How do you segregate and organize different TYPES of tools?

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Forum topic by SMP posted 12-31-2018 05:58 PM 1207 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1401 posts in 418 days

12-31-2018 05:58 PM

I am getting into hand tool woodworking. But I am having challenges around how to segregate and organize different types of tools. I do my own auto repair, so I have various mechanics tools. I also do some “construction” stuff around the house. and then general purpose tools. I am planning on building the Pekovich/FWW hanging wall tool cabinet that I will probably keep all/most of my hand tools in. I also have a large 2 door Craftsman cabinet that I keep larger tools/power tools in and a large tool chest with various hand tools etc. I am just having challenges on where to keep certain things so I don’t have to look in various places for things for a certain type of job. Also if my wife is looking for a tape measure or small cordless drill etc I don’t want her to have to look all over.

Some options:

Keep only woodworking hand tools in hanging cabinet.
Keep mechanics tools in certain drawers of tool chest
Keep various smaller woodworking tools in hanging cabinet, even router bits etc?
Have a smaller pegboard between wall cabinet and tool chest for “Various purpose tools”, like hammer, tape measure, etc.

Just curious what others have come up with to make certain jobs easier to keep organize and only have to go to one spot for the right tools for various types of jobs.

16 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


8571 posts in 2663 days

#1 posted 12-31-2018 06:21 PM

The answer for tape measures is to have one in every room and storage closet. And in 4 weeks when you lose all of them, buy another batch and the originals will start showing up again.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View RobHannon's profile


317 posts in 1043 days

#2 posted 12-31-2018 06:35 PM

My method, all tools get thrown on top of any flat surface that will support them until I can’t stand it. Then I clean up the flat surface I need (usually the tablesaw), and then convince myself “ok this isn’t so bad” and leave the rest. About once a year someone will come over to work with me in the shop and then I will decide its embarrassing and I should clean it up.

I do not recommend this method of organization.

View SMP's profile


1401 posts in 418 days

#3 posted 12-31-2018 06:38 PM

The answer for tape measures is to have one in every room and storage closet. And in 4 weeks when you lose all of them, buy another batch and the originals will start showing up again.

- jmartel

Haha, I did actually buy one for my car. Because too many times I would take it with me somewhere and leave it in the car and forget where I left it.

View socrbent's profile


883 posts in 2782 days

#4 posted 12-31-2018 06:39 PM

Welcome to the world of wood working!

Disclaimer: Many people will have different opinions or feelings on this. Here are my opinions:
1. Group items by use and label the drawer/cabinet – sharpening, measuring, sanding, paintbrushes as needed. As I grow older this is increasingly important. Seems to me to be more important if several are sharing tools (you and your wife).
2. Be willing to redo your organization as you grow more experienced, change or add focus areas. ie initially put drills and drill bits near each other. But be willing to change once you have a drill press.
3. Put frequently used items near where they will be used and remember number 2.
4. You will know you have got it right if you can remember and easily retrieve a needed tool.
5. Ask Wife!
6. This is a never ending quest.

-- socrbent Ohio

View GrantA's profile (online now)


1828 posts in 1920 days

#5 posted 12-31-2018 06:46 PM

What is this notion of the wife looking for tools in the shop? Keep a small selection of tools in the house for that. As for the rest, sheesh good luck!

View BlasterStumps's profile


1428 posts in 952 days

#6 posted 12-31-2018 06:47 PM

I built my version of Mike’s tool cabinet. Mine is not as nice as what he built. I contacted him and thanked him for the ideas and inspiration his article in FWW gave me. It works for most of my hand tools. I have some planes stuck away up in the top where the two doors are. I also have the wall cabinet mounted on a ‘ready bench’ below it so that the weight of the wall cabinet is not on the wall. It is fastened to the wall at the top so it can’t tip forward. The ready bench is/was a 9-drawer dresser that I found at the local Restore. It is built very sturdy so it will carry the weight no problem. My little workbench will nest right up in front of the ready bench. I also built a mobile cabinet that has 5 drawers and two shelves on the one side with the other three sides being used as wall space for hanging all sorts of tools.
I have mechanic tools also but they are in a big rolling tool cabinet.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View christherookie's profile


126 posts in 3559 days

#7 posted 12-31-2018 07:19 PM

Here’s what works for me.

1. Specialized tools and accessories kept together.

For example, i have a drill press on a cart. The cart has drawers that have my dremel tools, a handheld drill, drill bits, etc. I have a cart with an oscillating sander and drawers with a powered palm sander and all my sand paper.

2. General tools with easy access.

I have a wall cabinet with general tools (hammers, planes, etc) on the inside. The doors of the cabinet are pegboard so on the outside are my most common tools that I’d reach for such a ruler/level, adjustable t-square, ear-plugs, and a few other things.

This works for me . ALso, when i do my work, my workflow is tool specific. For example, I’ll start a project doing all my table saw work – cart #1. Next would be any drilling – cart #2. Then when I’m done, I might do 90% of my sanding work – cart #3. This is great when I’m working on a project over several evenings.

View OSU55's profile


2409 posts in 2502 days

#8 posted 12-31-2018 08:43 PM

Try something then change it as you build experience and/or add tools. The primary goal is for everything to have a place and for you to know where that is. My wife has no clue where to find anything in my shop and this is on purpose – she has to ask and therefore I know what she has and what to ask her to return since she never does so on her own.

I group types of tools together. Mechanics tools are separated from ww tools, in various tool boxes large and small. All hand held pwr tools are in a large cabinet, along with drill bits. All router bits and adj tools are in drawers in the router table (hand held touters in the cabinet). Many hand planes and all ww chisels hang on the ww bench, with small planes etc in drawers, all measuring devices (except tapes) in drawers in ww bench. More planes hang on the wall. Sharpening cart has all related jigs, stones, wet grinder, etc. Lathe has shop built tool holders and shelving to hold 40+ lathe chisels, 1/2 dozen tool rests, numerous drive/live centers, and chucks, all on the lathe, which can be wheeled anywhere. Reload equipment is located on its portion of my “general workbench”. Specialized motorcycle tools are in a separate drawer of the wheeled mechanic’s toolbox. Somehow i know where 35 years worth of tools and spare parts are.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1898 posts in 2007 days

#9 posted 12-31-2018 08:56 PM

I have several different tool boxes ATM.

1) 5 gal bucket using a Bucket Boss with common household repair tools:
This is only place wife and kids are ‘allowed’ to borrow tools from. Has everything needed for minor repairs to; doors, windows, plumbing, electrical, hang pictures, or attempt repairs on broken household gadgets/toys.
I keep 18V Dewalt hammer drill in the bucket, which is about only tool I share with wood working shop.

2) Craftsmen rolling tool cabinet:
Has all automotive repair tools, all metal working soldering/welding tools, and heavy duty house repair tools like massive pipe wrenches or large pliers/cutters for breaker panel work.

3) Wood working hand tool bench:
This is where I keep all my commonly used wood working tools that fit in drawers. Have separate drawer(s) for planes, chisels, saws/files, measuring/marking, drilling, and misc set up things.

4) All my router bits, wrenches, and table saw accessories are temporarily located in a HF roll around cart. This is being replaced with dedicated storage in a very slow construction project as part of cabinet saw upgrade. Will soon have dedicated router table cabinet, and separate cabinet/drawers for table saw stuff as part of my saw station.

The above only works as I am old man who has collected way too many tools over the last 40 years of working with my hands, and ALL have massive overlap. Things used everywhere like; tape measure, ruler, hammer, and basic screwdrivers; are located in every tool box. There is even a separate drill bit index in locations 1, 2, & 3. A lot of the duplicate tools are lessor quality tools. Some bought before I knew better quality was needed for a job, and some freebie HF tools acquired so I really don’t care if family misplaces something. (wink, wink)

I have been using the same general tool storage for about 15 years, moving between 4 different locations; which requires my tools to be fairly mobile.
The only major change planned on future projects list is to consolidate all my drilling stuff into a dedicated cabinet under my stand up drill press. Need this to free up room in other locations, as tool collection never stops growing ….......

Best Luck on solving your tool storage problem. :)

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5974 posts in 2922 days

#10 posted 12-31-2018 09:18 PM

Here are some of my approaches to your issue. Use what you can. Mechanics tools belong and were meant to be stored in a regular toolbox. HF is your friend here as a homeowner. Power tools I made drawers for all over grouped by category / and or usage. Clamps and such on the wall. I have sent years making cabinets with drawers and such to store all my tools / supplies. No one solution is perfect, or will work with space available.

Labels and colors will be your friend here as well. Every cabinet is a different color, sometimes cabinets have one base color with different colored drawers. Color aid memory. Getting more stuff gives memory a hard time. LOL

Here are some ideas for you.

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

View olegrump's profile


97 posts in 735 days

#11 posted 01-12-2019 05:06 PM

Welcome to the wonderful world of hand tools. You are DEAD ON in your original post. This is exactly how I organize my own tools. I absolutely LOVE my general purpose pegboard area, which I completely purged last Winter, and began anew, even making some of my own hangers. The question I had to ask is what tools were REALLY needed in that area. (A tape measure is among them). Really helps quickly find these items when doing general work. The wrenches, sockets and the like go in the drawers of the tool chest at one end of the bench by the GP pegboard. The most used hand powered wood working tools go in a cabinet. Small power tools are stored in a repurposed kitchen cabinet with deep drawers and under the GP bench below the pegboard. I find this arrangement helps work flow enormously, and I can find what I need easily. One does have to be diligent about returning tools to their correct place, but that’s a good habit for everyone to develop.

View Knockonit's profile


608 posts in 715 days

#12 posted 01-12-2019 06:15 PM

you boys are amazing, for the life of me i can never find a tape, a square, my reading glasses, even though they are probably hanging around my neck, and never enough clamps. as for organization, i try, but can’t ever seem to be successful, i will strive harder in this new year to follow in some here’s foot steps and be successful. hehehe, really, i will try, hehehehe

Rj in az

View Gentile's profile


350 posts in 2331 days

#13 posted 01-12-2019 06:26 PM

Tools I use more often are close to my work bench, tape measures, rulers, squares, c-clamps, hammer and mallets, tool box containing, screw drivers, pliers, wrenches…
Most of my machines are on wheels, the ones I use less often are parked against a wall, garage door, with others , used more oftenparked in front of them. Small shop…
My drill press is on a stand next to a cupboard where I keep drill bits. Power tools are in a cupboard above my radial arm saw. Pipe clamps are on a rack around the corner by the man door. Lumber rack is behind the dust collector, small band saw, and my chop saw. I have a cabinet that holds my fasteners, glue and finishes. I need a bigger shop, sometimes it reminds me of working in a submarine…

-- "I cut it twice and it's still too short"

View jonah's profile


2080 posts in 3812 days

#14 posted 01-12-2019 07:18 PM

I put a tape measure and pencils at pretty much every place I can think of needing one. Everything else has a drawer or cabinet home, with tools segregated by use.

I have a toolbox that has all the essentials in it for normal household repairs/installations. If I need to go somewhere else, that’s what I take with me.

View stefang's profile


16752 posts in 3847 days

#15 posted 01-12-2019 10:47 PM

I probably should just store all my tools on my work bench as most of them seem to wind up there before I finish a project. Laziness is a real threat to efficient woodworking!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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