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Technical - Workshop Notes
2024-07  July


2024-07  July

“Planning the Home Shed Downsizing"
By Gary Pope (KDWC Member)

What a terrible discussion to bring up with fellow Woodies!

But time is on your side,  to have a long, long term exit strategy plan for all your woodworking treasures.   Not only that, but a way of enjoying the use of your shed in the meantime.

Just think of this.   One day you'll not be in a position to control what happens with all your tools, timber, offcuts, and thousands of things that 'will be handy to have one day'.

You'll be like me, with a Daughter-in-law who is a 'chucker',   and really good at ringing up for a big skip to be filled up and thrown out.   But yes, there is a place for such people in our lives,  NOW, when we're still able to plan ahead.  They can cure (frighten) us.

Whilst we all fear that day when our family disposes of our goodies thinking they are doing the right thing putting them on Gumtree for half the price we told them we paid for them.  Well,  you're not smiling now saying that set of fine calibration instruments was a $5 bargain,  when you really paid $1500.

On the other hand, and let's talk car collections as just another hobby,  I remember well the nicest, most practical advise I ever obtained from a collector up the road.  I had a friend, Basil, with about 30 Peugeots on his farm that needed to be sold off.  So I called George, as he had a beautiful collection, and figured he'd have an answer to such matters. 


Surprisingly he said - 'Gary, give me a break, look at my own dilemma!   I restored my first car many decades ago, and went to a Club meeting.  There, I met dozens of other Collectors, and noticed they owned many cars, so I started collecting/restoring more and more!   Look at me now!!  I have so many I can't move.   The thing is,  if this is your hobby, and that's what you  want to spend your time and money on,  then forget the future.  If you've spent your life enjoying them,  then they are paid for, enjoyed.  They don't need a resale value.   They're priceless in terms of the life's enjoyment you've had with them.'

Mind you that honest insight doesn't explain the problem of the space a hobby takes, and the need to keep it tidy so you can easily find the tool or piece of wood you need.   My late Father-In-Law had a car-less garage as a shed, and everything was left where he last used it.   The main bench was about a foot deep with spanners, hammers, screwdrivers, power tools - but he knew where to dive his hand in, to fetch the tool he needed.   Nobody else knew his filing system (not that he had one).   Try asking a family member to go grab a hack-saw or soldering iron from your shed, and see how long they take finding it!

However, even more impossible, is try giving a tour of your shed to a family member who buys things from IKEA and gets everything serviced by a tradesman.  They'll glaze over and fall asleep as soon as they  set foot into the shed, if in fact they can fit in, with you already there.

Now there's a few of you reading this, and I know who they are,  that are far more well planned than that, and probably should leave this article alone and go and enjoy woodworking.  But just before you do,  double check that someone else knows where ALL your things are, and what they're worth and what you want to do with them in the future.

The kindest thing to do.

Prompted by the number of times my 4 car garage has become the temporary storage spot for family members shifting house,  and doing the job of the actual shifting,  I've come to appreciate just how important it is to do these storage steps:

-  put all your work in the same sized dust proof, LABELLED  containers so they STACK.

separate your tools: regular use, sometimes use, and one-day I might need it 'use'.

-  If you find multiples of the same tool (except clamps which you can never have enough) 
   then ask yourself why you have extras?   I've not yet used the three mitre saws I've
   bought over the years from Club auctions.   
   The one I had before them is still working fine!    Sell off excess or make it a present.

Put duplicates to one side, if you're only using one.   If you think the duplicate will be
   handy one day when the original breaks,  you have to consider what the cost is of buying
   another when it breaks or keeping/storing, tripping over the duplicates that are aging.

Grandkids are great for giving a set of duplicate tools to,  when starting off with tools

Put every machine on wheels, so they can be rolled out of the way.   Saw benches,
   lathes, woodworking benches, large wooden storage boxes, even pedestal drills.   

-  obtain second-hand solid steel cabinets with adjustable LABELLED shelving.
-  put lighter, least used items, in same sized plastic containers on top of the cabinets.

-  if you can find different colored containers - beaut, although the 'see through' are good.
-  Put things on shadow boards where you can reach them,  or consider a wall display of
   your ancestors tools to inspire you to work better.   
   But such displays should not be using important working space.

-  Are all offcuts really handy for another day?  Make something out of them NOW.
   Double check your buying list for wood.  If you're sure you know what you need for the
   project,  take a real serious look at yourself before thinking that another whole pallet
  load at 10% off is worth cluttering the shed for a few years.  (Unless it's two-pac stock!)
-  FINALLY and most important - label the rarely-used boxs as "For Timmy" or whoever.

​-  Meantime,  show your benefactors your favourite accessible every day tools and tell

    them - 'These are for you one day. Let me show you how to use them.'   
    And make sure someone younger and reliable is there to witness the promise!
    AND: Photo the occasion!

Are you still reading and feeling guilty?

Great, then you're ready to walk down the shed and sort out everything.  You'll be amazed to find how many hinges, screws, bolts, washers, plumbing parts, paint ...  I could go on...  from days you bought too many.    Buy up some containers about the size of two shoe boxes, or double height of that, but dust proof sturdy plastic and labelled,   and I'll bet you won't need to go to the hardware store for quite some time to get another packet full when you need only a couple.

Split everything into logical groups,  like woodworking tools, engineering tools,  electrical repair tools,  plumbing, caravan parts, bicycle repair tools, rarely-used tools like engine repair kits,  chainsaws,  computer monitors .....   WHAT!   What are all these non-woodworking things doing here.  Some should be down the other shed with the lawnmower!

If things are on wheels and in manageable SAME SIZED containers,  you can expand and re-arrange without over worrying about doing all this NOW.    But start doing it soon, keep your benches clear of tools and projects,  so you can take a coffee into the shed and enjoy the next few hours making another artisan woodworking project, without stress.

Happier Woodworking in your Home Shed!    


​PS:  Set time limits on your family storing their problems in your shed!

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