Tips for Organizing Machinists Chests
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  1. #1
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    Default Tips for Organizing Machinists Chests

    I know, if it fits and closes, you're good! I'm just curious if anyone has made things like fitted inserts for certain tools, etc.

    In our shop, stuff like fixturing, tool holders, and expendables, get ferried between the machine and the Tool Crib on job carts, but each machinist has a tool box for their measuring tools, wrenches, and other day-to-day tools. My toolbox is an old Gerstner that sits on an old craftsman bottom. It's a bit of a family heirloom set of tools that my dad bought from the guy who taught him machining. That guy worked for Wright Aircraft way back before and during WW2 and he ended up with a neat collection, most of which he etched his name into and sometimes a date of when it was added. Everything was given a bit of emerald green paint to keep it separate from other machinists tools. My dad and I have also added a bit to it over the years.

    20200219_173600.jpg
    20200219_173626.jpg

    He made a little aluminum insert to hold telescoping bore gauges, and as time goes on, I'd like to do similar inserts for other tools. Some are kept in their own wood cases in the lower tool box, but many just rest on the felt at this point. It would also be handy to keep adjusting wrenches and measuring standards nested right next to the tool.

    One item I'm think of doing first is a holder for my radius gauges. I think at one point they were in one of those plastic or leather pouches, but I'm thinking of sawing a bunch of slots in an aluminum block that they could index into.

    20200219_173705.jpg

    So anyway, does anyone have any pictures of how they did their tool chests? Anything that made tools more accessible, safer to store, easier to keep clean, etc.?

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    Has anyone made inserts? Of course, they have. Not just a few, but many. Over 2000 posts, where have you been?

    But one thing I will practically guarantee you; if you make inserts for the drawers in your photos, you will need more drawers for those tools. At least the smaller ones. Organizing tools almost always needs more space.

    The benefit of organization is the time you save when looking for a tool. At least, that is why I do it. I have an axiom about organization for tools and parts: if you can't fine it, you may as well not even have it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EPAIII View Post
    Has anyone made inserts? Of course, they have. Not just a few, but many. Over 2000 posts, where have you been?

    But one thing I will practically guarantee you; if you make inserts for the drawers in your photos, you will need more drawers for those tools. At least the smaller ones. Organizing tools almost always needs more space.

    The benefit of organization is the time you save when looking for a tool. At least, that is why I do it. I have an axiom about organization for tools and parts: if you can't fine it, you may as well not even have it.
    Yep, organizers are nice...if you don't have many tools.

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    Iím a bigger fan of the more modern boxes and have picked the Lista pony as it were. My winter project was reorganizing the shop and labeling tools and boxes. For tooling Iím using the Lista organizers, in my ďgo to workĒ tool box I did do some custom inserts.
    The shop tool, expendables and tooling cabinets:




    Hereís the box I take to work. Itís more general purpose than anything. But itís got what I need for most of what I do.


    I used some 1/2Ē neoprene I had for the combo squares and rules.

    I used the rest to keep screwdrivers and wrenches from banging around quite as bad when the thing rolls or the doors get slammed too hard.



    I know itís not exactly what the OP was asking for, but this has worked for me. Iíve made sure everything CAN move, but the shop boxes only get moved for very infrequent cleaning or if you drop something really valuable. Otherwise theyíre static. Just need to guard whatever is inside from the shock of drawer opening and closing.

    My work box moves a lot. Inside whatever shop and from shop to shop. Anything of any precision stays in its own factory case where ever possible. I didnít have that option for the combo squares.
    As much as I dig stuff like the old Studley tool chests, on multiple levels, I just ainít got the time. These tools make me money, so I protect them, I pride myself on a particularly well curated and appointed go to work package, but I can only devote so much time or energy to that pursuit.
    That being said, Iíll definitely follow this post to see what the more talented members on this forum chime in with.




    Jeremy

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    That seems to be part of the fun, is finding the balance between the location that best fits the tools shape, and the location that best fits the tools use. I'm sure that the companies that make these chests consider that when they design them, but they also have to consider that not everyone has the same tools or uses them in the same frequency. It seems that the only drawer that has a definitive purpose is the center drawer of the wide Kennedy/Gerstner chests for the Machinery handbook... but even that I've seen used to hold drill bit indexes, punch sets, etc.

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    One thing I'd be interested to see is if anyone has made a custom insert or rack to hold a 0-6" set of micrometers? We have a couple of the fitted wood cases, but they of course take up a lot of room and it would be handy to nest them together somehow in one of the deeper tool chest drawers.

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    Those of you who've replied already spelled out the tradeoffs:

    Organizers make it easy to lay hands on a tool, but are space hogs.

    Does the box have to travel frequently? Then, it's a different equation than a stationary box.

    Since the two shops I work in are completely tooled, the boxes have never moved. Our answer is more boxes. Each machine has its own Kennedy 7-drawer for the small stuff and if required, that's sitting on a roll cabinet for the larger tooling.

    We've also found the Kennedy boxes great for general purpose bench tools; taps, dies, punches, reamers, hole saws. It's also handy to keep a 1" micrometer and a 6" caliper in each of the areas where the 0-6" set isn't at hand.

    Plant maintenance and auto mechanics are their own universe. They've learned to adapt storage and portablity tradeoffs. It's often necessary to have a rolling cart to take the tools from the main box to the job.

    For me, a cart is necessary when the car can't come to the big box, but I try to get the work closest to the tools when possible. I tried to learn to like the cart, but I found I spent a lot of time setting up the cart, then never getting everything I needed, so trips back to the big box, then when finished, putting the tools back from the cart to the main box. And if you think you'll need it again, so don't put it back, then you're digging in two places to find it.

    jack vines

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    I made this.

    20200220_115524.jpg

    20200220_115542.jpg
    It was a crashed 1/2 holder so I made a sleeve to fit my 3/8 dog leg holder so I could have a 'dedicated' tool for using an indicator in the mills...

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    And before you know it you will have an organized box at each work station. It makes the work flow faster but it sure eats up the real estate!

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    I don't have any pics, but have always done my toolbox drawers like this. Use dark firm foam deep as the drawer, cover foam with masking tape, outline tools on tape with sharpie and cut out outline with scalpel, or long box cutter with blade at its longest.Go all the way thru the foam. Pull off tape and cut thickness of cutout slug so when reinstalled, tool nests nicely. Labor intensive but looks and works great. I have heard using spray expanding foam sealant in a can using t- shirt cloth, over a array of organized tools makes for a nice job also.

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    "Pegboard".....

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    I'm a drawer organizer and feel no need to apologize for it. I disagree with the argument that an organized drawer has no room for expansion. I fit way more in an organized drawer than one with loose tools rolling all around. And when I want to add a tool all I do is rearrange a bit.

    Here is my mic drawer and my recently organized Bridgeport drawer. Note the pic of the bridgeport drawer prior to organizing, fewer tools in there and everything was rolling about and pissing me off every time I opened it. both of these are vidmar drawers.

    micdrawer-1.jpgbridgedrawer-2.jpgbridgedrawer-3.jpgbridgedrawer-4.jpgbridgedrawer-1.jpg

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    Or if you have a lot of drawers/shelves. Unfortunately, my shop does not qualify on either score. Whenever I organize my tools I must keep the volume they occupy in mind. Not just the area, but the volume. But there is still a lot of empty space between items in my shop. I am always looking for ways to use that volume better while keeping things findable.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rickyb View Post
    Yep, organizers are nice...if you don't have many tools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crzypete View Post
    I'm a drawer organizer and feel no need to apologize for it. I disagree with the argument that an organized drawer has no room for expansion. I fit way more in an organized drawer than one with loose tools rolling all around. And when I want to add a tool all I do is rearrange a bit.

    Here is my mic drawer and my recently organized Bridgeport drawer. Note the pic of the bridgeport drawer prior to organizing, fewer tools in there and everything was rolling about and pissing me off every time I opened it. both of these are vidmar drawers.

    micdrawer-1.jpgbridgedrawer-2.jpgbridgedrawer-3.jpgbridgedrawer-4.jpgbridgedrawer-1.jpg
    I like how those turned out! When I consider holding a tool in place, for some reason I always imagine a complicated pocket that has to be routed or molded into material, but just blocking it in is often enough and it keeps it simple enough to update later.

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    High end:
    Products | Vidmar

    Low end:
    STANLEY VIDMAR Garage and Utility Cabinets - Grainger Industrial Supply

    Very low end:
    Cut down rectangular shaped plastic beverage bottles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    "Pegboard".....
    That is me! I have a top box, middle box and roll away, but those are pretty much for machinist measuring tools and the tools used to set-up and operate the machines only. Other than tooling cabinets everything else either hangs on the wall or is on an open shelf. It doesn't appear neat and tidy but I know where everything is. I don't have a customer in my whole state so I don't have to worry about what visitors would think.

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    Here's a nice old chest I picked up a few years ago with fitted tool drawers.
    Discussed in the antique section, the consensus was it was owner made.
    It's a little hard to see but the drawers have pockets made for the individual tools.
    Those are drill sizes and tap and die charts on the closed top pull down.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails tool-chest-4.jpg   tool-chest-3.jpg   tool-chest-21.jpg   img_4825.jpg   img_4826.jpg  


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    After some clean-up.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails tool-chest-6.jpg  

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    I have this in a picture frame at home.

    tool chest legacy poster - Google Search

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    While I respect the discipline of those who have every tool organized down to the last set screw, I have to say my shop is not that way. It could be I'm a slob, but even so, I feel too much organization deprives the shop of the calamity that is the very essence of work.

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