The Dailey Woodworks Rolling Workshop

Portable Workshop Woodshop Carpentry Trailer, Rolling Tool Box

Since going into business for myself in November of 2015 I have been working out of my truck.  I did as much as possible to organize my toolbox, and have efficient space saving tools (such as my Multi-purpose slab).  I did the best I could with just a truck, but it seemed like everyday I would have to make multiple trips to and from my shop.

One of Several Trips I would make every day
One of Several Trips I Would Make Every Day

Sometimes it took two trips to simply get the tools I needed to the jobsite.  The rest of the time were the inevitable trips back home to get the one tool forgotten.  In the trades time is money; the faster and more efficient you can be the more money you can make.  Speed and efficiency also benefit the customer.  Being highly organized means the job is completed faster, and a contractor can charge a lower price because he makes up the difference in time saved for more jobs.  Furthermore, I was limited in that I was “stuck” only bidding jobs within my small town.

I knew I wanted an enclosed cargo trailer.  I’ve known I wanted a trailer since before self-employment was thrust upon me (A true blessing in disguise).  My modular shop cabinets, which I build over a year ago, were built in anticipation that I would eventually go into business for myself and have a cargo trailer workshop.  I’m determined never to go in debt for my business, and I am proud to say I found the exact trailer I wanted and was able to pay cash for it.  Dave Ramsey would be proud.

The trailer I wanted and I bought is a 12ft long by 6ft wide cargo trailer with a V-nose, tandem axles, and a ramp door.  My trailer is a 2014 Cargo Mate. I found it used on Craigslist for a fair price and the previous owner took very good care of it.  I hadn’t heard of Cargo Mate before this, but the build quality seems higher than many of the other trailers I looked at.

I detail the reasons why I wanted a trailer spec’d this way in the YouTube video below.  6ft by 12ft seemed to me to be big enough to actually be able to work out of, yet small enough to pull with my F-150.  I have the smaller 4.6 V8 in my truck so it cant pull as much as my Expedition with the larger 5.4 V8.  The 5.4 doesn’t care that there is a trailer behind it, but the 4.6 definitely notices.  The V-Nose is primarily for aerodynamics but gives additional storage options.  My Father, Father-in-law, and an uncle all recommended that I only consider getting a trailer with tandem axles.  Their reasons were as follows:  Safer (four wheels vs two in a blow out), Pulls better (tracks better, rides over bumps smoother), Easier to load (It’s not a teeter-totter), and carries twice the weight.  The weight of the loaded trailer is going to be whatever it needs to be.  Having tandem axles means I can load out the trailer how I need/want to and still be far under the maximum payload.  Based on my estimates I am going to be slightly over the limit of a single axle, leaving plenty of payload for materials.  The ramp door is a convenience and a back saver.  I can easily roll my tools up the ramp instead of lifting 70+ pound tools several times a day.  I’m glad I listened to the advice of others and got this option.

Turning this trailer into my rolling workshop is a lot of work, planning, and thinking through how I want to work in the future.  It’s also a lot of fun! I’m enjoying the design, trail and error of making this trailer uniquely mine.  I am certainly taking inspiration from other contractors, most notably Ron Paulk’s Awesome Rolling Tool Box.

My rolling workshop is continuously evolving.  Since I’ve never worked out of a cargo trailer before, I couldn’t simply build it out from the beginning.  Here’s a Mark Twain quote “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”  My trailer build happens in spurts.  I work out of the trailer and fix what doesn’t work for me.  Below are Trailer Builds 1.2 and 1.3

Trailer build 1.4 should be along shortly.  I’m doing my best to document every improvement as I go.

Progress Update on the Modular Shop

I thought I’d do an update on where I’m at on remaking my shop into a completely modular system.  The featured image is the latest concept of what my final design will be.  I’ve gone through several designs.

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One Corner of the Modular Shop is Almost Complete

This is a picture of my new shelving system.  I sized it to fit "Milk Boxes" that I can get for free at the grocery store.

Given my time constraints this whole process is going slower than I hoped.  There is also the issue is where do I put stuff while I’m remodeling the shop, and how do I do the projects I need to do while remodeling?  While it’s no where near as bad as completely renovating the one bathroom in our house last year (I still haven’t done a post on that),  It makes for several “Choke Points.” If I could give a solid day to the project I could be mostly done.  Hopefully I’ll have 3-4 hours this weekend to devote to building modular drawers and tearing out my old storage unit.

This old storage system worked well.  I was able to grab the box I needed and go.  The milk boxes were sturdy but eventually they break down and need to be replaced.  With the modular system I can still grab and go, but I think I need to develop a lid of some kind or a case to put in the truck.

Where this storage unit is will be where my workbench will go when I’m done.  I’ll use a French cleat system to organize chargers, and my going collection of hand tools.

I’ve almost completed my drill press and grinder station using the modular system.  I also removed the lumber rack that was above the old station.  It had become an unfunctional catch-all that needed purging.  The head of the drill press can quickly pivot with the turn of an Allan wrench, so I’m not losing capacity by having another cabinet right beside it.  I rarely use my bench grinder, but I still want quick access to it.  Buy mounting it too a drawer bottom I can quickly slide it out and plug it in when needed.  When it’s not it only takes up two spaces in the cabinet.  I’m rather proud of myself for how this is working out.

I am debating reinstalling pegboard or trying a French cleat behind the drill press.  Since I use my table saw right outside this door it would be a good place for some of my jigs, and my circular saw guide.  Cinder block is hard to mount things too.  I have tried the special bits and screws without much luck.  Plastic drywall anchors seem to work well though.

I also plan on going through and labeling every box with it’s contents.

 

Mid-Week Update: New Drill Press Station

Modular Shop 2Over the weekend I got in some shop time before the weather turned ugly.  My task included assembling two cabinets and making several drawers.

I decided to use them to replace the drill press and grinder station that I had.  Turns out I built this previous bench very well!  It was a pain to tear apart.

 

I had to move the electrical box out of the way of the cabinets.  It needs to be moved a little higher or to the left since I’m going to stack a second cabinet in the corner.

Using more salvaged parts from the church pews I made 3 drawers and a lot of drawer bases to fill most of the empty slots in the 6 cabinets I currently have finished.  I hope to make some 10 inch deep drawers this week.

The Modular Shop is Taking Shape

The Modular Shop is taking shape.  I’ve cut all the parts and am starting assembly and gradually changing out tool stands and boxes.

I did a post over building the cabinet before, but I recently shot a video on making the cabinets.

For the last few years, as I’ve built up my shop, I’ve used coffee cans, cardboard boxes, and various other methods organize and store my tools.

Milk Box for StorageThe best free solution I found was to use cardboard “milk boxes” that I could get free from the local grocery store.  These boxes are very study, have handles, and hold six gallons of milk or juice.  I built out these boxes to hold specific tools or complete specific tasks.  I had a box for “everyday tools,” a box for my brad nailer, cordless tools, etc.  This worked well enough and made it easy to “grab and go” if I needed to do a project at church or somewhere else.  It was a workable system.

The same principle is still true of the modular drawer boxes I’m building.  I have each drawer equipped for a specific tool or specific function.  I can take it with me to a jobsite if needed and since they all take up the same footprint they can be moved from cabinet to cabinet for the optimum work flow.

Here is where I’m at so far:

I’m creating a new sub-category “The Modular Shop” so it will be easier for you to see the entire process.

Thanks for Reading.


From Concept to Reality: Starting my Modular Shop

modular 8My Pinterest boards are filled with ideas, projects, and cool things that I want to make someday.  The same is true of my to-do lists.  I feared my idea for a modular shop cabinet would be added to the ever growing list of projects I haven’t gotten to yet.

Well I’m happy to report that I was able to build two cabinets over the weekend. I modified my Sketch-up design a little bit, but anytime you take a design to execution you make changes.

Mod Cabinet 2I made a simple jig the route all the dados for the self guides.  I spaced the dados five inches apart (from top edge to bottom edge). I assembled everything with my Kreg Jig (If you don’t own one buy one).  I decided not to use glue for these since they were my ‘prototypes’ and I can disassemble and remodel them if I ever need to.

Mod Cabinet 5

Since 1/2″ plywood is slightly narrower than 1/2″, a 1/2″ straight bit worked great to make a snug drawer slide.  I made one 2 3/4″ deep drawer for the very top.  This is a catch all for commonly used and misplaced tools.

The plan now is to build drawer specifically designed for tools and tasks.  I remodeled my pocket hole tool box to fit in the cabinet.  Next will be a box specifically for my random orbital sander and accessories.  I have the freedom to layout the boxes as I need with dividers and such and since everything will fit the same size cabinet I can rearrange until it’s perfect.

I plan on building a rolling cabinet specifically for all of my automotive tools. I have a nice Craftsman Socket set with it’s own case that I sized the cabinet around and can put all of my specialty tools with it and make working on the cars less miserable.

So far I’m happy with the execution of this idea and am confident of it’s long term viability.

Mod Cabinet 6

What do you think and what solutions do you have to share for shop organization?

I’m Going Modular

I’ve been following Ron Paulk’s build of his “Awesome Rolling Toolbox” on YouTube. He owns a home construction/remodeling business and has very creative solutions for organization and workflow.

Right now he is building out a new trailer for his work. Using Sketchup he is trying different designs and configurations to get the best possible layout for his tools.

Borrowing his ideas and the principles of a modular system I think I’ve found a system of shop furniture that will “go the distance.”

After a couple of years of failed organization attempts I think I’ve found a solution that will make my life in the workshop easier. It can also be transferred to a mobile work area if/when needed.  It is a basic cabinet that I’m going to build a lot of.

This cabinet will be the basic building block of my shop for the foreseeable future.  The hardest thing, for me, was to figure on the base size that would be the most efficient.  I chose the DeWalt Deep Pro Organizer as my base size for my modular system.

I bought one on a whim at Home Depot, and I love it.  I have two of these; one for most of my screws, and one that I’m using for my router bit storage.  They lock securely and stack on one another.  So I plan on adding more to hold and organize different tools.  The bins are removable so you can remake the inside to fit whatever purpose you desire.  Using their size I found my basic size needed for my modular system.  However there was one problem.

The problem is my Craftsman 165-piece Mechanics Set.  It’s case is slightly bigger than the DeWalt Organizer.  I’m going to quit storing my tools in their supplied cases and size their boxes accordingly with my new system. However the supplied case for over 150 sockets, wrenches, and ratchets is one I’m not willing to part with.  Therefore, I sized up my minimum shelf size to fit this set.

For everything else that wont fit in a DeWalt Organizer I am going to build drawers to fit them.  My space between dadoes is 5 inches.  So I can build custom drawers five, ten, or fifteen inches depending on the tool.  Instead of using drawer slides and hardware I’m going to let the bottom of the drawers/shelves slide into the 1/2″ Dadoes.  Since 1/2 ply is less than 1/2″ they will slide in and out easily enough.  This will also also make it possible to quickly remove the entire box and take it to the work when needed.

modular 1I decided to size the boxes to 31.5 inches.  This way when I when I brace for casters, add casters and a top I can get it to 36″ which is a good working height for me.  I’m also left with about a 2 1/2 drawer on the top of each box where I can put small supplies and equipment specific tools.  I can stack the boxes for tall cabinets, bolt them together for a workbench base, or have them as independent workstations for power tools.  Also with this design if I ever have to move I can nail a piece of hardboard to the front and load the boxes straight on a truck.  I’ll probably have a mess when I get to the new place, but it will be easy to layout a new shop.

You’ll see from the model of my shop that I do have some dead space in places.  That is a negative of a modular system verses building for the exact space.  But I feel that I’ll end up with less dead space overall by each cabinet’s efficiency

modular 9

I’m building the tops and sides from 3/4 ply and the back and shelves will either be 1/2 or 3/8 plywood (I’ll probably go with 3/8 for cost savings.)

That’s pretty much it.  I’m going to build a couple of these and see how it goes.  Then, I’ll gradually build out the rest of my shop.

This system wont work for absolutely everything, but I think it will make a good foundation.  When I combine this system with french cleats, peg board, and a lumber rack I think I’ll finally have an organized shop.

What do you think of this system for cabinets?

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