Author Topic: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage  (Read 2329 times)

Papa bear

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Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« on: January 06, 2020, 09:31:09 PM »
I have tool and material storage issues.  Iím looking for how others may be handling or organizing their stuff.

In my rental work, I do repairs, maintenance, rehabs, and remodels.  Basically, I have the tools for most trades, some ďinventoryĒ of common maintenance parts, and leftover stuff from rehabs that are ready for the next project, etc.

In addition to that, I have some tools that arenít really meant for the job site.  Woodworking hand tools, planes, pipe clamps, bench grinder, sander, jigs, are a few that fall in that category.

Basically, because I do a lot of random stuff inside and a lot outside my home, Iím stuck in a middle ground for where this all should go.

For example, a large rolling tool cart goes partially unused, because so many of the tools are portioned off into their respective ďtradesĒ bags, boxes, or tubs.  Now an older ďmechanicsĒ portable box goes 1/2 empty because Iíve moved tools to perm storage or more portable grab and go bags. Iíve got multiple sets of saw horses, a folding table, a folding workbench, and a woodworking fancy permanent bench. But when you need that stuff on site, you really need it.

As I sit here trying to organize my garage and tools, I think there has to be some organizational efficiencies I can be gaining. 

So, how do you store your crap?  Right now, my portable tools are portioned out to easy grab and go bags for my ďI need these at every jobĒ bags, supplemented with trade specific boxes/bags for plumbing, electric, carpentry, mechanicals.  Storage bins for painting, drywall, masonry/tile, and then paper boxes for inventory/materials.  Most of my woodworking stuff stays home, and large specialty tools stay in cabinets or in original boxes on shelves.


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lthenderson

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2020, 06:59:40 AM »
I guess I'm in the same boat with the same problem. I end up living in a world where nothing is very handy because I need to keep it so it is portable. Right now I'm kind of thinking the ultimate solution would be separate worlds. I want to keep my woodworking world separate from my home rehabing world and eventually that may mean some duplicate tools stored in two different places. I think I will keep my trade tools of plumbing, electrical, framing, etc. in the garage and build an outbuilding for my wood working stuff. That part creates the most dirt/dust in my garage and I think it would be better to get it into another building. The electrical and plumbing stuff is mostly stored until needed inside a house so it would be better to keep it in the garage and also close to my vehicle so I can load it up quickly and hit the road.

Right now, my garage is packed with everything. Once the perimeter area that is easy to reach was filled up and there was no more space, I looked up higher on the walls. Fortunately I have a ten foot ceiling in the garage so I was able to build a couple shelves high up on the wall to house seldom used be necessary items like my tile saw on the trade side and benchtop lathe and various jigs on the other side. Once that was filled up, I turned to the ceiling. From it I store things like my biggest ladder or bicycles so they don't take up precious wall space. Now I am in the process of designing a chest of drawers that I hope to build later this spring to house my woodworking handtools that currently reside in my metal toolbox along with my various wrenches, wiring tools, plumbing tools, etc. Long term though, I think I want to build another "garage" that will be my woodshop and separate my worlds.

Papa bear

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2020, 08:31:15 AM »
Of course! I just went to an open house because the place had a 6+ detached garage with workshop and bathroom built on, and then a 2 car attached.  I drooled over that space!

As it is, Iím working with an attached 2 car garage and an 8x12 shed.  The shed is mainly kids toys, lawn equipment, fuel, sports equipment, and seasonal stuff.  I can squeeeeeze in my wifeís car in the garage, but itís not great.

Iím also in the process of building out cabinets, as the shelving units keep things looking like crap, and stuff gets nasty with sawdust. 

Slowly things are moving forward.  Would love to hear how others keep their stuff easily accessible and organized!


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lthenderson

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2020, 10:40:02 AM »
When I redid my 2-1/2 bay garage by putting a new concrete floor in it, I went out and bought new upper cabinets and one floor to ceiling cabinet from Menards in their garage section. They were press board with then plastic skins glued onto the face to dress them up. At the time I was pleased with them but I have grown to hate them over time. They sag and the ambient moisture in the garage causes them to change sizes with the seasons sometimes binding them up and sometimes fitting really loose. The moisture has also started degrading the press board material so the hinge screws are getting loose causing me to soak the hole with superglue and put them back in all the time. Since that time I have built quite a bit of quality cabinetry for my basement office, pantry and others and it is on my list to build new upper cabinets for my garage. I will probably make them attach to the wall by a french cleat so that if I build my dedicated wood shop, I can easily transfer them over and hang it. I'm also contemplating building an all in one workbench like the Youtube channel Woodshop Junkies did. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzHueSosfT92NUVmhrz7Hjw  Right now I have benches built from 2x4's and plywood lining the 1/2 bay part of my garage but it just serves as a collection point for dust and odds and ends and if I need a work surface, I have to pull both cars out and set up saw horses and a sheet of plywood. My thinking is that with a similar rolling workbench, I can just roll it up against the wall at the end of the day and still get both vehicles pulled in. I just don't know if I want to go to all that effort if I'm going to build a woodshop in another year or two where a rolling all in one work table wouldn't be as desirable.

lthenderson

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2020, 10:46:55 AM »
Thought I would share a picture of my 1/2 bay garage workshop as it is right now in the midst of a home remodel project. Normally the benches are less cluttered and the large box full of trash isn't there. Rather than pay $15 tip fee at the local dump, I've been tossing all my scraps into that and my normal grey barrel on wheels and then slowly filling up extra space in our weekly trash pickup bin. I hate scraping snow or ice off vehicles so my rule of thumb with my workshop is to be able to put both cars in at night and get in and out of them without having to squeeze in my gut. That means I have to have everything on wheels and shoved up to the wall at the end of the day which limits the size of the equipment and the amount of stuff I can have.

J Boogie

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2020, 01:11:36 PM »
Dewalt/Craftsman makes an excellent tool storage system on par with festool/tanos for a fraction of the cost.

I have a dewalt trolley with a bunch of craftsman 2 drawer and 1 deep drawer versastacks on it. The top bin is a cheaper versastack bin that opens from the top, drill and driver are in that along with a bit set. The double drawer bin underneath it has more bits and all of my fasteners.

In the drawers under it, I have the most frequently used basic hand tools - tin snips, slip joint pliers, torpedo level, 4" square, tape measures, hearing and eye protection, hex wrench set, etc etc.

For all my power tools - jigsaw, router, sawzall, orbital, circ saw, etc - I use versastack container either deep or regular. I also use a versastack for plumbing equipment, another for just PEX plumbing, another for electric.

I keep them all on a rack or in a stack in the basement.


For hand tool woodworking, I am romantic. I built a small tool tote with chisels, marking gauges/layout tools, mallet, dovetail saw, and a block plane. I don't have a consistent work bench/shop set up, so having a smaller tote with the basics helps me be versatile. This summer I will be using an outdoor viseless workbench using holdfasts, so being able to bring this out and in easily is a big plus. I keep it inside a bigger Anarchist Tool Chest style chest that has my larger planes and saws in my basement.

For all other random large tools, I keep them in heavy duty black storage bins from menards. If I use one of tools in the bins enough, I dedicate a versastack bin for the tools. Or if my current project

Things are still kind of messy in the basement as I've got another new baby in the house, but at least I've got an idea in my head about how things are supposed to be.

Other than that, you've got to have offcut management bins near your most used cutting tools. Garbage, burn, or keep.




Papa bear

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2020, 06:17:08 PM »
So with those stackable systems, Iíve hesitated to get them.  Talk me into it: but my hesitations are:

1) hard to get tools out of them when theyíre stacked in the garage so best for portable on site only

2) requires floor space storage, not good in cabinets.

3) large unit can be big / unwieldy getting in and out of the van for small maintenance work.  Itís not like Iím going to lug that to the 3rd floor to fix a sink or toilet.  So Iíd still need a tool bag or pouches to bring with me

Or I could be totally wrong.  I really want something like that to work.


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MasterStache

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2020, 06:10:28 AM »
I actually switched over to the portable. For me it's easier to transport to the job site and stay organized. I have the rigid stack-able system and really like them. I don't find it that difficult to grab tools out of the lower boxes. The top ones will clamp on and you can open the lower ones without taking them off. Overall I am definitely glad I switched over.

lthenderson

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2020, 07:01:51 AM »
Not sure what kind of stackable system you are referring to but anything like that I make sure the drawers have full extension slides so you can access anything in the drawer easily. One mistake I made when I built my bench on the back wall was to make the drawers too deep height wise. I should have gone with three drawers instead of just two for most of them.

When you are going offsite and need to bring tools and supplies, I think it is impossible to be efficient unless you just keep an extra set in your vehicle at all times. I usually go the five gallon bucket route of putting the tools I will need for the day in several buckets based on task. I have apron things for them so that your better tools like chisels and such don't get dinged up in the bottom with the bulky stuff. No matter how much planning I do though, I often have to make a trip back for something I forgot or push it off for the following day and move onto something else.

J Boogie

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2020, 09:22:38 AM »
So with those stackable systems, Iíve hesitated to get them.  Talk me into it: but my hesitations are:

1) hard to get tools out of them when theyíre stacked in the garage so best for portable on site only

2) requires floor space storage, not good in cabinets.

3) large unit can be big / unwieldy getting in and out of the van for small maintenance work.  Itís not like Iím going to lug that to the 3rd floor to fix a sink or toilet.  So Iíd still need a tool bag or pouches to bring with me

Or I could be totally wrong.  I really want something like that to work.


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Just to clarify, this is the system I use. I sold all my pricey systainers and bought a crap ton of these. I have too many tools and they're not good enough to sit in a box that costs 5x what they do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXm2uqkAtKE

1 - Put the drawer units on the bottom, and they're easy to get (small) tools out. Keep 1 or 2 bins that open from the top on the very top of the stack for your larger tools.

2 - You can put them on open shelves/racks really easily. They might be too bulky for cabinets, but then again they don't require cabinets to keep dust out.

3 - This is all about what you keep where. I regard the trolley stack I keep in the basement as mostly fixed, as I rarely need to take a bunch of tools with me somewhere. But if I'm helping a friend out or loaning them some tools, I just take the selected containers off the racks and assemble a stack and trolley them off (or just carry them if the trolley won't be helpful on site).

I also built an extra long tool tote for clamps, levels, shorter track saw tracks, framing square, long material etc.

J Boogie

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2020, 09:33:15 AM »
When you are going offsite and need to bring tools and supplies, I think it is impossible to be efficient unless you just keep an extra set in your vehicle at all times. I usually go the five gallon bucket route of putting the tools I will need for the day in several buckets based on task. I have apron things for them so that your better tools like chisels and such don't get dinged up in the bottom with the bulky stuff. No matter how much planning I do though, I often have to make a trip back for something I forgot or push it off for the following day and move onto something else.

Possibly. It can be tricky to plan. Obviously professionals will be well served by a fully stocked van a la Zack Dettmore (look him up if you enjoy humorous type A organizers), but odds and ends handyfolk like us need solutions too.

For me, it's the tstak/versastack. Dedicated cases for power tools, parts organizers, easy access, transportable, etc. Obviously not every last thing is going to fit into this system but it can wrangle a very big chunk of your most valuable and most commonly used tools.

Think back to the tools you have to go back for the most, get duplicates of the smaller cheap ones to keep in the vehicle and make the expensive ones part of your travel friendly home kit.

lthenderson

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2020, 07:18:23 AM »
I wasn't aware of that system but they do look kind of handy especially for someone who is doing a fair amount of offsite work from where their tools are normally kept. For me, 90% of the time my tools stay in the garage or I carry them as far as a room inside my house so if I forget something, it isn't a big deal. But... I think I'm going to spend a few weeks this summer with my brother adding onto our family cabin and those boxes would just be what I need to keep things organized since it is a 7 hour drive from my house. However since that is an oddity and I have a plethura of plastic storage totes from my recent kitchen remodel that I used to store all that over the summer while our kitchen was gutted, I will probably just use those instead. If I were doing full time handyman work though, the Dewalt system would definitely be the ticket.

Jon Bon

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2020, 12:11:19 PM »
So you are looking for this?


Jon Bon

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2020, 12:17:26 PM »
Ok seriously though I have the same issues.

I think you are on something with grab and go tool boxes.

Plumbing/electrical/hardware/framing etc. I do somewhat of the same thing. I keep my 80/20 tools in a single bucket. Then I tend to top if off with what I think I might need before I head to the job site.

What gets me into trouble is when you move from tools to material. A toolbox full of new work electrical boxes and outlets/switches is not super useful. I recently bought a bunch of plastic bins. If im doing electrical I can bring my 80% tool bucket and grab the electrical bin. That will keep me working for a tleast 2 days before I need to get anything different and or new materials.

The other issue I run into if I organize my material I tend to forget about it. Some stuff is too rare or too big for it to make any sense to store .I am thinking PVC fittings and HVAC ducting. That stuff is huge and does not store well. What are the odds it fits the next job perfectly? As much as it sucks to do I either return it or even often throw it away. Else im drowning in spare parts!

The money is no object solution is a tricked out work van, but I could probably spend a solid five figures making that happen for very little return over my current system.

I guess I should go organize my garage (again!)




MasterStache

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2020, 11:50:27 AM »
Ok seriously though I have the same issues.

I think you are on something with grab and go tool boxes.

Plumbing/electrical/hardware/framing etc. I do somewhat of the same thing. I keep my 80/20 tools in a single bucket. Then I tend to top if off with what I think I might need before I head to the job site.

What gets me into trouble is when you move from tools to material. A toolbox full of new work electrical boxes and outlets/switches is not super useful. I recently bought a bunch of plastic bins. If im doing electrical I can bring my 80% tool bucket and grab the electrical bin. That will keep me working for a tleast 2 days before I need to get anything different and or new materials.

The other issue I run into if I organize my material I tend to forget about it. Some stuff is too rare or too big for it to make any sense to store .I am thinking PVC fittings and HVAC ducting. That stuff is huge and does not store well. What are the odds it fits the next job perfectly? As much as it sucks to do I either return it or even often throw it away. Else im drowning in spare parts!

The money is no object solution is a tricked out work van, but I could probably spend a solid five figures making that happen for very little return over my current system.

I guess I should go organize my garage (again!)

I typically keep spare parts around for a bit. Once they start to build up I'll de-clutter (usually end up giving some away). This is especially true of plumbing parts for some reason. I keep a lot of plastic storage bins neatly organized and sorted by plumbing, electrical, painting etc. Most jobs I do these days involve both so I just toss the bins into the car when I head to the job site. I label the bins so when I need to grab a fitting etc. I know exactly where to go. Also I've been trying to keep a good amount of plumbing and electrical fittings with me lest I have an emergency and don't have the right fitting. It's happened before with plumbing. Doh!

Papa bear

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2020, 12:48:22 PM »
Well, I ended up changing out and adding a few bags, and am in the process of moving things out of paper boxes into tubs.  Plus I just finished these upper cabinets this weekend. Time to fill them up!

Looking at all the different brands for the portable tool carriers, dewalt looked like it would have been my choice as they had drawer option boxes, not just the open from the top bins. 


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lthenderson

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2020, 07:04:25 AM »
New cabinets are on my shortlist this spring when I wrap up my other projects. Your looks great. I have also been thinking since you started this post and I think short term plan is to get rid of my built in work benches along the walls. Instead, I am going to put all my tools on mobile carts with appropriate storage underneath for all the parts and pieces that go with them. I will also make the workbench on casters as well with storage underneath it. This way I can rearrange things based upon the project and shove them into the half bay in the evening when I need to pull the car in. Long term I would still like a dedicated shop but even if my major tools are on wheels, they would still work there.

Papa bear

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Re: Balancing portable vs at home tool storage
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2020, 04:18:48 PM »
New cabinets are on my shortlist this spring when I wrap up my other projects. Your looks great. I have also been thinking since you started this post and I think short term plan is to get rid of my built in work benches along the walls. Instead, I am going to put all my tools on mobile carts with appropriate storage underneath for all the parts and pieces that go with them. I will also make the workbench on casters as well with storage underneath it. This way I can rearrange things based upon the project and shove them into the half bay in the evening when I need to pull the car in. Long term I would still like a dedicated shop but even if my major tools are on wheels, they would still work there.

My goal for a long time has been everything to either hang or be on wheels; Itís getting close.  The workbench is on casters and Iíve been impressed with them so far. 

Last item is to get rid of the wire rack rolling shelves and replace with cabinets.  Doors make things look better and keeps the sawdust and crap off my stuff!

POWERTEC 17000 Workbench Caster Kit w/Polyurethane Wheels & 400 LB Total Weight Ca... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SX3T2LO/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_i_f92lEbHJ1M115


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