Darbin Orvar

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Darbin Orvar - Girl in a Shop

My adventures in building, diy, construction, testing and finishing.

New Podcast - Thoughts on Shop Organization

This is my shop from about a year ago...

Organizing spaces can be daunting for some, and a thrill for others. I love an organized shop. I am the type who needs to see what they have on the walls, or be able to have memorized every single item in a few specific important drawers. Some people hates shelves, some dislike drawers, I fall into the middle somewhere and try to look at the overall environment more than one specific type of organization.

I guess the first thing I think about is getting a basic overview of your tools and supplies. Generally I look at it this way, have I used that tool, or supply in the last year? This goes for any tool, like an old drill, or any scrap wood or paint that has not been used in quite a while. Most of my initial organization centers on how often I need that thing.

I like to keep my most important and often used tools right near me, usually out in the open. This includes many of my hand tools like chisels, planes and rulers. I also love to have one go-to drawer that has many small tools like utility knives, small screw drivers, measuring tapes...etc. You can see in my shop that I have exactly this setup with a wall of tools right behind my main workbench and a set of 10 drawers below that. I am always rearranging what is in some of these drawers to account for how to better use the space, but the main smaller ones I keep the same over time.

I have tried to organize my shop into little zones or areas. The first thing I designed and created was the main workbench with the tool wall and counter/drawers behind it. This is the most important area because I stand there all the time. The second most important area is the computer area with the desk and printer. While many people do not have a computer area in their shop I find it to be space put to good use. Besides designing projects on paper as well as on the computer, the x-carve needs a computer connection to operate so it has become a vital part of the shop. Another important but overlooked point is that this is a business and you need to keep contacts and company information somewhere that you can work throughout the day, so the printer and file cabinet is quite important for that type of organization.

Those two areas are the most important in my shop and were designed right off the bat. Other areas such as my new tinker area have developed over time, and are still in development. Even though my shop is very small at 12 x 16 feet I can think about it in zones to make the most out of the space. My new french cleat organization wall over the drill press bench is a good example of that. In the last year that area has changed numerous times. First I added the bench for the drill press earlier this year that had a bandsaw, then I moved out the bandsaw...you just never know what you will have to work with. Each of the previous incarnations were never considered permanent, because I know that you have to be flexible and be ready to accommodate new tools and orientations if you want to be effective.

Even my overhead camera rig has been changing locations recently. At this point it is on the tinker table because the x-carve is using my former photography table, so you just never know. It may not seem like it but in this small space I have 7 horizontal surfaces, made up of tables, benches and counters that all form these little nooks of specific tools and supplies.

One of the things I keep in mind is that your environment affects you. And that can be both positively and negatively. So I will undoubtedly be changing things once again as the need arises. It seems like I am always trying to add more to my shop, and that means if one new thing comes in, I need to get rid of something else I no longer use. A well-used shop is an constant flux and I expect more changes over the next year.