Right now my work area is in a state of extreme disarray, but I tend to be very particular about how I organize and store my tools. A tool that I cannot find is a tool I may as well not even own.
To help get myself reorganized, I’ve come up with a logical 5-step process to serve as an organizational framework. These aren’t exactly rules, they’re more like guidelines that I try to follow as much as possible. How do you organize your tools and equipment?
- Lay out all tools & categorize according to function
- Separate specialty tools & group according to applications
- Determine how and where tools will be stored, setting aside a few go-to tools for pegboard or workbench placement
- Designate rough drawer/cabinet/shelf locations for each tool group
- Refine the organization of each drawer or other storage location after all tools have a designated place
I usually go through this process every few months after new tool purchases start accumulating or when I buy a new storage unit.
Here is what one of my tool drawers looked like a few years ago before I reorganized:
As you can see, there are too many things that don’t belong grouped together. Screwdrivers, electrical test equipment, wire strippers, a pop riveter, and vise grip locking clamps.
Well on your way to your new book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Workshop Management.
I don’t think there’s enough drawers to organize everything by type or function. I;m still working on my tool organization. It seems I organize, then break it all down, then reorganize again. I currently use a tool ‘function’ system to organize.
Most of my drawers aren’t dedicated to a single tool type.
I’m also not the type to just throw things into a drawer haphazardly. That would definitely increase each drawer’s capacity, but I don’t like having to sort through a pile of tools to find the exact size I need. One of these days I might photograph my drawers once they’re reorganized.
Ikea’s Alex drawer unit is still my favorite low-cost cabinet solution.
I have broken my drawers down to bangers/fasteners, drivers/drills, cutters/saws, misc/small items, and heavy duty; this seems to work great for hand tools. I have another cabinet where I break down each shelf to paints/solvents/glues, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and the bottom for power tools. It’s pretty simple and I rarely cannot locate what I’m looking for.