Stingy storage ideas

For this post I took a few pictures of very basic and quick ways of organising your shop in such a way that the bits and pieces you are looking for are easily accessible at no cost or cheap at worse. I plan to keep adding to this post to create a major opus over time so check in from time to time if you find this useful.

In this picture you can see how an old 20 liter paint bucket becomes the ideal storage for T-channels (used for jig-building predominantly), copper pipe (used to make the ferrule around handtool handles), long strips of wood, treaded rod, etc etc.

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In this picture it is obvious how see-through water bottles (2 liter in this case) can become the ideal storage for small bits of scrap wood, which I find very useful to have at hand. It seems that most of the experts advise woodworkers to chuck these away, but I really find a job for most of them. I simply cut the top of the bottle away with a carpet knife and you can probably appreciate how the fact that it is transparent helps to locate the piece you need.

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These plastic containers slide onto each other and it is fairly easy to grab the one you want and walk off to the location where you need the contents. If they are available to buy in Namibia, I assume they should be widely available. I store all my steel wood screws and bolts in these. The gibberish that you can not read is Afrikaans, my mother tongue.

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In the centre of the picture below you can see another function for smaller see-through water bottles. I store smaller bits of threaded rod, steel, leather, assorted bolts and nuts, etc etc in these.

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Empty tins of chopped tomatoes, become ideal storage for for shorter flat strips of wood that resembles spatulas for applying glue or mixing epoxy etc, etc.

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The same tins screwed to a vertical part of a storage cabinet with a single screw becomes an easily accessible dwelling for pencils, magic markers, drill bits, etc,etc.

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In this picture you can see how my main tool storage “cabinet” looks like. It is actually a slightly modified whip-up of the crates my Dad built to transport the tools he passed on to me, but that is a story for another day. The yellow cary-case for my DeWalt cordless drill is what I want to discuss. It has two handy drawers with dividers at the bottom and a tray with various drill bits that fit on top of these dividers. The problem is that you first need to remove the tray before you can access the dividers area. I took the trays out and positioned them on top of the case. The drawers with dividers now house heaps of drill bits, router bits, and thread cutting bits all within easy reach next to my bench.

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In the example below, a scrap piece of pine with holes drilled into it, quickly and parsimoniously took care of 23 different hand tools. In the first picture you can see how I made a few tests with a pair of compasses to work out were to drill a hole with a Forstner bit to leave enough of a gap to accept a wide chisel. As you can see that it accommodates 8 chisels, two marking gauges, two calipers, three dividers, several small triangular files, several awls, a Lie-Nielsen float and a Stanley multi-bit screwdriver. Best is, that there is space for a few more and all that from one crappy piece of pine.

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While we are on the topic of scrap pieces of wood, here is another idea to store your F-style clamps in a small area, yet very assessable. I took a piece of scrap plywood and used my Festool Domino to cut 5 mm wide and 15 mm deep slots on one edge. I guess you can achieve the same with a table saw or a router. The domino made it easy because it took one plunge with the 5 mm bit and Bob’s your Uncle. The piece of plywood was then screwed to the front edge of the cabinet’s side. The shafts of my Bessey F-style clamps fit snugly into these slots. Once in the slot one can the slide the clamp to the closed position and BYU.

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