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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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.

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?

Spicy Pencil Salsa

I don’t know about you, but I am always losing my pencils.  For Christmas last year I asked for A LOT of pencils.  I wanted a full crate.  I got a nice pencil sharpener and quite of few pencils.  I just needed a place to keep them and keep them sharp.  That’s where an empty salsa jar came in.  I drilled some holes in the lid with a step-drill-bit.  It now holds about 20 pencils sharpened and ready to go.

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Weekend Shop Clean-up and Tour

Workshop Plans
My approximate shop layout (subject to almost continuous change.) My shop measures 15’x15′ and I do a lot of work outside.

I hate organizing.  I’m bad at it.  That’s probably why I don’t like it.  It seems that no matter how much I try I’m never happy with the result.

Thanks to Pinterest I’ve been cataloging storage and organization tips for a while.  Using Open Office Draw I played with layouts for my 15×15 Shop and have settled on what I think will work.  Or at least, “good enough.”   When I started my Shop a single bench that went across the entire back wall (the top edge of the picture).  Now, if my shop were bigger having an entire 15′ work bench may be nice, but in a small shop the consensus seems to be mobility and purpose built tool stations.  And this seems to have worked well for me.

In the bottom right in orange you’ll see my Drill Press and Grinder station.  It’s not perfect but it works for me.  I’ve got a small 8″ drill press. It sits on a narrow bench in a corner that I couldn’t do much else with.  I mounted an old VCR Tape Holder underneath that makes good storage for my small collection of drill bits.  I left the underneath open because I don’t like cabinets in my shop.  I store a few boxes of tiles from left over from a project and Starbuck’s food bin.  Above this bench I made a Small lumber storage rack that I still need to cull down.  I’m learning not to make any workstation bigger or deeper than necessary.  That’s where I failed with my new shelving unit.

IMG_20140322_160222_935
Current Shelving System

As we move clockwise around the shop, you’ll see “Shelves” in a yellow.  I made these much to deep and have too much space between shelves.  Part of the depth was to make sure my paint storage went to the window (Bottom-left-silver) and so Starbuck could have a “den” to sleep in.  Notice the brown box behind the orange tool box.  That is a milk-box that I got from the local grocery store.  These hold 6 gallons of milk, are sturdy and a good size.  I’ve started building out these boxes to do certain jobs, I have a box just for drywall tools, a box just for sanding, a box for just my nail guns.  It has really helped get a hold on things, and if I ever need to go do a job elsewhere it’s easy to load up the supplies I need.  I label the boxes and am organizing them based on use.  For example, I rarely do any pluming work so those tools and supplies are the hardest to get to, and I even have a box on the end labeled “every

Previous Adjustable System
Previous Adjustable System

day tools” that I can access as soon as I walk into the shop.  I’m going to eventually make the second shelf narrower and lower, just so these milk boxes fit, I’ll then add a third and possibly forth shelf.  Before I had a adjustable shelf system but It just wasn’t deep enough to hold my tools.

IMG_20140322_135619_271My paint center is my biggest accomplishment over the weekend.  I had a lot more paint than I thought.  I’ll probably have to change how I have this set up as I get more stuff.  I have everything organized and labeled.  Spray Paints, Wood Stains and Finishes, and Quarts and samples go on the top, Brushes, Rollers, and Chemicals, etc go on the second, and gallons take up the last to rows,  I’ve got 16 gallons of paint…  The lower part I’ve got on of my milk boxes with drywall tools.

I guess the only thing left to show is my back wall.  It contains my router stand (that I still need to put casters on), bandsaw station, cleat system, and in the corner I have an old IMG_20140322_163930_790banquet table that I turned into a work bench. Eventually I will extend the cleat system across the back wall.  I’m also going to build a rolling cart that will roll under my work bench.  I’ve also seen modular workstations where you can switch between a scroll saw and a bench-top sander etc. I setup my table saw outside and built a stand just for it.  Since I build most of my stuff out of reclaimed lumber I have an outdoor lumber rack, it also hasn’t rained since Thanksgiving.  I’ve basically designated part of my backyard as a workshop.  I’ve used several wooden shipping crates to make some outdoor work benches and I just started making an outdoor sink.

This is my second shop make over.  I do most of this by trail and error, and take good ideas from fellow bloggers.  I’ve found that laying out a sketch of some kind (digital or on paper) helps you get a feel of a layout.  Another tip is just build it.  No one has built or organized the perfect shop.  The only way to figure out what works for you is to build your “best bet” then tear it apart once your done because you’ve found something better.

Use screws so everything comes apart easier!  

Also I welcome any advice or tips that you are willing to share! Leave a comment

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I KNOW I’m not the only woodworker with a junk problem

My junk pile AFTER spending an hour throwing stuff away
My junk pile AFTER spending an hour throwing stuff away

Please tell me that it’s not just me.  I just woke up a few days and realized that I have A LOT of useless crap in my backyard.  Like many people I build with reclaimed materials (You can look at things I have for sale here), therefore I’m always on the lookout for free lumber, tin, doors, sinks, pallets, etc. etc.

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