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A second shop at the cottage. How do you cope?

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  • A second shop at the cottage. How do you cope?

    Here is the dilemma, We have a cottage about 3 hrs drive from home, I have use of a bunkhouse about 10 ft by 8 ft. We will be there for about 10 weeks in the summer, with occasional trips home, I have just bought a Myford ML 10 for it and already have a home made mill installed there. Now , do I take what tools I think I need from my main shop, take up my older tools, buy some new, get prepared for the annoyance of a 6 hr drive to get the tool I am missing from home or ??? The prime purpose of the shop will be model engineering,I will take some of my models with me next summer and will be attending various steam shows and clubs directly from the cottage. How do others cope with a remote shop, all suggestions are welcome. regards David Powell.

  • #2
    My 2nd shop is 400 feet away and that's a pain. Event though I have duplicate sets of smaller tools, they have habit of migrating to the wrong shop.

    Take "everything" for your long trips.


    • #3
      I think your going to find that every time you do something you going to have to run back to you home shop to get something.



      • #4
        I started with a pretty complete shop at my home in Indianapolis. Mill, 3 lathes, bandsaw, 2 drill presses and all types of welders. Also have a forge and various blacksmith tools. I brought home from my business a Sears radial arm saw after the Indiana OSHA fined us for having it.

        When I built my cabin in Minnesota I found a local small bench mill and lathe for sale.
        I bought them both for $400. I bought a cheap HF bandsaw and a OA rig from Northern Tool.
        I have added a drill press, mig welder and belt sander over the years. I also have some inexpensive wood saws.
        A friend who is a very skilled knife maker sold me almost all of the tools, a forge and anvil for my woods blacksmith shop
        The best thing and the worst thing that has happened is that a close friend and neighbor died.
        His wife sold me a 5 ' tall chest full of high quality hand tools that he had collected over 50 years.
        Now both of my shops are relatively complete and convenient but it has taken 20 years to get there.

        Just go slow and pick up bargains where you find them.
        I have been surprised by the quantity of used inexpensive power tools in the sparsely populated area where my cabin is located.
        People there need to DIY because there are few skilled machinists and no shops.
        Because the market is thin for used tools the price is low.
        I cut it off twice and it's still too short!


        • #5
          Mr Powell.....a conundrum of rich mans problems, eh?

          imo it would be very frustrating. i've seen your old shop, you like me like collecting all the tools you need to do the job. A satellite fraction thereof could be very frustrating. Then what happens with everything over the winter? move back, leave it and hope?

          years ago when the kids were little we'd get a cottage for the summer and I would work on wooden boats. everything i need fit in one big tote style tool box. Only you can decide what you like to do, but for me it was a nice diversion and much more suitable to portability.
          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


          • #6
            Kennedy or Gerstner style boxes are your friend here, as are fisherman boxes. Tools that can't be or you don't want duplicated are then portable. The added benefit is that with a little care, the same organization exists at both locations, since you use the same box(es). The cases can be heavy and awkward for a couple moves a year, as long as they are manageable.

            At one company I work for, we have a machinist that has a rollaway and a couple Kennedy boxes that live in the shop most of the time (at the end of the 36" swing lathe), but are set up to go on site as they are when needed. Even a new helper can close and latch the draws and covers on a kennedy, put it into a job box, slap a destination label on, and a couple days later, it is on a ship 10000Km away where the machinist needs it. Much better than trying to pick and choose whats needed, hope whoever is in the shop finds the right things, without making a mess of the organization in the cases, packs things properly, and then realizing when they show up, that he forget to list something or the shop monkey pulled the wrong tool.

            I learned, and have road ready kits, and even tend to keep things that aren't likely to need moving set up the same way. Only things that aren't set up in cases for easy move are machines, surface plate, large test gear (oscilloscope, bench meters, etc), and some woodworking hand tools (user planes, handsaws) that are too large for convenient case storage. There are some duplicates in kits to reduce the need for moving things. For example, my machine hookup case has a duplicate clamp on digital VOM, duplicate screwdrivers, pliers, nutdrivers, and other electrical hand tools, as well as dedicated things like crimper and small selection of crimps and bugs, phase meter, , etc. This is a small tray case (midsize fishermans box).


            • #7
              I have a similar "problem"... one that I consider myself very fortunate to have, btw.

              I decided that, for the most part, I'd have two sets of all of the usual home-repair/handyman/odd-job tools (and all the usual supplies and material that we tend to acquire), one at each place. No matter where I am, it's guaranteed that I'd be doing some kind of chore around the place that requires them and trying to optimize placement just seems a waste of time and bound to fail. Fortunately, stores with reasonable (at my level of need) tools are fairly close by so that I can build up the second set by acquiring what I need as I need it.

              As to the larger, more expensive, more specialized tools ... I figure I'll just wing it and move what needs to be moved when I need it. (or buy a second one... :-) I expect to be at the 2nd place mostly on weekends so I'm going back and forth anyway, so this is not as big a pain as it is for you.

              The best part, though, for me is that the 2nd place has a nice big basement and two areas have been set aside for me, Me, ME!. One is about 15'x20', and the other about 10'x15'. Plus the garage is extra deep, giving about 10-15' of clear space after the
              cars are in it. The only rule from my wife is that dust-making-machines (wood working power tools) are in the garage. I expect to spend a fair amount of time over this coming winter painting, lighting, building benches and cabinets and stuff like that :-)


              • #8
                No, not a rich man, but a very fortunate one. The cottage is not mine , but my partner.s Most of the old machines are gone, replaced with better small secondhand ones, But I still have most of the tooling, the material stock, and all the projects. The bunkie and cottage are pretty remote and certainly do not look inviting or wealthy, indeed almost abandoned compared with the nearest neighbours places. I have some basic tooling there, together with spare coal and charcoal supplies for the steamers, and there seems little risk of theft. so I am not seriously worried by that possibility. Give me a call sometime, regards David Powell.


                • #9
                  I know all too well from even just having a shop in the basement and the machine shop in the garage just how often I have to zip up to the garage or down to the basement for something I have only one of. I can't imagine how you'll do over a 6 hr distance.

                  Unless you've got a lot of spare change to put into duplicating your tools to use for just that two and a half months of summer I'd suggest you work on a really good check list. And a part of that would be to start now on a set of tool boxes that you use for keeping all your primary hand and measuring tools in and limit them to a size and weight that you can manage to pack up for the trip. The stuff you keep in these one, two or three chests or kits should be changed so they are just dead storage for items only needed once a decade. But rather they should hold only the items you use regularly.

                  Same with the kit you need for running your engines at the events. The "field kit" should have all the stuff you need and nothing that isn't needed to keep things up and running. So tools and some small number of spares and bits that allow you to cap off or short circuit any issues at need. When at the regular home these kits will aid your organizational situation in the shop and act as testing to see if any items are only ballast or if they do see regular use. Same with the field kit for the engines. By using the same tool box mentality at home these boxes will be ready to go and not have items that weigh them down needlessly.

                  It might seem like a lot of changes to your regular setup to do it this way when you really only need it for that short time away. But by shifting how you store and use the tools it'll be better than any check list I can think of. And when it's time to pack for the summer migration you don't need to think about it. Just pack the primary tool kits and the field support box and the engines and go. And you'll be reasonably sure of having all the stuff you need without a lot of ballast you don't need. And you don't need to go to the expense of a full duplicate set of tools this way.

                  You'll be moving a LOT of weight each time with this setup. So it may be that you need to consider a cost vs weight budget. So perhaps the common wrenches and socket sets with some breaker bars and such are going to turn out to be worth duplicating since such things can be found for relatively cheap these days. That'll let you focus on moving only the more expensive items which you really don't want to duplicate.

                  One item you WILL need that isn't needed at home will be the 5 gallons of weapons grade mosquito repellant. When I lived in Ontario I loved the cottage country north of TO. But the Ontario Provincial Air Force was something hellish at times and numerous at all times.
                  Last edited by BCRider; 11-18-2016, 11:56 AM.
                  Chilliwack BC, Canada


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by David Powell View Post
                    No, not a rich man, but a very fortunate one.
                    i know, was just poking fun....still, we're all rich and fortunate that we have enough time and money for hobbies like this
                    in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                    • #11
                      I'd duplicate measuring tools (who wants to stop a job because your calipers are in another province?) and my favorite sharpening tools (who wants to stop a job because your bench grinder is in another state?) and anything you might need but can't get locally easily. I'd duplicate many of the hand tools, as even new they aren't all that expensive.

                      When I take my tools on the road, I have a limited supply of materials (they can be hard to get!) as well as the tools. For my repair tool bag, I initially did not include a hammer because I can borrow one just about anywhere I'd be doing repair work. I still don't have a tailed power screwdriver, that's also one of those things most people will have and let you borrow. A circular saw is sometimes available, but it will either have a bad blade or bad bearings so you might as well bring your own.


                      • #12
                        Very interesting post David Powell.


                        • #13
                          Shop in a truck.



                          • #14
                            Where do you draw the line when considering what tools to have at both sites- since you have separate mills and lathes, the obvious answer would be to duplicate as many of the other tools or machines that you can afford. At my home, each room basically has its own set of hand tools. I always keep in mind when I'm out garage sale cruising etc that there were and are good quality tools being virtually tossed away. Over time you can amass a lot of quality hand tools, and some machines too- bench grinder, vises, metal bandsaw, compressor, drill press. The list goes on. You would find every one of these useful, and you would not want to portage them more than once.

                            You don't need new either. A lot of my hand tools have been found at thrift shops, etc, and I only buy the good ones. My second, third, fourth- sets of hand tools are all collections of good quality tools gathered over time, usually for less than the cost of a coffee. Hit the right place and you could have most of a kit in a half hour. Buying a full set of tools at retail has not been on my radar for decades.

                            I also have a habit of picking up hydraulic jacks if one comes up cheaply. So far I have built three machines that use them, and I have more planned. I probably have six jacks sitting around waiting for an application at present, but I know the good ones will get used for something and my investment will pay off. Who knows- you might even need to use one in the way it was originally intended

                            Maybe your question falls into a slightly different category- do I amass all the tools I think I'll need in one go, or do I gather them as I find them- Since you'll be at the cabin for months at a time, it would seem better to bring a whole load of them with you on your next trip there. Maybe make a list, then check suppliers and see how much total cost it would be to make up a complete and separate kit. If the dollar cost is something you can afford, then pay it now and know you're starting with a pretty comprehensive set of tools at your remote location. The list would be easy to make- just go through the shop and note which tools you use all the time, then which ones you use occasionally, then which ones you hardly ever use, but can't do without.

                            I doubt that any of us is without a portable circular saw- I would certainly have a second one of those. For me the second shop would have pretty much everything the main shop has. I would need to draw the line somewhere, but it would be determined by finances.
                            I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                            • #15
                              Do you really leave the place for 9 months in between? My insurance only covers a 1 month absence. Anyway what is the problem if it's only 3 hours away? I spend 3 hours commuting each day if the traffic is good, ie no rain, sun or fog or idiot crashing. When I retire I have plans for a country lodge but 5 hours each way so will do 3 weeks/1 week stints biased according to the weather.
                              How about a step back in time and have only the tools someone would have in about 1930 and modify your projects to match. If the steamers have a major problem beyond this basic capability just nip home.