If you’re like me, you’re all “do” and “go” and very little “clean” and “organize.”
I have a lot of tools. Tiff has gotten to the point of rolling her eyes when my family gives me even more, obscure tools, to add to my ridiculous collection. While I’m not quite at the level of my Dad (who has any tool you’d ever need for anything plus a spare, just in case) I definitely have am impressive armory.
That armory, for all its repairman glory, is a big effing mess. I can never find anything I need, even though I know I have it…somewhere. I’ve even gotten to the point of buying replacement tools and supplies that I already own because I’ve given up trying to locate the original.
“Oliver, it can’t be that bad”, you say. “You’re a reasonable person who hasn’t quite failed at life, so you’re probably just being hyperbolic, like usual.”
Oh yea? Behold, “The Pile”:
But now that the wedding is over and I have brief lull in the depraved sprint that is my life, I decided to make my new wife happy by cleaning the basement.
Supplies you’ll need:
-All of your tools (probably in a big pile)
-Your hands (preferably the ones at the ends of your arms)
-Beer (Yards IPA for me, hooray)
Step 1: Eliminate the Garbage
First, get rid of all the trash. I’m sure by now you’ve collected hundreds of scraps of wood, drywall, and plastic, in addition to thousands of drywall anchors, random used screws, and other bits of unidentifiable metal. Good rule: if you haven’t needed a random piece left over from a new install it in two years, you can throw it away.
If the glue in the bottle has completely solidified, you can throw it away. If the tool or drill bit has rusted to the point of insta-tetanus, you can throw it away. If it is completely unidentifiable as anything you ever needed or will ever need, you can throw it away. Be judicious with your tossing.
Step 2: Consolidate
I find the easiest way to sort out a pile is to spread it out into smaller, catergorized piles. I made piles for screw drivers, wrenches, drill bits, painting supplies, saws, hex keys, random bits of uncategorizable stuff, knives, axes, stuff that should probably be upstairs with my computer parts, and pliers.
Once you’ve got your stuff in smaller piles, you can decide how you want to group them. I mentally took stock of what I use most often, and placed those in the uppermost drawers of my toolboxes.
Step 3: Don’t fear the Bucket
I borrowed (stole) some great toolboxes from my Dad, but I can’t fit every tool I have into them and still be able to close the drawers. To that end, I started using a cheap, 5-gallon bucket to store my more unweidly tools.
A bucket works great for storing saws as you can place them blade down and not have to fear slicing your delicate writer hands on the vicious teeth. It’s also great for hammers, crowbars, axes, torque wrenches, grout floats, thinset spreaders, and anything else that just won’t fit into the confines of a small toolbox drawer.
Step 4: Organize the small stuff
Now that you’ve got the big stuff out of the way (or you should, and if you haven’t go back to step 3) you can focus on optimizing the organization of your tool boxes. The space in these is pretty limited, so it’s best to finagle the stuff for a while, trying to find the best fit.
Alternate screw drivers and paint brushes to get a pattern that takes the least space and looks the best. Do your best to line up similarly sized items to maximize the use of space.
Example of bad drawer organization:
Example of good drawer organization:
Step 5: Put everything back in a manner that maximizes floor space
I shouldn’t have to explain this, so here’s a picture of “The Pile”, after about 2 hours of work.
As soon as you’re done, call your wife to show off the results of your hard work. I recommend vacuuming before hand. She’ll probably be very happy with your work, and very appreciative that you’ve taken the initiative to clean up the mess that is your life.