No announcement yet.

My (un) favorite task.... big shop cleanup

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • My (un) favorite task.... big shop cleanup

    I've got two more machines than will currently fit, to begin with, with one of them taken apart. Plus an influx of various "stuff" from the Minnesota house, mostly interesting antique scientific equipment, as well as "parts" and materials. That last bit is bearings, gears, small motors, misc hardware, etc, etc.

    It's everywhere.

    So I've been finding homes for whatever I can. This involves walking up to an area, typically a workbench, and determining what should not be there. Then a place has to be found for whatever it is.

    Today my favorite (not) task within this. I had two boxes of fasteners which are not in the drawers, not sorted, and not sized. That needs done. Currently there are a lot of "containers" in there, each with a mixed lot of stuff in it.

    Yes, I have seen most say "scrap it and buy as needed". Problem is that there are quite a few specialty items in there that I either cannot easily obtain, or that will cost me a bunch if I find them. In total, they would cost me more than what it will take to sort through, either in money, or in time, going and getting, or locating a source and ordering them. And I can do it when I don't feel like doing some other thing.

    So today I made a start. I set out a number of the yellow plastic bins, got a small photo tray, and began. My technique is to dump a mixed lots into the tray, then sort into categories. Get the next one, do it again, etc, etc.

    First pass (today's job) is general, separate woodscrews, sheetmetal screws, machine screws, nuts, washers and setscrews. There is also an "other" bin, for things other than the categories. Today was doing that, and it is about done, unless I find more.

    The tray is sorted by pulling items in the categories out away from the machine screws (for instance) or whatever seems to be the most common in the lot. When enough of one type have been found, they are grabbed and dumped into their bin as a lot. That keeps me from having to handle the items individually, as in picking up and dropping them in their bin one by one, which would take 10x more time. When the stuff that is not a machine screw (or whatever) is all gone out of the tray, the rest get tipped into their bin, and the next lot started.

    And, the next sort can be done whenever I have time, and involves sorting just one type of thing. I just could not face having to sort by type as well as size, length thread, etc. MUCH better to do one kind at a time.

    Oh, yeah..... how did things get so mixed up? Some of it came that way, in a toolbox or whatever. Some is from the Minnesota house (where it was NOT sorted). Some of it is from the last 12+ years of doing things in the shop.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 01-05-2022, 09:53 PM.
    CNC machines only go through the motions.

    Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
    Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
    Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
    I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
    Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

  • #2
    I’ve done my share of that type of sorting……uggh!

    Got better once I had a satisfactory fastener, fitting, and misc. storage bin setup. If I can’t find it….might just as well never saved it.

    I keep a scrap iron bucket handy, and cull fairly hard as I go. When I achieve “lifetime supply” or a full bin of anything I get REAL picky.


    • #3
      I like to do a major clean up when I finish a project. I try to keep everything put away as I use it, but it takes too much time. By the time I'm finished a project I'm knee deep in swarf and I can't find half of my tooling, so I do a major cleanup, and put everything back where it belongs.--Then after a week, it starts all over again.
      Brian Rupnow
      Design engineer
      Barrie, Ontario, Canada


      • #4
        Sounds like fun 😜. I'm like Brian, I do a major cleanup when I'm finished a project. The problem is when many projects are on the go, or some put on hold waiting for parts/time to get back to them. It doesn't take long to get overwhelmed with a giant mess.

        I've been on a big organization kick lately, and am actually enjoying it. I can see the payoff and that my efforts are worthwhile, which fuels me to continue.

        I have a few more big things to tackle, then my next big organization project will be screws and hardware. I've got quite the mix of stuff going on right now, from bins and drawers to sortmasters. And while I know where stuff is, the whole system is in need of a do over and better standardization.

        Best of luck to you.


        • #5
          I'll do a major clean of my workroom or garage. Then for a year it's where the hell did I put that cussing.


          • #6
            I keep buying things that I know I have but can’t find because I am a total slob in my workshop. I need to do a heavy clean in both shop and office just to save money!


            • #7
              I had my "hardware store" pretty well organized a few years ago. Then I moved, scrambling it all. And a relative died and I helped clean out his shop and accumulated even more even after generous "binning" effort. Overdue for another organization. It's worthwhile when I can find what I need without making a road trip or ordering online.

              Sorting hardware is a good drinking activity.


              • #8
                For the last 7 years of my working career I was personal machinist for a self confessed ' Neat Freak"
                Our shared workshop/office/drawing room always looked immaculate
                Seldom were there more than 3 or 4 tools on the bench at any one time.
                Swarf and cuttings of all sorts were cleared before each break.
                At first I thought this wasteful and non productive but gradually I realised it was the way to make quick easy progress. Lost, missing and misplaced tools and material just did not happen.
                I have tried very hard to bring this line of thought to my shop.
                First thing every morning I tidy away anything left out the night before.
                New purchases of small items are immediately found appropriate homes,
                The acquisition of additional or replacement machines is a good time for a thorough clean up and reassessment of storage needs to match.
                I am very happy to have moved from being a " Mr Muddle" to having a tidy workshop in which everything is almost always where it should be and ready for action
                .While tidying I am usually also planning the next job.
                My tools have become a little like friends who need help to go to their homes at night.
                Regards David Powell.


                • #9
                  I decided I'm no longer maintaining inventory when McMaster, et al can do it much better and neater than I.
                  Recently sold my Harley Sportster street tracker and am tossing everything related to H-D, don't give a damn what it is.
                  It's been so "freeing" not to be responsible for years worth of junk.
                  I'd even like to find a young student interested in machining and I'd gladly give them my older bench top mill.


                  • #10
                    Hi, I have to admit, I have a problem.
                    I always have more stuff than places to put it.

                    Nice to meet you all.

                    rusting in Seattle


                    • #11
                      My problem is not usually tools. Tools I have places for (with one exception, see below). I have a compact main shop, and a LOT of toolboxes; 9 standard Kennedy/gerstner types and 4 roll-arounds in two shops. I hate seeing mics and calipers under a pile of stuff, so I have places for them, and they usually go right back in the box when I finish a measurement (yes, I do leave the drawer open). And I have a spot similar to a drawer, but not in a box, to put them on the bench. Files have a block, and screwdrivers etc have racks on the benches.

                      The problem is usually materials and hardware, and paper (plans, drawings, etc.), plus currently, how to move Lathe #3 , Mill #2, and a shaper into the machine area. The wood and grinding area is OK. I do have things to put in there, but they will fit, especially when I move the mill and shaper out of there.

                      And, right now, boxes of "useful stuff" that need to go places (I've already used some of it, so not "junk").

                      One issue with tools I DO have, is that when I visit relatives, or the Minnesota house, I tend to take some toolboxes (not the shop ones, but plumbing, electrical etc) for tasks that I have been warned need done. And, just to be sure I have what I need, I'll toss in some things I know I will need. The result is that tools used in the shop end up in those other toolboxes, and eventually when I can't find things I know I have, I have to go through and find where they ended up.

                      I know that what I need to do is to put together a standard "general" toolbox for travel, and then use that in one of the shops when I am home. Have not done that yet.
                      CNC machines only go through the motions.

                      Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                      Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                      Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                      I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                      Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.