Keeping your shop clean & organized

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Forum topic by ErsatzTom posted 01-06-2008 06:57 AM 8037 views 0 times favorited 58 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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104 posts in 4042 days

01-06-2008 06:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

For those of you who do it successfully, do you have any particular methodology for keeping your shop ship-shape? Every time I get it squared away, I say I’m going to keep it neat no matter what. But then the deeper I get into a project, the more chaotic it gets until I finish, look around, and run away and hide from it. ;)

Seriously, though, I know some people are just neater and more organized by nature but it can’t be that hard for even a naturally disorganized person to keep things reasonable. Do you put each tool back as soon as you are done with it? Do you straighten up a little after each step or just when you are done for the day? What works best for you?

-- Tom, Southwest Florida

58 replies so far

View piper's profile


101 posts in 4313 days

#1 posted 01-06-2008 07:54 AM

I like you prefer to be organized. I have a very small shop 10 X 20 so I really have no choice. I usually work until I cant find the last tool that I just laid down then I end up putting things away until I find what I am looking for, Still the small shop forces you to keep it organized or Id never be able to get anything built. Plus my shop is my sanctuary. I place to go and watch TV or just relax.

-- piper

View Jamie's profile


161 posts in 4050 days

#2 posted 01-06-2008 08:48 AM

I’m watching this one… I have a horrible time keeping my shop clean. I can lay a tool or piece of wood down and in a split second… It’s gone.. completely gone.. I have spent many a day in the shop laughing at myself because I had lost something that I had just layed down.

-- Jamie, Kentucky

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4224 days

#3 posted 01-06-2008 08:57 AM

I usually clean up after I’m done with my current project.

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

View ErsatzTom's profile


104 posts in 4042 days

#4 posted 01-06-2008 09:02 AM

Jamie: I know that feeling oh-too-well.

Gary: By the time I’m done with a project it is a disaster.

-- Tom, Southwest Florida

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4224 days

#5 posted 01-06-2008 09:07 AM

Tom – Yea, it can get kinda messy, but I keep a 5 gallon bucket next to most of my machines and
the workbench for the bulk of the junk. I also keep one for saving larger scraps wich I can use for
jigs and fixtures or whatever. When they get too small, in the trash they go.

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

View WhiskeyWaters's profile


213 posts in 4042 days

#6 posted 01-06-2008 10:11 AM

I’ve found a few ways that work:

1) Invite your full bird ex-army father over. He’ll chew you out until you clean up just to get him quiet.

2) Messy roommates. I mean pizza-&-beer-to-the-rafters roommates. You’ll keep everything clean because if you don’t, your SO won’t even come close to the house.

3) The pile system is organization: What’dya mean? The hammer’s in the hand tool pile, not the power tool pile!

4) Drink coffee, smoke cigars. You get free cans and wooden boxes outta the addiction. Along with very good looking yellow teeth.


-- make it safe & keep the rubber side down.

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4111 days

#7 posted 01-06-2008 10:59 AM

Guilty. I lose stuff—usually find it just after I buy a replacement.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4397 days

#8 posted 01-06-2008 12:48 PM

haven’t found a method that works yet… cleaning up the work area before leaving the shop helps..

when we first set up our shop.. I’d repeat “the job’s not done until the sawdust is swept up”... that didn’t last long.

what works best in our shop is: Rick works and I “assistant” and clean up after him after each step.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Critterman's profile


601 posts in 4046 days

#9 posted 01-06-2008 02:18 PM

Necessity is the mother of invention. Having a very small area to work in causes me to be cleaner and more organized. Loosing tools, too much sawdust and scraps on the floor, and where did the end of that stupid extension cord go??? I have to stop a few times during a project and clean up just so I can move around. Also, being attached to the house and making the attempt not to have a house full of sawdust, my shop vac gets a workout at the end of most days. Of course, I’m one of those organization freaks too, which helps…LOL.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

View clieb91's profile


3545 posts in 4171 days

#10 posted 01-06-2008 03:39 PM

Tom, I find that oraganization is easy… keeping it that way is a whole other subject. With my small shop and most of my tools on movable bases (except those I still don’t have a place for and are sitting on the floor) I am constantly having to shuffle stuff around. I will hopefully be posting my cabinets I just finished shortly which includes a power tool cubby system which should help. I also find that the pegboard walls help a lot, though I never seem to find the tool in the same place it was last time.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4324 days

#11 posted 01-06-2008 04:07 PM

Until he moved to Texas I had a friend in the shop who had diabetes and eye problems. We had to keep it clean so he could work there.

Now I have a group that comes over every Wed nite so on Tuesday I do some straightening up.

Once a year we do a thorough clean (wipe the walls, blow out all the dust, etc.) and once a year we do an organizational meeting to sort or re-sort where things go or should go.

I keep it clean by sharing the work load.

I also tend to hang lots of tings on the walls so I pretend I’m not being neat.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4287 days

#12 posted 01-07-2008 06:28 PM

I find that I must have a designated place for everything that is easy to get to and near where I will use it so it can be returned. When I was in the Air Force we had assigned tool boxes that had each tool outlined in the foam drawer keepers. Each tool set was inventoried before and after your shift and if any tools were lost the entire flightline was shut down until the tool was found. (they make a mess of the jet engines) when the line was shut down the base commander was notified along with the wing commander. ( bad things followed)
I have had it sooo ingrained that it is hard to shake.

-- Hope Never fails

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4198 days

#13 posted 01-07-2008 07:29 PM

When you can’t walk get the shovel and the big broom.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View ErsatzTom's profile


104 posts in 4042 days

#14 posted 01-07-2008 08:01 PM

I definitely need better organized storage. I really need to build a bigger bench and convert the open shelving under the one I have into drawers. I have most of my tools on peg boards, and that works pretty well, but I can’t seem to get the knack for when to put tools back and when to leave them out. If I put it back, I’m sure to need it again almost right away. If I set it down on a random horizontal surface, it will sit there gather dust until I 1) drop it on my foot 2) drop it on the floor and break it 3) need it desperately but can’t find it because it isn’t where it should be. Guess I’ll get it figured out sooner or later.

I just watched The Wood Whisperer’s “When the Dust Settles” and it made me feel a lot better about things. His shop normally looks immaculate on camera but this time he showed what it looked like after finishing up a couple of big projects. I felt right at home.

-- Tom, Southwest Florida

View CoolDavion's profile


452 posts in 4060 days

#15 posted 01-07-2008 08:13 PM

Keeping thing clean in the garage er shop is one of my new years resolutions.

I want to get somethings done this year, not just clean the same surface.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

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