage has gone a very long way to helping me stay organized, and having a place for everything, where I don’t have to dig for 5 minutes to find something at the bottom makes it much easier to not only put away when I am done, but know where to put away…

Cutoffs, and sawdust that is missed by the dust collector (hand held router, miter saw, and lathe) tend to sit there until I get fed up with it and go crazy with the shop vac…

I have SOME cleanup I need to do, and yes my shop is messy, but trashed is far beyond where my mess is…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3384 days

#43 posted 10-26-2011 07:05 PM

When I finally get time to do some woodworking and get really into it, I usually don’t stop working until the very last second and sometimes go longer than I should, so there’s no time to clean before going inside for the evening. As a result I usually straighten a little first thing each day BEFORE I start working and might even sweep a little if it’s really bad. I read somewhere about putting away just ten things each day, and it really does help with the clutter. There is no lag time between projects since I usually have more than one going anyway, so if I need to do a thorough cleaning, I just have to bite the bullet and do it regardless of where I am in a project.

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2636 days

#44 posted 10-26-2011 07:35 PM

I usually just clean up at the end of the day. If I leave a mess it is because I am right smack in the middle of a messy something, so why bother ?

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View TheBirdMan's profile


21 posts in 2401 days

#45 posted 10-26-2011 11:39 PM

The only time I ever clean up in the middle of a project/job is if I can no longer see the dog lying on the floor.

Though cleaning up, at least wood pieces and dust, is much easier to clean up quickly since I added a floor sweep to my dust collection system.

-- -- Pat, Colorado;

View hairy's profile


2701 posts in 3529 days

#46 posted 10-26-2011 11:55 PM

I keep it clean as I go. It’s a habit I picked up a long time ago. It really takes just a little time, but it pays big dividends.

-- My reality check bounced...

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