Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Making the most of shop storage space

My freestanding shop in the garden was rebuilt from ground up back in 2012. Since then its space usage has inevitably evolved and is in a constant state of flux. Storage space is always at a premium in a small shop such as mine. It is around 410 sq feet in total and this used to be a two stall car garage so you get some idea of its size. I spent many years working out of toolboxes in the original shop but storage was so disorganised I would look for a tool, not find it, end up going out to buy another and then find the original some time later. I would then end up with double or triple of the same item. Something had to be done to storage.
The shop is at the bottom of the garden

The castle overlooks the shop

Roof storage

I had the roof height increased slightly to conform with latest building practices in the UK during the remodel. This also involved changing the angle of the pitch of the roof too. This gave me a little more room in the rafters than was available before to store lightweight items. The entire shop and roof is heavily insulated and it maintains a temperature between a minimum 10 degrees C in the winter to about 23 degrees C in the summer when unheated. I do have supplemental heating for the winter to bring it up to about 20 degrees C when I'm in the shop working.

In the rafters I store a set of extension ladders and a few items that are not used everyday but are easily accessible.
Ladders in the roof space

There are the jigs and fixtures that have been made for various functions. There are also spare lighting tubes, a petrol hedge trimmer (that I have only used once!), an external gazebo for use in the English summer (that doesn't get much usage!) and a few  sticks of exotic lumber.
As you may know I primarily make guitars so the rafters contain sides and backs of acoustic guitars, sticks of maple and mahogany for necks and ebony for fingerboards. I also have a few sticks of pacific blackwood and a few soundboards.
There are a few guitar bodies and necks in various stages of manufacture stored in bubblewrap within cardboard boxes up there too. It doesn't hurt to get ahead of yourself from time to time.

In another area of the roof there is a cardboard box containing many veneers and also a flat packed plastic bag full of expensive rosewood veneer. The advantage of keeping lumber of any type in your shop is conditioning. When you come to use it is at the same humidity as the shop. You don't have to wait a few weeks until it has reached equilibrium as it is already there.

General Shop Storage

When designing the shop I made sure of adequate space for the following:

  • A free standing lumber rack
  • Two sets of free standing shelving units. Comprising 3 metal shelving units adjacent to the lumber rack and 3 more plastic shelving units at right angles to the metal units.
I then made up two partitions from OSB that became the backs of each shelving set. In doing so I ended up with two mini rooms within the shop that keep the shelves relatively dust free.
Floor standing lumber rack
View opposite the long face of the lumber rack

The shelves are packed with well organized items. Obviously do this to suit your own workflow as every persons requirements are different.
I store all small power tools in plastic systainer or blow molded cases trying to always put them away straight after using them during a session. This methodology helps keep a tidy shop and you always know where everything is.

Clamp Rack

I have part of one wall taken up with storage for clamps. There are a lot of parallel clamps of differing sizes in their own custom wooden racks. There are also a lot of F clamps also in a shop made wooden rack. Smaller clamps are simply hooked into the rafters in the roof.
Clamp Wall Mark 1

I recently changed the clamping wall by adding 3 sheets of 18mm OSB and redid the clamp wall

Clamp wall Mark 2

Plane Cabinet

I covered the plane cabinet in a previous set of blog posts. The cabinet stores more than just planes as it also contains other tools.

Hand Tool Rack

I took a leaf out of Chris Schwarz's post about taking two planks of wood, separating them with 1/2" spaces and suspending it across the shop window. This contains chisels, small saws as well as mallets, hammers, general screwdrivers and other tools.

Saw Till

Adjacent to the hand tool rack on its left hand side is a custom saw till
Saw Till

Most of the hand saws are contained vertically in the till.
The drawers contain sharpening tools, pencils, marking out equipment and other associated equipment.

Metal Storage Cabinets

In a previous post I outlined what these boxes contain. Essentially my safety equipment is contained within one and a set of moulding planes, sharpening jigs and other equipment are in the other. It also has a magnetically attached strip light over the top of the table saw. This makes it far easier to see what is going on at the table saw.
Yes that is a steam iron on the top of the cabinets. That is used for repairing veneer,
warming edgebanding and steaming dents out of surfaces.

Multi Drawers

These contain all small parts such as wood screws, machine screws, guitar hardware, drills and other hardware. I made sure I labelled as much of the individual drawers as I could. Again if you know what is in a drawer or box you don't have to go out and buy again.
Multi drawers with
sharpening station below.
There are some multifunction drawers underneath too.

Machine Tool Area

This area contains a drill press, lunchbox thickness planer, hollow chisel mortiser, oscillating spindle sander, fret saw and dust extractor. Many of the tools are mounted onto custom drawer units.

Drill press and oscillating spindle sander

Lunchbox planer on custom made stand with drawer storage

Another OSB wall with tool storage and the chip extractor in the background.

Adjacent to this area is the bandsaw. Only a small one but adequate for me.

DeWalt Bandsaw

The Garden Tool Storage area.

Behind the bandsaw I constructed a storage area for the garden tools.
More OSB. This covers one of the unused garage doors.

So a tidy, well organised space is a pleasure to work within. You can find most things quickly and this makes for more efficient workflow.

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