The Dailey Portable Shop – Version 2.0

After almost a year I’ve made 10 big modifications to my trailer design and layout.  Mostly these have been gradual improvements as I’ve had both time and money.  Some were bad ideas, but even our mistakes can lead us to drastic improvements.  If, of course, we learn from them.  Enter Trailer 2.0

You can catch up on everything trailer related by checking out my YouTube playlist by clicking here.

If you don’t feel like watching ten 10-minute videos here’s the gist:

  • Trailer: Cargo Mate 6ft x 12xft V-nose, ramp rear door, side door, tandem axles.  I bought this trailer used in early 2016 after cleaning out my savings.
  • My only shop:  This trailer is my only shop.  I don’t have a garage, I don’t have a carport, My entire shop (save some specialty tools) fits in this trailer.
  • Set up to build bunk beds
    Set up to build bunk beds

    It’s a PORTABLE shop, not a mobile shop:  Meaning, the trailer acts as a tool room.  All my tools, workbenches, require set up on location.  They aren’t set up in the trailer.  The advantage is I’m able to set up the “shop” where and as the specific job allows for the best workflow.  Instead of walking all the way from the work to the trailer for every cut.

  • Efficiency is the goal:  The popular term right now is LEAN. Which can be summed up by: Eliminate Waste!  Eliminate wasted space, wasted movement, wasted weight, waste materials… all with the goal of eliminating wasted time.  I’ll also note that safety is naturally built into this mindset.
    • img_1974I try to strike a balance between ease of access and space savings.  I lean towards ease of access.  I work by the job, so the more streamlined I can make getting the right tool without moving unneeded tools the better.
    • Everything in it’s place and a place for everything.  This is the ultimate goal.  I’ve gone so far as to label drawer, bins, shelves.  I’m not there yet but I’m getting closer.
    • Make it easy.  When it comes to organization if it’s not easy to put back it probably wont be.  I’m learning this with my safety items.  They’re hard to get to so I don’t use them as I should.  Other things, however, are easier to put back in their correct place than they are to misplace.  <[That’s the goal]
    • img_1973I use passive restraints as much as possible.  Bungees and latches slow me down.  They also are forgotten, greeting you with a mess at the beginning of the day.  I’m trying to remove these from my trailer, and rely on ledges, gravity, and friction to hold things in place.  My table saw hold down is a perfect example of this.
  • I love it!:  Yes I wish I had a large climate controlled building to work out of.  However, I get twice as much done out of my trailer than I ever did in my set up shop.  I just want the large building to back the trailer up to.  I now laugh at people who complain about their two-car garage shops being to small.  It’s not you just need to get organized.

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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.

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