The American Craftsman WorkShop #22: Organization - Back At It Again!

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 01-20-2010 08:33 AM 4195 reads 1 time favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 21: Shop Organization - The Payoff Part 22 of The American Craftsman WorkShop series Part 23: A New Site and Blog Start-Up »

Just when I thought I was done…

I started milling parts and realized that I needed my mobile parts cart. It is actually a 4’ scaffold that I decided worked better as a mobile parts cart. Over the last couple of years it had turned into a permanent storage cart for templates and all around catch-all cart.


I stopped work and got a few sticks of framing lumber. I picked the best I could find and cleaned them up in my sanding machine. I drilled 1/2” holes every six inches in two of them for inserting dowels to hang the templates on. I made a jig that held the stock at 15° to the forstner bit on the drill press. The angled dowels will hold the templates to the wall a little better.


After drilling the holes, installing the 2×4’s on the wall was easy. Then I drilled a 1” hole in each template to slide them over the dowels. The dowels were cut and inserted into the drilled holes of the 2×4’s. Then I was able to hang all of the templates high up on the wall for storage.


The templates are like trophies, they represent successful work that I have done. Once I make a template I hate to get rid of it. It seems that I have reused many of the templates again or used them as a starting point to make other templates that are similar but have some variation. This is especially true with arches.

When I emptied the cart, I maintained discipline and stored everything in the sheet goods organizer or the lumber rack. I even got rid of some pieces I was certain would never get used.


Now I have a mobile parts organizer ready to use and a wall full of templates creating real “shop ambience.”


Share the Love~Share the Knowledge

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

24 comments so far

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 4383 days

#1 posted 01-20-2010 10:48 AM

Now what are you going to do for a catch all. I am getting better the older I get, I have finally taught myself to stop wasting steps. If I’m going to the storage room at the rear of the shop I try to find something to take with me. If I repeat this everytime I walk across the shop, it sure makes it easy at the end of the day.
What I can’t figure out is how to break my son of leaving waht ever is in his hand all over the place. I keep trying to get him to read your blog, but he keeps saying he doesn’t have time.
I use those gray Rubbermaid carts for handling parts. I got used to them when I worked out in the field, and couldn’t part with them whem I moved into the shop.
Right now I’m embareassed about the mess in my shop. I hate it that way, and find it hard to function. I’m still trying to recover from the move in November. I am no where near where I wanted to be by now with getting shop cabinets built. So not very many things are where I want them to be yet. I have a big cyclone with this huge frame and stand so right now it is doing souble duty as a clamp rack. My joiner is 8’ off the spot it calls home, due to jointing 22’ long product. Band saw has the same problem to get enough room from the wall to resaw this long stock. It’s all wood recovered out of a old barn built in the early 1800’s. The customer wants to use it for flooring in her home up in Chicago.

In this area you have to take the jobs that pay the bills, work has been real scarce around here. That is part of the reason the shop is in the shape it’s in now. When money is tight the extra’s like shop cabinets can wait a little while. I know the economy in this area has to get better in 2010, so I can get this place cleaned up.
I didn’t mean to cry on your shoulder. When I see the way your shop has come along it makes me wish I was there to with my shop. Like they say rome wasn’t built in a week.
This is how it looked eight weeks ago, all the green stuff is where there was carpet that was glued to the floor. A friend of mine had a tenant in here that was using it as a fitness center and when he evicted her she took it out for spite along with a lot of other things. So when we closed on the sale it was a suprise to us.

Oh well go have a cold drink you have earned it,

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 3850 days

#2 posted 01-20-2010 12:36 PM

I really like the intro Todd, ”Just when I thought I was done…” As you said before, shop organization is never really done, but a constant project. Hanging those “trophies” is a great idea. IMO, I think you already had the “shop ambience,” but these definitely do add to it. Your shop looks great and love the blog. Lots of great ideas. Thanks for posting.

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

796 posts in 4374 days

#3 posted 01-20-2010 03:14 PM

AAarrggghhh!! I need a bigger shop! The things I could do with more wall space!

I need to find a wall somewhere to hang some templates. My wife says the kitchen is out of the question, though. :(

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

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6705 posts in 3736 days

#4 posted 01-20-2010 05:17 PM

Greetings Todd: How much longer are you going to “originize the shop”? You’ve been doing this now for about 3 weeks…... you need to find a stopping place and get back to work on projects. You’ve been like a hen “orginizing her nest”....... lol…. it ain’t right til it’s right….... right? You need to think money instead of cleaning…....... No….seriously… it’s looking good, and you have put a lot of time and effort into it…....high praises. A shop is always evolving and change is progressive…..... I do it all the time, so I know….... keep on keeping on….. later.

-- " Old age will sneak up on you too quickly, so stay as active as you can".

View DocStock's profile


13 posts in 3790 days

#5 posted 01-20-2010 05:20 PM

Todd…I like what you did with the templates. Finding all mine is always a challenge and frustrating when you are right in the middle of a project…thanks

-- Glen

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3850 days

#6 posted 01-20-2010 05:21 PM

I get as much satisfaction in improving and reorganizing my shop as I do with the projects I build. My shop is a huge and ongoing project that makes all of my other work more enjoyable…
I am getting ready to re-design my lumber storage as soon as I complete the bookcase I am building.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4641 days

#7 posted 01-20-2010 05:23 PM

Rick – You are right, I do need to get back to work. I have been doing bids and designs while the stock is acclimating for my current project, the moisture content has needed to come down.


I actually started cutting on it yesterday and it hit me that I needed the cart. I figured that I might as well move the stuff once and be done with it.

A place for everything and everything in it’s place.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4416 days

#8 posted 01-20-2010 06:13 PM

That pile of wood makes me wonder what the next project is.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6705 posts in 3736 days

#9 posted 01-20-2010 06:25 PM

Todd: Absolutely correct… don’t handle stock more than you have to. Moving it two or three times is lost energy and time. Good idea on the wood, too. It does need to set awhile to adjust to the shop climate. I think we all try to do that, once inside ther shop. But… there’s one advamtage I have over you and a lot of guys on here… I’m retired military(amost 35 years), and I can work in my shop anytime I want to or not. I have no set time, so I have have all the time I need to re-shape and originize mine. I’m like Greg on the shop thing….... I really like building custom furniture and pieces for others, but my enjoyment is re-orginizing my shop and building shop furniture, cabinets, work benches, etc., etc….. you get the pixs….and I like to have fun, too. My shop is plenty big enough ( 40’ x 50’) to keep me on my toes…... later, bud.

-- " Old age will sneak up on you too quickly, so stay as active as you can".

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4296 days

#10 posted 01-20-2010 06:45 PM

Looks good, I have a spot up high for my projects too:

And I do mean up high!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3890 days

#11 posted 01-20-2010 07:49 PM

”I even got rid of some pieces I was certain would never get used.” -Something is terribly amiss in Woodville

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4215 days

#12 posted 01-20-2010 07:55 PM

That looks real neat Todd.

View johnnymo's profile


309 posts in 3748 days

#13 posted 01-21-2010 06:50 AM

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together.

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

View a1Jim's profile


117746 posts in 4119 days

#14 posted 01-21-2010 06:56 AM

Thanks Todd great ideas.

View degoose's profile


7260 posts in 3897 days

#15 posted 01-21-2010 08:34 PM

Todd you have inspired me… I have just spent the last few days … nearly 30 hours… reorganizing my shop… as you say, when a client comes over they don’t want to see a mess… I have taken all my timber etc and returned it to the wood store… only timber in the shop is what I am currently working on… next job is organizing the actuall tool storage…BTW it is so nice to see the floor… got a bit messy with all the Xmas orders… nearly ready for a great 2010.
thanks again for the inspiration… altho I don’t think I will be quite as neat as you.. but it is a start…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

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