Preparing for the overhaul...

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Workshop

As the saying goes, it ain't pretty, but it's home.  I thought someone out there might be interested in seeing my workshop, and hearing about how I've managed to contain a very space-consuming hobby in a very small space.  I've really struggled, in the past, to contain my craft supplies--they're always threatening to take over the house--and it's been difficult to come up with a workable solution.

We were very fortunate in that, when we moved into our new house, the basement possessed two qualities: it's very dry, and it came equipped with a workbench.  That saved me the trouble of building one.  It's a well-made workbench, too, which is a bonus.

Here we are!  My workshop area curves around the wall to the left.  As you can see, it shares space with the laundry area (my folding table is behind me as I'm standing to take this picture).  It's a small space, but it's worked out really well.

My two PREAC mini table saws, as well as some wood, and a variety of organizational aids.

My workbench area.

Another view of my workbench area.

My tips (learned through unfortunate experience) for creating--and containing--your mini space:
  1. Pick a space and commit to it.  I do bring things upstairs for natural light, more space, etc, but they always go home at the end of the day.  The problems start when multiple rooms become "homes". When this situation has happened to us in the past, the culprit has been lack of organization.  As my piles of stuff have grown, so has the space required for it.
  2. Stay organized.  I know where everything in my workshop is at all times.  I try to tidy up as much as I can, and do a full-on reorganization at least once a month (or as necessary).  Lack of organization leads to missing items, multiples, and general squalor.  Not to mention, if you're anything like me, you end up hanging on to bits and pieces you don't really need--and making room for them in your workshop, along with the things you really do need.
  3. Throw things out!  I apply the same rule to my workshop that I do to the rest of my house: if I haven't used it for six months (or a year if it's seasonal), throw it away or give it away.  With a few obvious exceptions (my grandmother's candlesticks), anything I haven't used...I don't need.  Just knowing that I'm not keeping it forever--unless I'm using it, anyway--prevents me from buying unnecessary supplies.  If I see something incredible, and I can afford it, I buy it.  Maybe it'll be five years before I find the right house for it.  But, let's be honest, lots of things seem "incredible" in the heat of the moment.
  4. If at all possible, develop three discrete areas: one for tools, one for your current project, and one to actually work on.  My space is tiny, and yet my big tools are always on one table, my houses are always on another table, and there's always a section of my workbench clear for actually working.
  5. Trays are your friend.  I have lots of small rubber bottomed trays from Target.  They're meant to be drawer organizers (each is about 6" x 9"), but I use them to keep my projects separate.  Once I've cut all the pieces for a particular item--say, a highboy, or the pieces I need to make a window for one of my houses--I keep everything together in a tray.  That way, when I'm ready to work on something, I can just take the tray out--and put it back--without losing anything or getting any pieces confused.
  6. Keep your half-completed projects separate.  I have a wire shelf unit entirely devoted to housing half-completed projects.  They're out of the way; they don't get eaten by the cats; they're ready and waiting (and unmolested) when I need them.
  7. Invest in organizational aids.  I love rolling drawer carts, map trays, etc.  They help me keep everything in pristine condition.
I find that, with minis as in real life, a little organization early on can go a long way.  It's easy to get your things (and yourself) in place before you start a project; it's hard to stop, and impose some sense of organization mid-stream.

Do you have any good organizational tips?

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