5 Tips to Cut the Clutter

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If you have unlimited storage for your projects and supplies, this article is not for you. But if you are like the rest of us, it doesn’t take long to quickly fill up your work area which in turn leads to frustration and less productivity. Taking a day every now and then to reevaluate your hoard, I mean stash, can be a helpful way to spend more time doing what you love.

Here are a few tips to keep clutter to a minimum. Oddly enough, I use the same method to keep my closets organized as I do my paint room. Weird.

1.  Take it all out

This step seems like a pain but it truly is the best way to really see what you have. It makes you take a moment to physically touch each can of paint, scrap of sandpaper or crapped-out piece of machinery that you intend to fix “one of these days,” and make a decision on that one item. Do a shelf at a time and take everything off. Clean it and start assessing each item.

Paints and finishes sorted, consolidated and reorganized

2.  But, but, but...

I know, I know. Trust me when I say I feel your pain. But being able to work in an uncluttered workspace will make it all worth it. For every item in your shop, decide: keep, toss or donate.  Ask yourself these questions: Does it work? Will I actually use it? How long has it been collecting dust? Will I miss it? (Probably not.) Be realistic about how you think you “might” someday refinish that old rocker, or how you “could” use those wood scraps for a project someday. If it’s taking up valuable room, it needs to be there for a good reason. The pressure is on—you can do this!

3.  Let it go, let it go

Trash anything that is broken or too crappy to donate. Gross old shop rags and gunked up brushes—dispose of properly. If something belongs in another part of your house, take it there. Return anything borrowed. For items that still have life in them but you’re passing them on, decide where they go. For paint, building supplies and tools, contact your local Habitat for Humanity, as they will often pick up your donations. Have a buddy just building up his shop? Maybe he could use a few things. Is there a woodworking club or school in your area? They love donations. (Also: tax write-offs!)

Brushes, stir sticks and paint can openers all find a home together in one convenient spot

4.  Everything in its place

Tidy up and put back what you are keeping. Anything you don’t need, want or love should be out of your way now. This is the perfect time to clean shelves, sweep floors, make labels and organize whatever made the cut. Maybe even give the walls a fresh coat of paint if you’re on a roll. Replace light bulbs, empty trash cans and dust collectors, and clean the windows. Ah, isn’t that nice?

5.  Be proactive

The last tip is to simply not let your workspace get “that bad” again. Easier said than done when you get busy, but start by being selective about you bring into your area and by putting everything back in the right spot after use. Clean up before you leave each time, and the chaos will stay to a minimum. If you don’t want to move it or work around it, consider if it’s worth the space in your shop.

You will find all kinds of storage and organization products and tips on Woodcraft.com. to help keep your work area in tip-top shape. Here are a few of my favorites:

Refurbisher's Resolutions
Organize Your Stuff with Tanos Systainers
What Do I Do With This Pile of Wood?

Stop by your local Woodcraft store for help finding the products that will work best for organizing your shop. We’re here to help! Now get busy!

We hope you'll be inspired!

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