Sloppy shop with more experience?

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Forum topic by Craftsman on the lake posted 02-03-2017 10:19 PM 1524 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Craftsman on the lake

3887 posts in 4720 days

02-03-2017 10:19 PM

I just finished a cradle for my daughter’s upcoming delivery. I sat back and thought, “I’m going to rearrange things again. Just a little this time in the shop. That cabinet over there. Maybe this tool nearer the window, etc.” Then I looked at things. I’d gotten sloppy over the years. This isn’t about cleaning. It’s about the shop itself. When I first set up shop, an area about 24×24, I concentrated on the shop itself. Then when I was done, my first blog was…. “Shop is done, now to make something”. Actually I’d made a lot of stuff but it was all stuff for the shop. And since then I’ve made a lot of stuff.

Anyway, since then, I’ve not concentrated on the shop. When I redid it after making several pieces of furniture and a few years of use I re-did things for convenience and functionality. No fancy cabinets for the power tools. Functional benches with wheels but made out of framing lumber. I didn’t paint stuff. Just made it… stepped back to make sure it would work to fulfill my needs then on to the next item. The concentration that was on the shop has moved to what the shop makes. If I needed a jig to make tapered legs for a table I made a jig with plywood, and blocks screwed to it but it only worked for those legs. After it ended up in the scrap wood heap. My shop has actually gone from the look of an office with tools, to a functionally looking, crowded banter of tools and pieces of wood.

Does anyone else go through this? Setting up shop for shop’s sake then realizing that your efforts move from the shop to the products and the shop itself simply becomes in itself a tool. The products look mighty fine but the shop becomes an afterthought and looks that way.

Just thinkin’ here.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

24 replies so far

View JRsgarage's profile


448 posts in 1791 days

#1 posted 02-03-2017 10:34 PM

definitely. i think alot of us started out in similar manner. i know i made my share of jigs…

-- “Facts don't care about your feelings.” ..., Ben Shapiro

View mrbob's profile


182 posts in 1851 days

#2 posted 02-03-2017 10:41 PM

Yup, me too.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1673 posts in 3946 days

#3 posted 02-03-2017 10:54 PM

I also have rearranged, rebuilt, reused, a lot of my shop. Really like the work flow now.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View EngineerChic's profile


34 posts in 1786 days

#4 posted 02-04-2017 12:17 AM

Yes. I like the look of cabinets and closed storage but more often than not, I need to have stuff on open shelves. I put tools back in their cases, but I no longer try to put things behind closed doors. I need to see stuff. It looks like a shop, and I also decided there is no shame in keeping scraps in bins as opposed to neat stacks. Stacks mean I have to be careful when rummaging thru to find something about yay big, but bins are quicker to scan and put back.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile (online now)


10501 posts in 3691 days

#5 posted 02-04-2017 05:02 AM

I consider my shop as a open ended project, always something to tweak in between projects, or during projects. LOL

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

View Andre's profile (online now)


4825 posts in 3088 days

#6 posted 02-04-2017 05:38 AM

Funny this topic came up, for about 2 weeks have been thinking about rearranging the shop but really want to get a Jointer planer combo to free up some floor space. Then there is the problem with an ever growing collection of Hand planes, Chisels and saws that out number the spaces made for them! Then its a case of new woods appearing with no room on the racks and cut offs just to nice for the burn box! One of these days it will be perfect? LOL!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Tabletop's profile


139 posts in 2029 days

#7 posted 02-04-2017 11:20 AM

I just moved into a bigger shop and have found myself exactly at the same point. I started off with good intentions but somewhere I lost that focus. I started doing projects for customers before I was actually ready and my shop is now a disaster area. I have decided after this current cabinet job is finished I’m going to spend two whole days getting it right. I’ve already scheduled the help, so now I’m committed. Lol. We will see what happens.

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Craftsman on the lake

3887 posts in 4720 days

#8 posted 02-04-2017 12:07 PM

Funny this topic came up, for about 2 weeks have been thinking about rearranging the shop but really want to get a Jointer planer combo to free up some floor space. Then there is the problem with an ever growing collection of Hand planes, Chisels and saws that out number the spaces made for them! Then its a case of new woods appearing with no room on the racks and cut offs just to nice for the burn box! One of these days it will be perfect? LOL!

- Andre

Exactly. For me, as the stuff I make has become better and better, the shop has become an afterthought. More utilitarian. ‘Just make it what I need to get the job done’ sort of thing.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View EricTwice's profile


248 posts in 1815 days

#9 posted 02-04-2017 12:47 PM

I think it has to do with goals. What is more important?

is it having a neat clean shop and all the tools put away, or is it working the wood down to the scribe line while listening to the hand plane go “snick” and the shavings pile up around our feet?

I do try to keep a clean shop. It gets a good sweep down about every week, whether it needs it or not, and the trash bins are emptied.

Don’t get me wrong. I do sweep under my bench occasionally, and SURPRISE, I find the tools that I have been missing. Funny, I don’t recall putting them under there. Sometimes I think they are migratory and they go to the shavings under my bench to propagate.

I used to build fancier jigs for more than one use, but I have learned they only rarely get a second use so why bother.

I have a loose organization system that works for me. Basically I know which drawer it belongs in, and I put it back when the job is done. Some times more than that if I have too many things on my bench. There are piles of scrap near my bench. If I am working on a project and I have an “extra” piece or two I lean them there. I go through them every couple of years. (I should do it now. the pile is about 3 feet deep, I will when I find time, and we all know when that will be.)

There are also a couple of boxes under my bench that contain wonderful stuff. Pieces of rosewood, ebony, zebra wood, pink ivory… I give them a look sometimes, but they will live there forever. I may even use some of them.

If I find something in my organizational system that isn’t working, I will change it. But I find that I am used to things the way they are. So this only happens rarely. It does happen though. When I finish my new shop enough to get moved in, I will go through the things I have in my house, and the thing ones at work and it will happen.

Personally I am not really looking forward to it, but it will happen.

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 3392 days

#10 posted 02-04-2017 12:57 PM

I think I’m right up the middle going on 25 years…

I’ve rearranged a few times, but I’ve almost always split the difference on jigs and shop furniture.

I’ve always built jigs and sleds on the fly, when the need arose, but I also had some early formal training in other worlds outside of woodworking that kind of beat it into me. It’s function over form, I only bother with paint and finish on shop projects if it improves function.

I’m far more apt to buy plastic cabinets or steel shelving from home centers than to build out shop storage. I find them “good enough”, requiring little time to build and cheaper than building.

I’ve built a few shop carts and tool bases, but also have purchased resin carts and roll-away bottom cabinets. Nowadays, and hopefully it won’t change too much, I can buy a bottom tool roll-away with 5-7 drawers for less than the plywood to build one. For example, I have a 12” disc and a combo spindle / belt sander sitting on a $150 Husky tool cabinet that rolls around nicely and holds all the consumables underneath.

The big thing for me over time was reorganization. Once I ended up set up in two main areas, a machine / stock prep / “dirty” area, and an assembly / hand fitting / finishing area, and got only those things that belonged in each in place, things really began to be enjoyable. Occasional use stuff, like my vacuum press, HVLP rig, and similar things, got “dead stored” so it’s accessible, but out of the way when not in use.

All in all, I’m not super neat, just neat enough. My place doesn’t look like a magazine cover, but the clutter and dust are under control and don’t detract from the experience. Kind of the difference between a Sprint Cup shop where they interview people on directors chairs and your typical auto repair shop… ;^)

View DsRMR's profile


41 posts in 1773 days

#11 posted 02-04-2017 01:26 PM

LOL OMG i sit here saying oh i’m not that way… Bull S#[email protected] I blame it all on my adult ADHD and end up with just a little done here and a little done there as far as for me goes.
Now when it comes to a project for a client i’m disciplined enough to stay on task. Again i am starting over completely here and the old shop was just neat enough but i always gave any jig special attention. Sad that i only have a few left but when you make them tool specific… thats what they are. I cant wait till i can at least walk thru the new shop without putting on my climbing gear.

-- say not I can not but I Can

View TravisH's profile


783 posts in 3217 days

#12 posted 02-04-2017 09:00 PM

My shop has always been utilitarian but more so because it is not climate controlled and currently fun money goes towards the kids. I try and keep my shop as clean and organized as possible. My time is to limited to mess with having to search for something or organize every time I need to use a different tool.

Once the kids (well at least the first two leave) I figure we will move to a different house and I have big plans in regards to a shop. I look forward to having a new shop upgrading most of the tools, etc…

View builtinbkyn's profile


3031 posts in 2222 days

#13 posted 02-04-2017 09:32 PM

I spent a few hours over the last few days sorting and rearranging things. I get lazy and end up with a fist full or two of screws, washers, nuts, bolts and miscellaneous small parts piled in a drawer or on the miter saw station. Drives me nuts, but I just look at it. Sorted, stashed and done.

I purchased a few items months ago – Magswitch feather board and resaw fence. That was months ago. They sat in their packaging on the miter saw station just looking at me with derision. “Put me together and get me off of the work surface!” Done.

Had a cardboard box coming apart at the seams that was crammed full of various types of clamps. Also have this nice reclaimed rolling file made of steel and mesh weave baskets that was overflowing with one off jigs that I’m not sure why I saved. They got tossed and now I have a really nice rolling cart for small/medium clamps. :)

Over these same few days I made a stand for my alien drill press that’s been sitting on the floor and getting used that way because, well it’s all cast iron, heavier than my first car and had no where to put it. Done. Oh took it apart to get it up on the casework and cleaned and oiled it in the process. Also snapped a nut that’s used to adjust the tension on the motor/belt. Another job for another day :(

Removed the Ridgid belt/spindle sander from the rolling stand it was on when I got it from the CL guy I bought it from and placed it under my bench. In the process I had to clean all the crap off of that shelf where I had a bad habit of tossing cut-offs and pieces used for wedging/blocking, so it would fit alongside the mortising machine that never gets used but does add ballast to my bench :0 The sander doesn’t get used often enough to warrant floor space and when I need it, it’s light enough to pull out and place on the bench. Done.

With those two machines in better spots, I now have room for my new router table which I need to build to replace the one I have now – Craftsman Workmate 425 converted to router table. Good for job site. Not so good for a shop. The new table will have storage for bits and accessories and much better dust collection. Not done.

Two weeks ago I made dividers for drawers and organized. Man that felt good :)

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View Madmark2's profile


3151 posts in 1870 days

#14 posted 02-05-2017 12:26 AM

Clean shop is an idle shop. Sloppy is busy. Ain’t got time for pretty, pretty costs time & $.

Saw clutter.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View EarlS's profile


4801 posts in 3630 days

#15 posted 02-05-2017 01:47 AM

Like Forrest Gump said “I think it’s a little bit of both”..... I am a neat freak but I also realize that I need to get things built so I keep the tools put away when I finish with them and I keep the work surfaces clean so I can use them. The floor gets swept/vacuumed at the end of the day or weekend so I can pull the truck into its spot. The dust gets vacuumed up before I start finishing work so I don’t have to sand as much between coats. Aside from that, the scrap bin fills up and I have to part with the little pieces that I want to use but don’t have a project to use them on.

I generally use the clean up and tidy up time to figure out what I want to do next. You can tell how well my creativity is working by how tidy and clean the shop is. The neater and cleaner the more I’m trying to figure out what to do or how to do it. When it is a mess and there are pieces and parts all over I’m in the zone and it all clicks.

Sorry MadMark I would go crazy in your shop.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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