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Thread: Wood Storage Question, awkward pieces in small shop

  1. #1

    Wood Storage Question, awkward pieces in small shop

    My shop is in disarray due to lack of proper wood storage. I have been accumulating lots of odd sized pieces that just don't fit the vertical racks that I had been using. I am mostly building stringed musical instruments from highly figured wood. Much of it arrives in the form of slabs that are anywhere from 30"-8' long. some are pretty wide and they start out with two roughly finished faces. Typically they are cut down to no more than 5' long pieces early on, often before they come home. They can be anywhere between 2" and 4" thick (seldom as much as 4"). As time passes I wind up with partially processed pieces, so there are narrower pieces and thin sound board pieces (almost veneers).

    I also have some more "normal lumber", but usually not too much. It is usually in the form of 4/4 or 8/4 by 8-12" boards anywhere from 3'-8'. I most often buy longer boards, but they are cut before they even come home. There is also a few pieces 5/4 x 3" x 7-8' tropical hardwoods.

    Some of that fits nicely in the vertical storage which is basically just 1" dowels that stick out from the wall 14" to allow boards to stand on end. It doesn't accomodate all the slabs short pieces, and thin sound boards. I have pretty limited space since I am in a two car garage space and have a lot of machinery, storage shelving (much of it unrelated to the shop work) and benches crammed in. The vertical storage is on one of the very few short sections of wall that isn't taken up eith either built in shelving, work benches, or machinery.

    Anyone have suggestins of ways to store these odd sized and shaped pieces in a limited space of a small shop?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    A great question since I battle small piece overload myself.

    Plastic bins have been used. which I sometimes stack or set on a shelf.

    If I understand your vertical storage right - it seems to work for you to lean piece upright. But there might be unused space 'above' some of these - you might add a shelf so you can stack more that one area, vertically, on top of each other (if short enough). Then smaller pieces I still resort to bins.

    The other option I have seen and am considering is making a frame to hold these horizontally. Something like 2x4 pillars on each side of a narrow passage - can add cross members as a shelf. And this might be on wheels. It would allow you to see from both sides and both ends.

    But again you need the space for it.

    I look forward to reading other ideas/solutions, a timely thread for me as well.

  3. #3
    A perennial problem. Do you have wall space for a divided shelf unit that would allow storing your short drops on edge, ends out? That will allow for seeing and accessing what you have. It could have uprights dadoed for loose shelves at varying heights, or line bored for shelf pins.

    This assumes (?) that all the small cutoffs you are storing are material that you will actually use in future. Sometimes you just have to let it go. You may be able to sell packs of random highly figured wood on the classified forum here. I'm sure I'm not the only turner who would be interested in thicker shorts for boxes and the like.

  4. #4
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    May 2021
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    Spartanburg South Carolina
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    When time permits I look around to find something that is taking up to much space and attempt to find a better storage solution to condense it. Other time I decide to let something go that isn't pulling its weight. Vertical storage always gets in my way and is unstable. I got two pairs of lumber racks and lined one wall just above head height (16') and it freed up a lot of floor space. I fear a clamp storage solution is up next.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
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    West Central Illinois
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    There comes a time when i just rip the band aid. Common wood types under 12' and 2-4' wide get gone. Just did one recently and man the extra space is amazing. Might have room for more tools now!

    Kids enjoyed a wienie roast via some oak cut offs!

    Best of luck,
    Chris

    Board Hoarder....

  6. #6
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    A variation on my Shorts Tower may help(?)

    Shorts Tower McLaren (8).jpg . Shorts Tower McLaren (9).jpg
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  7. #7
    Part of the problem is that these pieces aren't the typical boards and off cuts. The slabs are heavy. Some hard to even lift or move. That makes overhead storage iffy at best.

    BTW... My work is a little unusual in that I almost never use anything longer than 30" long, so those pieces aren't off cuts. Sometimes I cut 8-14' pieces into 3-5' pieces before I even bring them home. I might do that for a variety of reasons. If I am bringing them home from a distant vacation (like Hawaii) pieces might need to fit in a regular sized checked bag airline bag. If they are part of a 40" wide 3-4" thick slab I might not want to handle the weight. I might want to carry them inside of a car to drive across the state (or the country).

    The sound boards are easier to store since they are thin (~0.090"), not very long, and can be stacked on each other.

    The vertical storage actually worked really well whan I had mostly boards. It had 3 levels of rows of 1" dowels and a shelf could be set at some level on a portion of the area on one or more levels to accomodate different lengths. It held quite a bit of varied lengths and they were easy to get to. Then I started putting stuff in front of it. Heavy slabs, buckets with pieces, and so on. Pretty soon it all devolved into chaos. Then more slabs arrived. They are everywhere! It is great to have this wonderful wood, but the shop is a mess!
    Last edited by Pete Staehling; 12-01-2021 at 11:08 AM.

  8. #8
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    The other problem I have to overcome, is my desire to hoard more wood than I can consume. I am constantly looking for a great buy on wood (whether price, figure, species, etc) and pull the trigger without having any idea what I will build with it. Then a few years go by and I have more wood than I will ever be able to use in my lifetime (it seems).

    The production world would be asking how much is enough raw material inventory to keep up with production output. I have an imbalance, more incoming than outgoing. But if you are bringing it in at the same rate as consumption, then its just 'how much you need' for the type of work you do and space has to be made for it.

  9. #9
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    I can see how this is a real issue for Pete because of what he uses the material for. As he notes, instrument work typically doesn't use long boards, but it uses species that are either not run of the mill or highly figured. Even 'scraps' are pretty valuable and tend to get used in future projects for smaller needs and customization. It's not "firewood" quality in many cases! And being in a "small shop" situation myself right now, I'd be struggling with the same challenge with that specific kind of material.

    That said, I still haven't thought of a solution and will be following along here.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    I like to use wire shelf units, 4' wide, 18" deep. I store shorter pieces on the lower shelves and longer, up to 28" or so, on the top shelf where I can walk under what overhangs. (I write the length on the end of each piece so I don't waste time pulling out a piece that is a bit shorter than I need.) I have 10 of these shelf units just for wood, some for long-term drying of green turning blanks, most for storing dry wood.

    Dec_2020_007.jpg Dec_2020_002.jpg

    Mine is primarily woodturning stock and not many in board/slab stock so the pieces are easy to handle. However, some long 3" and 4"x9" pieces of cocobolo do take some lifting effort!

    I have a bunch of 2"-3" thick boards, some wide (24"+), some short, some quite heavy. I store many of these against the wall of a 12' long passageway to the back of my shop and in a corner, the tallest against the wall and the shorter in front. Many are exotics, some domestic.

    Dec_2020_005.jpg Dec_2020_006.jpg

    But I wonder, how small is the shop? I like the wire shelf units but they are bulky. And how high are the ceilings? Above some of my storage, near the ceiling, I mounted a row of four heavy duty brackets to the wall (sold at HD to support ladders) and store a few long boards horizontally, up to 12' boards. I do have to stand on something to access these. Sometimes I get someone to help.

    JKJ

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I can see how this is a real issue for Pete because of what he uses the material for. As he notes, instrument work typically doesn't use long boards, but it uses species that are either not run of the mill or highly figured. Even 'scraps' are pretty valuable and tend to get used in future projects for smaller needs and customization. It's not "firewood" quality in many cases! And being in a "small shop" situation myself right now, I'd be struggling with the same challenge with that specific kind of material.
    Yep, you get it. A 2' piece could be major components of a travel sized instrument. A highly figured little piece 5" long might be an accent piece that makes a real difference in an instrument's appearance as a peg head. That really awesome peghead might be the piece that was trimmed off of the end of a fingerboard because the grain was too wonky where straight vertical grain was desired, but it may be really beautiful when bookmatched and used for that other purpose. Sure there are some offcuts that aren't worth saving, but they are fewer than you'd guess and a lot are real gems just waiting for the next spot that needs them. It is more often that I need more than that I save too much. Sometimes I use a piece for some junk usage like as a backup block when drilling and the next day have a spot where i say, man I wish I had that piece.

    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post

    But I wonder, how small is the shop? I like the wire shelf units but they are bulky. And how high are the ceilings? Above some of my storage, near the ceiling, I mounted a row of four heavy duty brackets to the wall (sold at HD to support ladders) and store a few long boards horizontally, up to 12' boards. I do have to stand on something to access these. Sometimes I get someone to help.
    My shop's wood storage has looked organized in the past, but never quite as well as your's.

    You ask about my shop's size. It is a two car garage, but it has 6' trimmed off the end for a laundry room so the remainder is about 18'x18'. Then there is very little wall that doesn't ither have shelves, benches, machines, or a desk taking them up. I have an incredible amount of stuff in there. Not all of it is used in the luthier work. To give an idea of how packed it is, I have:

    • 3 band saws dedicated to different functions (9" Delta, 9" Rikon, 14" delta)
    • 2 table saws functions (one is a small late 1940s one set up for sawing fret slots)
    • Miter saw
    • Buffing station w/two 14" wheels
    • 2 thickness sanders (10-20 and 16-32)
    • 12" disc sander
    • Spindle sander
    • 2 1" belt sanders (one delta and one HF cheapie that has a leather belt on it for honing)
    • 2 3" belt sanders
    • Router table
    • 6" Jointer
    • 12" planer
    • various grinders wet and dry
    • Small metal lathe
    • Drill press
    • Shop built horizontal drilling station for specialized end drilling
    • Jet 1642 lathe
    • Air compressor
    • dust collection
    • 3 benches


    • Vices, arbor press and other stuff on benches.



    It is way too much stuff for the space, but I really don't want to part with any of it.


    Of course there are MANY hand tools and clamps. Also lots of stuff that is just stored on the built in shelving. That last is something that make I could find a different place for or get rid of a lot of. The problem is that it isn't great space for wood storage unless I tear out the built in shelves and build something else there. That could be the answer though. Taking out an 8' section of that shelving would open up an 8' long area that would be 54" wide on one end and maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of it's length before tapering to 24". It isn't all new space though, the stuff that is there has to go somewhere.


  12. #12
    Join Date
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    For the type of work you do this storage is integral, so the space needs prioritized for it.

    I moved some equipment to a furnace room. And ‘some’ storage in an unused closet (although it has to be something clean). Which just means I have taken over other areas of the house… that isn’t always feasible.

    Also I built some overhead shelving hanging from the ceiling. Full size lumber went there. I have seen people put clamps overhead. (Or horizontal under a bench) to save some space.

    Also have seen some machine ‘stations’ that swap ou from one machine to another on a rotating shelf (poor mans multi function approach). I wonder if rearranging some other parts of the shop allows some new space to be created

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    A perennial problem. Do you have wall space for a divided shelf unit that would allow storing your short drops on edge, ends out? That will allow for seeing and accessing what you have. It could have uprights dadoed for loose shelves at varying heights, or line bored for shelf pins.

    This assumes (?) that all the small cutoffs you are storing are material that you will actually use in future. Sometimes you just have to let it go. You may be able to sell packs of random highly figured wood on the classified forum here. I'm sure I'm not the only turner who would be interested in thicker shorts for boxes and the like.
    Yeah maybe I can use some existing shelving that way for some stuff. A lot of my primary materials when cut to their actual size are the size most consider cutoffs. In my building process i typically cut stuff to short lengths early in the process, sometimes when it is still in slab form. Pretty much nothing I do in my primary work is ever as long as 3' and most finished pieces are under 2' some well under. If we were talking only length, I could build entirely from what folks throw in the burn pile.

    Just to give you an idea, this one isn't fitted up with hardware or strings yet, but it is my smallest model. The overall length as pictured is about 13". So nothing in the whole instrument is even firewood length.
    LynetteF1T.jpg
    LynetteF1B.jpg

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Beckett View Post
    For the type of work you do this storage is integral, so the space needs prioritized for it.

    I moved some equipment to a furnace room. And ‘some’ storage in an unused closet (although it has to be something clean). Which just means I have taken over other areas of the house… that isn’t always feasible.

    Also I built some overhead shelving hanging from the ceiling. Full size lumber went there. I have seen people put clamps overhead. (Or horizontal under a bench) to save some space.

    Also have seen some machine ‘stations’ that swap ou from one machine to another on a rotating shelf (poor mans multi function approach). I wonder if rearranging some other parts of the shop allows some new space to be created
    Great thoughts. I have been through some iterations of most of that, but maybe not enough. In particular I have some things that are used less frequently that maybe could be out of the way in some manner when not needed. I still need them but usage is sporadic enough that maybe I can wheel them out or use them from converted stations when needed. Using other parts of the house has not been pursued much in the interest of family harmony, but in truth I have a very supportive wife so I may consider that a bit more. The house is quite large for just the two of us and any clean operation or storage is likely to be tolerated if it isn't too obnoxious.

  15. #15
    Something hit me about the shelving layout! I think I see a way for a major improvememt/upgrade. The corner where a lot of the access is blocked and the space gets poorly utilized. Anything on the floor blocks the vertical storage which already blocks some of the built in shelves. It looks like I can bring the shelves out around the corner making a nice 30" wide by 54" deep set of 5 shelves at various heights. They would be accessed by sliding the stock in from the end, Some vertical storage, a shallow layer of horizontal shelving, or some deeper shelving that was on wheels could go there. It looks like slabs that are standing in awkward places all over the shop will fit nicely in that corner with space left over. I think there will even be room for storage of thin pre-cut soundboard material, but if not, that can be accomodated elsewhere.

    Some things on the built in shelving in that corner may need to go, but looking at it that shouldn't be too hard. Some of it can find anothe home on other shelves, some can go to the shed or attic, and some can be tossed.

    I'll have to do some measureing and kick it around a bit, but it looks promising.

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