I've heard it said that minimalism isn't really about "getting rid of stuff", it's about refining it down to the "right stuff". I'm halfway through a 30-day shop purge and I have a few lessons learned, a few personal reflections, and a lot more space.
A functioning clamp rack. Every shop's gotta have one. "But, wait!" You say. "Isn't the easiest way to hold clamps just some 2x4s bolted to the walls, and maybe some holes and plumbing pipe inserted to hang the clamps on?" Yeah, perhaps. But, while that works if you have a ton of space, it's not the most efficient way to store clamps in a small shop. And I think of that as more of a "clamp hanging spot" than a proper organization system. Plus, if you already know about that trick, you certainly don't need me to give you a how-to.
Instead, I present this clamp rack design: infinitely adaptable to any scale, and able to hold almost any type of clamp. You can build the whole thing with some scrap plywood, a jigsaw, and drill, and make one - no matter the size - in well under an hour.
I hit my head hard a few days ago. It hurt. A lot. It was one of those moments when the pain made everything else just fade away for a moment; then it came flooding back. I was leaning over a pile of things I've moved too many times to count, and I slipped a bit and made solid contact with the equally solid cast iron top of my table saw. In that moment I uttered a familiar phrase "I need to get rid of this stuff" in a much more, uh, guttural vocabulary. I needed a change. I needed space.
And so, my 30 day minimalist shop challenge begins.
When I finished my basement workshop makeover earlier this year, I couldn't have been more excited, or proud, about how far it'd had come. What was once two dark, dingy rooms full of plumbing pipes, exposed studs, and our family's household junk, was now a bright, clean, inspiring single workspace full of tools and materials. But to get it to that condition was a ton of work, and the truth is, my house still hasn't totally recovered. Examples include, but not limited to, the plywood sheets stored in the guest bathroom, the dust collector in the hallway, and the piles of clamps in our home office.
Oh, those clamps. They've been all over the lower level of our house for nearly six months. I used them for projects, of course, but mostly, they just stood against the wall or inefficiently piled on the floor, falling down every so often, scraping the paint as they went and startling all of us in the process.
I wasn't always a bedmaker. It wasn't until I was living in the dorms in college, and my bed also had to serve as the sofa, chair, desk, laundry-folding area, and dining table that I got in the habit of the daily bedclothes readjusting. And my bed needs it, cause I sleep like a freaking tornado and things end up in impossible places.
It's a habit I'm glad I've held onto. Research shows that people who make their bed are actually happier. And because
Rare is the craftsperson who couldn't use just a little more workspace. Maybe not more square footage (though I'd certainly take some), but perhaps more work surfaces to spread out projects, or some more storage to keep track of all the bits and pieces that come along with any technique.
Building this custom tool cabinet will certainly help.
I work in a tiny, leaky, antique shed. Workspace is a precious commodity that keeps getting taken up by scraps and in-progress pieces and just plain junk.
If you getting a ton of use out of the cord taco you made with the last blog post, my guess is that your probably going to get even more use out of this DIY leatherworking project.
As always, if you don't feel skilled enough to pull off any of the steps below, you can check out this beginners guide to get you going.
I — admittedly — was in the habit of just grabbing my computer and carrying it around. Its home was wherever I left it...unprotected. Stupid, I know. I’m pretty careful with my stuff, especially when it costs as much as a laptop, but even if you can control you're behavior, you can’t always predict what
When Erin discovered Anne Steensgaard's CatchMe keyholder online, she became instantly obsessed. Functional, beautiful, and full of organic textures and charm. Unfortunately, the piece is only sold in Boila stores, which are all located in Denmark or Sweden.
But, she knew she couldn't rest until she had some
It's time to actually build something for the shop upgrade. First up, we take a look at how to build wall cabinets from scratch (sheet goods at least).
I have a million e-mails. It's not actually a million, but it makes my soul feel that way. I know this feeling. It happens when I've been staring too long at a screen, clicking reply until I lose track of time and space and what name I'm supposed to sign in the sendoff. (It's Chris. My name is Chris.) The only way to fix it? Get away from the computer, turn on some music, and build something.
So let's go out to the shop and build a box that will never, ever have e-mails in it. Here's a simple woodworking project that can get you back to working with your hands, but isn't too fussy or complicated. And the cool part — it uses just a few basic tools and single board. When it's done, you'll have a stylish, versatile, stacking storage solution that will come in handy in any room in your house.
Note to the wise: a box usually isn't enough. Many tools in the shop need a bit more protection. When tools get neglected, edges get dull and things get lost. A tool roll is a simple way to keep those small collections of specialty tools in top shape and exactly where they should to be when you need them. Here's a simple way to make your own.
There are those pieces of furniture that make a statement. Those around which you build entire rooms, those that define a space. Those pieces are essential.
But, sometimes, you just need a quick and easy way to store your stuff that looks plenty sharp. If your taste leans towards the warm, the rustic, and the stylish, check out this super simple x-shaped magazine and book rack.
For those of you who have already made the switch to wireless earbuds (thanks Apple), tangled cords aren’t really an issue you have to deal with any more.
But, if your like me and carry around "old school" wired earbuds in your pocket, you understand the wad of knots you pull out every time you go digging. And, though some may appreciate the eternal struggle (and contemporary art sculpture?) it really doesn’t have to be that way.
This simple DIY earbud/headphone/cord organizer keeps your cables knot free and still fits sleekly in your pocket. Using it is easy: all you have to do is wrap your earbuds around the organizer and snap it
Every home has those horizontal surfaces where it's all too easy to let stuff gather. They're just lying there, all flat and empty, asking to be filled with things that could likely go in they're proper home if they only had one.
In my house, it's the half-wall between the landing and the stairs. So I certainly know that when your countertops, desks, and other flat surfaces are continually filled with mail, errands, and other "to do" related goodies, it's time for an official solution. And since horizontal spaces just aren't working, you gotta go vertical.
Harry Love is a professional musician, DJ, and collector. Which means...he had a lot of records. Like a lot of records. Records in his studio, records in the hallway, records in the bathroom, records he had to move aside to make toast.
I'm not a multitasker. At least, I shouldn't be. And when I am, I'm not at my best. I won't go into a whole thing about the distractions of the internet and multiple browser tabs and social media and our whole plugged-in life; you've read those articles, and you believe them, or you don't.
These aren't ideas to get more stuff done. They're ideas to get good stuff done, and get it done more quickly and with less stress. If that frees up time for you to try more things, that's great. If it only helps you meet your goals without feeling insane, that's good enough.
A few years ago, I was attending a conference, and, as I recall, not really listening to the keynote speaker. It was one of those trying to eat-lunch-and-try-to-meet-new-people-and-I-can-barely-hear-from-the-back-of-the-room sort of things.
But, in a moment of unexpected drop in the banquet room din, I caught something that sunk in. The speaker, musing on happiness, suggested that it's all those little tasks and the clutter that hang over our heads and keep joy from settling in. That knowing you have a million little tasks to do is more stressful than actually doing those tasks. And it's not the big work projects, the term papers, the spring deep cleaning that keep us down, but the little stuff that piles up and creates anxiety about when we'll get it all done.
Leather is strong, durable, and extremely workable. But stitching leather involves some specific two-handed, two needle techniques, some specialized gear, and some definite knowhow. So, what to do when you want to make a custom piece, but aren't ready to invest the time and materials to learn to hand sew it?
You make no-sew project: just as strong, just as customizable.