HELP, my shop is a MESS

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Lloyd-ss

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HMEM Supporting Member
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Location
Charlottesville, VA
22 feet x 22 feet of nice heated and air conditioned space with good lighting and epoxy painted floor, machines, decent attic storage, cabinets, roll-arounds, and a big sink. Seems pretty decent, right? So why do I continue to disrespect it by keeping it in such a mess. A friend once politely called it a "busy place." Thank you for the kindness. And honestly, it IS a busy place.
But, every surface is covered with clutter. When I clean up (very seldom), all the tools have somewhere to go and that is the easy part. It is the collection of parts and pieces of past and current projects, and various pieces of raw material (and electronics parts) that is the problem. ... No, let me rephrase that. The problem is me, not the stuff.

Here is a picture of one of the walls. Up top, nice storage bins with materials and projects neat and visible, but on the benchtop below, utter chaos and nowhere to work. Shame on me. The other walls and work surfaces suffer the same ugly fate. I can usually find what I am looking for, but there isn't a clean surface to work on.

I have been in self-help programs before, so I know I am not alone. Has anyone completed the "neat shop" program and not relapsed?
I know I will get plenty of sympathy, but, got any motivational ideas? Maybe a boot in the butt?
Thanks, Lloyd


NICE ON THE TOP, A MESS ON THE BOTTOM, ALL 4 WALLS. :(

JunkStorage.jpg
 
I feel your pain.
my ADD often finds me working on many projects at the same time.
then there’s the tools I build to work on the project I’m in the middle of.
and I save all the scraps from projects, it can be a problem.
but i digress….
 
I keep changing the focus of my shop.
First it was bar stock builds.

Then I got into foundry work, and of course had to add pattern making equipment.

And I collect engines (full size).

A few things I have learned:
1. Never let an trash hit the floor; keep the floor clean at all times.
2. Keep like things grouped together.
3. Don't get more than one project at a time on the workbench.
4. Never leave the lathe and mill dirty; clean at the end of each use.

It is much easier to keep a clean shop clean.

I am still working on getting my shop set up.
Not sure what year I will get things organized like I want them.
My shop is definitely a work in progress.

Pat J
.

rImg_1371.jpg
 
I feel your pain.
my ADD often finds me working on many projects at the same time.
then there’s the tools I build to work on the project I’m in the middle of.
and I save all the scraps from projects, it can be a problem.
but i digress….
Tug, OMG, I could have written the exact same thing. I knew I was not alone.

I.........

A few things I have learned:
............
2. Keep like things grouped together.
...........................
My shop is definitely a work in progress.

Pat J
.

View attachment 143914

Pat, yup, keep like things grouped together... I see those 3 drywall buckets stacked together... you are following your own rules, LOL. Oh, sorry, is that someone else's shop?

====================
I was with a friend and he had to stop in at the shop of his gunsmith. Big farm, all neat, his shop was all tidy and clean, no chips on the tools or floor. I didn't have the nerve to ask him what it looked like thru the locked door where the other 3/4's of his shop was. I was feeling downright inadequate. But I got over it. I think his lathe still had the cosmoline on it.
 
Tug, OMG, I could have written the exact same thing. I knew I was not alone.



Pat, yup, keep like things grouped together... I see those 3 drywall buckets stacked together... you are following your own rules, LOL. Oh, sorry, is that someone else's shop?

====================
I was with a friend and he had to stop in at the shop of his gunsmith. Big farm, all neat, his shop was all tidy and clean, no chips on the tools or floor. I didn't have the nerve to ask him what it looked like thru the locked door where the other 3/4's of his shop was. I was feeling downright inadequate. But I got over it. I think his lathe still had the cosmoline on it.
That is my shop, unfortunately.

I have accumulated a lot of stuff in the shop.

Having a full time job limits the time I can spend in the shop, and so I can't dedicate the time to sorting it like I would like to do.

If I survive long enough to retire, I think I can get things a bit more organized.

I am going to move the steam engines out of the shop, since they really clutter the floor and make walking difficult.

.
 
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I'm inspired...but I won't show pics 😬. I just sat down in excel in a location emotionally separated from my treasures and created a list (you can use open office calc).

SpringCleaning.PNG

I like that I can start with a couple of columns and expand if I need to.
 
22 feet x 22 feet of nice heated and air conditioned space with good lighting and epoxy painted floor, machines, decent attic storage, cabinets, roll-arounds, and a big sink. Seems pretty decent, right? So why do I continue to disrespect it by keeping it in such a mess. A friend once politely called it a "busy place." Thank you for the kindness. And honestly, it IS a busy place.
But, every surface is covered with clutter. When I clean up (very seldom), all the tools have somewhere to go and that is the easy part. It is the collection of parts and pieces of past and current projects, and various pieces of raw material (and electronics parts) that is the problem. ... No, let me rephrase that. The problem is me, not the stuff.

Here is a picture of one of the walls. Up top, nice storage bins with materials and projects neat and visible, but on the benchtop below, utter chaos and nowhere to work. Shame on me. The other walls and work surfaces suffer the same ugly fate. I can usually find what I am looking for, but there isn't a clean surface to work on.

I have been in self-help programs before, so I know I am not alone. Has anyone completed the "neat shop" program and not relapsed?
I know I will get plenty of sympathy, but, got any motivational ideas? Maybe a boot in the butt?
Thanks, Lloyd


NICE ON THE TOP, A MESS ON THE BOTTOM, ALL 4 WALLS. :(

View attachment 143912
Ha!, What a laugh. You haven't seen MESS till you see MY shop.
 
Living with chaos is a key human survival skill, nothing wrong with it. If a slumbering autistic attitude starts bothering you, you might try to bring others into your shop. Works wonders. My mess started dissolving when I joined the local horological society - where we have a well organized common workshop and where it is customary to visit each others shop. I got really organized when I started on a regular basis to teach my grandchildren machining. Currently back to chaos because I'm simultaneously overhauling two lathes and one big antique tool and cutter grinder ànd I'm installing a new wood/water stove with new chimney to drive my shopfloor heating.
 
I am now on my 4th workshop and over time I have refined the storage process. I still have too much and given eBay I should really chuck a load of stuff on the basis that it could be replaced within a few days. But I am where I am as they say.

My solution is to group like items (as per GreenTwin) in robust boxes (not plastic which can crack) made from 5mm ply. These boxes are stored on decking shelves attached to the wall (wooden 18mm ply) by welded brackets. I've got about 60 boxes.

Every shelf has an ident and every box has a sub ident. The contents of every box is recorded in a spread sheet which is updated as any errors/new items are added. I am recording about 1000 items which I cannot remember but by using key words I can easily find items. I usually use a printed copy but the laptop makes searching much easier.

Where items are not in boxes I have numbered the locations and record in the same way. Roof (space) is a good example of a location.

My metal stock is stored in a welded angle iron storage rack which serves as a very stable shelf for my surface plate.

As for my bench – it’s a bit messy. I keep parts of engines I am making in plastic boxes and regularly tidy since I have locations for everything!

I hope this helps and maybe encourages discussion.

Mike
1674040120356.png
 
Nature abhors a vacuum and an uncluttered horizontal surface,

Also never put something away in a special place.
Special place: Yes, It did not disappear it is just somewhere else. :cool: Somewhere in the special place that it cannot be lost.
I would do the dishes, but I cannot find the pressure washer, must have put it in that special place.
Found a lot of small drill bits in one of those special places last week.
Why the background of all my photos is out of focus? That is for artistic reasons not to hide anything. :oops:
 
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Pictures seem to exaggerate things. I might give it a try. Make a picture of one corner and then get the background of the area cleaned up without just moving the items out of the frame? Compare before after!

.... first I do the dishes.... after I finished watching all Youtube!
 
I'm inspired...but I won't show pics 😬. I just sat down in excel in a location emotionally separated from my treasures and created a list (you can use open office calc).

View attachment 143916

I like that I can start with a couple of columns and expand if I need to.
There is an interesting program called Taskwarrior if you run linux - - - - - recommended.
(I don't use it enough but it does help - - - - grin!)
 
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(Edited by Lloyd for emphasis)............. If a slumbering autistic attitude starts bothering you, you might try to bring others into your shop. Works wonders. My mess started dissolving when I joined the local horological society - where we have a well organized common workshop and where it is customary to visit each others shop. ..........................

There it is, the AH HA moment. And the funny thing is that I was talking to myself (yes, I do that a lot) about what is necessary to motivate me to do these non-fun tasks.

It is ACCOUNTABILITY ! If we are only accountable to ourselves for the condition of our shop, we can keep raising the threshold of pain until it kills us. But when we/I am accountable to others, there is a certain amount of pride, or embarrassment, or desire to please those whom we see as counting on us to make the group successful. Before I retired, that accountability drove me to do my best, and I was rewarded for that effort in tangible, and non-tangible ways.

But in the reality of retirement,my cat doesn't care about the mess (in fact, I think she prefers it), and my 9 YO grand daughter knows her way around the shop and can often find that scrap of something for a project she is working on. And my wife generally stops at the door.

The only time I clean (ha ha) my shop is when someone else (who matters) is going to be in it, and the last few times people "should" have been in my shop, I instead met them outside. So, I think my motivational paradigm shift is not lists or storage methods, it will be keeping my shop in a condition where I at least won't be embarrassed to have someone come into it. The shop should exhibit the quality of work that comes out of it??? That just might work for me! 🤔

Lloyd
 
Pictures seem to exaggerate things. I might give it a try. Make a picture of one corner and then get the background of the area cleaned up without just moving the items out of the frame? Compare before after!

.... first I do the dishes.... after I finished watching all Youtube!
THERE YOU GO! Another worthy truism.

Here is a picture of something I was building for someone who never entered my shop, but who was familiar with my work.
Hmmmm, see those gray sheets hanging in the background? I am sure everyone here knows the real reason those sheets are in the picture. And the customer probably knew, too.
Can I make my shop so that those sheets won't really be necessary?
Lloyd

Ph2-FullAssy-a.jpg
 
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I definitely want to say thank you to everyone for all the comments in this thread. Mike Ginn is at one end of the spectrum (and my hat is off to you, my good sir !) , but most of us still have a way to go, and will probably never get there. But that is ok.
This forum is great place to be!
Lloyd
 
I'm terrible at this. I never saw a flat (or near flat) surface I couldn't put more stuff on. About once a year I do a major titivation and I'm both happy and satisfied with the result, but it only lasts at long as it takes to start the next project.

Special things in special places is also my bugaboo. On the other side, it's kind of a treat to find a treasure I forgot about squirreled away somewhere.
 
I like organization but seldom achieve it. I sometimes think a larger shop would be nice (mine is 20’ x 24’) but one must keep in mind the bigger backpack theory; a bigger backpack doesn’t really make for better organization, it just allows more stuff to be collected. I don’t buy more machinery because I have no place to put it unless I get rid of something of equal size/foot print first. Right now the shop is about as clean and organized as it ever gets. The photos don’t show everything, but enough. The two drill presses, bandsaw, milling machine, metal lathe, and surface grinder pretty much stay where they are. Metal stock and scrap mostly collect beside, around, under the drill presses, but some is kept in drawers. Measuring tools, and machine accessories are kept in drawers in the tool cabinets as much as possible. (Wood stock is a whole ‘nother problem. Mostly that is kept in a 20’ shipping container.). The rest of the machinery, including the gear hobber, and all the work benches and tool cabinets are on casters and they get shifted around as needed. The 3hp vacuum system and air compressor are housed in a smaller building attached to the back of the shop.
 

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