I have never been comfortable tightly fitting out the trays of my tool chests for a particular set of tools. Even in my giant rolling metal craftsman behemoth the tools have always sort of piled up in the drawers until no more tools fit and the ones on the bottom became inaccessible memories.
The other problem is that over the past ten years my tools have been a rotating cast in an ever evolving storyline. From power tools to hand tools, from big box stores to boutique toolmakers, my workshop has changed as my understanding of the craft has changed. Naturally my taste in tools has changed as I’ve come to understand what I want them to do and how I want them to do it.
At the end of the day it is possible that I never really bothered to fit out my tool chests because I never really understood what I wanted or why. But I think I’m finally starting to understand, and so I’ve begun to put some pieces in place.
Building the tool chest has been a big step forward. For one it has caused me to really think about the sheer number of tools I have. It has caused me to ask myself what I really need and what is excess. It has given me pause when casting over tools at flea markets and antique shop. It has reminded me that a small, well-rounded and well-cared for set of tools is capable of a great many things.
Some are vintage, some are new, but I’ve finally landed on a set that is working for me and (mostly by trial and error) I’ve been devising better ways to store them.
Rule number one for me has been to store the tools in a way that keeps them safe, clean and in good repair. Again, the tool chest is the first line of defense, but within the tool chest I’ve really been cognizant of what bumps up against what and how I can maximize space without doing violence to the tools.
It wasn’t hard to add a little hanger for my coping saw on the front wall, and get my planes in order down below, but then there were all these small parts and accessories to some of the tools that wandered in search of a home. It was ultimately this last concern that lead me to this post.
That lead to a game of tool chest Tetris as I tried to re-imagine the placement of my other tools in the well of the chest.
I had avoided the rack for a long time because I thought it would take up too much space and prevent me from moving the trays. What it actually does is visually carry on the line of the coping saw mount and protect the saw from an errant collision with the trays.
It’s not finished, but it’s finished for now. Everything is in a good place, even if its not in its final place. This strikes a happy medium for me. It’s more flexible than “French fitting” the whole thing, but it keeps things tidy and secure and under wraps. Maybe that’s the German in me coming out. We like to keep a lid on things.