3 Shop Organization Ideas + Tips

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About: About me : I am a Cabinet maker of 30+ years with a degree in civil engineering who presently runs a cabinet shop for a custom home builder on Vancouver Island . I have been building things all my life, fro...

In this Instructable , I want to show a few things that are relatively easy to construct, don't require a lot of material, and will help organize your shop space. Each one of these items can be constructed in a day or less depending on your skill level. I was very fortunate to have free reign when designing and laying out the shop I presently run.

I have included drawings and a few cabinet maker tips for:

1 : Mobile Clamp Cart, that can easily be modified to suit your individual requirements.

2 : Mobile Pipe Clamp Rack.

3 : Simple Lumber Storage Rack, that can easily be turned into a shelving unit, simply by adding plywood.

Step 1: Mobile Clamp Cart

Over the years I have seen a lot of designs for mobile carts.The main purpose of which is to bring the clamps to the work, instead of packing them across the shop from a rack on the other side of the room. I have seen some carts that were so large and heavy that they ended up sitting in one place anyways because it took two men to move it.

I designed a rack small enough, only having a 24" x 26" footprint, that virtually has 23 sq ft. of usable wall space. It is stable and can be modified to hold more than just clamps .Shelves, hooks and any thing you can hang on a wall could be added. It only requires 1 and 1/3 sheets of plywood and 4 castors .

Step 2: Basic Construction

Material : 1 1/ 2 sheets 3/4'' plywood

: 4 - 4" wheel rubber swivel castors ( recommended size, rolls over small items on floor easier )

: Glue and 1 1/2 '' and 2'' screws

Pic. # 1

Cut plywood according to drawings , The two tapered pieces for the sides leave square 9" x 69". In the next step I will show ( TIP 1 ) how to cut long tapers easily on a table saw, if you don't have a track saw.

Pic. # 2

Shows dimensions .

Pic. #3

Assembly ( 1 ) attach the two face pieces to the two taper sides ( glue and pin, pre drill and insert screws) ( 2 ) glue and screw the tapered section to your first piece of base plywood from underneath.( 3 ) Glue and screw the second piece of base plywood to the first. ( 4 ) attach the four castors. ( 5 ) Stand it up and it's ready to have handles and what ever other tools or items you might want to hang on it. ( TIP 2 ) on making wooden handles.

Note: I suggest that brackets or shelves that are installed be screwed on, making any future changes easier.

Step 3: TIP 1 Cutting Long Taper on the Table Saw

( 1 ) Start with square piece.( 2 ) Lay out your taper. ( 3 ) Measure your widest point. ( 4 ) Cut a waste strip on the table saw 1/4" wider than your widest point and 6-10'' longer than your taper. Leave the saw set at this width. ( 5 ) Fasten the strip on top of your laid out taper , leave an extra 1/8 " away from the line to allow for the saw blade width. Attach to the waste side, parallel to your taper line ( attach with a couple screws). ( 6 ) Return to the table saw and run the waste strip side up against the fence again. Remove strip and repeat for remaining tapers.

Step 4: Tip 2 Easy Wood Handles ( Any Size )

I know it's easier to just go out and purchase a handle, but for carts, or big drawers it's nice to have something big and easier to grab a hold of.

( 1 ) First decide how large a handle you want to make. I started with a board 4 1/2" x 15 '' x 1'' thick which will make two handles 15'' long 2 3/16 high 1'' thick. ( 2 ) Center a 2 3/8'' holes saw on the board 4'' in from the end, Drill three quarters of the way thru.

**TIP when drilling with a hole saw clamp your piece, and as you are drilling blast compressed air down and at the hole saw, this removes the shavings without having to pull the hole saw in and out, no need to tip the hole saw while drilling, prevents burning and makes your hole saw cut like butter. ( if its sharp ) even on a drill press.

( 3 ) Flip the board and finish cutting the remaining quarter (makes for easy removal of the plug from the hole saw without having to use a screw driver ) ( 4 ) Miter the corners. Cut board in two on the table saw. ( 5 ) Band saw or jigsaw between the holes. ( 6 ) Sand, round over the edges with a router and drill holes for fastening.

Step 5: Pipe Clamp Cart

The Pipe clamp rack makes it easy to store and move your pipe clamps around the shop where they are needed. If you don't have this many clamps, you could make a smaller version or incorporate it into the previous clamp rack cart. Note that the clamps themselves act as handles for moving the cart around.

Material : 1 sheet 3/4'' plywood

: 4 - 4" wheel rubber swivel castors ( recommended size, rolls over small items on floor easier )

: Glue and 1 1/2 '' and 2'' screws

Pic. # 1

( 1 ) Cut plywood according to drawings. ( 2 ) Lay out your hole pattern on the 24'' x 24'' piece ( bottom ) ,clamp this smaller piece on top of the 25 1/2'' x 24'' piece ( top ) leaving 3/4'' exposed on both sides. ( 3 ) Drill 3/16 '' pilot holes through the bottom piece into top ( ensuring the hole location is the same on the top and bottom ) ( 4 ). Drill all the holes with a 1 1/4'' hole saw . * Be sure to use Tip on how to drill with a hole saw .
Pic # 2

Shows dimensions .

Pic. #3

Assembly.( 1 )attach the two bottom pieces together , with 2'' spacers between, glue, pin and screw ( 2 ) glue and screw the two side pieces to the base .( 3 ) Glue and screw the two 3'' stretchers along the top. ( 4 ) position, glue and screw the top down. ( 5 ) attach the four castors.

Step 6: Conduit Lumber , Shelving Rack

This is by far the easiest way and most economical way I've found to store lumber. When you are able to access this from one or both ends you can store a large amount of material. The nice thing about this type of rack is that it can be constructed to fit any space and storage requirements. By using 3/4'' electrical conduit for your main support you are able to insert 1/2'' electrical conduit into the 3/4'' pipe to extend on the outside ,creating even more storage.

By cutting plywood that fits in between your upright 2'' x 4'' and placing it on the conduit you can incorporate shelving into your rack, or make just a rack to be a shelving unit.

The rack in the picture is 12'- 0'' high 30'' wide with a pipe spacing of 16'' the individual ladders are spaced 3' -0'' apart.

Material : 2'' x 4'' , 3/4'' and 1/2'' electrical conduit ( comes in 10'-0'' lengths), plywood for shelves.

( 1 ) Once you have laid out how big and how many uprights you require, lay out your hole spacing. ( 2 ) Next you will have to drill all the holes in the uprights ( I suggest this be done on a drill press ) the tricky part is to find a bit that provides a snug fit. It is almost impossible to find the exact size you need..

** Tip purchase a spade bit as close to the conduit size ( but larger ) file or grind down the spade bit on both sides until ( by testing ) you have the right bit size to make a snug fit for the conduit.

( 3 ) Cut your 3/4'' conduit to the desired length, remember the conduit comes 120'' long so pick a length that is divisible into 120 ( 20'', 24'', 30'' ) so that you don't waste pipe. Cut with either a pipe cutter ( my preference ), grinder, or a cutoff saw. ( 4 ) Lay one 2x4 on the ground and drive the pipes into the holes using a block of wood and a hammer. Position the other 2x4 above the pipes, line up pipes in the holes and working from end tap the 2x4 down onto the pipes, (a small sledge works well ). ( 5 ) Cut and screw in your top and bottom spacer, stand upright screw to wall or ceiling. Make as many as required.

Step 7: Conclusion

I leave you with a few pictures of the shop.

I hope this Instructable helps you come up with some ideas to make your work space a little more organized . After all, a well organized shop is far more efficient and more enjoyable to work in.

My future Instructable's might be on work benches, shop carts, a vacuum clamping table, dust collection, redneck remote dust collector on off switch... who knows? Stay tuned !

CHEERS Thanks for your support and votes.

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    14 Discussions

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    neslo63SteveDonie

    Reply 4 days ago

    Thanks that goes back to my younger days when I was taking civil engineering and we still had to do all our drawings on a drafting table, I still do all my drawing for kitchens on a drafting table.
    Cheers and have a great day.

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    ToucanDoit

    17 days ago

    I really appreciate Instructables like this from folks like you with more knowledge and experience than me. Please keep putting more out. Ideas can always be modified or serve as inspiration for one's own little garage/shop like mine. Thanks.

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    neslo63ToucanDoit

    Reply 16 days ago

    Thank you for your support, I plan on doing more on a variety of things and will try to include a few tips and tricks along the way, and maybe a few fun things as well . Cheers !!

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    handmadewithashley

    20 days ago

    Wow! That looks awesome! I love how compact the clamp storage is. If I didn’t already have a mobile clamp rack, I’d probably build your version.

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    neslo63handmadewithashley

    Reply 16 days ago

    Thanks for your comment, maybe in the future you might need another one , who knows ?

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    RobotFarmer

    22 days ago

    Hello Sir.

    First. Thanks for taking the time to write this Instructable. Like the last poster, most folks don't get to do this kind of stuff for a living so space is an issue. I'm blessed as I have access to my dad's old barn to play in. I say play because dad always said, "Son, find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." I love being semi retired. I know that I will never be a "professional" wood worker as I don't do my projects for monetary pay. I find the most joy when I have my Cub Scouts come out to the farm and learn a little about farm life and woodworking. So thanks for sharing your time with me and my scouts.


    Speaking of sharing. Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks of the trade. (More things I can pass onto my scouts) I may not build a pipe clamp cart but I can always use some aspect of it in a project. The storage unit would be great if I had enough wall space to build it on. I guess ol' Bessy the tractor will have to scoot over now. LOL But you did build something that I've always struggled with. I may or may not build a bar clamp cart as well but now I KNOW how to cut a long taper with a table saw. If grandpa was still alive, he could've taught me. The military does have a way of keeping away from home. So now I have to rely on friends I've never met to teach me things so I can teach them to my scouts. Seems like I've read that in the Bible somewhere. Something about helping one another. So my friend. Thanks for sharing and thanks for caring. I'll be watching for more projects from you. Sincerely Cubmaster Perry. PS The look on a kindergartener's face when they realize that the tongue of the cow that they've been hand feeding for the first time is 27 ft long and it's wrapping around their whole arm is priceless. 90% of all my scouts are city folk. Anyway thanks again.

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    neslo63RobotFarmer

    Reply 22 days ago

    Thank you for your kind words and I am so glad you were able to learn something new, It just goes to show that were never too old to learn some new tricks, I'm fairly new to this whole instructable thing ( 2 weeks ) and I am learning from other as well. So far I'm enjoying writing these instructables,and I think it's great that your involved with helping kids learn as a scout master. My four kid are all grown now ( still no grand kids yet ) but when they were young my wife and I were involved with Awana (boys and girls club ) run though our church ,and I know what you mean when take about the look of awe on a kids faces.
    Over the last 7 years my wife and I,and on the last trip my youngest son traveled to the Dominican Republic on mission trips. I have been 4 times to work at an orphanage for young boys ,working on homes and a school. I tell you this because when you talked about cub scouts , it reminded me about all those boys in the orphanage who are probably about the same age as your cub scouts. Thanks again and Thank you for being a teacher to young minds . PS I now consider you a friend, and my wife thought your comment was awesome!!

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    RobotFarmerneslo63

    Reply 22 days ago

    Thanks for the kind reply. If you ever do any Instructable on wooden puzzles, "Pandora's" boxes, games, car or the such, please give me a shout out. txcowboyelectric@gmail.com
    I'd love to make them. Had a military family living here who moved back East. Going to be building a "farm" doll house for their daughter (including John Deer tractors, Sprayer, hay balers, plows and the likes.) We mostly grow Wheat and Cotton around here. When the Cotton is ready to pick, the fields are white like it snowed. We call that Oklahoma snow. So long for now my friends.

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    Eh Lie Us!

    23 days ago

    I dream of streams filled with fresh squeezed orange juice and candy fish. I dream of The Big Rock Candy Mountain.
    But man, oh, man more than any of those, I dream of a shop like this.

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    neslo63Eh Lie Us!

    Reply 22 days ago

    It's definitely great to have a shop like this to work in, I don't own it but I still take pride in it because I got to set it all up from scratch. May your dreams someday be fulfilled that you too have an awesome shop.
    Maybe you can tell me the purpose of the upvote button , I have no idea what it does.
    Thanks for your comment, it made me smile

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    yrralguthrie

    23 days ago on Step 7

    Actually a good instructable, some folks would be able to downsize it by about half and make use of your techniques. In the US at least likely 80% or more of the workshops are in garages. No way for a clamp rack or lumber storage such as yours could be a priority. Clamps are usually kept on the wall, and that much wood storage would just be a dream. Lots of professionals write great Instructables, that are just not useful for most of the readers of this reflector. Someone with enough work area to use your tips(as good as they are) is usually skilled enough to do their own design.

    I'd like to challenge you and other professionals to write to your audience rather than writing to gain exposure or to say "look at my instructable." Most of the time when an author introduces themselves with "professional or with their considerable accomplishments", I simply pass them over, in the belief that their instructable is for their edification. Use professional techniques and experience, but on a level non-professionals and amateurs can benefit from without having to rethink and redo the instructable.

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    neslo63yrralguthrie

    Reply 23 days ago

    Thank you for your feedback and I can appreciate what your saying , My intent was not to gain exposure, but was rather to encourage people to use some of my idea's in a way that could benefit them, by tweaking my designs and making them their own . making them better!! And as for edification( the improvement of the mind and understanding, especially by learning): That what I thought Instuctables is all about, I'm too old to try and impress anybody, I'm doing this just for fun more than anything, just trying to pass some of my knowledge and experience on. Yes I am a professional and I can't change that If you looked at my first instructable on the recirculating air spray booth, you can clearly see this is not something that every one can make. I realize this, and my intent was to show the principle of how it works, hoping others would experiment using some of my ideas. I understand what your saying about some of the Instuctables that require a very high skill level to attempt, but I still look at them knowing full well , I'ts something I could never attempt to do but maybe I will learn something along the way I didn't know. Thank you again for your feedback ,in the future I will keep what your saying in mind about writing to your audience. Cheers