The American Craftsman WorkShop #16: Sheet Goods Organizer

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 01-04-2010 10:09 PM 4102 reads 7 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Reorganizing the Shop - Complete (this round) Part 16 of The American Craftsman WorkShop series Part 17: Clearing the Lumber Shelves »

Increased Efficiency Through Better Organization

My shop environment is always shifting and evolving. The goal is to create an efficient space to work in.

My shop is not large by business or commercial standards and many hobbyists enjoy a work space as large as mine. But large shop or small, as a business I have to focus on efficiency to make money.

A Couple of Problems

One of the biggest offenders for this disorderly disaster was storage for sheet goods.

The goal is not to become a warehouse for materials but there will always be a certain amount of material left over from jobs. I have to admit it is nice having scrap material to create a template or throw together a small project without making a purchase.

Another problem is the pile of material that I consider active. It is that leaning pile of stock that I am working from for current projects. I notice that over time many of the pieces are no longer in active status but become stagnant and they should be put on the shelf or culled out.

My most recent effort addressed the storage problem for sheet goods. This was also next to the last wall that stood as bare studs and insulation so that needed to be addressed as well.

Here are a couple shots of my corner of shame. The clamps on the floor are already in their new home from a previous improvement project seen here.



Maximizing Efficient Use of Available Space

The problem with this storage area is that there is a lot of unused space vertically. I decided that an organizer system would be a good way to contain the usable left over sheet stock.

First I installed 1/2” plywood on the wall. This wall gets a lot of material and equipment like ladders stacked against it so I did not want to use sheetrock because it will be abused.

I was left with a space between the wall and lumber storage rack that was 45” wide. My ceiling is a little over 10’ high (10’ studs with bottom plate and double top plate.)

I divided the space into thirds left to right and this gives 15” for each section. The outside wall is left for full sheets and long stock. The organizer is placed to the left.

The organizer is 32” deep on the inside. The top two sections are for pieces up to 50” and 62” tall. The smaller cubbies on the bottom are of various sizes at 44”, 32”, 27” (approx.) If material sticks out some that is OK. I determined the best dimensions to minimize waste and material purchase.

I find that the 50” and 62” cubbies are good for storing my shop help.


Placing the small cubbies on the bottom works out well because I can easily place large left over pieces in the top cubbies without a ladder and the smallest pieces are easy to deal with on the bottom. I have seen storage with the smallest cubbies on top and it requires a step ladder to store or retrieve the pieces.

Now my left overs are well organized and the walls covered in plywood. (I did not bury my grandson in the cubby with material.)


Everybody’s storage needs and situation are different, but I hope this helps give some ideas.

Back to the shop, I am going to clean up that leaning “active” pile of stock. I wonder if I can get my helper out of preschool?

Share the Love~Share the Knowledge

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

22 comments so far

View mikethetermite's profile


524 posts in 2359 days

#1 posted 01-04-2010 10:30 PM

Thanks for sharing. Always looking for better ways to store sheet material. I used 1/2” plywood all the way around even the ceiling. If I had used sheet rock, I would be patching holes and dents.

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View cmckerliesr's profile


82 posts in 2538 days

#2 posted 01-04-2010 10:43 PM

Great storage. I wish I had the room to copy your idea. Well when I can afford another can, then I will be able to be just like you. LOL.

Seriously great job!

-- The Man in the Can, Craig M. North Carolina

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 2790 days

#3 posted 01-04-2010 10:54 PM

Todd you gave me great ideas thanks.

View Karson's profile


34994 posts in 3493 days

#4 posted 01-04-2010 11:07 PM

I saw a door in the inactive pile and I didn’t see it in the new arrangement. Did it get trashed.

Nice setup Todd. The Grandson looks like a willing helper.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 2933 days

#5 posted 01-04-2010 11:10 PM


You just helped me solve the problem I keep fighting with. Perhaps this will prevent me from buying more sheet stock than I need. It wont take as much time to see what I have this way. Sometimes having lots of space can be a hassle, it gives you more room to scatter things aound in making it harder to keep track of what you have in stock. A large shop means having to be more organized, It’s the old tale, be careful what you pray for, you might just get it.

Thanks for sharing a great idea.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8828 posts in 3192 days

#6 posted 01-04-2010 11:10 PM

Karson – The door is still there in the big pile.

cmckerliesr – Stand your can upright for more vertical storage.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

785 posts in 2925 days

#7 posted 01-04-2010 11:17 PM

Good idea. I’ll have to use that if I ever get a shop with more headroom.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2967 days

#8 posted 01-05-2010 12:39 AM

Todd – your “Corner of Shame” looks pretty organized by my standards! Great storage solution – I’ve been trying to figure out something like this for awhile. Thanks!

-- -- --

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 2651 days

#9 posted 01-05-2010 01:16 AM

Another great addition to the shop. Now where did that Grandson get hidden??...................................LOL

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2535 posts in 3050 days

#10 posted 01-05-2010 01:33 AM

Great solution. I like the small cubes at the bottom..I always seem to have long narrow leftovers. Not to swerve off topic too badly, but I see you have your router installed in the extension table for your saw. I have been thinking of doing the same thing to my Unisaw extension table. I know you have probably given it a thorough workout, so what do you think? Are you happy with it like that?


View a1Jim's profile


113840 posts in 2670 days

#11 posted 01-05-2010 01:52 AM

Good job Todd I hope you didn’t forget that cute little guy behind all that ply LOL

-- Custom furniture

View Dez's profile


1156 posts in 3170 days

#12 posted 01-05-2010 02:36 AM

Looks well thought out, very much like mine! LOL
The only problem I found with vertical storage is that full sheets wouldn’t stay flat, although the partials were fine except the occasional larger piece.
I had a bigger stock of leftovers and odd stuff that I just couldn’t get rid of, as well as stock stuff for cabinets so the sheets were pretty tight but they still warped.
Since then I changed to flat storage for the full sheets with the downfall stored above. It took a little more floor space but finally they were staying flat.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8828 posts in 3192 days

#13 posted 01-05-2010 03:33 AM

Brad_Nailor – I installed the router plate and it works pretty good.

I also have a Bosch folding router table and it works pretty good too. I bought it because of milling on site for my remodeling jobs.

I use both of these very little since I got my shaper. I have router collets for the shaper and I will use it before either of the router tables. Nothing runs as smooth or as powerful as the shaper.

Dez – some of the material does warp but my goal is not to have much on hand anyway. My suppliers are only 3 and 6 miles away so I should not be storing any more than drops in the shop.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Roz's profile


1684 posts in 2879 days

#14 posted 01-05-2010 05:24 AM

Smart! This makes the smaller pieces easy to find. I like it.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View johnnymo's profile


309 posts in 2298 days

#15 posted 01-05-2010 05:45 AM

Looks great! Thanks for sharing.

-- John in Arizona (but it's a dry heat!)

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