(Because I’ve got nowhere else to put them!)
We recently moved to a new apartment. A smaller apartment, or at least it feels smaller. I lost my shop space, and we traded a very spacious storage room for a large second bathroom. I’m trying my best to unpack with a plan, but there’s just so much stuff that needs to be put away!
I have near full control of the second bedroom, where I will work on smaller projects and ToolGuyd-related photography and writing activities. But there’s just not enough room for everything! So… I am now using the second bathroom for temporary storage. And that is why there are power tools in the bathtub.
I kind of knew this would happen, and bought a couple of small and medium Dewalt ToughSystem tool boxes and Bosch L-Boxxes to help contain things. It didn’t work.
How Did this Happen?
It comes down to one pretty simple explanation – I bought too many things. Too many tools, too many accessories, excessive supplies. Part of that comes from my desire to try out and review new or unfamiliar tools, but it’s also always been in my nature. I’m pretty sure it’s hereditary, but my tendency to have too many hobbies should shoulder some of the blame.
Let’s say I need some hardware for a project. I’ll start off with a $10 fasteners and parts order from MSC Direct or Enco, and turn it into a $100 order that includes a bunch of tools, additional fastener sizes, and accessories from my wishlist or for a future project. After all, I should make the most out of the shipping fee, right?
It has also been suggested that I have a screwdriver problem. Maybe June will be screwdriver-review month so I can start culling my collection.
In addition to my own purchases, I have fallen a bit behind with submitted review samples. Most readers (and PR reps) don’t realize this, but it takes a LOT of time to review tools, especially power tools. Mixing in real-world project usage with controlled testing is not something that can be done in 20-minutes. Photography and detailed writeups also cannot be rushed. Some samples are returned or given away, but I hold onto others that I know will be useful for future comparisons or followup review. And whether in off-site storage or my bathtub, benchmark tools take up space.
You don’t even want to know how huge my stockpile of raw materials and supplies have grown. Here’s just one example – I still have a couple of 12″ x 12″ acrylic sheets that I bought 10 years ago for a robotics project, and an 18″ x 18″ red UV-activated plastic panel I purchased 6 years ago for a computer modding project.
What Can I Do About it?
I have arrangements to give a couple of things away. My brother in law is getting my huge Canon photo printer (it was $50 after $400 rebate and the ink was compatible with my everyday printer!), my cousins are getting some unused school supplies (index cards, looseleaf paper, and 168 cheap pencils which were 5¢ per pack of 8), and most of my tool chests already went to my father, wife’s cousins, and wife’s brother in law.
There’s still a LOT of stuff. Some will go to off-site storage, and some will be given away. I haven’t yet decided whether to donate tools off to Habitat for Humanity or a local Hackerspace, but I’ll make up my mind soon. I can probably send some of the random spare materials to the Hackerspace as well.
But giving things away won’t solve my stockpiling issues. I need to:
- stop buying tools (temporarily?), or at least give away more tools than I buy
- review tools, especially ones I purchased for review months or years ago, at a faster pace
- stop buying more supplies than I need
- exhibit more self-control when I come across hot deals
My eyes are bigger than my tool boxes and storage cabinets and it needs to stop. After all, our second bathroom, including the bathtub, is currently filled with tools. That’s not exactly normal, is it? Yes, I’m the editor and primary contributor to a tool blog and also write for others as time permits, but that’s not as valid an excuse as I like to believe.
Not having a basement or garage does limit the types of projects I can work on at times, but right now having too much stuff and too little free space is a much bigger issue.
- one project at a time – too many aspirations and nothing will get done
- do you REALLY need to buy those tools? (No, I did not need that set of Gearwrench X-Beam ratcheting wrenches, but the deal was just too good to pass up!)
- do you really need to buy that right now? (Don’t store something you only *might* need someday.)
- don’t buy anything without purpose just because it’s on sale – this goes on hand in hand with the second bullet
What Happens Now?
Honestly, I’m not 100% sure. The apartment is a humongous mess since we just moved in and started to unpack. I plan to use the unpacking time to determine what stays and what needs to go, and items I cannot use in the next couple of months will go to storage, with a few exceptions of course.
It will be tough, but I’m going to have to be strict with how I determine what to keep and what to part with.
And there will be a new rule – with the exception of necessary new tools and accessories, I won’t buy something unless it takes another tool’s spot. Who will determine what’s necessary? I think I’ll give that role to my wife (wish me luck!!). Seriously, though, whenever I’m on the fence about a purchase, she usually does a fair job of throwing me one way or another.
And before anyone asks, no, I won’t take any photos, not until I have the situation under control at least. Honestly, it’s just too embarrassing at the moment.