With all the talk about my DIY tool cabinet project, premium tool boxes, and my quest for the perfect setup, I thought to give you a glimpse into what my tool storage used to look like.
Actually, I had been digging through my older photos looking for something else, but once I came across a photo of my old workbench, I was on a new mission.
Shown above – an “I bought all this from Sears over the past few years” tool dump from December 2011. At that time, I had been buying a lot of tools from Sears. Nowadays? Not so much.
I never liked showing photos of my tool storage, workbench, or how I worked. For one, nothing was ever clean, and I didn’t like showing how much of a slob I was. If I’m going to put photos on the internet to last forever, I’m going to clean up first.
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There were other lesser reasons, and perhaps I’ll get into it another time. But the biggest reason was that my setup was always “in progress.” My workbench and tool storage was never quite how I wanted it, and so it was never quite ready to show off.
Now, with my new workspaces, things aren’t quite how I want them, but I think I’m on the right track.
Here are small glimpses at my earlier tools, tool boxes, and workspaces. It’s not complete, but it shows how things progressed in little steps.
2008 and Earlier
In 2008, I lived in an apartment while working on my doctorate.
At some point, actually for a while, I had a Craftsman 10″ miter saw that I stored on a shelf. I love wire shelving, it’s versatile and forgivable.
This must have been after September 2007, because that’s when I bought myself a Freud router bit set, which I’m sure is that wooden-colored box to the right of the miter saw. The dust bag is in the Ziploc bag.
And this is the room. Some of these photos might be out of chronological order, sorry.
This was all a few months before I started ToolGuyd, and perhaps not very long after moving into the apartment. I had Craftsman 12″ deep tool chests, 2 Craftsman portable tool boxes with drawers, blow molded tool boxes, An Ikea Alex drawer cabinet or two, and lots of stuff on the floor.
I think this was during a “cleanup” session that I interrupted in order to build a rolling base for my tool chests. Having it on the floor wasn’t very practical.
I don’t remember what that white Ikea night stand was used for. Maybe it was just a printer stand and stayed that way for a few years? My desk is to the right, and eventually I made space for my wife to have a small desk, on the left.
This was taken a completely different time, but the idea is the same – Craftsman 12″ deep intermediate tool chests on the wire shelving unit, and some organizers, and misc. stuff. Polishing wheels in a clear storage bin on top, power tool accessories in cases, some new tool purchases, and – is that styrofoam from the miter saw purchase?
I see my Kreg jig, some Ridgid nailers I won in a giveaway, Stanley organizers, a Craftsman socket set, Stanley FatMax level, Nicholson files, and Ridgid sander. Ah, and a Dewalt soft tool bag that I debated about at Lowes for the longest time.
In the second to top shelf, one blue blow molded case was for my Bosch hammer drill, the other for my Bosch jig saw.
I can’t tell if this was before or after, but I changed things up a bit.
It’s what I do – I morph my setups every now and then to answer different frustrations. At this point I had already begun to develop a “ToolGuyd mentality.”
On top of the red Craftsman intermediate tool chest, do you see the 2 boxes of safety goggles? I bought Uvex and Radians goggles, to go over my corrective eyeglasses.
I didn’t just buy one, I bought 2, to see what the differences were, and to determine whether one was “better.”
On top of the blue Bosch 1/4 sheet sander box, you’ll see some foam-covered twist tie things. I’ve used them maybe once. I had been “saving them” for the best time to use them. I’ve done that with different things over the years. Nowadays, I try to force myself to have a “I can buy more, or something similar” mindset.
There’s a yellow-booted Empire tape measure that I got for free. Sears had a $5 off $5+ coupon that they let me use uncountable times, and the tape measure was $5. I gave it to my sister in-law’s now-husband, and he used it daily until it broke down maybe a year later. Not bad for a $5 tape.
I bought sooooo much with that Sears $5 off $5+ coupon. They took it, as long as it was printed from the Sears website and not photocopied.
At one store, which carried something my local store didn’t, they challenged the validity until I showed them that it was on Sears.com.
Before that coupon, I had used plenty of Craftsman calendar coupon, and ordered frequently from Sears.com. Not just Craftsman tools either – they had lots of tools from brands I had first been learning about.
This was my screwdriver drawer, with some other stuff mixed in. There was overflow on top of the intermediate box, such as files, locking pliers, drill bits, and other stuff.
Some of these tools had started me down the path of exploration. The Noga deburring tool, Wiha screwdrivers, and Bondus ball hex drivers were from McMaster Carr. McMaster Carr helped to open my world, past the tools that were only available at home centers.
I also spy my yellow Stanley screwdriver and decent OXO (yet the kitchen gadget brand) screwdrivers my father had bought at Odd Job.
The precision screwdrivers were from Radio Shack, and served me well until I upgraded to Wiha.
That Channellock retaining ring pliers wasn’t so good and stuck, but they happily warrantied it and sent me a better replacement.
I had been spending time at Sears, Home Depot, and Lowes, but also more time online as well. My curiosity was growing, as I learned about brands I’d never heard of before, and tools and accessories that were a vast improvement over what I had been using.
Most of these tools were not new purchases.
That Craftsman wire stripper, the smaller tool with yellow handles – I’m pretty sure I bought that at a Sears hardware when wiring up my speaker system in college. I had a combination electrical tool – the Stanley – but it wasn’t there at college with me, it was back at home.
That would date it to around… 2003-2004 when I bought my Panasonic home theater in a box. I wanted better speaker wires than the cheap thin wires they included in the box, and that required stripping some wires.
Of course I could have used a kitchen knife, but I wanted to do things right. I don’t remember if I brought my tools from home the next time I went there, or if I consolidated them another time.
Those black and clear yellow Stanley FatMax demo screwdrivers are awesome! I have another set still in their packaging. I don’t remember if the second set was at a great price, a gift card purchase, or if I purchased it as backup. They were made in England.
The trio of Stanley pliers – long nose pliers, slip joint pliers, and diagonal cutters – were also a college-era purchase. At home I’d used my father’s pliers, but I needed pliers or cutters for something at college, and decided that the variety pack would serve me well.
I remember debating about a 4-tool set for $15 (or something like that), and vaguely remember buying this 3-tool set for $10. I suppose debates and purchasing decisions like that help set the stage for ToolGuyd.
I have since purchased far better pliers for much more money, but these Stanley pliers were still quite good. I gave them away a few years ago, or at least some of them, as part of a “new home” tool kit for a family member.
Don’t let price blind you. Inexpensive tools aren’t necessarily cheap. These Stanley pliers certainly weren’t.
I still have most of those tools, although some won’t find a home in my main tool box anymore. The Irwin Vise Grip locking wrench-style pliers? I don’t remember the last time I used them; they’re not as versatile as I had hoped for when I bought them.
That Stanley MaxSteel adjustable wrench is still in my tool box, as it has a smooth mechanism and narrow jaws that fit in spots my Channellock adjustables won’t.
I have some Crescent USA-made adjsutable wrenches, and they have served me well, I just don’t like using them as much as other brands. The red-gripped one in the drawer was part of a set. I threw the 6″ wrench into “overflow” somewhere, as the Stanley worked a lot better. I didn’t need two 6″ adjustable wrenches in the same drawer.
Ah, my Dasco cold chisels, some pin punches, a tap wrench, flat-tipped adhesive applicator needles, and misc. parts.
I remember this tool drawer organizer too – it was from Craftsman. I have since went to using organizer bins, which you’ll see below.
Those are Dremel-sized buffing wheels, probably from McMaster Carr. And some hardware sets for mounting stuff to a workbench or workstand, and some spare tubing nozzles for my computer’s watercooling setup.
That white nozzle near the keys – I’m pretty sure it’s the spare tip to my old solder-sucking desoldering tool.
This could be an earlier photo, I can’t tell. I had one Craftsman work stand I used as a mini tool stand at times. And then I got another one with my Craftsman miter saw. That one was not as versatile as the “universal” tool stand I purchased separately. I still have both in storage somewhere.
Hmm, this appears to have been taken after I added an HTC mobile base to the work stand. I bought two mobile bases, but at the time only used one. They were at a good price somewhere.
The mobile bases are in storage, but I could definitely use them for something now! I’ll have to look for them.
I also see… a Bucket Boss drill bit caddy or belt pouch that I never found a good use for, a Vaughan rubber mallet, some Stanley hanging bins, a Zircon stud finder, Mitutoyo calipers, another Vaughan hammer – maybe a tack hammer or ball bein – that spare package of Stanley FatMax demo screwdrivers I mentioned, some Craftsman c-clamps, the case to a Ryobi AirGrip wall level (early model, not the one Ben reviewed), and an older Antec computer power supply that I was doing something to.
There’s also a 10-foot tape measure (lower right-hand corner) that my cousin gave me when I went off to college, along with a few other tools.
Hmm… there’s a small funnel in there too. Maybe I was working on the computer watercooling loop I had been running at around that time.
Oh, and a Craftsman rolling stool and a small Craftsman “truck box” on top of it.
I think this should have been the first photo, in chronological order. The metal grid storage cubbies to the right were only in use for a short time, carryovers from my previous apartment.
I had built a small work stand. I’m not proud of it, but it got stuff up and off the floor and created more storage space. I also spy a Bucket Boss parachute organizer and right next to the wall is my Craftsman router, an older Craftsman Pro model bade by Bosch.
Do you see my itty bitty clamp-on vise? Hey, it got the job done.
Do you spy the Rocket Air Blower?
I built this at some point, out of MDF and 2x4s. The caster wheels are from a wire shelving caster kit at Lowes. Maybe Home Depot? I think it was Lowes. It was a $12 to $20 accessory kit for adding to wire shelving units, and I found it worked reasonably well for this simple project.
What’s going on with all those lines, and why are they red? It also looks like I drilled a few extra holes.
I outgrew this at some point, but gave it to my father. My parents moved since then, and I think he took it with him.
Present-Day Me would question whether those T-nuts are strong enough for this purpose. For a current project I’d go with plate casters, but I’m also not on as strict a budget. Plate casters would likely cost me more for one than all four of these stem casters.
I taped the flat installation wrench to the underside of the base, in case it was ever needed.
I probably wouldn’t use MDF in a new base, either. Knowing me, I’d use plywood and 80/20. Or 80/20 and shelving material. Or shelving material and 2x4s. But probably not MDF again, I don’t like working with it.
Ta-da, and this is what I built it for.
At the time I didn’t have a circular saw, so I used a jig saw and one of my track guides to cut the MDF. Did I use a miter saw to cut the 2x4s? I don’t think so. This might have been when all I had was a Bosch jig saw for cutting everything.
I remember that Bosch jig saw purchase too, and wish I went with the higher-up model. The model I have is good, but has a complicated “pull this out, turn it a few times, push it back” tool-free blade change. It’s made in Switzerland, but I wish I had the 1590EVSK.
Then again, I paid around $85 for the jig saw – the higher-up model was a lot more expensive and priced outside my budget at the time.
The Bosch jig saw I purchased, a 1587AVSK, was an Amazon “Friday Tool Deal” special. Or a weekend special, something like that. At the same time, March 2007, I ordered GB automatic wire strippers, Irwin 7″ straight jaw soft grip Vise-Grips, Irwin 7″ locking wrench Vise-Grips, Irwin GrooveLock adjustable pliers that I spent $30 on, and a Black & Decker 3.6V Li-ion cordless screwdriver was thrown in as a freebie.
Can you find the Klein 6-in-1 screwdriver in the photo? Hint: on the floor, next to the Craftsman plastic tool box.
Here’s my Belkin power strip – a then-new addition. I haven’t used it in a while, but it’s nice for mounting to or above a workbench. Its power cord is shorter than I’d like, though. Ah, an Enco catalog. Good times.
My Gearwrench flex-head ratchets are sitting on top of the tool chest. A Skil locking router bit and extension cable in a plastic wrap are tucked into the tool box riser.
Once the tool chest stack was in that corner, it pretty much stayed there. I guess I didn’t really need those casters, did I? I could have used more 2x4s instead.
There’s that Ikea Alex again. It had a good height for a misc. parts and supplies cabinet, but was too low as a work cart.
The bolt cutters on the small office stand is a cheap WorkForce model from Home Depot – I remember going back and forth about whether to spend a lot more for HK Porter bolt cutters with sweet I-beam handles ($65+ via Amazon). Maybe I should have – I believe the new ones are made in China instead of the USA.
But those cutters did what I needed them to – they cut wire shelving just fine. Not floor-standing wire shelving, but the kind you mount to walls for closet organization.
I have long-ago given away that Black & Decker air compressor, but it was a nice model. I bought it for $110 to $125, and it came with a hose and brad nailer that I never used. I have since donated it to Habitat for Humanity.
It was a great compressor I used for lots of things, from powering brad and finish nailers, to some airbrush work.
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve used that 3lb Stanley drilling hammer, but… I needed a heavier metal hammer and I watched it on Amazon until it dropped to a great price!
I was always on the lookout for home-focused storage I could use for tools. These are some Target Itso-branded bins, made in USA. This isn’t from 2008 – it must be from 2009 to 2010 or so, but whatever.
2008 to 2009
I bought lots and lots of tools in 2008, and even more after that.
I was newly married, I lived in a larger apartment with more than just one bedroom to live out of, and I had some money to spend. Not a lot, but some, and I spent it very wisely.
Not that I didn’t do lots of work when I shared apartments with roommates, but it was different.
I carefully watched for sales, I researched and deliberated, and I scrounged and I compared.
I was still working towards my doctorate at this time, and that came first. That’s part of why I didn’t share a lot those days – I didn’t want to risk anyone, mainly those funding my research, mistaking and questioning what my priorities were. My research came first – it had to. So until I successfully earned my doctorate, everything else was kept to nights or weekends.
Most of my new tools came from Amazon and Sears. Amazon was selling tools at ridiculous prices at times, and had a great breadth of selection via Small Parts, the specialty industrial supplier they had gobbled up.
Sears was… well, Sears. They had great deals on Craftsman and Gearwrench tools, and often enticing coupons for Sears.com.
ToolGuyd had been pulling in some revenue – pocket change levels – but most purchases had been paid for using gift cards, credit card reward points, and a tool budget I set for myself. But the tools shown here, these were all purchased after I registered the ToolGuyd domain and before I publishing my first post or review.
You can’t see it, but there’s a shelf above my desk, a bookshelf to the right, and a Gladiator wall cabinet to the left. I also at some point had a tall Ikea Alex cabinet to the right. I still have the Ikea Alex cabinet in my workspace now, but I need to find a better place for it. Maybe the basement?
Let’s see what we have here. On the left, a General Tools 3-in-1 folding file which I bought on sale but never used, I think there’s a strap wrench, straight and angled KD hose clamp pliers, a large Craftsman tubing clamp and a small KD model (they’re the same, but I shopped by which was cheapest), a Craftsman USB charger – I think – that was being clearanced off as a remnant from their AXS tool chest accessories line, Craftsman Professional pliers, HexPro hex drivers, Witte precision screwdrivers, Craftsman precision screwdrivers, PB Swiss hooks and picks, PB Swiss precision screwdrivers, Craftsman wood chisels, Craftsman adjustable pliers (made by Knipex), Wiha precision screwdrivers, Xuron mini shears, and some other miscellaneous tools.
Looking closer, I also see a Nupla Handi Hammer, Wiha precision screwdriver with MicroFinish handle (in the bag, bottom left).
Is that the time my PB Swiss Insider multi-bit screwdriver came in?! Yes! My PB Swiss Insider was a late-2008 purchase, just before I launched ToolGuyd.
The HexPro hex keys were an inch set to complement my metric set, but I like the metric set more. The metric set has a black oxide finish and comes in a small tool roll.
Rather than send you back to the top of the post, here’s that photo again so you can see the metric HexPro pivoting hex key set, bottom left.
Different brands have sold those tools over the years, with Bondhus now distributing them.
I think this was my second large Craftsman ball bearing tool box purchase. Or did it come before my “sunburst orange” box?
I think I sold it to my sister in-law’s husband. These days I’d just give it away instead.
This 16″ deep box didn’t have as high a storage density as I would have liked, but it was priced right, so I bought it. I think it came after the orange box, also a 16″ deep box, and after I had already seen how much better a 16″ box was than a 12″ at holding hand tools.
I bought a Canon Rebel XSi dSLR camera, and this was the first photo I took with it. Do you see the Dewalt tool box on the wire shelving unit? That was one of my first test samples. A 3rd party PR firm contacted me and wanted me to check out the new Dewalt Li-ion battery packs. Okay! I was thrilled, but not terribly impressed – I liked my Hitachi drill better.
I had built a workbench at some point, and given my father’s Black & Decker Workmate back to him. I love that work stand, and remember buying it with him at a Black & Decker outlet store, which are now all closed.
This is one of my 2 Ikea Alex cabinets, hosting some stuff.
Ben – this is the Extech power supply that I’ll be sending your way soon.
I remember shopping around for a bike pump, and ultimately bought a Blackburn AirTower 4 at Sports Authority for like $60. It was a lot of money, but I thought it would be the last air pump I would ever buy. The pressure gauge failed on me recently, but after a few emails with Blackburn, they sent me a Air Piston 4 as a warranty replacement.
2011 to 2012
This was my workbench for some time, put together with Simpson Strong Tie brackets. I bought the brackets individually, because that was cheaper, but probably spent more on hardware. These days, I’d just buy the workbench kit for $40 at Amazon.
It was a very sturdy bench that I loved to use. My cheapo woodworking-style vise worked okay.
YES! I think this is the only photo ever of my slide-out Gladiator Geartrack vertical shelf thingie. This might have been just after I built it. I thought it had 2 sets of slides, but perhaps only one, with some plastic spacer to keep it even? I don’t remember.
You can see my secondary air cleaner under the bench, along with my black Craftsman 16″ tool chest.
On top, a short magnetic tool rail I never installed anywhere, a Hakko soldering station, Craftsman mini pliers that were *just okay*, and some random other stuff.
I used those 3 clamp-on lights with daylight CFL bulbs for ToolGuyd review photos. They worked reasonably well for the budget I had.
Oh, look to the right side of the workbench, just at the edge of the frame. Those are my Irwin quick clamps and 2 Bora clamps. I don’t like the Bora clamps very much.
Under the workbench I can see some PVC tubing slide-on clamp material. Okay, so at around that time, or earlier, I bought some specialty furniture-grade PVC pipe brackets, for creating a light box. They were “corner” brackets, and I used them to create a sort of product table light box. That idea didn’t last long.
I have all the brackets to this day in a Stanley organizer, but maybe it’s time to throw them into a Ziploc bag and then a bulk storage “see you in a few years” container.
This was all taken sometime after my grandfather had died. The Evapo-Rust was purchased to revitalize the box of tools I have from him, which he had used to keep his bakery up and running for many, many years before he returned. Things like Ridgid wrenches and Channellock pliers.
I sealed up the tools in a Dewalt ToughSystem tool box, and still plan to clean them all up. My fear is that cleaning them up will wash away some of the history or sentimental value, but I know that cannot be true.
On the left, a Woodpeckers drill press table that didn’t quite fit my Craftsman 10″ drill press very well, and a Woodpeckers 24″ T-square. The drill press table was actually Pinnacle-branded; Woodpeckers made tools under that brand for Woodcraft, and I bought tools based on where I could find the lowest price.
I had reviewed a Bosch GTS1031 portable table saw, and it stowed so nicely under the workbench on that bottom shelf. I also compared it to Dewalt’s DW745 for Popular Mechanics. While I liked the Dewalt’s fence better, and it carried a little easier, I LOVED how compact and stowable this Bosch saw was.
ToolGuyd has been growing, and I had more tools to review, purchased and review samples. I continued to buy tools, and lots of them. Some to help with my projects, which involved wood, metal (mainly aluminum), and plastic, others because I was curious and had good reasons to explore.
Here’s my orange Beta tool cabinet, and a tool cabinet I won in a Western Dovetail contest. They made me pay $165 or so to have it shipped to me – a practice I have since learned to be illegal or at least against prize regulations. If someone wins something in a giveaway, they cannot be expected to have to pay anything to receive it.
I still have that Western Dovetails cabinet in use, and it has held up well, except the finish isn’t UV-protected and the casters kind of suck and have flat spots.
Here you can see my growing affinity for Quantum Storage and their divided grid containers. I ordered an Akro Mils parts organizer at work, and loved it so much I bought one for my workspace too. There’s my small Jet air cleaner, which has been a challenge to find air filters for. At times I wished I bought the larger more-popular model, but having recently bought that much larger model, I know I made the right choice long ago. The small model was right for the space.
I don’t remember if that floating floor was a short-term or long-term addition. I do remember that it made cleanup easier.
I was working on a story for Popular Mechanics, and I think this photo was to show that I couldn’t really produce an uncluttered photo for the magazine. Where would a roll of background paper have gone?!
On top of the Beta tool box is CH Hanson “Automatic” locking pliers. I reviewed them here a long, long time ago.
I believe that those pliers were my first Make Magazine review!
At the very right you can see part of my orange Craftsman ball bearing tool chest stack. The top unit was a Griplatch model with 6 drawers, and below were 2 intermediates. I still have the chest, my father has the intermediates.
Right at the top right of the photo are tool foam samples, from Cascade Tool & Foam. They’re just to the right of the Craftsman intermediate chest, on the shelf. What did I have for breakfast today? Did I remember to eat breakfast? But I can remember that I received these tool foam samples from Cascade. *shrug*
You can get some too, but please don’t abuse it; only order free samples if you’re ever considering foam for tool drawer organization.
Does this show show you anything differently? I’ll keep it in, anyways. There are some tall bar clamps tucked in behind the Beta tool cabinet, and that’s also where I kept my cutting guides. I started with an Emerson All-in-One Clamp, and then bought a set of Bora edge clamps. I prefer the Emerson.
These Dewalt heavy duty work stands are excellent. They were test samples, and I still cannot bring myself to give them away yet.
On the workbench is a Johnson Level “Laser Mouse.” I still haven’t reviewed it. I had given it a quick test when it first came in, and I wasn’t impressed. It’s still on my to-do list, it’s just so far down that I’d have to run out of nearly everything else to post about before I got to it.
5 points if you can find my Craftsman drill press.
Here are the same cabinets, cleaned up a little.
I guess this was relatively tidy. Right?
Why’d I clean up? This was for a piece that Timothy Dahl was running over at Charles & Hudson. I put together some of my favorite tools for him, here they are!
Channellock-branded Grip-On locking pliers, Craftsman Stride-made wire strippers, and 8-inch Channellock Irega-made adjustable wrench (before I bought the CodeBlue-gripped ones), a Wiha anti-camout screwdriver, Irazola ball hex driver (5mm), PB Swiss size 3 (1/4?) slotted screwdriver, and Wera Zyklop ratchet.
I think that only the Wiha screwriver wasn’t bought at some savings, as that was a McMaster Carr purchase, and the Irazola ball hex driver, which was purchased in England. It was pricey, so I bought just one. In hindsight, I wish I bought a full set of screwdrivers right then and there – that’s a great screwdriver!
You can buy them now from Snap-on’s Bahco brand.
Tim is a very likable guy, and one of few people I’d clean my workspace up for, small or large. Here’s his piece – Winning Workshops: Stuart Deutsch the ToolGuyd.
At the time I told him:
It’s hard to put a finger on what I like about my workshop, so I’ll point out all the things that need improvement. I need more space, better lighting, better dust and chip control, better organization, and did I mention more space?
I guess some things never change.
Some other time, for unknown reasons, I took photos of my tool chest. Hmm, I think this was right before we moved, and so I wanted to document “what went where” so I could get everything back together without much delay.
The tools were transported separately from the tool boxes.
In this drawer you can see my Wiha SoftFinish screwdrivers, Craftsman Professional screwdrivers (I would not buy these again!), some Wera, PB Swiss, Wiha, and Stanley Fatmax screwdrivers.
There’s my Wiha MicroFinish bit holder, a Wiha T-handle bit holder, some multi-bit screwdrivers, a small Craftsman bit ratchet, finger screwdriver, precision screwdrivers, Bondhus ball drivers, a Kobalt USA-made Robertson square #2 screwdriver, and an AutoLoader screwdriver that a retailer stalked me in order to send over.
Yes, stalked. Back when I wrote for fun for another tool blog in 2007 or so, I wrote about a retailer I thought was a good source for semi-specialty stuff. The retailer saw the post, probably via Google alert, took my name, referenced it against their database, sent me the AutoLoader screwdriver, and then called me up to talk about doing a review.
I never did, but I did eventually buy a similar Craftsman product that I had planned on reviewing.
This is in my Beta box. I’ve got some pin punches, tapered punches, picks, probes, soldering tools, deburring tools, countersinks, a tap handle, Beta sliding T-handle hex drivers, hemostats, a Wera multi-bot screwdriver handle, acid brushes, ball hex keys, Stanley 4-in-1 precision screwdriver, cold chisels, and tweezers. The red boxes are Schaller plastic bins.
I had picked up a lot more tools from 2008 to 2011, and was struggling to find the best ways to organize them.
There were lots of little things that helped me with whatever I was doing, and I had been upgrading tools that were giving me trouble.
The yellow-handled picks and probes are from Radio Shack, which I purchased sometime around 1998. They were okay, but I eventually bought some better ones.
That was a great birdhouse. I built it for a Craftsman blogger instructors contest. They had a “blogger summit” for some bloggers, and I was invited as an instructor (1 of 4 or 5) to teach a group of bloggers (mainly “mommy bloggers”) how to make a project.
My goal was to teach the bloggers how to make a small box, which could be scaled up and used to make a cabinet, shelving unit, drawer organizer, whatever. That was a great experience. Hectic and tiring, but a lot of fun. I do wish that, at the Craftsman Experience event, they had prepped my station with the size of lumber I asked for, and the router bits I specified. I even specified exact Craftsman-branded ones! But we improvised and it turned out okay.
The tools on the Gladiator Geartrack changed over time. I think that I’ll have to put some up again. After I moved from that apartment to another, the Geartrack went to storage and never came out.
I had pegboard up at different times, but not here. I had aimed to put pegboard here, but the Gladiator track worked well.
I wasn’t using the miter saw in these photos, and don’t remember what it was staged for. Was it a review photo?
I like keeping tools clean, but this looks like a review sample that had just been unboxed.
That was a very nice miter saw. It was a simple Dewalt 10″ model, single bevel, and it was compatible with their add-on LED shadow line cut guidance system. I don’t think they make that accessory anymore, now that it’s built into some of their higher end sliding miter saws.
We moved in early 2012. I have absolutely no imagery of what my workspace looked like before 2014. I know, crazy, right. Then again, I didn’t really take any workspace photos of the old setup either, at least not with the intent to post them.
I cleaned up to make room for a Craftsman workbench review. That was a VERY nice workbench, and I believe made in the USA too.
Before this bench went in, I had one wire shelving unit in the corner (where the Durham and Akro Mils cabinets are on the floor), and a small 4-foot workbench in the middle. There’s a Gladiator 4-foot workbench to the right, and another workbench made from 80/20 legs and an Ikea top in the middle of the room.
At some point before that I had a desk where the workbench is, and storage to the left and right.
When we moved to this apartment, one of the first things I did was buy studio photography flashes, floor-to-ceiling poles, and wall-mounted boom arms to clamp to those poles.
It wasn’t inexpensive, but strobes produce a LOT more light than CFL or LED bulbs. At the previous apartment I had sometimes worked with a camera flash, wireless sensor, and on-camera transmitter. That worked okay, but was a pain.
I went with Paul C Buff strobes, which are reasonably affordable. I started with Paul C Buff soft boxes and modifiers, but eventually added some Elinchrom softboxes that I thought would set up and take down quicker (and they do). Plus they gave me size variety.
Having floor-to-ceiling poles worked well, as it allowed me to use wall boom arms without actually mounting them to the wall.
The poles don’t work quite as well in my current space, so I might look to mounting the arms to the walls. I also have light stands, but they can be cumbersome. It’s easier to lift a boom arm out of the way and duck past them to continue work. Light stands need to be put away or they get tripped over.
I built my
apprentice android son on that workbench, although I forgot to include an *off* switch.
Oh, THERE it is! Of course I found the power switch AFTER! Oh well, too late now.
I was doing something for a magazine, and they wanted an image of me at my workbench. So… I got silly.
What do you mean I was built?!
There are Festool Sortainers below the workbench, but they didn’t stay there long. Was that before or after I bought more? Right now I have 10 Sortainers, and 2 of the newer style. I can still use them, but the way I’m currently using them is not as ideal as at my old place.
If I build 28″ deep workbenches, there will be enough space to keep some against the wall. But on a 25″ workbench, they tend to take up too much space unless you build a riser shelf for them.
At this point I had a lot of Festool mini Systainers, and a Festool tool box, all of which I had purchased. The mini Systainers were a very nice way to compartmentalize parts and small tool sets.
I’ve been changing over recently, putting the mini Systainers’ contents into Sortimo T-Boxxes. Will the T-Boxxes be a permanent small parts storage solution for me? I certainly hope so – I spent enough on them! So far, I’m liking these T-Boxxes a lot.
If not, they’ll have a place holding other types of small parts. But it’ll mean money down the drain if they’re not a part of my daily or very regular small parts and supplies organization. You don’t buy these for long-term storage. They’re an investment.
The mini Systainers won’t be discarded, sold, or hidden away, I’ll use them to create specialized tool sets. A small wall cabinet would be a great place for them.
But I won’t buy any more mini Systainers. These mini L-Boxxes are a far better value. I have enough Festool mini Systainers for what I would use them for, and will use the mini L-Boxxes for similar purposes but where smaller stuff or finer organization is called for.
The mini Systainers do stack and close a lot better than these mini L-Boxxes. But they cost what, 3.5 times more?
Quantum Storage Dividable Grid Containers
I’ve got a bunch of Quantum dividable grid containers, and still use them for tools, parts, and various other storage needs.
They’re great, and although my bins are all over the place at the moment, I anticipate building a centralized rack for them. They’ll hold things like fastener overflow, raw materials, and everything in between.
More Nostalgia – Light Box
At one point I experimented with a foam core lightbox. This is separate from my PVC-framed light box attempt, which used white nylon fabric as the light diffusion material.
This worked okay, but was not very versatile. What happens when I need to photograph something larger, like a drill? Circular saw?
Or something challenging, like a wrench, which might require a lot of trial and error camera and light positioning?
Here are Craftsman diagonal pliers, photographed in the light box.
And a Stanley QuickSlide utility knife.
Swap in a white background for the automotive towel, and it’s clear that the lights aren’t quite bright enough.
I experimented with light boxes a few times. My Gearwrench Hemostats review is one of few examples.
Photographing on a white background takes added efforts, which is why I tend to photograph tools on a workbench or other wood-colored worktop. It’s simply easier, and I think it looks better too.
This was my oscillating multi-tool blade testing setup, built on top of a 4-foot workbench. If the Craftsman bench shown above is at “west,” this bench would be at “north.”
You can’t see much, but maybe you’ll find it interesting. There’s lots of stuff going on here. All the parts are currently in (2) Quantum Storage bins, except for the Bosch multi-tool, the clear tool guard, and linear guide rails which were too long.
Things are coming along quite nicely, albeit slowly.
I wanted to show you what my tools, tool boxes, and storage used to look like, because it’ll help put to context to my current decisions.
In the past 10 years or so, I’ve tried so many different ways to keep my tools, parts, and supplies organized, and my workspace fully functional. I think that I’ve done a good job with what I was given.
I still have space constraints, and I still have a limited budget.
Some constraints have been eliminated, but there are others. It used to be that I couldn’t carry certain things up the stairs by myself. Now, I’m worried about weight since the floor is made from wood and not steel and what felt like cement.
I’m excited about what the next evolution of my workspace will allow me to do, and am excited to share it with you when everything is done.
In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed a look at the past! It’s not a complete look, but hopefully you found it interesting.