Lack of space – a perennial problem

Many of us must have a packrat gene hardwired into our DNA because no matter how much space we create, we have too much stuff to fit in it. In my case, I moved out of a 400 square foot workshop into a 768 square foot workshop and still found myself literally buried in "stuff"!

I could not stop and sort things out at first because I was committed to getting the house ready for occupancy. My workshop was so full of stuff that I was literally climbing over equipment and "dumpster diving" to find the tools and equipment that I needed for these critical projects.

Even though I bought and installed extra shelves along the back wall of the workshop, I was not making enough headway. This is how the workshop looked yesterday morning, even after days spent cleaning and organizing.

There is not enough room to walk through the workshop, let alone do any work in it. This was such a setback after spending all our time and effort creating a vast open shop with lots of space. Some of you may remember how the shop looked when it was being constructed.


Somehow, all of that pristine open space had been gobbled up by equipment that once fit into a space half this size.

I decided my only solution was to do something really drastic. I would empty the garage and start from scratch again.

I would apply the acid test and see what I had to do in order to make this a fully functional and self-supporting workshop. Anything that would not help me produce income would be given to charity.

When I opened the big workshop door yesterday morning this was the view from outside, almost a solid wall of stuff.

I pulled almost everything outside and cleaned the floor of mud which had been tracked in during the months of construction. In the process, I moved three quarters of a ton of wood pellets to an outside storage area and did the same for 600 pounds of shingles which will be needed for future construction. I also built a rack for sheet goods like plywood and doors and large shipping cartons.

By late afternoon, things started to get easier. I had space to move equipment around freely. Everything was on casters, so it was like choreographing a machine shop ballet. The table saw moved here, the jointer moved there, the compressor moved to the front wall and everything started to make sense again.

I still had a huge stack of bins full of sub-assemblies and several barrels of wood parts to deal with, but these can be handled with more shelves and some storage carts. I had finally broken through the barrier of not-enough space. I could now create a hundred square feet of open workspace almost anywhere I needed it.

This is what the workshop looked like when I ended off last night. You can actually see open floor space! It is amazing what desperation can do!

Having enough space is only the first step. To work efficiently, tools need to be stored in racks where they are used, fasteners need to be stored in organized arrays, and a dust collection system needs to be working effectively.

This kind of preparation can take days but it gets easier as it goes and is actually very satisfying. The trick is to organize things so they can stay organized even with constant use. This is where most organizing schemes break down.

I will begin organizing for production today with Gretchen’s help. My target is to be fully operational by Monday morning. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for the suggestion to go vertical. That was the only way left to go. πŸ™‚

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