A few months ago I set out to clean up my workspace. I moved things around, popped a Gladiator adjustable height workbench (reviewed here) in the middle of the room, ordered a huge supply of Dewalt ToughSystem cases and Bosch L-Boxxes (why both?), and started making lists.
And here I am, still sorting through the mess of tools, culling my collection and trying to get everything organized.
Why is it taking so long?
1. Not Enough Tool Storage
I recently borrowed back my Craftsman 6-drawer 16″ deep tool chest from my father, and it now sits on top of my Beta 7-drawer cabinet. That has been a huge help in getting my hand tools organized again.
18 months ago, I had the 6-drawer chest on top of two 2-drawer deep intermediate chests, the same Beta tool cabinet, and a Craftsman 5-drawer 16″ deep tool chest under my now-discarded 2x4s and Strong-Tie workbench.
I thought I could make do with a minimal number of tool draws, but I can’t. No matter how many bins and boxes I have, nothing is more efficient than drawers.
While I could definitely use more drawers, I think I have enough right now to move forward.
2. Too Many Tools
I know, heresy, right? But it’s true.
I would say that my too many tools predicament is 50% due to my personality and who I am, but also 50% due to ToolGuyd. I like trying new brands, styles, and designs, but that tends to lead to overlapping function.
The solution? I’m packing up all non-essentials – including some tools still in retail packaging – and putting them in storage. Once I have more breathing room and no loose tools all over the place I’ll bring the boxes back one by one to sort through. If there’s a realistic hole a tool will fill without much overlap, it will earn back its place in my workspace. If not, it goes into more permanent storage or a donation pile.
If I had to pay full price on everything, too many tools would be far less of a problem.
Here’s a great example: Six years ago (Jan 2007) I bought a Milwaukee 17pc hole saw set for $25 from Amazon. Back then they had sweet tool deals that kicked off at 3am ET. Today, a comparable set would cost at least $120. At the time I had been using my Ridgid hole saw set a lot and figured that a greater selection of sizes would be nice.
To this day I have never used those Milwaukee hole saws. Yet.
This is mostly why there are fewer DealGuyd deal posts these days. I have forced myself to stop looking at sales flyers and special price sections except ahead of major holidays. I can’t take advantage of a great deal if I don’t know about it!
4. Too Much Attachment
As odd as it might sound, I have too much attachment to some of my tools. Some I bought for a great price, others I used on special projects, and a few I’ve been using for a very long time.
In the case of too many locking pliers, it has taken me quite a while to realize I use imported one-hand-opening Irwin Vise Grips a lot more often than my USA-made ones.
But attachment doesn’t mean I should have tools with overlapping or duplicate functionality in the same drawer or bin.
5. Distractions and Delays
My workspace has been in constant disarray since we moved here a year ago, and so I only have short pockets of time when I can photograph things for review. It takes a lot of time to clear things up, and then a day or two later a project leads to additional turmoil, mostly because there are too many tools all over the place.
Toolguyd is 4-1/2 years old, and there are tools I have been using (or not using in some cases,) that were purchased mostly for review.
For example, I have a Proto Phillips #2 screwdriver that I purchased strictly for review. Everyone can always use more #2 drivers, so that’s what I buy when I want to try a particular design. I used that driver a bunch of times, but mostly only if I can’t find my either of my favorite screwdrivers. I ordered that driver from an industrial supplier on 11/27/2009. That means that I could (should) have reviewed it almost three and a half years ago after a brief evaluation.
As I mentioned, all my stored tools will be brought back one box at a time. I’m not doing that just to see if I’m missing their functionality, but also to properly review them. The reviews might not be terribly thorough, but if I have an opinion or comment, there will be photos, a writeup, and a video.
Why I’m Telling You This
Mostly because I’m taking a break. Carrying tool boxes and cases full of tools back and forth is tiring work. I started bumping into things more than usual, which meant it was time for some lunch and rest.
There’s also the feeling that points 1 – 4 can happen to anyone. As bad as I might be with too many tools and not enough storage, I know of others that are far worse. There’s a very fine line between need and want, and once that line is crossed it’s too easy to start collecting tools.
While I was perfectly fine having tools all over the place, it greatly impeded the progress of my projects. The 30 minutes it takes to clean off a small span of the workbench for a project is 30 fewer minutes I can spend on the project itself. Too many tools and cluttered storage also means that digging out the right tool can become a chore.
A clean and neat shop/workspace/studio/call-it-what-you-want will allow me to be a lot quicker with both projects and product evaluations. Or at least that’s the plan.
Once I’m done cleaning my shop and workspace I will turn my attention to everything in storage. There are a lot of supplies and materials in there that are perfectly usable or even brand new, but they’re just sitting there. Expect to see some random “for sale” or “freebie if you pay shipping” posts in a couple of months.