Where does all the wood live?
January 21, 2008 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Help me retain my sanity. Those of you who have a workshop in your house, please help me find a system.

We have forgone some less healthy habits ,for of all things, woodworking. I have taken my dining room table apart so now all that wood lives in the dining room. And the kitchen, and the sunroom, and my office, and my living room. Oh my God! It is awful.

What is a good method for storage? We have tall pieces, wide pieces, little bitty pieces, how do you decide what to keep and what to toss?

Any general advice on workshop storage in general would be appreciated.
posted by stormygrey to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Here are a few suggestions. Most folks, it seems, have their woodshops in less developed sections of the house ;-)
posted by jdfan at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2008

I've found storage in the rafters of the garage to be particularly appropriate. How small you keep depends on what you want to do. It's been my experience, however, that most projects use new stuff until you need one piece from storage. So you would probably be best served by storing the big pieces and pitching the rest.
posted by ptm at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2008

Best answer: Seconding taunton.com/fw for storage suggestions. For me, your question needs more detail. Woodworking includes a pretty broad spectrum of activities and, while I at one time did some woodworking in my apartment (a 1000 sf loft), I now have a 1000 sf *shop* which includes some storage…but I also have storage beyond that. Some of the wood I have in storage would not even fit in the average dining room. On the other hand, if I looked at my woodworking as only what I do on the lathe I could have an entire shop in the typical dining room. (I know someone with a full shop in their basement who keeps a carving "den" in the house -- a room no bigger than 7'x9'.)

I tend to keep a lot of scrap but I have the space; I do cull things occasionally for kindling or a bonfire. You will find your own system over time, after you find yourself moving the same pieces time and again to retrieve other pieces. I "grade" my storage by size and species, when appropriate. For the larger scale shop: carts sloped low to high; front to back for both plywood and stick cutoffs -- the stick version of the cart has divisions front to back. Anything ±7'-12' goes onto a horizontal rack (sorted by species as needed) and anything longer I store standing (but I have a 16' tall space). I store flat goods vertically, flipping through them like books.

In a smaller workshop I have (in a second location entirely) the system is the same but the sizes are all smaller. Standing pieces might be over 6' with some horizontal racking and then, instead of carts, buckets. The scale is so different that I tend to use the scrap more diligently -- sometimes designing things based on the size of cutoffs. In that case, I've adapted to the smaller space but it is also my nature to, as my wife phrased it so well years ago: "Use what's close."
posted by Dick Paris at 10:59 AM on January 21, 2008

Go through your place and identify a location for dry storage, hopefully near where you work. In a garage with exposed rafters, definitely use the rafters for storage. Otherwise you may want to build a storage rack to hold it all neatly. Gather all the parts and stow it.

Large, sizable stock should be kept as it's the most useful size. Anything under a foot should be strictly evaluated against future need and either burned as fuel if not treated or discarded.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 1:16 PM on January 21, 2008

Welcome to the craft. My former best friend called me "a crazy cat lady, but male, and with wood rather than felines" - so I sympathize. (And I still have some lumber in the dining room, I must admit).

It would be a little more helpful if you indicated what kind of woodworking you do - turners have different needs from cabinet makers, for instance - but as a general suggestion I would start with these. They'll hold several hundred pounds of lumber per rack.

Wherever you place your wood, remember to keep it out of heat, sunlight, and humidity as much as possible (for that reason, I don't recommend the rafters or joists, unless there's no other alternative). There's lots of plans about for rolling storage carts for scraps. And I hope you have a wood-burning fireplace for the final waste (non-treated, mind you), and add sawdust to your lawn scraps for compost in your garden, if you have one.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 3:52 PM on January 21, 2008

To elaborate on Bora: sunlight is the number one enemy. Humidity is really a problem only as it changes; how these changes affect your wood have solutions. A very high humidity will encourage mold; that's why I don't store wood in the old lift-pit in my shop. But if you work in a high-humidity shop/climate, c'est la vie. And heat…well, heat is related to humidity. If you live in Arizona; I would be surprised if any change in temperature notably changes the moisture content (and therefore, width across the grain) of your wood.

For an amusing and informative year long project: set aside one 12" wide piece of wood to gauge changes in humidity in your shop. For double the fun; keep a second half of the same chunk in your climate-controlled home, if you have one. Measure it (or each) across the grain once a month, more or less, and note that plus the date plus other environmental information you have on hand that might contribute to its change in width on a line where you made the measurement.

(If your house/shop has humidity control all year, the changes may be insignificant; in an unconditioned shop on the Maine coast, though, changes can be quite dramatic, depending on species.)
posted by Dick Paris at 1:56 AM on January 22, 2008

Response by poster: We are doing everything right now. We are rebuilding our kitchen cabinents, making a lot of shop cabinet things, making jigs, little boxes, little tables, knickknacks, its a mess.

Thanks for all the answers. I have firm commitment to build some sort of storage contraption tomorrow. (hah.)
posted by stormygrey at 12:23 PM on January 24, 2008

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