Is your workshop a mess?

Mine was a total disaster until I learnt these tricks for keeping it tidy. I had rusty tools piled everywhere, stacks of timber falling over every time I tried to get to the piece I wanted and barely any room to get my car parked at night.

Now my neighbours walk past and comment on how organised it is, my wife is much happier about it and I can actually get work done without struggling to find tools or clear bench space.

This is post #1 in my ‘Is your workshop a mess?” series.

#1 – You don’t need 70 chisels


I knew I had a chisel problem as there was always a few lying on every available surface but it wasn’t until I laid them all out like this that I saw the extent of the problem. I was absolutely astonished to find out I had 70 chisels.

After working out what I actually used most of the time I realised I’d be keeping two of them – a 1″ Irwin and a 1/8 Titan. I wasn’t ready to go to that extreme so I narrowed it down to the ones you see below, plus the small carving set which has it’s own rack.

I kept a set of Irwin blue chip’s as my bash around bench chisels, my father’s set of Toledo’s as they have sentimental value besides being great to use, a couple of actual paring chisels, a smaller and more useful range of the Titan’s for when I do occasionally make mortises, some carving gouges and a butt chisel for when I need something shorter.


It’s far easier to store and maintain this many compared to what I had before, plus I had a more cash for timber after selling the rest of them off.

This is the method I used and it can be applied to all types of tools

1) Prepare an area to work on


2) Lay out all the tools of the same type in this area so you can see what you have


3) Group like items together and keep only the best of anything that is duplicated


4) Go through whatever is left and get rid of anything that is rarely used.

5) Store what you are keeping in a way that they are protected and accessible for when you need to use them.


6) Put them back as soon as you have used them, don’t just set them down and think ‘I’ll put them away later’

If you have time, sharpen them all before putting them into their new home so they are ready the next time you need them.

Next time we’ll tackle something that I think we all struggle with – the ever expanding woodpile. Stay tuned!


3 thoughts on “Is your workshop a mess?

  1. Great Ideas. I’m naturally disorganized and my shop was always so messy that I couldn’t do any work. I started looking for ideas and came across a carpenter building out his new tool trailer. He carries a fully equipped workshop in a 7×14 cargo trailer. I borrowed his idea and started making modular cabinets with drawers and only drawers. It’s made a world of difference for my little shop. I sized the drawers to be the same size as the Dewalt Pro-Organizers that I use for screws and router bits.

    1. Hi Robert. Thanks for the nice feedback. I just had a look at your site to see your workshop upgrade and it’s looking great. I’ve only done the same with my drill press stand so far as I haven’t really got the floor space for anything more but I’d love to follow your example for my scroll and mitre saws. I look forward to seeing the rest of your shop pics once it’s done.


      1. I don’t know if it will ever be done. I’ve lost motivation in a lot of ways. Making the exact same thing 15 times gets boring. But I know it will be worth it when I’m done. My next shop project is to install a french cleat system for my hand tools, which will probably inspire a complete rearrangement of the shop…again

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