Workshop Organization is not genetic

While visiting my family I am always in the workshop fixing something. My dad’s workshop is like mine, semi-managed chaos. There are many projects scattered in various stages of completion, some have been there a few years. There are bits and parts of things you can’t bear to throw away, thinking you might be able to use them for something one day. There are still things in dad’s workshop from when I was a kid, a pair of garden tractor tires for some sort of cart we have yet to build, but those tires will be good for something.

Then there is my sister’s workshop. Immaculate and organized, one project at a time on the workbench, which is a recycled kitchen countertop and cabinets. [ we made a Real World Green video about making this work bench here ] The shelves have nails and screws in plastic storage bins with the actual screw length information present. The screw gun’s batteries fully charged, tools on the pegboard.

Sister's workshop

I still struggle with organization. I’m close to hiring someone to come in and organize the place. The trick is to keep it that way. Its hard to part with stuff that may have a use some day. The anxiety of knowing that a year from now I will need those small ikea counter brackets left over from a job to hold together some wood frame i’m building, but I already have a ton of brackets.

What do you do to deal with the workshop chaos? Are you the organizer or the keeper of stuff?

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  1. Mary says

    I’m an organizer, but I know what you mean about saving things because you might need them one day. No problem, just put like items together – for example, you say you have a lot of brackets so put all of them in one location. Put all screws together (and sort and label them later).

    Go through one section of your workshop at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed with doing it all at once. Simply set groups aside even in paper bags until you have a clear space and logical spot to store them permanently.

    Then, when I can’t find something, I ask myself “where would I put the item I’m looking for if I were storing it today?”, and sure enough, that’s where it is – so keep placement logical.

  2. Mia says

    Some of my favorite memories are of puttering around my dad’s workshop, helping him clean and organize the tools, bits and bobs, and projects. I carry this in my heart so thoroughly, that I never feel closer to him than when I am spending a Saturday afternoon in my own garage, doing the same with my modest workbench. <3

  3. Daz says

    Agree with Mary, organize similar stuff together. I use ice cream tubs and sticky labels for the front. Bits for kitchen units all go in the same tub from hinges, handles to edging tape and feet. Other bonus is seedling trays – great to empty a tub out and rummage through – tip tray full back into tub after!

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