Storage Space: Look Above

Overhead Bench Storage 1

I was struggling in my attempt to clear my benches of all the clutter. And I was trying to consolidate all of my cordless drills, drivers, chargers, and batteries in one location. At first, I thought I’d attach a wide shelf to the end of one of my benches to store the drills. But then I remembered how, when visiting a co-worker’s shop, he utilized space above his bench. So I copied the idea from him.

I had a small old cabinet that was part of a router table I made over 30 years ago. It’s about 12″ high x 12″ deep x 22″ wide with two doors. The poor old cabinet was made from AC plywood and particleboard. But it was still usable.

So I located the ceiling joist above my bench with an electronic stud finder. I used cabinet screws to fasten the cabinet to ceiling. Through the back of the cabinet, I drilled a hole 1-5/8″ in diameter. This was so I could fish the electric cords for the battery chargers and power strip. The power strip was mounted on the inside of the cabinet, high on the back panel. The cord was fed to a nearby receptacle. I mounted one battery charger on one end of the cabinet on the outside. The other charger was mounted to the opposite end. My Bosch charger doesn’t have holes for mounting but there was room to set it inside the cabinet.

I routed the cords for the chargers to the power strip inside. Wire ties hold the cords neatly and out of the way. I ended up attaching a screw hook in an upper corner to secure the cords up as high as possible, leaving room for the drivers below.

To hold my small Bosch drill and driver, I drilled large holes in a thick block of wood for the handles to sit in. The block is fastened to the bottom shelf inside the cabinet. The other drivers stack neatly beside them.

With that done, I thought about a way to add a narrow shelf to hold all my bits and accessories. So I cobbled together one from some poplar and leftover cherry plywood. I made the shelf longer than the cabinet to add more storage space.

To the underside of the shelf, I screwed a 1″-wide strip of 1/2″-thick leftover cherry to hold my spring clamps. I also fastened a scrap piece off the end of the shelf to hold my small C-clamps.

Overhead Storage 1

Overhead Bench Cabinet 1

Click here to view and download a SketchUp model.

My Name is Randy and I’m a Messaholic

Hi. My name is Randy and I’m a messaholic. I wish for a support group for guys like me. I’m a professional yet I’m ashamed to let anyone see my shop. I see all of these shops in magazines where everything is spotless and neat.

I can spend two days cleaning and organizing my shop. But within two hours of starting a new project, I can’t find one square foot of space on my benchtop. Why is that? Does anyone else share this problem? If so, have you been able to overcome it? How?

My shop takes up a little more than two thirds of a two-car garage. In that shop I have a table saw, 12″ planer, router table, scroll saw, 14″ band saw, 36″ x 80″ bench (made from an old solid-core door), a 30″ x 72″ woodworking bench with drawers underneath, a 24″ x 48″ cabinet that houses my benchtop radial-arm drill press and mortiser, plus a spindle sander. That’s not to mention all the bits and pieces of this and that strewn about and tucked into every nook and cranny. So even when everything is in it’s place (wherever that may be), it’s still hard to navigate around my shop.

I did make a major step toward a cure for my condition a few years ago. I took a few days to really try hard to find a permanent home for all of the stuff that typically clutters my bench — hand tools, rules, marking tools, power drills and drivers, wood scraps, sanding supplies, and just about anything else you could imagine. It helps tremendously to know where a tool belongs. This way, when you need it, you know exactly where to find it.

That is if you put it back where it belongs the last time you used it. And this is where a lot of my “condition” exhibits itself. When I’m in the middle of a project, I typically don’t take the time to put everything back where it belongs. I figure I’ll need it again soon anyway, so why bother. The problem is, I end up spending time later looking for it amongst the clutter on my benchtop…or drill press table…or router table. That ends up taking longer than if I had taken the time to put it away in the first place.

I’m trying hard to teach myself to take 15 minutes or so at the end of my time in the shop every day to put things back in their proper place. It’s against my nature. Usually I’m tired or frustrated and just want to call it quits for the day.

I know…I should just suck it up and “do the right thing.” I’ll try. Really, I will.

In the meantime, I have to work up the nerve to throw away the 7,259 board feet of scraps I can’t just seem to part with.

So tell me…what’s your secret to keeping your shop clutter-free? Or do you suffer from the same condition?

I’m dying to know. Leave me a comment.