Workbench Storage Upgrade

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About: Making and sharing are my two biggest passions! In total I've published hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. I'm a New York City motorcyclist and unrepentant dog mom. My ...

Organizing the clutter, finding stuff you forgot you had, throwing away junk, and cleaning your workbench can be fun and satisfying, if you have a label maker. I recently overhauled my workbench storage for small parts and tools and want to share some of my process with you. Whether you're into electronics, jewelry making, home improvement, or all three (+more) like me, hopefully you'll find something useful here.

Step 1: Small Parts Bins

I got my small parts drawers at Fry's Electronics in Phoenix over a decade ago. I have the big red version and a smaller set too. They have mounting holes on the back so you can hang them from the wall. My small black ESD parts drawer set was from an old sampler of ESD cardboard products, but here's a similar one.

When you go to organize your drawers, group them loosely based on the activity they are associated with. I have all my electronics parts up top and the lower drawers are for more household or crafty type projects. All the switches are together, all the IoT boards are in a row, the toothpicks are near the glue, etc. It's not an exact science.

To make use of the small drawers, you really need a label maker!...

Step 2: Label Maker

A label maker can really help your organization efforts pay off! What good is all that shuffling if you can't remember where anything is? Hand-drawn labels aren't ideal because they are hard to read from far away and hard to read if you weren't the one who wrote them.

If you have access to a desktop printer, you can also print labels out on sticky paper or precut labels.

Consider adding special touches to drawers you use frequently, like a colored sticker or special symbol on the label. Part of my parts optimization is helping my partner find things too, and it's easier to describe a drawer if it is unique-looking. "Where are the tiny screwdrivers?" "Low down in the middle, pink sticker!" Then I don't have to interrupt what I'm doing to show him where something is.

Step 3: Small Tools Storage

To make tools easy to reach when you need them, consider multiple locations for small tool storage.

A magnetic bar meant for kitchen knives hangs above my workbench, which has a wooden shelf storage system of its own. Nearby, a plastic tool caddy attaches to the front of my parts drawers. I also keep tools in the drawers of my jewelry workbench, and larger and less frequently used tools in a toolbox on a shelf nearby.

Since my workbench is actually a jeweler's bench, I also have some small tool storage by way of a shelf/organizer add-on that has bars for pliers, a few drawers, and sectioned areas for different size tools and accessories (though it's designed to hook onto the back lip of the desk).

Thanks for reading about my small workbench tool and parts storage. I'd love to hear your tips and storage solutions in the comments!

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    21 Discussions

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    KellyCraig

    6 months ago

    Hmm. A Foredom, a Hakko, a Festool, a Nikon/Cannon, ..... Not only organized, but nice toys.

    On organization, a fellow I talked with over the phone dropped by my shop on a day I:

    - had my buddy's coffee table for planing and sanding;

    - had just rescued a load of hardwood, which squatted my truck, and for which I had to build a rolling rack capable of holding a half ton;

    - was experimenting with laminating plastic and wood so had plastic and wood set out for the experiments, which included making chips and dust on the lathe, bandsaws and so on;

    - had my home made breadboard, battery packs, box of LED's and resistors out to experiment with back lighting for the plastic-wood ;

    - had a couple items in the copper sulfate- sulfuric acid bath being plated;

    - had to finish up a last minute display for a show (favor to a club);

    - was dealing with the problem of storing an in process 2'x2'x2' doll house intended to be mounted on a stump, to covert it from a prohibited stump into a piece of art , the latter for which the HOA couldn't fine me;

    - dealing with decorations;

    - . . . .

    Anyway, the guy, at least three times, felt compelled to state he couldn't work like this (mine is a dedicated shop, his is a garage and he has to move things around to accommodate his wife's car).

    Interesting that all he could see was the temporary chaos [mentioned to him] and not roll arounds, cabinets, stations and so on for storing tools and materials (e.g., that monster wood storage squashed the heavy duty casters, so is, now, getting 16 casters (four in each corner, like a car dolly).

    Anyway, I appreciate organization like this, because it makes those moments of planned or incidental chaos much easier and more pleasant to handle.

    GREAT JOB

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    bekathwiaKellyCraig

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thank you! I save up for nice tools because I want them to last! I agree being organized makes it easier to deal with a full-chaos project without adding frustration delays. You guessed my camera brand incorrectly, though, I'm a Panasonic fan. =D

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    SkeletU

    9 months ago

    Hi. Very nice working area.

    How do you sit at this table? The distance from the shelf in the table to the chair is very small. How do put legs there?

    4 replies
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    UygarD1SkeletU

    Reply 9 months ago

    I think this is an expanding table.

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    SkeletUbekathwia

    Reply 9 months ago

    Thanks for the explanation. From the photo, I did not understand that the table is tall.
    My workplace is still less accurate.

    working area.jpg
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    SkeletUUygarD1

    Reply 9 months ago

    I very interested of organization of the workplace other people.

    She says about plastic boxes and printer for labels. But not seys about table.


    I using another labels. On this labels need to writeing in pencil.
    Here is a link to them

    https://www.komus.ru/katalog/otraslevye-predlozhen...

    they are much cheaper.

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    charmrus

    9 months ago

    Your workbench/desk with the vice on it looks interesting. Can you post pix of it?

    The most wonderful thing about your lab is its...orginized which lends itself to being clean.

    Thanks for all of it.

    2 replies
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    JeffM15

    Question 9 months ago

    Becky,

    Where did you get the OHM sweet OHM sign??

    That is way kool.

    Jeff

    5 answers
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    Jack A Lopezbekathwia

    Reply 9 months ago

    Oh wow! You designed that image, and you authored a how-to-cross-stitch tutorial to go with it. Nice work! I mean, on both, but more on the design. The text, "Ohm Sweet Ohm", is especially clever. I always enjoy a good pun.

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    dobeedobeedo

    9 months ago

    Some very useful tips here, especially labeling/color coding storage areas. However, I've found that my needs and, therefore the supplies I need and use, change over time and those adhesive labels can be hard to remove. I've started using chalkboard paint on my storage containers. I paint a small area, big enough to write the contents, then label it in chalk when the paint dries. If the contents of the container change, all I have to do is wipe the label off & chalk in a new one. You can also color code with colored chalk of you want.

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    ThirdEarthDesign

    9 months ago

    I can definitely relate to the procrastination side of organising my workspace!