Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Purge is Good for the Workshop

For years now, I've been watching the walls close in around me.

It happens a little bit every time I get to the end of a project there's little bits of hardware or leftover materials that I just know I'm going to use for something sooner or later.  Or when a project gets aborted early on and huge pieces should go in the trash but I find a place to hang them up just in case there's a chance I may someday get a chance to work on it again.  Or when someone else has a great idea, comes over to get it started while I offer advice, and then leaves a barely started pile of dreams in a box somewhere in a corner of my shop to collect dust.

Well after about a decade of working out of the same space, the clutter had become overwhelming.  Since I've been right in the middle of all of it, I didn't really notice the encroachment of hoarded bits and pieces over the many months.  It actually took my girlfriend, who's months-long semesters away at school allow for sort of time-lapse impression of the mess in the shop, to point out how completely insane the overflows had become.

She snapped a few photos.

Here's one wall in what we'll call the "before" stage:
Workshop Purge 11

See the wall?  It's there.  On the left.  I know because I've seen it before.  The only problem is that there's easily nine feet of other stuff piled up between the wall and the nearest place a person can stand (and pile up more stuff).

Here's another angle:
Workshop Purge 12

Believe it or not, the workshop is actually pretty big.  But with the clutter of projects on top of projects, on top of years, on top of dust, on top of tools, on top of whatever was in here before I started working out of this space, there's not a lot of room left.

In hindsight, I'm baffled at how I managed to build not just one, but TWO of these things in this space:
2nd ED at Make HQ

Just think of the things I could achieve if only there was more room...

Clearly, it was time for a change.

The project began with laying a couple of tarps out on the field next to the shop.  Then I put everybody to work dragging things out and setting them out for sorting.  Here's the first half hour or so worth of progress:
Workshop Purge 09

While they were doing that, I busied myself with filling up a new storage shed:

That little project started with dragging in all of the packaged complete projects from my collection to get them out of the way:

I was hoping to keep it neat and have everything where I could reach if I needed to dress up, I could just grab the bin with whatever character I wanted to dress as and I'd be on my way.  That's not quite how it worked out:
Stuffed Shed

The helmet rack was a good idea though:
Finished Helmet Shelf

While things were being piled out of the shop, larger items finally had a chance to be rearranged:
Workshop Purge 14

After cutting away a section of one of the shelves, we were able to relocate the drums of casting resin and free up some much-needed floor space:
Workshop Purge 15

With the drums moved, the next step was chipping and scraping a few years worth of resin drippings off of the concrete floor:
Workshop Purge 16

To free up even more space, my father's old lathe was finally moved out:
Workshop Purge 17

Beginning the Workshop Reorg Project

Then I set my niece up with a broom and told her to do her worst:
Beginning the Workshop Reorg Project

While that was going on, Kate was going through the bench, dusting things off and sorting tools and materials into their various boxes and drawers:
Beginning the Workshop Reorg Project

When it was all over, the shelves in the shop were re-stacked with works in progress and neatly contained (and labelled) bins of various materials.  Then a few rolling benches were pushed against that wall:

The end result was more open floor space than the shop has had in ten years:
Open floor

So much that Trevor didn't quite know what to do with himself:
Trevor is Goofy

Various works in progress already have cluttered the workbenches:
Re-Cluttered Bench

But at least the whole operation was met with the approval of the random chicken inspector:
Chicken Approves

Now I just need to do a bit more tidying up in my office space:
New Office Space

Then I can get serious about adding a couple more rooms to the outside of the building:
Chicken Clearance

Stay tuned...


  1. Ah, a fellow Human tenant on Chicken land. Great work with the shop, I expect you'll waste no time filling it up with even more awesome things now that you have all the space to work with.

  2. You should go vertical in your office! Shelving is the perfect thing for huge expanses of bare wall.

    Might also be able to put up a corkboard to display all those detail shots and such.