Wednesday, October 21, 2009


For as long as I've lived in this house, the back room in the basement has been crammed full of stored items. I had made a work bench for myself when we first moved in - nothing fancy, just some pine 2x10 thrown together with screws - but that was about it.

Well, earlier this year I started slowly transforming this disorganized space into a usable and comfortable work area. I started by moving the "locker" that came with the house out of the way and relocating a chest freezer closer to the door to the room so my wife would not have to navigate a dangerous mess to get dinner. Then I cleaned out the corner near the electric box where the freezer used to be and moved the work bench in, then the desk, then the shelves, sewing machine, relocated the drill press closer to the power, set up the table saw... and finally threw down the carpet padding I took up to lay tile for the stove and put a rug on top of it.
Rummaging through the pile of junk, I found some spare rails, shelf hangers and masonry mounting screws (all from different past projects or purchased / salvaged items) and was able to put some scrap oak and peg board up above the desk. Handy place to get prints up out of the way along with sundry other items. I even took some spare metal coat hanger lengths and made my own peg board hooks. Easy once you get the hang of it.

I squared up a scrap bit of shower board to make a portable white board for myself. It got used to good effect for a table top tutoring session last week with a neighbor teen while we discussed the industrial revolution and the effect of specialization on the software and computer hardware industry. It stands at the ready with the phrase "99% perspiration, 1% inspiration" on it (Thomas Edison).

Another task I undertook to make things more useful was to make use of empty plaster buckets to contain bits by type: wood, metal, wire... this has greatly aided in cleaning things up and has reduced finding that perfect piece of whatever to a short dig through a bucket rather than a hunt through the entire room. I took the same approach with the cardboard in the root cellar (cast off packaging from canned goods) by taking one large box and breaking all other packaging down into flat pieces for easy storage. Any time I need a bit of cardboard for whatever (shim, prototype, etc) I have one nice place to go.

It feels incredibly good to have thing organized. I was able to take a half hour tonight to enjoy some metal work without having to spend an hour just clearing a space and finding the tools I needed. Organization saves time, hair and money! (hat tip to Bruce Elgort for that line).