Organizing tools is one of the biggest challenge faced with a shared work space. In my personal shop, I likely spend more time working on tool storage and organizing solutions than actually making things. When I was a kid my dad had a single drawer where all wrenches went. It was hard to find what I needed, and I did not have a simple way to know that they had all returned. In my own shop I only two people too blame, my wife and I. At work I have up to 100 people in and out of the shops every day at the Artisans Asylum. It ranges from 50 year veterans of shops to brand new users who don't know what hammer to use for this screw. Communication becomes a challenge so We have to come up with shop tool storage that does not require a high level of training and can be understood by just looking at it.
When in a commercial environment, I use the 5S system
2, Systematic arrangement.
3. Spic and Span
#14X2" flat head wood screws 1 per wrench
Good quality plywood. Large enough to comfortably lay out all wrenches on.
Colored Spray paint
1/8th Drill Bit
#2 Robertson (Square) bit
Impact Driver (optional)
Fine point Sharpie
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Step 1: Sort the Wrenches You Need.
Ask yourself what wrenches do I need? When you are setting up combination wrench storage sort through the wrenches in your shop. Depending on what I plan to do, it changes what wrenches I need.
In my tool chest, I use the Sort-A-Tool to keep two sets of wrenches. I keep a full set of 6 point combination wrenches and reversible ratcheting wrenches. For personal use, this works great but it only allows for a single set of wrenches. It also gives me a quick inventory of whether or not I have left a wrench in my engine.
Above my workbench is a set of hooks that hold all of the wrenches that I have bought while working on a project and not wanting to drive home to get a wrench. This also is great and very accessible for tearing things apart on the bench. I have peg board above the bench so it is always changing based on my needs.
When I am servicing for the rally team, I am working on a Subaru and I only need 5 wrenches. 10,12,14,17,19 to service almost every fastener on the car. When in a specialized situation like this, extra wrenches only slow you down.
When setting up a standard set of wrenches, I try and stick to 6 point wrenches if possible. This makes it harder for new users to strip out fasteners. Secondly, make sure the correct wrench is available. Using too large a wrench will at best strip the head, at worst cause injury.
Step 2: Systematic Arrangement
It is time to lay out the wrenches. Lay out ALL of the wrenches you will need within reason. The more complicated the system, the less likely it will be maintained. For most projects, I recommended the following sizes.
Standard 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 13/16 and 7/8
Metric 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19mm
These are pretty standard and available in most sets. If you do not have them currently, you should make space for them in the future. One of the things I do not like about the Sort-A-Tool is that it mixes standard and metric wrenches. When you are on the wall separating the wrenches to Standard and Metric makes identifying what goes where easier.
Step 3: Spic and Span
In a shared workshop environment, fighting disorganization is a full time job. Spotting where tools go needs to be simple and effortless or it will not have a chance at working. In a work environment, I have the luxury of firing employees who do not clean up after them self. In a shared workshop, we need to work together to keep everything clean.
Step 4: Standardize
I would rather have a cheap Shipping Port Parcel complete set of Philidelphia tools over a high end mechanics set missing half the sizes I need.
For a new member, this can be the difference between them finishing a first project and cancelling their membership.
STEP 4: layout wrenches so they can hang without interfering with each other.
STEP 5: Drill one hole at a time and insert the screw so it does not
Step 5: Sustain
Put the tools back. Put them where they go. Don't do it after lunch, don't do it in the morning, don't just borrow them for this one project. In order for this system to work, everyone has to be involved with maintaining the system.
Step 6: STEP 1: Clean the Tools.
Before you paint them, Clean them thoroughly. Remove all labels and get all oil off of them. The paint will not stick otherwise.
Step 7: STEP 2: Paint the Tools
Spray down the tools with a simple color coding system. Use high quality spray paints like krylon. The cheaper ones and rustoleum will often come off on your hand and on your project. Allow each side to dry fully before handling it.
IMPORTANT! Spray paint gets everywhere and needs ventilation. Make sure that over spray will not ruin other projects. Make sure you have adequate ventilation.
PROTIP: At Artisan's, we use a two level color coding system. Our color is red, so every shop tool gets red. Each shop gets it's own color, (red+yellow = woodworking, red+blue = welding, red+green = Machine shop) It makes tool reclaim much easier and quicker and helps identify poor behavior of specific shop environments.
Step 8: STEP 3: Layout the Tools
Layout all of the wrenches how you would like them stored. Measure the extents and add 2 inches to each measurement. Get a piece of plywood cut to size so it has an inch on each side. If you do not know how to cut a piece of plywood safely or do not have the tools, your local big box store will cut it for you.
Step 9: STEP 4: Put in Screws.
Use the Drill bit to pre drill the plywood to avoid splitting.
Use a flag of tape to know when you are at depth and stop drilling.
Do not wait until the tape hits the wood, when it starts to wipe the saw dust, you know that you are at depth.
Install screws using #2 Robertson (Square Drive) bit. Newer wood screws are dual drive. They take Philips and Robertson (square drive) bits. Philips bits drive originally designed as a torque limiting drive device. Once over torqued they cam out and slip. Square drive bits are less likely to do this and also are more forgiving for misalignment.
Put in one screw at a time making sure that each wrench can hang freely. Repeat this step until all wrenches are hung.
Step 10: STEP 5: Trace the Tools
Individually trace each wrench on the board. Use a fine point sharpie to trace the outline of each tool. Label each space with the size of tool that belongs in each home.
Step 11: STEP 6: Hang Up All the Wrenches and Crack Knuckles
You just spent an hour of time making this dope ass wrench storage solution. Put all of the wrenches up and update your wiki, post it to Facebook and e-mail your members. Showing that you care about the space makes others care about the space. When you find tools left out that have a home, gently remind folks that everyone is responsible to keep the space clean.