Tool Organization...where to start.
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  1. #1
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    Default Tool Organization...where to start.

    We are a small shop...but we have a ton of tooling.

    I started with a tool box as a table for machine with storage space...a small cabinet for basic cutting tools specific to machine. Worked okay for one and then two machines...but a few more machines, couple more boxes...add to that I'm no longer on the floor and my old system (or lack of) is falling apart. Multiples of some tools, not enough of others... Specialized items in different cabinets...new consumables in office. In short...its a mess.

    Big tool cabinets sounded great...but $$, take up alot of room...and even then...how does one sort the tooling ie-I have at least 8 kinds of 3/8" carbide endmills...same for 1/4, 1/8 1/2"...then indexables, new tech, old tech that we still like...update to toss out the ones we no longer use.
    Something expandable...retractable in terms of amount of each item or create spaces for "in between". Seems overwhelming so I leave it as it is...

    Anybody have a system that works, that they like.

    Thanks

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    Im in the same boat almost exactly.

    would love to hear the responses from those who have found something that works for this scenario.

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    SIM, You talking about your shop or mine...???

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    In my previous life, for a big Fortune 500, they invested big $$$ (deep into the 6 figures) for a computerized magazine silo system. It was ok I guess, only so many options for large scale operations. This thing had 3' X 10' trays that were each configured as we wished with dividers and tubs... 50 of those large trays in the silo... 1500 square feet of tool storage in a 10 X 12 footprint, but 20 feet tall.

    For me, the closest I can come is this:
    I got a dozen ball bearing tool box base cabinets, average of 8 drawers each. Lined a store room with them, put a counter top on them, labeled the drawers. It is far from perfect, but I'm getting better and it is working for the "storage". I use tools are in individual cabinets at the machines.
    The boxes I got were $400 each, so a lot of drawers for the $$.
    I wanted Lista but the quote was over $30,000. This cost under $6,000

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    I've seen some pretty ingenious storage solutions over the years. search craigslist, people are always getting rid of things you can store stuff in. I've seen people use the old library card catalog drawers for tool storage. you can find those almost for free, just gotta look around. harbor freight has bins you can buy cheap. get a bunch of those and put them inside a cabinet and label each one.

    I got a bunch of metal cabinets with slide out bins. I labeled each for different inserts we use and then as the drawer goes deeper you get a larger TNR and in the very back is extra screws and wrenches etc. took a good weekend to organize and its been working pretty well, need to label some more drawers as we got some newer tooling. my big problem was getting the operators to stop pulling the complete box of inserts and leaving it at their station. once a week I would do a drawer check and order inserts I saw we were low on. I try and keep at least 1 box of inserts in reserve.

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    We have dealt with this issue as well. What we have done is created standard space for "common" tools such as endmills, taps, inserts, and drills, with "Kanban" cards. When a guy takes and endmill and there are 2 left, he takes the card and turns it in to purchasing so more can be ordered. For specialty tooling, we have created setup bins. This bin will have all the tooling required to set a specific part or part family up. Do we have too many half inch drills etc in these bins? Yes. But knowing that you can simply grab a bin and set a job up completely makes the job a lot easier. A common drill is very inexpensive compared to having a machinist have to go get one every time he sets the jobs up. When the job is over he strips the tools out, puts them back in the bin, and puts the bin back on the shelf. Some bins also include basic setup sheets to aid the machinist. Some larger jobs that have recurred numerous times also have their own job pallet, fixture plate with 30 tools in holders, ready to put in the machine.

    This has separated the common tools from being a problem (we always have stock) from the special ground, feature specific tooling (it's always in the pan). For some of the specials that we have ordered we have determined that it makes sense to have multiple tools in case we run similar parts in different machines at the same time.

    For implementation, take one job, make it a sample, and as a job is set up, tear them down and spend the time to kit the tooling.

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    Compared to where I came from, I like my little system, and it didn't cost much...

    Hardware store was getting rid of their bolt bins, so I bought a bunch of those, and the cheap plastic
    drawer things that they sell at K-mart or Walmart, and probably Hobby Lobby.

    Drills are in the cheap little plastic cabinets.. Labeled by size, and decimal size...

    Inserts each all have their own drawer by type.

    Reamers are by size range. 0-.150, .151-.275 etc.....

    Endmills, the way I have them divided up is the way *I* do it, won't work for everybody...

    I don't do a lot of aluminum, and I don't use a lot of big endmills.... All my ali specifics are
    in one drawer.. Then I have, balls under 1/4, and over a 1/4... I have a drawer for longs.. I have
    a drawer for ground rads, where I keep the .060, .090, .120 rad endmills... A couple of drawers for
    the little stuff, 1/16, 1/8, 3/16.. Then a big drawer for 1/4, one for 3/8 and 5/16, then 1/2s, then
    5/8s and up... I also have a drawer for roughers... And one for chamfer tools... and one for oddballs,
    key cutters, dovetails and what not...

    Counter sinks are in their own little cabinet, separated by included angle, center drills and spot drills
    are in that little cabinet also.

    Taps and dies are all sorted into their own little drawers also...

    And the most important drawer... The JUNK drawer.. where endmills go that are beyond normal service life,
    but aren't ready for the scrap bin yet. Should be called the "emergency" drawer...

    The shop may be a mess (I'm working on it), but I know where every insert, every endmill, and every drill is, and I can
    go get it in a second.

    I'd love to have fancy expensive cabinets, but I just can't bring myself to spend crazy money, when cheap works just as well...
    One of these days I would love to get my hands on an old wooden card catalog... But those stupid things have gotten expensive...
    You can also see how cheap I am. I'm not spending $400 for a Huot tool cart when a $40 cart can be converted so quick and easy
    with a hole saw... (if you do that, reinforce it, I came in one morning to all my tools all over the floor, the particle board isn't
    that strong).

    So that's my system, here are some pics, its not very exciting, but it works for me.
    And go get one of those fancy little laser label makers, very handy.



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    The place next to my shop was getting rid of some drawing file cabinets or blue print file cabinets.
    These work great for cheap storage. They don't have the ball bearing drawer slides, but I like how they are wide and deep.
    The drawers are only about 2" tall.
    I had some trays made out of expanded acrylic that hold my Da 100 and 200 collets.
    They work great for my purposes and they were the right price (free).

    Michael

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobw View Post

    Hardware store was getting rid of their bolt bins, so I bought a bunch of those, and the cheap plastic
    drawer things that they sell at K-mart or Walmart, and probably Hobby Lobby.

    Drills are in the cheap little plastic cabinets.. Labeled by size, and decimal size...

    Inserts each all have their own drawer by type.

    Reamers are by size range. 0-.150, .151-.275 etc.....

    Endmills, the way I have them divided up is the way *I* do it, won't work for everybody...


    So that's my system, here are some pics, its not very exciting, but it works for me.
    And go get one of those fancy little laser label makers, very handy.

    Thank you for the pics...That is sort of what I have now.
    Worked fine when I was the guy on the floor.

    Plastic cabinets and bins from Big Box stores I found work great...till too many carbides are put in a draw and draw breaks...so they push harder and cabinet tips over or is left in a precarious position so later the whole thing comes crashing down.

    Other issue is tool and inserts do not fit in draws to well...especially when pushed in. I can put a card or two in a draw...but then need a place for the third...so it sits on top...


    Some good ideas though...library cabinets would do the trick...if they didn't take up soo much space for the amount you can put in them in an organized manner...I started with something like that some years ago...nice and organized...but one tool took a 4" x 4" x 10" space...

    But maybe cheap Plastic Bins in a steel shelved cabinet.

    Good ideas....and at least, if nothing else I found I am not the only one in this boat. Thanks

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    You never did state a budget or I missed it. I know they can be expensive but, Lista cabinets or Stanley Vidmar cabinets are the greatest thing for tooling organization. If you are patient you can find them on craigslist or auctions or Ebay reasonable.

    Basically This:



    Plus a Brother label marker:



    Gets you something like this beautifully organized drawer:



    My old boss was super anal about organization, he turned a disorganized shop into something that was really great. It has definitely rubbed off on me. It's nice to know where everything is and it keeps expensive tooling from banging against each other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lastrada View Post
    You never did state a budget or I missed it. I know they can be expensive but, Lista cabinets or Stanley Vidmar cabinets are the greatest thing for tooling organization. If you are patient you can find them on craigslist or auctions or Ebay reasonable.



    My old boss was super anal about organization, he turned a disorganized shop into something that was really great. It has definitely rubbed off on me. It's nice to know where everything is and it keeps expensive tooling from banging against each other.

    I wish I had somebody who was anal about organization push me into good habits...having to break my old bad habits is almost working backwards.


    For whatever reason I always shied away from looking at used...figured used was still prohibitively expensive. A quick search and I see they are not that bad. Pricey...but not that bad.

    I can get a substantial amount in a couple of the 9-12 draw units. We can make space in here for those...draws can be configured and reconfigured as needed.

    Think I am going to do this...

    Thank you.

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    Plastic bags with write-on labels.
    Inside are nuts, bolts and washers in boxes and bags from suppliers.
    Outside it says something like
    "pump to frame"
    "brackets to frame"
    use 2 1/2" wrenches

    It really helps me when I go to build one of those occasional jobs.

    Otherwise I am really impressed with Huot storage products and carts.

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    I have a lot of small tools from Harvey that get to be a real pain in the ass when you end up with 7 different styles of .050" endmills. I am just starting to implement this, but below is the latest system I've come up with to try. Each diameter gets its own plastic bin, and within each bin are labeled pouches for the tools. It's nice so far since I can get away with using part numbers on my setup sheets to minimize errors when my operator sets tools. And those of you who use a lot of Harvey tools know that the printing on their labels can wear off pretty easily, which really sucks when digging through an overflowing bin of tools and an employee that can't grasp the difference between .125" LOC and .125" reach tools.

    Further, each tool in the pouches are marked with a color code on the tool itself (gets marked as the machine is unloaded) and on its case: Green is ok for plastics, blue is ok for finishing and red are for roughing only.

    dscn0325.jpg

    Small drills and carbide TSC drills will get the same system applied.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SIM View Post
    I wish I had somebody who was anal about organization push me into good habits...having to break my old bad habits is almost working backwards.


    For whatever reason I always shied away from looking at used...figured used was still prohibitively expensive. A quick search and I see they are not that bad. Pricey...but not that bad.

    I can get a substantial amount in a couple of the 9-12 draw units. We can make space in here for those...draws can be configured and reconfigured as needed.

    Think I am going to do this...

    Thank you.
    Good for you. For plastic bins, be aware of Schaller Corp. They a significantly less expensive than Lista brand, without sacrificing quality/durability. Schaller also offers a much wider range of sizes than Lista. Schaller Corporation - Red Plastic Boxes, Organize Your Workspace

    Disclaimer: just a satisfied customer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    I have a lot of small tools from Harvey that get to be a real pain in the ass when you end up with 7 different styles of .050" endmills. I am just starting to implement this, but below is the latest system I've come up with to try. Each diameter gets its own plastic bin, and within each bin are labeled pouches for the tools. It's nice so far since I can get away with using part numbers on my setup sheets to minimize errors when my operator sets tools. And those of you who use a lot of Harvey tools know that the printing on their labels can wear off pretty easily, which really sucks when digging through an overflowing bin of tools and an employee that can't grasp the difference between .125" LOC and .125" reach tools.

    Further, each tool in the pouches are marked with a color code on the tool itself (gets marked as the machine is unloaded) and on its case: Green is ok for plastics, blue is ok for finishing and red are for roughing only.

    dscn0325.jpg

    Small drills and carbide TSC drills will get the same system applied.



    I did the labeled paper bag in a box in a draw think for my endmill regrinds. Worked great for me, till guy drops a mills in bag breaking thru bottom..."oh well" stuffed envelope in box and shut draw. Then bags not put in size order...so then each bag has to be picked up and checked..order is not longer order...before long its a box of endmills with bags...

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    That applies to any system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    That applies to any system.
    True...very true.

    true...but paper bags did have shortcomings for a machine shop. Maybe because my tools where larger. Thinking back...some damp hands and tooling would allow tooling to easily fall thru. Some less then careful insertions did not help...in a rush. a tool would be left, bag not in proper order thru off the arrangement...after a couple items are not in their place, bags do not stack flat anymore and disorder followed.

    The idea is great...just need to carry it out further to dedicated, labeled, sturdy spots in a single location.

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    Quote Originally Posted by extropic View Post
    Good for you. For plastic bins, be aware of Schaller Corp. They a significantly less expensive than Lista brand, without sacrificing quality/durability. Schaller also offers a much wider range of sizes than Lista. Schaller Corporation - Red Plastic Boxes, Organize Your Workspace

    Disclaimer: just a satisfied customer.
    I will second the schaller plastic bins. I picked up a bunch. Got them off ebay. They work great.
    I have been on a tool organization mission myself lately. I bought a $110 end-mill, when I didn't realize I already had one, because nothing was organized or labeled. That was the event that put me in organizing mode. Lucky for me, Allison already had a label-maker, and she doesn't mind making labels.
    And, lucky again, the cabinet I bought (for cheap) came with tons of dividers. That cabinet has been one of the biggest shop improvements I ever made. It is such a time saver to not only know where something is, but also if you are low or out of something, at a glance, because everything has a place.

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    Keep an eye out for used Lista and Vidmar. I got an old Vidmar cabinet for free. Mentioned to a coworker that I was shopping for one. He had several in his garage and was happy to get rid of one. Turns out his dad works for a company that "moves" everything for Timken. They scrap those cabinets by the semi truck load. The one I had is in really nice shape, just dirty.

    That and a label maker, and I feel MUCH more organized.

    I bought a bolt bin to organize parts into, again, labeled.

    I have a Kennedy roll around, ball bearing, I found AkroBins fit almost perfectly. For $50 in bins I have several drawers organized with inserts, taps, drills, reamers, all other sorts of tooling. I probably have $400 in the setup. As I grow, I plan on adding a Kennedy for each machine with specific tooling, along with short order supplies. Then my big vidmar is the "refill" station.

    I only have 3 employees right now; me, myself, and I. But they keep me pretty busy with tooling and keeping the shop clean and organized. I like to have "a" system, either way, if I hire someone it is already set up, and if I fall over dead, it will be easier for my wife to shovel... err take care of everything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by extropic View Post
    Good for you. For plastic bins, be aware of Schaller Corp. They a significantly less expensive than Lista brand, without sacrificing quality/durability. Schaller also offers a much wider range of sizes than Lista. Schaller Corporation - Red Plastic Boxes, Organize Your Workspace

    Disclaimer: just a satisfied customer.
    Sweet Jesus mother of Mary.... A few years back I got put in charge of the tool crib for our milling department. My boss is no slouch, and was willing to invest. Two Lista cabinets, and Lista Bins galore. These were to complement a new Zoller presetter. The 2 cabinets got full fast, and the boss won't add another. This is more due to the fact that floor space is EXTREMELY limited. Even if he were to buy another, I don't know where it would go without a major reconfiguration of the shop, and a major reconfiguration of the shop won't happen just so I can squeeze in one more cabinet.

    My only problem with Lista bins is/was that their were sizes I wanted that Lista didn't offer. I spent many an hour on my own time searching for ANY similar plastic bin shaped thing in dimensions I wanted and reasonably priced. Never came across Schaller. These look like a cost effective way to increase the capacity of my cabinets, and one that the boss might buy into. Like [email protected], I have an increasing number of small Harvey tools. Ones that we keep low quantities of. Ones that don't need the 8 square inches taken up by the smallest Lista bin. This Schaller thing has me drooling. Thank you!
    Last edited by lucky13dave; 08-28-2015 at 10:01 PM. Reason: grammer/diction

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