Since building my small tool chest last year I have been obliged to think about possessions and storage in a very different way. Two questions have dominated my thought and have served as philosophical sextant and compass for me.
Do I need it?
Where shall I put it?
Example: My saws don’t rightly fit in that small chest, but I do need them, so I built a wall till for them.
Sometimes, you need it and you find a place for it. Sometimes you find that it’s not something you need in the first place. The first question is difficult on purpose. It cuts to the bone. Asking if you truly need a thing goes against the grain of my “save everything because you might need it later” upbringing. I admit, that there are some meaningful family heirlooms that I’ll hold onto for sentiment alone, but when it comes to things in the shop, this question has injected a dose of rationality into my thinking.
In practice this has been freeing. When I bought my current dovetail and carcase saws I sold my old ones. They’re all fine saws, but I only needed so many. Having purchased a few new planes, I’m currently getting ready to sell a “beginner set” of Stanley planes (nos. 4, 5 and 6) because I’d rather see them used than on my shelf collecting dust. I also have an excellent tenon saw that also needs a new home.
A couple of years ago I might not have been able to see things this way.
One of the current holes in my master plan is storage for fasteners and small bits and parts. I currently have a few “small parts” drawers (You know the ones – metal cases with those brittle plastic drawers that get off track and break all the time) that I inherited from my grandfather. Some of them are still loaded with the same screws he put in them decades ago. Some of them came to me empty, have since been filled with all sorts of junk and take up far more space than I would like. In short, some of them need to go.
I’m currently working on the answer to that by building a version of Roy Underhill’s nail cabinet. My plan is to get it built, painted and on the wall. After that I can fit out the drawers as I get the spare pine to do it and fill the drawers as I make them.
When those drawers are full, it’s time to have a serious conversation about utility and shop clutter.
I’ve made 3 drawers so far. Only 18 to go.
After I have this on the wall, I’m going to load it up with the important bits and the fasteners that I generally use, and then I’m going to let go of some of the rest. If I knew I was going to be in this shop for a while, this might not be a logistical issue (though it still might be a spiritual one) but I know that we will be moving at some point in the near future and I want my fastener situation to be sorted like my tool chest. I want to be able to lock it up, pack it in the truck, hang it on another wall and get back to work.
Any wall with a french cleat will do.