View Full Version : tool shelf ideas.

07-09-2007, 06:10 PM
im looking for ideas and pics of what people have done to organize their cutting tools and other bits such as centers, center drills and chuck jaws... im moving my "shop" out of my parents basement and into my own basement next week, and i will have a little more room and would like to keep it a little more organized.



07-09-2007, 07:08 PM
I have several drawers under my lathe. One's for tools (chuck wrenches, open-end wrenches, hammers, screw drivers, allen wrenches), the second is for lathe tooling (cutters, quick-change blocks, boring bars, centers, tailstock chucks, etc.), and a third is for indicators and top-jaws for my headstock chucks. Additional headstock chucks (my three-jaws, four-jaw, and 5C collet) live on a bottom shelf of the lathe stand.

I hate to be picky here, but I noticed that the chuck wrench was left in the chuck. I've seen wrenches go flying across a shop, damage ways, and even get bent around chucks when someone accidentally turns the lathe on with the wrench in the chuck. For your safety and the safety of your lathe, remember to remove the chuck wrench from the chuck whenever you aren't actively inserting or removing something from the chuck. I make it a habbit to never let go of the wrench unless I'm putting it back in its drawer.

Mike Burdick
07-09-2007, 07:19 PM
Sorry, I'm a little of topic here...

I bet if everyone walked out this very moment and took a picture of their lathe work area it would look very close to what btu44 posted.

...without the key in the chuck, of course!:o

Forrest Addy
07-09-2007, 07:29 PM
"Organize"? What's this "Organize" mean? Is it relates to (ugh!) "neat" or (oolg!) "tidy."

I have two piles. Both are "stuff'. One pile is "stuff I'm gonna do something about" and the other is "stuff I haven't done anything about." I forget which is which. Izzat organized enough for you?

Frank Ford
07-09-2007, 08:33 PM
Oooh! Key left in chuck. . .

07-09-2007, 09:03 PM
Dragons_fire here's how I approached the issue. Maybe you'll get an idea you can use.





Tin Falcon
07-09-2007, 09:48 PM
I am with Forest what is organized. It seems the harder you try to organize the quicker, the clutter grows. The more drawers you have the better, thin and with ball bearing slides. Drawers for tools drawers for stock. I use plastic trays and tins for projects in the works.
And as far as the chuck key left a definite NO NO . In US Army machinist tech school you have to carry a three foot long chuck key made of aluminum on a strap everywhere if you are caught leaving the key in. In US Air force tech school leaving the chuck key in during a test is an automatic failure.

07-09-2007, 09:59 PM
This is my lathe area.
Bullet cases make nice boxes for tool bits and you can see what you have.

07-10-2007, 12:08 AM
Thanks guys, that helps lots.. i knew when i took the pic that someone would notice the key in the chuck. i never usually leave it in there, and i always stand to the side whenever i start it. most of the time, i make small stuff, so i spin the chuck by hand before i turn the lathe on to make sure that the jaws don't hit the tool. i also don't usually leave small stuff on top of the gearbox. the light and my magnetic base are usually the only things that stay up there.

i was also curious to see if anyone has made some kind of holders for things like centers or does everyone just throw them into a box?

07-10-2007, 12:25 AM
My Rockwell came with a factory tool holder, something like a lazy suzan type of thing. Mainly for 5C collets, but also holds 3 centers, a wrench, and the spindle bushing. Very handy.

Behind the lathe I've got a 4x8 peg board. I took some extra 1/4" pegs and mounted several shelves made from plywood. That's where I put my QC tooling, alan keys, chuck keys, mall machinist square, 6" scale, etc.

Stand/Cabinet also has some open shelves and a closed door cabinet with shelves on the side oposite the motor/drive cabinet. I've got more centers, additional collets, and odd bits-n-pieces in there. Extra chucks go on the lower shelf that spans the end cabinets. Needs another shelf about 6" under the chip pan to better use that dead space.

The area unde the chuck shelf is about 12" tall and I store my rotab, 3 axis wilton vise, and lathe turret down there. Problem is, I have to keep boards under it to keep it off the concrete. I've got some material and 4 ball bearing steel wheels to build a low profile cart to effectively form a shelf for really heavy stuff to go down there. Planning on a sort of "curtain" hanging from the lower shelf to keep the swarf out from under there.

07-10-2007, 01:02 AM
Lane is obviously a master....BTW good on you making gears for Gary.
If you want to see an organized shop, go look at Sir Johns place. (Last time anyone saw the floor was when horses lived in it.....

07-10-2007, 01:25 AM
i was also curious to see if anyone has made some kind of holders for things like centers or does everyone just throw them into a box?

I usually keep either the fitted cardboard box or styrofoam insert that comes with new tooling. After use, I just return the tool to its box for safe storage. For items that I use frequently, I keep only the bottom half of the box or styrofoam. That way, I can quickly access the tool without opening a box, but it still protects the tool from damage.

Of course, you can make simple drawer dividers from cardboard too. I'm just lazy so I use the original packaging instead.

07-10-2007, 01:41 AM
I have an 8x8 area reserved in the garage for my 'shop' I have a small kitchen cabinet by the headstock of my atlas, with 3 drawers, top drawer holds change gears and tools for changing them, and keep many of the lesser used items in the others, on top I have an inverted box with holes large enough to let the centers drop about halfway in, and a couple 'slots' for chucks and faceplates, slots are as wide as the chuck front to back but only 1/2-3/4 the width (4" for a 6" chuck) so the chuck sits in it, but still has enough curve above the box to get a good grip on. It's low enough so that with the tallest item in place it just clears the cover when changing gears.
no countertop on the cabinet, and the box is short enough that the centers etc stick partway into the cabinet, without the top if something drops through it lands in the drawer and I can retrieve it without having to unload and lift the box.

for the mill I have the same boards with hole concept in the base for storage of collets etc. two toolchests, some other shelves, and a cabinet make up the rest of my storage.

My work area is pretty small, but is actually a pretty nice layout, with two lathes and the mill, no toolbox or machine is more than two steps from any other machine. The only thing I have to leave the shop area for is to get an 'odd' drill bit, or to grind/cut/drill something.

drill press, grinder and HV saw were kept out of the shop area itself so I wouldn't have to stop my important work just so the son/son-in-law etc can work on some frivolous project, I mean my custom hinge pin trumps their muffler any day!


07-10-2007, 03:23 AM
A couple of drawers have foam rubber laid in the bottoms, and the foam is scalloped every 1 1/2 or so. These grooves go left to right. I can lay cutters, etc in the scallops, and they don't roll around crashing into each other.

Other drawers have shallow trays that are divided into 2 x 2 inch squares about an inch high. I have a lot of cutters laying in these, and anything else that's small and related to tooling or fixturing. These trays actually slide front to back within each drawer, and on their own rails, exposing deeper 2 x 2 inch containers. These hold nuts and bolts, fasteners, washers, screws, o-rings, t-nuts- these containers are easy to remove individually. Now when I buy some small quantity of certain bolts or whatever, they go in these containers.

Two of the drawers (there are five drawers in each of two banks) are very shallow, a bit too shallow as it turns out. 2 inches high inside would have been about right. This is where all the screwdrivers, snips, c-clamps, pens and pencils, etc. go. The drawers get taller as you go down the drawer bank, and at the bottom there's one big enough to hold the skilsaw, routers, jig saw, etc.

My basic premise was to not waste a lot of space by having shallow things stored in tall drawers.

These two drawer banks are separated by about 4 ft, and there's a top put across the whole thing. The top is too high to be used as a workbench, so it mainly holds cordless drills, small vices, parts of current projects, drill bits and drivers that are currently in use, etc. The space between the drawer banks now have another six drawers built in, and this is where I plan to finally get all my drill bits organized.

At 8 ft long and 21 inches deep it may seem like it takes up a lot of space, but I'm finding that by being able to put a lot of stuff away in basically the same location, I have freed up some wall space in other areas. Awhile ago I posted that while trying to re-arrange the shop I couldn't run any machine without moving stuff- now I can access every machine again without moving anything, and it's not cramped.

I built these drawer banks myself to get them sized like I wanted. Full extension slides would have been nice on the shallow drawers, but for the others it doesn't matter much. If I was to build them again today, I would make two top drawers in each cabinet that are about 2 inches tall, and then have the others progressively taller.

By the way, I lined the top drawers with gym mat- this is much like the non-skid placemats that are cheap at dollar stores, only a little thicker. Sure is nice to have the tools staying put as you open and close the drawer. Well, they mostly stay put- the mat itself should have been glued to the drawer bottom so it doesn't move around.

Peter Sanders
07-10-2007, 04:55 AM

Sorry to be a little of topic but, there should NEVER EVER be an instance where the lathe chuck key is LEFT IN the chuck on the lathe!!! (even for the photo)

07-10-2007, 12:06 PM
I'll second the motion on the chuck key. I make it a habbit to never let go of it while its in the chuck. They even make self-ejecting keys that are spring loaded for safety, but I'll bet they are hard to work with.

I posted this recently on a topic about work benches. Its what I did when I just had the benchtop lathe and mill and it worked well. All the tools were in drawers below the lathe. There was a special molded plastic "groove" that is several inches wide, at the back of the bench as well as a "wing" for each side that had some cubby holes in them. They held my 100 series Aloris toolholders just fine so they were always at hand. The lathe key went into another and there were also some holes for a wrench and a file to drop into vertically. All the stuff you use in normal lathe operation was at hand and extra chucks and stuff were in the drawers. I think I paid less than $200 for the bench when it was on sale, maybe 7+ years ago.



07-10-2007, 03:11 PM
This Tool Post Rack appeared in Home Shop Machinist or Machinist Work Shop. If I remember correctly it was a 4X4 wood post with several other accessories or attachments. My version is made from a discarded street sign. I find this storage accessory to be very convenient

http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x101/Paul_chretien/tol_p_rackSmall.jpg http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x101/Paul_chretien/tol_p_rack2Small.jpg

07-10-2007, 07:41 PM
Here is a picture of my little drawer unit under my mini lathe. Still missing the final drawer fronts and the lathe is way too clean in this picture. I'll make sure to cover it swarf for the next one...


07-15-2007, 05:23 AM

Since I have a beat up version of your lathe, (minus the mill), I see you have a done a few "upgrades". Mine wasn't complete, or undamaged when I got it, but it worked, then I dropped down some stairs during a shop relocation. That delayed my planned upgrades, but my lathe is kind of a "clean slate" now.

07-15-2007, 09:07 AM

Since I have a beat up version of your lathe, (minus the mill), I see you have a done a few "upgrades". Mine wasn't complete, or undamaged when I got it, but it worked, then I dropped down some stairs during a shop relocation. That delayed my planned upgrades, but my lathe is kind of a "clean slate" now.

Well, mine was brand new as of last February. I had just about gotten it to the point I could use it and get consistent results, lined up a few projects, gathered the material, etc. Then, the rack and pinion used to move the apron up and down the ways started skipping in one spot. Turns out the rack was not located properly and the gear was engaged only about 0.005 inches. Contacted Grizzly about me fixing it without voiding the warranty and they wanted it sent to them to fix. I've heard back from them that are going to replace the whole machine (to fix the rack?). Anyway, long story shorter, I start over again next week or so getting it cleaned up and fit to use when I get another new one.

I think I am going to build some type of tray under it to catch the oil, coolant, and swarf. My current setup is a real pain to clean up.

TECHSHOP have you tried making any gears for yours? It comes with a fairly complete set of leadscrew change gears, but is missing a 65 tooth gear (required for 13 tpi threads).


07-18-2007, 03:31 AM

As usual my short story will be longer than your long story:

But my Ol'man had a fairly large lathe, 3~ off the pole (Pop's shop was about 30 miles away), so I had a 11" Rockwell in my homeshop, to take care of "the little things that didn't justify a round trip. But I was looking at the import lathes as a "second op" machine. The size/spec of the Griz lathe was about right, so when I went up state to the Griz Tent Sale (as is/no warranty), they had one more or less complete, but had been used as a forklift hockey puck.

Well, both Pop's Shop and my Rockwell are gone now (even a longer story, highlights of which were recorded here in a random pattern), but I still have the little Griz lathe, but now it must "do everything".

I think it is a "nice" machine, and I can't say without any faults; but since it has had a rough life, I can't point the finger at any one cause.

No I haven't done anything about gears for it, or made a threading dial. After about two years, I did get I off the shipping pallet! Bending over to turn cranks that are about 10" of the floor was starting to get old!

07-18-2007, 12:25 PM
I'd hate to see those machines get all dirty.
Covered in swarf and suds <shudder>

07-18-2007, 12:31 PM

07-18-2007, 12:34 PM
fishoilac or fishoilene?
Nar, just plain old soluble oil and a bit of swarf will be fine

07-18-2007, 12:43 PM

07-18-2007, 12:48 PM
Ah well, at least you wasn't a mop-flopping, ring bolt kicking, knuckle dragging, upper deck.............

07-18-2007, 12:59 PM

07-18-2007, 01:12 PM
"Maggie Maggie May, they have taken her away"