Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shop Tips - Organization Ideas that Worked for Me

I've been asked a few times for a shop tour.  You see the shop enough in project videos :) but a recent request added "because I see some ideas in the background I want to know more about".  Ah, that I can do!

I recorded this beginning of December and promptly forgot about it. Ironically, I started using a tool to better organize clips for editing because it "hides the clips that aren't for the current project". Well, out of sight, out of mind :)

Hope there are some ideas in here you can steal, improve, and put to use.  I needed to get organized cuz as my dad would put it: I try putting 10 lbs of crap in a 5 lbs bag :)

Additional Addendum:

(that comes before the next addendum because it has better news!)

Those plastic boxes at the end of the video can be ordered in 10 packs for ~$17 mail order from Daiso Japan. Thanks to reader Pat who found them in their retail store and found they are also sold online.


I had a lot of queries about the plastic boxes I use for manuals. For people in California or Hawaii, find a Marukai Market near you (4-5 in LA, one in San Diego iirc, and one in the Bay area).  All those boxes were purchased there and are generally $1-$1.50 each.  Buy lots :)

I can't find a US online store that has them (Marukai's are imported from Japan and the labels are long gone).  However, I found Amazon UK has both the slim ones and the deep ones.

Lee Valley at one time sold the boxes as a special purchase. They are long gone, but I wrote Rob Lee tonight to ask if they'd be interested in another run. He said they have ordered more a few months ago and will have them by the end of March 2014 for an April promotion.  You'll be able to pre-order them in March.  Product number is 99W0145 and will be a pair: one legal size, one letter size for $7.60.


  • Billy's Little Bench said...

    And you know what happens when you put 10 lbs of crap in a 5 lb bag?

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Oh, I have examples of it everywhere! :)

  • Brian said...

    what's the neverwet for?

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Haha, you and someone off YouTube both noticed the NeverWet. My shop sink gets ridiculously dirty from washing out glue, paints, whatever else. As all those are water-based and NeverWet is hydrophobic, I hope it will make the stuff find the drain rather than stick on the sides (even when I rinse it a lot!)

    Neighbor is a plumber and will likely replace the faucet with a sprayer I found; that will help a lot. I plan on recording the application and see how glue sticks afterwards. It seems like an interesting product.

  • ChrisHasFlair said...


    What do you store in the Micro Systainers?


  • HalfInchShy said...

    I got those mostly to give away, but have used 2-3 of them. One has keyboard batteries, the other some utility knife blades. When I had them near the assembly table, I found that I used them often enough for putting screws, nuts, bolts, whatever in them as I disassembled things, but plenty of things do that better.

  • Brian said...

    good luck! make sure to clean the sink really well and maybe even scuff it with something.

  • TMcWoodworks said...

    Great organization tips Paul. Now to put some of those ideas into practice in my shop.


  • Anonymous said...

    great ideas, one of the best "shop tours" I have ever seen.

    Alas, the Lee Valley site says those storage boxes (for manuals) are no longer available.

  • Steve Springer said...

    Paul-I'm thinking about putting my MFT/3 on a shop-built base instead of it's skinny legs - any suggestions?
    thanks - Steve

  • nolandm said...

    Noticed the tape dispenser again and decided to order one. Got it from Amazon (love that Prime shipping) Just got it today, man don't know why I didn't get one a long time ago.


  • HalfInchShy said...

    Yeah, Brian, I plan on sanding the sink bottom with a high grit partly to scuff it for the NeverWet and partly to remove any burs I put in there when scraping out glue in the past.

    Glad some ideas were interesting, Terry!

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Anonymous: the link on the blog is for the plastic boxes at Lee Valley. I wrote to Rob Lee to talk about doing another special order since there seemed to be a pent up interest. He wrote back to say an order for an April promo was already ordered and on the way. So watch that link; they should be here in March. If anything, there'll be some April promo and you'll get the flyer with them listed. Then buy a bunch... I easily have 30-40 (many are in the house for other odd things)

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Steve, you saw my MFT is on a table. The 1080 (my model) is shorter than the /3 so it made more sense to make the table.

    I dunno if you read my blog article about that table, but you can easily make the table and still keep the legs on it if you take your table to job sites. I don't so mine are poorly stored outside somewhere.

    If anything, make the wall anchor that's under the table; adds a lot of rigidity.

    You'll want your table on adjustable feet. I use those to level my MFT and make it planar to the main bench. You'll need a 4-pack of feet since the garage floor is sloped slightly away from the house and in my case, there are high spots by the wall behind it. In that sense, the table is an improvement over the MFT's "one adjustable foot" design.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Haha! Yeah, Rusty, I thought the same thing. When I first ordered it from ULine (where I got mine), I thought "now this is a shop luxury I don't need" (however, I have several so I knew I'd get over it...) Especially with the Angle Madness project, I'm using it to death for the packing tape side to dry fit angled pieces or "tape clamp" joints.

    I talked about my dispenser as a side-note on this post. It has three 1" wide wheels so I can stack up tape in a number of configurations. Mine's always loaded with 2" packing tape and 3/4" blue tape.

  • nolandm said...

    The one I got is a Start SL7336 Multi Roll. It looks just about exactly like yours (3 1" wheels). Very heavy and sturdy, should last for years. Like you said it nice to have two or three rolls of tape handy at a time. By the way it was $23 at Amazon.


  • BK said...

    Those boxes you use for manuals are similar to the ones I had when I lived in Korea. You might to a Korean or Japanese or Chinese large grocery market, bookstore, or gift store.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Exactly where I got them from, BK... in the addendum of notes, I mentioned getting them at Marukai in LA. Excellent place!

  • Anonymous said...

    Great shop tip tour,thanks for that.You have slides for all the drawers, that can add up fast.Where do you find the best deals for them?Thanks for all the videos you do!

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, anonymous :)

    Yes, slides can add up quickly especially if you go to the borg :-/ At the borg, they are very nearly $1/inch.

    I bought all those slides from Woodworkershdwe.net. Back then, there was a huge section for drawer slides plus they sold them in pairs or in 10-pair packs. I just re-checked a receipt from when I bought the 14" slides (for the Sysport bench and cabinet on the wall) and they worked out to $5 a pair shipped. He's cut back to just 14" and 22" slides sold in pairs. Maybe if you write him, you can get a quote for 10-packs or other lengths.

    That said, the key is buying them in 10-packs. I just checked on Amazon and a 10-pack of 14" ProMark (no idea the quality) comes out to $6/pair shipped.

    Assuming $6/pair, the cabinet on the wall has 9 slides: $54. The Sysport bench has 13: $78. The finish cabinet has 5 24"-slides. Using the same brand at $9.50 shipped, it would be $47.50.

    Not small change, but sure makes space more useful. If you made a duplicate of my finish cabinet, that ~$48 would pay for itself quickly otherwise only the first 8" of each shelf would be readily accessible and the rest becomes wasted space. 6 sqft each!

    For the other bench and wall cabinet, you could likely cut back on some slides for some spots.

    So the more I look at this storefront on Amazon, the more I think this is Woodworkershdwe.net; maybe he moved the online storefront to Amazon as the other products nearly match (more options on Amazon).

  • Unknown said...

    Those document storage boxes are great. The larger sizes are also available at Garret Wade: http://www.garrettwade.com/sturdy-document-cases/p/96N03.16/


  • HalfInchShy said...

    Excellent, Brenton!

    I googled for a long time trying to find an online vendor; have no idea why I didn't find those. Thanks for the link.

    The ones Lee Valley will have by the end of March are a pair (1 letter, 1 legal) for the same price as one letter from Garret Wade. though. At least this will be a good resource for when the special order is depleted.


  • Anonymous said...

    Is that a kapex in the back ground? If so will there be a review? Thanks! Really enjoy the videos!

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, Anon! Yes, that's a Kapex and I haven't yet done a review of it. Awhile back, someone wanted a bunch of crown installed so I thought to record that a bit and blend it into a review. She had to move suddenly for family reasons so it never happened. I've since forgotten :) I'll get to it sometime.. I have a long list of "record this". Since recording this organization video, I installed it in my flip-top stand (the stand it was sitting on). I still had a Makita saw in that stand. Soooo... now you won't see it, but it's still there.

  • Unknown said...

    The A4 containers you use for your magazines, manuals, etc are grossly expensive in the USA.

    They sell for less than $1.00 each in the 100 yen stores in Japan. We bought 70 or 80 of them while stationed there. VERY USEFUL!!

    (The 100 yen stores in Japan make Dollar General and Family Dollar look like trash dumps! Some of the stores in Japan are four floors high and every single thing in them is 100 yen...or about $.85 cents each!)

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Yup, that's why I got mine at Marukai in LA. Generally $1 each; they also sell them in their sister stores, which are $0.99 stores like in Japan. Problem is, if someone wants them and can't get to LA easily, stuck with other prices.

  • Unknown said...

    Helli Paul.

    Du you have Some Drawings on the table you have made, the table you have all you systainer stored.


  • The Coes said...

    A little late to the party... but i found some similar plastic boxes at the Container Store: