Friday, March 13, 2015

Tool storage strategy, the tool boxes

As you are probably aware, dust on our tools is a major causes of rust, hence why left in the open in a dusty shop environment is a bad thing. Of course when we work in a hand tool environment, we do not create that much dust, certainly not as much as when ripping MDF on the tablesaw!

When I work on a project, I like to have the tools I reach for the most, handy where I can see them, hence why I tend to surround my bench with all sort of holders. When you work on a small bench it also help you keeping it clear...ish

As you can see I am very good at keeping my bench clear...well, maybe not

Nonetheless, its a good idea to protect our tools by storing them away behind close doors and drawers. It also protect them from other ailments, unauthorized uses, outright theft, flying paint droppings and what have you :-)

My tools then rotate in and out of storage from tool boxes and racks

The major disadvantage to storing tools in tool box is often the lack of dedicated storage spots and they end up in a disorganized mess, making finding the one you need a frustrating rummaging experience. They also get scratched that way.  Obvious solutions involved a place for everything and everything in its place.  When I was working on aircraft's, we took that mantra to heart.

Quote The purpose of a truly disciplined and regimented tool management system in aviation is to ensure all tools, without exception, are accounted for before and after every job, and that one tool does not go missing, with the possibility that it was left in the aircraft, in the same way a surgeon would leave a clamp in the body of a patient (it DID happen...). It takes a strong work ethic and applied discipline to achieve a perfect tool management system. Unquote
I picked up a few tricks about tool control from my days in the RCAF

Using tool box with shallow drawers force you to spread out the tools, I like to line metal drawers with cushioning material, it help keep the tools to stay put and protect them.  Sometimes I also make dedicated storage fittings to segregate them.

Tool boxes have an habit of multiplying in my shop, I have a few. My biggest problem has always been, where did I put that tool last and where is it suppose to go back? When I loose much time looking for something, I get frustrated and often ends up buying another one. Which explains why I have quite a few of some :-)
My ongoing solution to this problem has been to start cataloging all my tools. I took pics of every single tools I ever own and each new one coming in get the same treatment. I also created a Excel spreadsheet to track them all. You will be amaze at the money you can save by referring to it before you go out buying another tool! I keep a copy in my smart phone, and a short list of wanted in my wallet, save me from buying anymore duplicate. Well that would be the theory (insert Bob's red face here)

Master count sheet, keep track of total

Pic folder of each tool in each categories contain also files on anything I researched on the tools, price paid, where bought etc.

I dabble with making a Data Base for all this in MS Access but gave up, Excel is much quicker and work for me, but I will admit my system is a bit convoluted (just like me :-)
So armed with the knowledge of everything I got (that's why I know I have 115 planes and etc) the thing to do is to record where they are residing. I don't know if I will ever live long enough to finish this, but i'll try.
Time like this I reach for an Excel spreadsheet of course, that and my wife P-touch machine.
I started numbering my various tools containers and listed their contents when we were moving around the country. My most treasured ones I moved myself, not the moving company, but they got the same treatment.
On my spreadsheet I number every drawer, compartments etc, to list what they held.

Toolbox contents sheet (blank for publication) 

Finally I started labeling the drawers on my tool boxes with a short descriptions of what's inside.
Currently a work in slow progress.

Main tool chest in hand tool room. Tools rotate in/out to my holders 
in front of bench.
On large drawers, label on LH side is what is up front, label on RH side 
what's in the back.

This may seems like a complicated way of going about it, but that's what work for me right now.
It may have taken me nearly 60 years, but I'm slowly getting uber organized :-)

Bob, who currently own 3,162 tools as of Feb 5th. BTW this number includes all the spare bits. I track everything, oh and I am due for updates :-)


  1. Nice storage system. I like keeping everything in my herd in boxes or cabinets too. Never thought of numbering and cataloging like you did. Now your tools to bench and back to box makes more sense to me. Something else I'll have to think about and add to the A list.

  2. Cool, my convoluted system makes sense to someone else :-)
    I'll admit that it takes some discipline in order to stay on top of it, but in theory, most of everything I will ever need at any given moment should be in front or near me.
    Last nite while I sneak in to take some pictures for further posts, I notice the mess I left and put everything back where it is suppose to go. It should eventually become habits, once I settled on everything as I see it and accustomed to it.
    Bob, also a work in progress :-)