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More shop setup solutions

It's often the simple fixes that make a shop more enjoyable to work in. Here are some reader submitted tips for you to put to use.

  • Sort nuts and bolts with speed

    I collect nuts and bolts like a magnet. But I couldn't use them if I couldn't find them, so I needed a way to quickly size and sort them.

    In a piece of scrap lumber, I mounted T-nuts of the most common thread sizes and wrote the size of the nut next to it. I drilled a hole at the top of the sizer and hung it on the per-forated hardboard over my workbench.

    When I have bolts left over from a project, I try them in each hole of the sizer until I get a fit, then store them by size. It works so well, I made a similar board to sort nuts by putting bolts through the T-nuts from the back.
    —Jim Jaffe, Hawthorne, N.J.

  • Swing-out rack holds clamps and tools

    With shop storage space at a premium, I needed a place to store my clamps, yet keep them handy when I needed them. The answer was to build a hinged rack that provides tool storage on both sides. I put the tools I use on a regular basis on the outside and the clamps on the inside. When I need a clamp, I swing the rack open and I'm ready to go.
    —Kevin Hemmingsen, Wabasha, Minn.

  • Store extension cords neatly

    After watching me wrestle with a 50' extension cord to wind it back onto a flimsy plastic holder, my wife suggested a more convenient solution--a wall-mounted rack next to the electrical outlet. The rack I built, shown, leaves both hands free to wrap up the cord. Swiveling latches at the top and bottom make cord removal easier.
    —Michael Ward, Spring Valley, Ill.

  • Dispenser keeps waxed paper handy

    It seemed like whenever I needed waxed paper to protect my bench from glue squeeze-out, the waxed paper was buried in a drawer. I either had to dig it out with messy hands or stop and clean up before I went for it.

    To put waxed paper within easy reach, I built a wooden box, just big enough to hold the waxed paper in its original box. To keep the roll from jumping out, I drilled a 1116 " hole in each end, cut matching holes in both ends of the waxed paper box, and slid a 1" dowel rod through the whole works. In each end of the dowel, I drilled a hole and slipped a hairpin cotter pin through it to keep the dowel in place. With the box screwed to the wall, I never have to hunt for waxed paper.
    —Martin Cecil, Owensboro, Ky.

  • Organize hardware with coffee cans

    Because shop space is nearly always limited and there are so many different types and sizes of nails and screws, the space-saving hardware organizer shown has been a real benefit in my shop. The organizer lets me see at a glance what's in each can.

    My unit uses 26-oz. coffee cans, but the idea can be adapted to other sizes. The frame provides space behind the unit so blown sawdust and dropped hardware end up on the floor where they can be picked up easily. You can leave the can lids on or off, depending on how much sawdust sprays near the organizer and how fast you need to access the cans' contents.
    —Larry Flick, Montrose, Colo.

  • Organize WOOD magazines by color

    I've used color for keeping my magazines in order. I step each label down a bit for each subsequent issue. Then I start again at the top with a new color at the beginning of each year. The larger gap between labels shows me where the borrowed magazine goes, without ever looking at the month or issue number.
    —Martin J. Wiegler, Toms River, N.J.

  • Compact organizer for sanding discs

    After buying a combination-pack of 5" sanding discs, I was puzzled over how to organize the 10 different grits included in the package. A soft-sided compact-disc holder from the mall music store solved the problem. The CD pockets each hold 5-10 sanding discs and I labeled each pocket with the grit inside.
    —Dean Hallal, Sumter, S.C.

  • Overhead organizer keeps dowels rounded up

    I've tried various types of storage for dowels, but have never been satisfied. Finally, I took some 4" plastic pipe left over from my dust-collection system and cut several pieces into 2"-long rings. Using 34 " sheet-metal screws, I fastened the rings to 2"-wide slats long enough to span a few ceiling joists. I screwed the boards to the joists as shown (spaced so that they hold dowels of 2', 3', and 4' lengths). A label on the bottom of the first ring in each rank tells me the dowel diameter.
    —Austin Jelbert, Welland, Ont.

  • Keeping cans off the shelves

    When I set up my new workshop, I wanted a simple way to store the coffee cans full of screws and nails I'd accumulated. But I didn't want to take up valuable shelf space with the cans.

    So, I hung strips of 34 " stock on my wall and spaced #10x114 " screws a little farther apart than the diameter of the cans, leaving about 12 " of the screw protruding. I then drilled a 12 " hole in the lip of each can and hung them on the screws. To quickly identify each can's contents, I hot-glued a sample fastener to the outside as shown at left.
    —Bill Rathbun, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

  • Hang on to your drill-chuck key with a film-can lid

    Those plastic holders that keep your drill's chuck key tied to the cord can save you loads of time, but what do you do when the holder wears out? Make yourself a new holder from the lid of a 35mm film can. Cut an X in the lid of the film can with a sharp knife. Keep your drill chuck key on the old worn-out holder and push the head of the key through the X in the film-can lid. The chuck key and old holder will stay put.
    —Mike Worden, Springfield, Ga.

  • Avoid confusion: color-code your lumber

    When all you're looking at are the ends of boards stacked up in your shop, it's often difficult to tell one species of wood from another. To avoid confusion, take a tip from the lumber stores. Every time you store a board, color-code the species by marking the end grain with a thick felt-tip marker.
    —R. Phillips, Reading, Pa.

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