After project cleanup

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Forum topic by gthomson posted 11-01-2020 11:19 PM 1003 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View gthomson's profile


28 posts in 2096 days

11-01-2020 11:19 PM

I’m terrible about putting away tools after a project. Doesn’t matter the type of project – could be woodworking, plumbing, gardening, etc…
I finish the project, and 80% of the time I bring the tools into the garage, but they go into random places. 20% of the time – okay, where did I leave that one?
Often the project is a multi-day project, so I don’t want to put all the tools away because I’ll be using them tomorrow, the day after, etc…

But I need a better strategy to deal with this.

Do you put away all tools daily, regardless of project status?
Do you have some kind of ‘work in progress’ cart to put things at the end of the day for multi-day projects?
At the end of the day, do you clean up, and put every tool back into it’s place, so that the next day is a good clean start?

-- Techie by trade, tinkerer at heart

34 replies so far

View northwoodsman's profile


469 posts in 4715 days

#1 posted 11-01-2020 11:59 PM

My shop is a 2.5 stall garage that I share with two vehicles and they are parked inside every night. At the end of every “shift” I thoroughly clean my shop and put every tool in its’ place. It’s a pain but it sure is nice getting a clean start every day and not having my wife complain that her car is outside or that there is always sawdust being tracked into the house. It becomes habit.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View sansoo22's profile


1415 posts in 623 days

#2 posted 11-02-2020 12:26 AM

I used to have the same problem and my shop was a constant mess of after thoughts of projects past. The first thing I got to stay cleaner was a decent shop apron. I have it loaded up with small squares, pencils, tape, DC remote, etc. I make sure its properly outfitted at the end of the day.

After I take the apron off I like to do a small amount of cleaning up. Sweep up saw dust and take a mental note of what the next day will be like in the shop. I leave out anything I know I will need at the start of my day and put everything else away. I may not wrap cords on like a ROS since it will most likely get used but I toss it back in the cabinet none the less.

I find that having a mostly clean and organized space has increased my accuracy and thus my enjoyment in my wood shop.

Oh and I should mention I ALWAYS put my clamps away. One too many times of glue setting up on me because I couldnt find the clamps I needed. I should probably just buy more of them but I find if I actually put them back I have enough to get most things done.

View jkm312's profile


65 posts in 372 days

#3 posted 11-02-2020 12:32 AM

I’m in the clean it up and put it all away camp too. I work out of my garage like a lot of us do. I want the car and truck inside every night. I think it helps a great deal to stay better organized with all of it picked up and put back. It takes just as long to clean it up as it does to wander around the next day trying to figure out where you left what you are looking for. I’ve been trying to train myself when I am working in the shop to put things down in the same general area, after an exhausting search and rescue operation retrieving the DC remote. It was in the drawer with all the oil filter strap wrenches, and the like. Why did that moron (me) put in there?

View pottz's profile


13703 posts in 1953 days

#4 posted 11-02-2020 01:37 AM

for the most part everything gets put away except small tools that i know ill use tomorrow because my truck and the wifes car get put in the garage “shop” every night.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View WoodenDreams's profile


1219 posts in 880 days

#5 posted 11-02-2020 01:51 AM

I do clean up during and after each project. If I don’t need a tool till later, it gets put away. All tools are normally readily available when they are put away and within a arms reach if needed. I also vacuum several times during the day. The only things not put away seems to be all the wood scraps. I ended up with a habit of tossing the small wood scraps behind and next to the drill press.

View SMP's profile


3174 posts in 874 days

#6 posted 11-02-2020 03:27 AM

I just leave it like cat 4 hurricane would leave it until my wife yells at me and then I clean it up right away.

View Walker's profile


437 posts in 1441 days

#7 posted 11-02-2020 05:15 AM

I’m the same way. The first step in any project for me seems to be cleaning up all the tools and scraps from the last project, which might have been a day ago, or several weeks ago. Obviously the better plan would be to clean up when the project is done, then the shop would be clean and ready to go when the next project begins. I’m the same way with dishes. They sit dirty in the sink until I’m all out and I need to clean some if I want to cook anything. Would be much better to clean them right after use, and they’d be ready to go when I needed them. I always tell my self I’ll be better, but alas, I am who I am.

-- ~Walker

View dbeck's profile


107 posts in 1328 days

#8 posted 11-02-2020 06:28 AM

I am in the clean up between projects camp mostly, but if things are getting a bit to wild i do midproject clean up. I do put clamps and such up but small layout tools stay out till im done with them. Some things are put up after use simply to protect me and the tools edge or setting, i dont leave a chisel laying around cause i went to er once after one fell and got my ankle so bad it was squirting to my knee lol.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3990 posts in 2463 days

#9 posted 11-02-2020 10:47 AM

According to my wife, a clean workshop means nothing is being built. LOL

+1 Like to clean up bench(es), put hand tools away, and sweep floor when done for day.
Helps to keeps dust/dirt out of house, when I skip a work day or two in shop; and folks are walking through garage.
Being a process engineer, tend to work in planned stages and/or build modules of project and not attempt to do everything simultaneously. Will clean up my work surfaces after each major step. Though when I am gluing up a stack of panels the clamp/glue mess stays out for duration. Planes and chisels get put away every day as I also don’t like to bleed, and being a klutz it happens when least desired.

Another reason I got in habit of a clean up at end of day or work session; is never know what work needs to be done tomorrow? Might have to roll the tools to side and work on bork’d vehicle radiator, or get out welder and fix the lawnmower. Metal dust ruins wood surfaces and is not nice to sharp hand tool edges. So when rebuilding WW tools will spend a couple weeks with shop in metal working mode, have a major clean up, then spend time in wood shop mode using the new WW tool.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6729 posts in 3462 days

#10 posted 11-02-2020 11:24 AM

I finish the project, and 80% of the time I bring the tools into the garage, but they go into random places. 20% of the time – okay, where did I leave that one?

- gthomson

Only 20%? I’d say you’re doing pretty good 8-).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View controlfreak's profile


1607 posts in 570 days

#11 posted 11-02-2020 11:30 AM

I was laying awake at 4:00 am and thought “where are the spare blades to my fret saw”? My problem is not the car but storage and organization. I need to build a tool cabinet to have a place for my growing collection. I can’t start that until I have a quality workbench with vise options. Too many surfaces gather tools to the point that I can’t even do any work without some basic clean up. I think I know what I need to do but getting there is still a long road to go.

View Bstrom's profile


258 posts in 142 days

#12 posted 11-02-2020 11:49 AM

Space is the major issue it seems. Make more space and you won’t need to put up your tools or wonder where they are. Money solves everything…

-- Bstrom

View dbeck's profile


107 posts in 1328 days

#13 posted 11-02-2020 01:17 PM

Horizontal surfaces are like fly strips to tools, off cuts..etc The more you have the more you will lay on them. For me more surfaces was not a luxury but a nuisance as it means i leave more lay till later then put off clean up longer. Now i like enough surface to set my tools i am using and my materials i need soon or am working on. When no more fits instead of piling i put something away, motivates me lol. I am in the midst of a big project for me and when i walked back to the work room this morning i was shocked,,, i had done a full clean up and forgot. Nice.

View DaveM123's profile


96 posts in 262 days

#14 posted 11-02-2020 01:21 PM

I’d say I am in the 50 – 50 club. 50% of the time I clean everything up and put everything away and 50% of the time I leave stuff laying around for a while. It really all depends on the project I am working on. That said I have 4 or 5 tape measures and they seem to be able to find good hiding places regardless!

-- Dave

View controlfreak's profile


1607 posts in 570 days

#15 posted 11-02-2020 02:24 PM

Hah, it took me a week to find my tape measure recently.

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