Staying Organized in the Shop

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Forum topic by mot posted 05-29-2007 06:08 PM 1328 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3965 days

05-29-2007 06:08 PM

One of the biggest problems I have, as a hobby woodworker, is staying organized and on task in the shop. With limited shop time and multiple things on the go, I find that most mistakes are made by not remembering where I stopped last time, or not keeping track of where I’m at.

I find, many days, that I’m at work, or in bed thinking that “I meant to fit those parts.” or, “I was going to sharpen those chisels.”

I was just wondering if anyone had any thoughts on keeping organized in the shop. I’ve tried white boards, but I have to comply with writing on them. Then I lose the pen, then I don’t keep up and they are no good. Actually, the one on the wall in my shop says, “Study for neurophys exam.” That’s a reminder from 1994!

Any thoughts or ideas? Is this a common problem? I was making a bookcase for my wife and knew I had to trim some banding before I put the face frame on. Then I got the case installed, put the face frame on and realised I had forgotten to trim the banding….knucklehead stuff like that which could have been avoided if I had a system!

Just wondering…

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

10 replies so far

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

353 posts in 3945 days

#1 posted 05-29-2007 07:03 PM

I like to keep project notes in a spiral bound notebook. I chronicle the project from start to finish. I refer to those notes to remember where I was at in the process. As a hobbyist I have delays and sometimes I end up out of the shop for weeks at a time. The notes help to refresh my memory and remind me where I was at in the project.


-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3965 days

#2 posted 05-29-2007 07:16 PM

The spiral bound notebook would take up less space too…can almost hang it on a hook by the light switch…that’s a good idea!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

353 posts in 3945 days

#3 posted 05-29-2007 07:31 PM

I keep it in the drawer of the bench that way I always know where it is.


-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4015 days

#4 posted 05-29-2007 07:55 PM

I stay very organized in my shop by….....I forgot what I was going to say….what were we talking about?

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4090 days

#5 posted 05-29-2007 07:58 PM

Since I am working on my stuff almost every day, it is easier to keep track. I still have moments I do some step out of sequence. The latest issue I have is sanding and finishing a project before I assemble it. It can help a lot to have the pieces already finished before assembly. But, I forget and then remember once it is put together and I have to put in a lot of effort to finish those nooks and crannies. Had I just finished it before assembling it….

A notebook would be a good place to start. I was also thinking of a chalkboard. While it does involve writing like a white board, you may have the chalk lying around especially if you use it for marking up your wood before cutting. Not that you have great accuracy that way, but it can be a great way to lay out your pieces ahead of time and see what will come from where. I have tried it a few times to get rough measures and it work. If you do not like the layout, simply wipe it off and re-mark it. You can sometimes get more pieces out of the lumber than you originally thought of by doing the initial mark up.

I expect we will see a K&T video on the subject soon…

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4089 days

#6 posted 05-30-2007 03:22 AM

hey Tom, you could just plan to do a video walk-through for us each time and “schedule” the episodes in the little notebook. I’m sure you’d stay on track in order to keep up to date for the video series.
((thinking… woo hoo.. we get more Video’s by Tom!!!))

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3965 days

#7 posted 05-30-2007 04:03 AM

Hmmm…that might shoot a hole in the whole “efficiency” part of the organisational process, but I’ll take it under advisement. LOL

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View gizmodyne's profile


1771 posts in 4018 days

#8 posted 05-30-2007 04:21 AM

I think you have to follow “a place for everything and everything in its place.” At the school shop it is kept organized by
1. Everything has a designated place; the outline of the tool is actually painted or labeled.
2. We stop early to clean and don’t leave til all tools are back, the trash is dumped, all floors are swept.

I have tried to follow this at home but have much more storage to make. The tools at the shop are not stored in cases, which helps alot. I plan to ditch many cases in the future. I clean up the shop at the end of the day or directly when I start the next day (90% of the time).

As to not losing your place, I have gotten in the habit from class of making a “plan of procedure.” This is a detailed list of the steps required to complete the project. Then you just have to go back to the step you left off on.

I am planning on reserving tired weeknights for sharpening.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 3980 days

#9 posted 05-30-2007 01:58 PM

You may want to try a cheap little personal recorder to leave notes for yourself when you finish each day, then replay it when you get back to the shop. I am working on a small information center that includes a shopping list, project list and to do list for the shop.

-- Hope Never fails

View Tony's profile


983 posts in 3959 days

#10 posted 05-30-2007 08:44 PM

My shop is extremely well organized – it is just that my brain is not, it is totally cluttered. Now and again they do get synchronized, but not for long. My thoughts are like the dust I produce – they scatter everywhere.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

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