View Full Version : Help for Dropsy

11-22-2013, 08:57 PM
My doctor told me not to bend over or get down on my knees! But of course I drop every thing I can get in my hands. What I need is an Illuminated Periscope so I can look under my work bench and floor stock shelves for that elusive item I just dropped. I have "picker uppers" in each room in the house!
I found an old Craftsman miter gauge that I wanted to use with my newly acquired old table saw. The adjustment knob was frozen so I used some penetrating oil to loosen it. Inorder to wire brush the 3/4" guide bar I loosened the knob till it fell off and something?? fell to the floor. 48 hours later and neither my wife or I can find it. So I'm turning to the Forum for ideas and help. Probably one of you have solved this problem in the past. Thanks Paul

11-22-2013, 09:03 PM
I reduced the gravity in my shop by 60%. That seemed to help.

11-22-2013, 09:08 PM
I frequently drop small parts, screws, and springs off my work bench. It has a shelf on the bottom and the parts always seem to roll under it. Rather than get on the floor on hands and knees, I purchased a "magnetic floor sweep". Now I just run it under the bench and 90% of the time the part is right there. Of course, it doesn't work for plastic parts. :(

11-22-2013, 09:09 PM
I reduced the gravity in my shop by 60%. That seemed to help.

Now why didn't I think of that?

How about tieing a string to everything you could potentially drop as your doing something. Could cost a bit of extra time, but if your drop % is really that high then you will save time in the end.

11-22-2013, 09:30 PM
For doing small parts assembly, especially with springs that can shoot off to Neverland here's what I do. Get a gallon or 2 gallon freezer bag and work on the project inside the bag. The plastic is clear so you can see what your hands are doing through the side of the bag. If a part gets away, all you have to do to find it is just pick up the bag and look along the bottom. It will be there.

11-22-2013, 09:46 PM

Lew Hartswick
11-22-2013, 09:54 PM
You HAVE to start working over a bench, preferably with something like a piece of carpet on it. I don't have the get down/back up problem but my fingers seem to have lost their gripping ability a lot. :-)

11-22-2013, 10:44 PM
One thing I did was block off the openings under my work benches and tool cabinet so items can get lost under. Before when I dropped something it always seem to end up under the work bench.

11-22-2013, 11:02 PM
One of my steel work benches has a piece of angle iron welded to the front edge to work as a trough.
It also works well to lay round stock in when cross drilling with a magnetic drill.

Some of the watch maker's work stations had some type of cloth bib they could pull out and lay in their lap to catch small parts. that way they could spend more time working and less time searching. :)


11-22-2013, 11:04 PM
Use your cell phone video cam and one of those long-reach extenders to get a closeup of what's down there. And put a 2x4 across there on the floor to stop most of what is dropped from getting all the way under.

Rich Carlstedt
11-23-2013, 12:24 AM
I have a nerve condition and no feeling in my left hand and so i drop all day long.
Floors must look like a hospital operating room, and no storage under benches on the floor except for pails ( flush to floor)
Second, Good Lighting.
Third , Staple a yard stick to the front edge of the bench to give you a 1/4" lip and work over it at all times.
Forth, get some corrugated cardboard and lay it on the bench top. The corrugations stop things from rolling and catch small items, but then you need tweezers

I like the angle iron trough idea :)


11-23-2013, 03:40 AM
I have a special box for keeping lost objects in but I cant find it.
PS I can't find my camouflage coat.

Forrest Addy
11-23-2013, 04:09 AM
Old fart disease got me too. Drop a small part on the carpet and it's like it flew to the far side of the moon.

In a fit of pure genius, I taped a small flashlight on a 3 ft stick to form a "T". When I go to find dropped articles, I shine the light so it grazes the floor. Thus small parts cast long shadows that are much easier to see. Move the light around so you see shifting shadows easier. I found a #5 x 3/16" setscrew in a shag carpet with this little gizmo.

11-23-2013, 05:13 AM
Back to original post. Your missing part is likeyl to be a nut, washer or spring. Which parts do you still have your hands on.

Alistair Hosie
11-23-2013, 09:28 AM
I use double sided sticky tape for plastic parts when picking them up it works great.I also sugges using a little hand helper with a gripper on the end used by small people and shopkeepers the handicapped etc they are very helpful.Take it easy my friend Alistair

11-23-2013, 09:44 AM
When doing small work I sit at my bench and lean my forearms on it. Any sort of ledge at the front edge of the bench becomes uncomfortable.

I got some of the self-adhesive window weatherstripping and attached it to a long thin piece of sheet metal. I can plunk this down on the bench and, when I lean on it, the stuff just compresses. It pops back into shape when the pressure is released. When not needed the metal strip is hung on the wall.

I keep an old, once-white baby blanket to put on the bench when working with small parts. Parts show up well against the light-colored surface and the material is "lossy" enough that anything dropped on it remains where it falls.

Jewelers sometimes use a form of bib that has its bottom edge attached to the bench. I haven't gotten that desperate yet.

11-23-2013, 09:58 AM
To be fair, I'm younger than some of you by a significant margin... and I still have fumble-fingers.

Magnets, sticky-paper and small tins for small parts. Most of my screw-drivers are magnetic as well.

The things I work on, magnetic screws are not objectionable.

11-23-2013, 10:35 AM
In a fit of pure genius, I taped a small flashlight on a 3 ft stick to form a "T". When I go to find dropped articles, I shine the light so it grazes the floor. Thus small parts cast long shadows that are much easier to see. Move the light around so you see shifting shadows easier. I found a #5 x 3/16" setscrew in a shag carpet with this little gizmo.

this have been proven to be one of the best ways. . . even a small pocket light will help if you lay it on the floor. then call the wife to use her good eyes to help. works every time for me :)

11-23-2013, 10:41 AM
Lots of good ideas as im really good at loosing things when working. Still havent found a solution for the parts that drop and enter some type of vortex, leaving this time/space behind. Have dropped small parts inside small enclosed spaces and still unable to find them :(

11-23-2013, 11:24 AM
As for looking for a lost part that is under something, You might try a bore scope(HF has them). Attach it to something like a broom stick with a right angle bracket on the bottom end (for the lens to attach to). If more light is needed, try attaching a small LED flashlight next to the lens.

To retrieve parts that are under something, modify a shop vac. to use a smaller dia. hose(Home Depot and Lowes sells an adapter). Attach the smaller hose to a broom stick with a right angle bracket on the bottom end so you can reach under tables, benches, etc. If you put a screen just inside the business end of the hose, you can suck up the part and it will stay on the screen as long as the shop vac. is on. When the shop vac. is shut off, the part will fall out.

11-23-2013, 11:33 AM
somewhat in jest, but I've often toyed with the idea of ringing my work bench with suitably powerful supermagnets and some kind of negatively charged whatsit, so that anything I drop sticks to it before it hits the floor. How that might interact with the anti-find energy force field under my bench is the big question (or even old people with bionics). The earth could explode.

More prosaically I'd do a lot better if I just cleaned out all the dust bunnies and random junk under my bench. Oh, another thing I've learned is to keep my eyes open when I drop stuff. Sounds silly/ obvious, but it really helps seeing where stuff bounces too so I can narrow the search radius :)

11-23-2013, 11:36 AM
What I really need is a solution for quantum tool displacement. I set the goddamn thing down, I know I set it right here, and now it's NOT THERE.

I KNOW I set it right here. And I know it'll re-manifest from hyperspace or whatever the moment I don't need it or I buy another one.


11-23-2013, 11:50 AM
Quantum displacement works in funny ways. I've been doing a lot of photography lately and have some clamping light fixtures - nothing more than Home Depot spring clamped sockets in an aluminum bell reflector. One was missing and having given up the search I drove to HD to buy another one. When I opened the back door of the Jeep to deposit my new purchase there sat the original on the next seat over. Good thing, too, because in my hurry I forgot to buy some lights for the new one.

11-23-2013, 12:14 PM
I think the item in question somehow gets pushed into another reality, where an identical duplicate of me suddenly aquires TWO of the item in question. That explains why sometimes I have half a dozen 13/27th inch 17-point box-end wrenches, and when I really need one I have to go to Harbor Freight to buy another.

11-24-2013, 12:55 AM
Hi Everyone,

I once dropped a tape measure down the core of a 8-inch block wall I was building to support a 4-story chimney from underneath. I was 2 courses from the top & could just get my head in to look down about 6 feet to see the tape sitting on the footing.

My brother-in-law was staying with us & came down to my basement shop to see what I was doing.

I told him to look down the block wall where I had the light.

He laughed saying, “You’ll never get that out”.

Bad thing to say to me!

So I spent the next several hours coming up with this and tweaking it until it worked:

http://i1096.photobucket.com/albums/g327/jhe-1973/Picker%20upper/1a_zps55dd41b4.jpg (http://s1096.photobucket.com/user/jhe-1973/media/Picker%20upper/1a_zps55dd41b4.jpg.html)

It’s just coat hanger wire & acts just like the clam shell buckets the old steam shovels used to have. The above photo is in the open position held by the taught string.

Lower it, & pull the other string and the jaws close like so:

http://i1096.photobucket.com/albums/g327/jhe-1973/Picker%20upper/2a_zpscad25f4d.jpg (http://s1096.photobucket.com/user/jhe-1973/media/Picker%20upper/2a_zpscad25f4d.jpg.html)

Here it is with what is now the world’s most expensive tape measure - considering all the time I have in it!

http://i1096.photobucket.com/albums/g327/jhe-1973/Picker%20upper/3a_zps4ba4ad00.jpg (http://s1096.photobucket.com/user/jhe-1973/media/Picker%20upper/3a_zps4ba4ad00.jpg.html)

P.S. See Alistair, I really can work to the the nearest 1/2 inch as you suggested! :D

J Tiers
11-24-2013, 10:45 AM
Dunno about the dropping of stuff to begin with......

But, put one of those soft solid mats under the front of the workbench. Not the type with holes in it. You want the type that is pretty heavy with a solid surface that almost feels like "memory foam".

Three good things happen......

1) dropped stuff does not bounce very far, the soft material soaks up the bounce

2) dropped stuff does not break or get dented/damaged Great for dropped measuring equipment.

3) your feet will like it.

11-24-2013, 05:05 PM
Thank your lucky stars that you can see your floor..

My floor is often covered with items either being repaired , waiting for parts or just crap waiting to go out to the bin.

11-26-2013, 07:36 PM
I have a wrecked back and have only limited amount of "bend over" coupons rationed to me per day. I keep a magnet on a stick (looks like a golf club) for ferrous metals. I keep a shop vac next to my lathe for swarf control and found that a piece of pantyhose over the wand works great for trapping non magnetic parts, small screws, washers, ect.

11-26-2013, 11:08 PM
Thanks for all the great ideas. The item I dropped from the miter gauge was a small washer 5/8" that goes under the clamping knob and exerts pressure on a small lever that keeps the degree indicator from moving.
My next post is going to be how to put a train load of tools,projects,supplies,and all of the other essentials to keep your home shop going in a 2x4 home where my wife tells me to pick this thing up and put it away! I would be happy to do this but where can I put it? Sound familiar? I went out to the garage with the intent to clean it out. I just couldn't throw anything away. Thanks Paul

11-27-2013, 01:18 AM
I have to use a 4 legged cane & can't reach the floor because of severe back surgery so I put a welding ground magnet on the bottom of the cane & it worked well. It's amazing what I find some days.