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WilliamRoss

How to Organize Your Bench

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Hi Everyone,

 

I'm new to this group and I'm just moving into a wonderful sunny room to make instruments. However, I'm not sure how best to set up my space. What do you suggest? From past experience, or what you do in your own work space, what works best so I'd have easy & quick access to everything and my bench doesn't get too cluttered?

 

I have a drafting table with no drawer space, a smaller free standing bench with small shelves and drawers on both sides, two large free standing shelves & milk crates, and wall space. For tools, I have chisels, gouges, three knives, planes, sharpening stones, files, drafting mateirals/strait edges, scrapers, saws, drills, and brushes. I also have some good instrument wood and some scrap wood.  

 

I deeply appreicate any and all input! Thank you!

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Set up more shelves/storage space than you think you could ever use.

... and then add more.

 

But that can be done gradually, as I have done over the last few years:

post-25192-0-39281200-1447704662_thumb.jpg

 

The one thing that hasn't changed is my primary work station, located by a window, with a solid bench clamp and good overhead light.  That's the starting place, and all the frequently used tools should be in racks or cabinets nearby.

 

Bench clutter depends on the person rather than the layout; mine ebbs and flows with clutter.

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Make more shelf space. My husband might not want photos of his "shop" floating around but it is a 6' x 6' area with a 7' ceiling, and he is currently working on 3 instruments simultaneously. Seeing what he did with his organizational system may help you and others. I'll check if I get to post photos of the shop area or not, and I will if I can. But the main thing is to make the space functional, obviously, whatever you have. For him, just one simple example, this means all of the needed tools are within reach in each work area (for example, knives and gouges at the desk, planes at the bench) and most are out all the time. Tools in drawers seems confusing to me too. Me, though, I'm easily confused and if I can't see it I might forget it's there.

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"My husband might not want photos of his "shop" floating around but it is a 6' x 6' area with a 7' ceiling,..."

 

That's pretty cozy!  Does the door by any chance have bars?  :)

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"My husband might not want photos of his "shop" floating around but it is a 6' x 6' area with a 7' ceiling,..."

 

That's pretty cozy!  Does the door by any chance have bars?  :)

I imagine he wishes he could be locked in there. No photos to share. I guess it's like the bat cave, if Batman were in poverty, and it must remain his secret sanctum.

Anyway, point is there is no floor space so he uses the walls as efficiently as possible. Do that.

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I like photos! What is the secret that hubby doesn't want seen by the MN masses? :)

Now you have me curious...

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I like photos! What is the secret that hubby doesn't want seen by the MN masses? :)

Now you have me curious...

Sandpaper...Oh, the shame. I forgot to hide mine!

 

I attempt to de-clutter my bench each day. 

 

Never enough drawers. I have solved that with Japanese Tansu

 

I sit at a library desk with a half-sheet of plywood screwed to the top. a cleat in the wall supports the distal end. 

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Shop in the house? Pretend you live in a small sailboat. 

 

Have a storage annex in an other part of the house where you deep six shop crap you don't want to look at everyday. Put the standing power tool somewhere else if you work in the house proper. Although having a band saw inside the house is cool because with it you can scare unwanted visitors into thinking you are canibalistic serial killer. 

 

Get a good set of ear protection, and a quiet vacuum cleaner and be reasonably meticulous about keeping dust a savings off your bench a floor. I might vacuum the floor and bench two or three times a day. Wearing hearing protection. 

 

Buy several sizes of those clear plastic fishing tackle boxes and organize applicable tools and materials in to them. For example a box dedicated to saddle and nut blanks, along with nut files.  When doing repair work store the fittings of one instrument in a fishing tackle for the duration of the repair so the parts do not get free floated around the shop, put a masking tape label on it with customers name. 

 

Get a few larger fishing boxes or plastic tool boxes and put all the largish C-clamps into one box and if it has a rack all the small c -clamps into the rack. Thank me later for that trick. Clamp all the long bar clamps and wood squeeze clamps to it a 3" sturdy deep shelf you can grab them fast.  Get a plastic fishing box for violin crack clamps and the time honored way to store spool clamps is to throw them into cut down cardboard boxes. 

 

The tools are easy chisels a gouges get a shallow wood box and so do abrasion tools rasps, files each has shallow boxes. Planes can go on waist high shelf....why reach high for a plane? It's not gym class. 

 

So the thing is all the clamps and tools you use that have many components or units, spool clamps for example, figure ways to organize them that are stackable and cheap.  The small parts that you don't use everyday, contain in ways that are stackable - the fishing tackle boxes. 

 

You can store an incredible amount of stuff in fishing tackle boxes and stack them on common book shelves with labels on each box. Also wooden gift boxes with hinges. The tools with many parts and the small parts like nuts saddles get out of control in small spaces and it's good to have nesting containers for each group of items to be stored in. 

 

A philosophy about tools not everyone shares, but I like, is to see what you can eliminate from your tool kit instead of add. I don't like having things like duplicate 1/2" wide chisels with the same length handle and steel shaft, store it in the annex or give it away. Have only essentials on the bench and specialty seldom used tools out of the main work area. 

 

Something I've done a few times over the years, especially when moving the shop, is to make a list of all your tools and go through them and edit things you don't want. Ilve given away lots of tools I collected, and I regret two or three give aways, but not that much. Mostly giving them to others who are starting out. This helps you slim down to essential items and also keeps clutter out of your tool and storage boxes because you cull out unwanted crap. 

 

Another thing I did was put out all the tools on my tables and photographed them in groups. I am going to give the inventory photos, with a list of the tools and how much they are approx worth, to my family. In case something happens to me they will know what is there and how much it was worth originally. This might be helpful if they care to sell them they will have an idea of what they have. I have noticed over the years that sometimes families have no good idea what a crafts persons tools are worth after they die and they either charge too much or too little. Not that it matters, accordingly generosity against need for money often determines price, but it would be nice to know what there is and some idea of value. 

 

Does any of this help? Not really, I'm up to my gooseberries in clutter everyday. 

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I bet that's right.  And a jigsaw, yellow glue and varathane,

Owning sandpaper and yellow glue doesn't mean it gets used on instruments. The pipe organ factory throws out some good abrasives and wood glue, so he does have some of that stuff. No shame. I think he is more concerned that people would laugh. I've already said too much by mentioning that the shop area is tiny. No room for power tools, but if I ever manage to find the elusive perfect condition old $100 bandsaw he thinks I can pull out of my ass or from Craigslist, it'll end up in the living room, just like the wood dust does. He wants, but does not own power tools. I should have just let him have the living room in the first place...

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Recently, I started going through my shop throwing out anything that I have not used in the last 3 years, Of course, this does not include tonewood and supplies that I need for future violins. For example,  I found a lot of useless chemicals, old tools and crazy idea jigs, All my ammoniating barrels and plate bending fixtures went out into the garbage.  I think that by next week my shop should be quite spacious and pleasant. It's gratifying finding room in my cabinets!  

 

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

 

Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness.

 

B)

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Great post Stephen.  My first shop (2 years ago) was 6' x 6' and these two benches and the tool board were built for that shop.  I moved and now have a basement shop (no windows) but my main benches are the same two in the same configuration.  Except the tool board was over the left bench.  I've acquired a few more tools and I hung them on the board as well.  If I acquire more tools than the board will hold I'll reconfigure the board for more efficient use.  I don't think that will happen because if I have two of the same tools I sell the lesser of the two.  I restore and sell a lot of estate sale tools.  My benches go from cluttered to clean in cycles.  I confess to shoving everything to another bench for the picture, but I always put my tools away.   :)

 

Cheers,

Jim

post-58064-0-75504600-1447727572_thumb.jpg

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I think the reality is that, well, lots of this gets into what kind of person you are. I think, actually I KNOW! there are lots of people who could clean everyday, and 1 or 2 days latter it will look like a cyclone hit, just like it looked before cleaning happened. Now the funny thing with this "state" of two different states is that many will not be able to function in a messy shop, and many won't be able to function in a clean one, believe it or not. So, to me there are some "main things" that should be thought of, after that, its pretty much preference, based on amount of space and funds.

 

1.SAFETY!!! 

fire extinguisers,smoke alarms, dust collection, power tool location/space, access, keeping out kids/pets, sharp tool location and storage, first aid kits, ventilation, flammable liquid storage, proper "Safe" lighting, spontaneous combustion soak cans for oily rags, etc, etc should be well thought out, the "flow" of your shop should be thought out around safety.

 

2. Bench Heights, this turns into a big one for many, the "right" bench height for me,may not be for you, the right height for one task, may not be good for another, so either adjustable, and or numerous different work tables/benches comes in handy....Violin work can be lots like auto work, hunching over the engine, the more comfy your chairs/stools/tables/benches are, the better off you will be, your back will thank you for thinking ahead about this one

 

3. If possible its a good idea to have a separate area for varnish work only, it makes it easier to control and keep clean.

 

If you have a wife, and this work shop is anyway connected to the house, i suggest practicing the following lines...."I never let the little things get to me" and "Hey, genius don't clean baby!" :lol:  good luck
"

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Owning sandpaper and yellow glue doesn't mean it gets used on instruments. The pipe organ factory throws out some good abrasives and wood glue, so he does have some of that stuff. No shame. I think he is more concerned that people would laugh. I've already said too much by mentioning that the shop area is tiny. No room for power tools, but if I ever manage to find the elusive perfect condition old $100 bandsaw he thinks I can pull out of my ass or from Craigslist, it'll end up in the living room, just like the wood dust does. He wants, but does not own power tools. I should have just let him have the living room in the first place...

Ah, ye' ole Schoenstein and Co. ;) well you know what they say about shop space,location, location, location! :lol:

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Great post Stephen.  My first shop (2 years ago) was 6' x 6' and these two benches and the tool board were built for that shop.  I moved and now have a basement shop (no windows) but my main benches are the same two in the same configuration.  Except the tool board was over the left bench.  I've acquired a few more tools and I hung them on the board as well.  If I acquire more tools than the board will hold I'll reconfigure the board for more efficient use.  I don't think that will happen because if I have two of the same tools I sell the lesser of the two.  I restore and sell a lot of estate sale tools.  My benches go from cluttered to clean in cycles.  I confess to shoving everything to another bench for the picture, but I always put my tools away.   :)

 

Cheers,

Jim

attachicon.giftool board 2015.JPG

 Chalk that up to coffee and morning enthusiasm!  Thanks! 

 

My shop is always on the verge of being organized, then I begin to work and it all goes to hell. One major problem is that desk tops become giant flat bedded containers for general stuff. 

 

And I migrate from table top to table top like a refugee. One trick is to have a table top that you put all the crap on to clean another table top to get ready to work in that table. It seems like cheating, but somehow it works, three table tops, one is in use on a project the other two play support roles......habits. 

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