How do you guys keep your bench neat?

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How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:01 pm

I made a passing comment in another thread about my sloppy bench.  It might be interesting to find out how you guys keep your bench neat?  Or is yours a disaster like mine?

My grandpa always told me to never hire a mechanic whose tools were clean and well-organized.  This person may not do much work.  Similarly, my stepdad told me to not trust an electronics technician (that's us!) who has a neat bench, for the same reason.  I am a total slob when it comes to my bench.  I can find stuff in the piles and clumps, and if I put stuff away, I forget where I put it.  I have to get it all out and put it all back for each job.  I just leave everything strung out on my bench, then push it out of the way to get a chassis up there to work on it.  I have 22' of bench area, 2' wide in a "U" shape for my workbench.  I am fortunate to have enough free space to get a small radio chassis on there.  I work on several chassis at a time, so they are all on the bench waiting for parts or whatever.  I never seem to work on a solitary project at a time.  Then I have tools and test leads scattered about, solder, oil, Simichrome, bits of wire, and about three dozen cans and containers of "valuable" stuff that I just can't throw away, but probably should.  My test equipment is sitting on shelves, but the test leads are strung about wherever.  Try as I may, neatness and organization seem to evade me.  My wife thinks she is going to find me in my shop one of these days, expired from shorting myself out.  Rolling Eyes





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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by CrazyCanuck on Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:49 pm

To each their own, but .... when I owned and ran a (not radio related) service shop, one of the things that I found made a huge improvement was for the technicians to clean their benches between service jobs and to try to keep the benches clear of tools not being used right at the moment. By always having their tools put away as well as being able to segregate the new and used parts for the customer and return the old parts to the customer, we were able to move more work thru' the shop, do higher quality work and track labour time more accurately. All this resulted in more satisfied customers and returned a higher profit.

Not all techs work well this way, so as I said ... to each their own.

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:36 pm

WC, the only thing I can say is "nice setup". Try what I'm doing, our second home in So. Ca. has a single car garage, no room for a shop unless I leave the car parked outside. That is not going to happen. One bedroom is set up for two computer stations and a work area for radios. Lots of storage under the countertops but only about 6 feet of shop space. My scope is stored underneath in an enclosed cabinet along with variac and sig gen. Caps and resistors also underneath and out of view. Only my VOM and DVM hang on the peg board on the wall with tools. Not as convenient as the shop in my garage in AZ but it looks tidy. The one in AZ, well the wife complains that is not tidy but at least out of view! I guess it is just a matter or room size you have and location.
I like your space!
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by willy3486 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:48 pm

I once had a workbench all across two walls in my shop, about 45 feet of workbench. I wound up removing it all as it became a clutter magnet. I also got a lot of tools in like saws and other stuff. So I built a workbench on wheels about 5 feet wide. I was tired of having clutter so when I built my new workshop on the house I intentionally made a even smaller bench. Its about 3 feet wide. Big enough to work on what I work on but quick to get cleaned up. I have let my big shop get messy and I worked the biggest part of Friday out there and it still has a little bit of a mess. I can now clean the inside area shop in my house in less than 30 minutes even if it is piled up.

One time my outside bench was cluttered so bad I took a picture of it. I was redoing some area in the shop and piled it up more. I saw a contest over at Jameco and entered it in their contest. I am in the hall of fame over there with that mess. I sent pictures of how it was cleaned up but they didn't post them. Oh well. Anyway it is the second one on the end on the bottom row.

Jameco hall of fame

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:39 pm

The pictures I posted are of earlier this Spring.  Mine is worse now.  I know that I'm not alone.  My best bet is to change my definition of "neat and orderly."  Thanks, Willy.  Very Happy

I tried the smaller workbench approach.  I ended up bringing projects in the house for room to work.  Not my brightest idea.

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by 75X11 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:44 pm

For the test leads that will remove from the test equipment, these racks are handy and a good value as they will hold a large number of leads.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=trompter+cable+hangers&_osacat=12576&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xtest+cable+rack.TRS0&_nkw=test+cable+rack&_sacat=12576

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Motorola man on Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:21 pm

I'm of the same opinion of CrazyCanuck. I work at an electronics shop, and it's makes life so much easier to have everything organized. My entire bench doesn't always stay clean, but the main work space stays clutter free. It saves a lot of time when you're not constantly looking for tools or tiny parts that inevitably get covered up. All of my hand tools are hanging on the wall directly in front of me, test equipment is on the bench or in drawers on my left, computers on my right and power supply leads, test leads and soldering irons hang from underneath the bench. Service manuals and additional items are on shelves above the bench. Some people function better with chaos, but for me, there's a place for everything & everything's in its place.
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:07 pm

Willy, you set the record for a disaster. You make us proud of our "neat" work area. A whole new perspective on clutter!
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:12 pm

My brother is the organized one in our family.  I just have a problem with being neat for some reason.  Thank you all for your input.

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by willy3486 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:55 pm

jerryhawthorne wrote:Willy, you set the record for a disaster.  You make us proud of our "neat" work area.  A whole new perspective on clutter!
Jerry

Thank you for that honor. In all honesty I had been moving stuff around when I added a wall in my shop. I split the shop so I could have woodworking on one side and electronics in the other sealed area. I had piled all that on there to make room for the new wall. The other good thing was the wall alliowed me to add more pegboards and lots of shelves to get organized. It hasn't been that bad since.

As far as work goes Iwill work for a time then the clutter gets on my nerves. I will clean shop so to speak then. One issue I deal with is at work we are cramped in like sardines. I am down to about 25% of the room I had when I started, The fellow that is in my room is a fine fellow but probably a hoarder. His piles tens to move towards me I have to push back. The big issue I have is room. My work area is probably 3 ft wide at the most. It doesn't sound too bad but for example tomorrow I have to look at a 50 inch TV. This will be different.

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by 75X11 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:20 pm

Also, a magnetic wall bar is a good place to keep the tools that can be mildly magnetic and sharp implements.
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Dr. Radio on Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:34 pm

Clean vs. messy benches....


There's a very fine line between "he/she must be a damn good tech with all that stuff on their bench" (many projects awarded to knowledgeable technicians) and "he/she scares me with crap pile of a bench" (doubt arises from the casual on-looker when you have a peanut butter sandwich under a greasy socket and ratchet set under someone's aunt's TV's picture tube....


Too clean is of utmost suspicion...

It's like a blue moon or solar eclipse to my bench in "show" condition....
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by 75X11 on Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:40 pm

An excess of embarrassment or inconvenience should be the dictating factor. I see neither in your workplace.
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by willy3486 on Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:20 am

Wildcat I have a question on your work area. I noticed the ceiling above your work area looks like one of the small sheds. The types that are usually prebuilt and delivered on site. I also noticed you have AZ as a home place. My question is if that is one of those sheds how do you keep it cool? I live here in Tennessee and although we don't have the "dry heat" we do have humidity. There are times in the year,usually July to first part of September that it is way to hot to work in my outside barn/workshop even with fans and windows open. If this is one of the sheds how is it for heat or temperature?

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:48 pm

Actually, Willy, I am running "incognito" during the summer months.  My "big" shop is in the upstairs of my 26' X 50' foot garage.  The garage is in the Missouri Ozarks.  We have a summer home here.  It is a long story, so we'll leave it at that.  

I built the big garage to house my toys.  The upstairs ceiling is unfinished.  I have insulation under the metal roof and the downstairs is fully insulated with a gas forced-air furnace.  The upstairs has windows on each end, with a 36" attic fan converted for vertical use.  I reversed the fan so it blows instead of sucks.  It is powered by a 1/2 horse motor.  That actually works nicely for keeping the upstairs cool.  It is well ventilated, but unheated in the winter.  I don't have critter problems, nor any problems with warping wood or rusting chassis.  When I built the garage, the upstairs was to be for storage.  My radio collection exploded, so I expanded to the upstairs.  I have 200 amp electrical in the garage with 28 circuits.  Four 220 circuits.  I have six circuits in my electronics shop.  My test equpment is on one circuit, and the iso/variac/dimbulb is on another.  I operate my radio test bench on one circuit, and my phono test bench on another.  I have RF filters on the circuit box, but I'm not sure they do any good.  I use the metal garage roof for an antenna, and I have an approximately 100 foot longwire antenna outside.  

When the humidity is about 90%, it can be really too warm to work in the upstairs shop.  I take items I am working on to my "triage" bench downstairs.  The upstairs stays nice 95% of the time with that big fan running.  It is quiet and very effective.  The west side of the garage is fairly shaded in the afternoon.  I open the west side windows downstairs and draw air from there instead of the upstairs windows when it is really hot and humid.  It works very nicely.  The only gripe I have with my setup is my inability to keep it neat and uncluttered.  I have a "sloppy" gene, I guess.  My brother organizes it once a year or so, but it does not take me long to have a mess again.

If I build a garage in AZ, it will be plumbed for a heat pump. It is silly to not install one when the building is built. Running fans and limiting access due to weather conditions is not a money-maker to my way of thinking. I designed and built this garage for a speciific purpose, but the purpose changed.

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Dale H. Cook on Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:55 pm

I spend part of my working hours in my home shop, working on electronic equipment for radio stations and for an eBay vendor. I have found that the shop must be kept neat and well-organized in order to turn around jobs as quickly as possible:



For additional photos and descriptions see:

http://plymouthcolony.net/starcity/radios/pages/compact.html

The rest of my working time is spent in the field at radio stations. I have to keep my Explorer neat and well organized, and the many tool boxes, totes, and cabinets that I carry holding tools, test equipment, and parts, must be neat and well-organized so that I can find anything that I need quickly and perform my field work as efficiently as possible. Here, for example, is my primary tool kit for field work:

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by 75X11 on Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:00 pm

A major advantage to having things set up in that manner is that you can spot anything missing in an instant with no tools left behind.
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:00 am

Man Dale, this is organized. It puts us all to shame! Great job and thanks for sharing.
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by willy3486 on Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:13 pm

Nice Wildcat, I wondered if it was one of those small buildings. If there was a way for me to scale down and cut back I would love it. I would love to have a Ranch style house, a small garage for garden stuff and thats it. What we have works me to death. If I had a ranch house with a basement I would put my shop there and thats it. I feel for you on the two houses, I know what that is like. I also keep up the MILs place and the 13 acres that is left that the state didn't take. At least the state got 5 buildings I no longer have to take care of.

As far as keeping clean I have found my 3 ft bench is great. It forces me to put things away. At work I use to have a nice area. I had a decent size area and then a office. Well we have added so many folks I lost the office and about half my workshop. The guy who is in my workshop is a nice guy but is messy. The type of person I am I might get cluttered but usually it gets to me so I have to clean. I usually wind up cleaning once a week. His stuff is piled up and overflowing. I usually have to push back his stuff. The odd thing is he is not there much. So my area is mostly clean but then you see an area that looks like you turned a box upside down. I was working on a big TV yeasterday and I had no work area to do so. I had to bring a folding table in my room to work on it. I am the only tech based from there and I have no room. Oh well

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by Bill Cahill on Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:35 pm

Gee.......... Must be nice to be rich. I'm having a rough time paying for my 1600' single story home on a large lot. Out dated. Outside's been fixed up by city for me, but, inside, a lot is needed. No heat, no air, except in living room, one ceiling needs replacing from a previously bad roof, electric needs updating, Need a new oven, fridge, paint jobs inside, and, two floors replaced. Lenoleum is shot in kitchen, and, bathroom. Oh, well, outside looks great, and, I have a good roof over my head.....

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:25 pm

Bill, a roof over your head is the most important thing! We are slowly (very) transitioning from a 2500 sq. ft. place in AZ to a 950 in CA. Reasons are the wife likes to be closer to the kids and her hobby, sewing. More stuff going out West. The place is small but owned, just HOA fees, taxes etc. After a total renovation on the little place, I like it. My "shop" is in a "bedroom", small and it handles our two computer stations and my 8' area for radio work. All test equipment is stored in cabinets under the bench, Scope, Signal generator, Iso transformer and variac. It comes out when I need it. Component storage, resistors, caps in divider boxes also underneath with easy access.
The second bedroom is for the wife's hobby, sewing. Rather cramped from her place in Sedona but she is making it work. Leaves one bedroom for us to sleep in. Not bad.
A lot of stuff to get rid of from AZ and that will go slow. I hope your feeling well and your probably (not certain where you live) in an area you like. Perhaps you could sell the place and move to a smaller place close by? Small is not bad!
Best, Jerry

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by 75X11 on Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:32 pm

Jerry, I hope your place works out well for you. You'll just have to think a little more. Very Happy
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by willy3486 on Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:57 pm

I agree with Jerry on that Bill. A house with a roof is the most important thing a person can have.. I may sound rich but I am not by any means.  My house? I have 45k in it when we built it about 17 years ago and I used a lot of used items in it. All my interior doors were from old houses. . My workshop I have about 2k in it. I tore down 3 old buildings to build it from the wood I got. A plus on that was the buildings I tore down I did for elderly folks who couldn't. Add to that is the living costs in Tennesse is probably lower than in other places. Even though my house is paid for if I sold out and moved to Florida, California or Arizona I would still have to take a loan out on a house half the size I live in. A 400k house in Florida or California would probably sell for about 40 k here.

In all fairness to Tennessee even though its muggy in the summer and we have snow in the winter sometimes its probably a good place to live. My mom is a good example of how you can be in a bad way. I have tried for over 10 years to help her after my dad passed away. There is too much for a single post but all she has done has been to push me out of her life. Then ad to that in less than a year she has been in the hospital, last fall for lung cancer and now for a fractured pelvis.  I spent last fall probably a months pay in buying stuff trying to help her out last fall. Now she is in there for who knows how long and may never go home. From helping out the MIL and my mom I am exhausted. Her house needs a lot of work. Ad to that I have a relative who has told me what he is getting when she passes. This person has also called me to give me my orders on stuff. I have got to where I won't answer the phone if they call as I am tired of it. The best thing she could do is to sell out and move to a apartment. It would easier and better for her.

The best way to be rich has nothing to do with money. I think I speak for all here. Most of us will never meet but I think we all consider you a friend even if this is only a forum.

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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:04 pm

75, your right. After many years of collecting "stuff", in later years you may decide you don't really need it all. In fact, a lot of it you haven't used in years. The wife has probably made 50 placemats for dining. Her hobby, sewing. Eight would be enough for us. She has a ton of clothes many she hasn't worn in years. For me, a couple pair of levis, some tee shirts and a couple pair of shorts, two pairs of shoes and I'm happy.

A little more work to pull what equipment you need from the cabinets, the scope I use seldom, the sig gen, now and then, the variac well a bit more, the iso transformer even less. Not as convenient as having them hang overhead but not an option in our little room. Actually enough room on the "bench" but things look neater without them out of sight. Employ as needed. If I can get the wife to take a picture of our little work bench I will post it.
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Re: How do you guys keep your bench neat?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:44 pm

OK gang, my mini work station if I can post the pictures



The next of my little station.  I still need to bring a little more tools!
 


Small but handles both our needs!

Best,  Jerry

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