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What's In Your Workshop? - A NARCON 2010 Talk

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GuyNoir

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I've volunteered to do a talk for NARCON 2010 entitled "What's In Your Workshop?" that will discuss tips and hints for workshop organization, storage and tools.

I've had workshops in lots of different places (don't ask my college roommates what that was like!), and have a lot of ideas and suggestions, but it never hurts to collect tips and hints from others.

Who out here has good ideas they've used in their own workshops that they can share in my talk next March? I'll be sure you get credit (if you can translate your handle into a real name for me!) :D

Thanks in advance!
 

billspad

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If you feel you must have every conceivable tool then one of these is essential. I have two.




For storing stuff I use plastic shoe boxes




and Glad storage containers



I also store stuff piled on my benches but I'm working on that.
 

sunward

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Shelf space - very important. Otherwise everything is piled up or on the floor.

Boxes - if you store things, try to use the same size. Tomato boxes are great for paper and stack nicely. Apple boxes are good for larger items.

Use fluorescent overhead lights as the main source and spot lights as task lighting.

Don't let anyone else use your tools.
 

Peartree

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I recycle large ziplock bags that had not-so-messy things in them (like cookies or brownies). After building a new rocket (kit or scratch) I make sure that all instructions, unused decals, jigs, angle guides etc. that belonged to that model go into the bag so if I want to rebuild, repair or scratch build another one, I have all the stuff I had the first time.

[edit] To be honest, I haven't done this every time, and when I haven't I really wished I had.
 

ONAWHIM

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Think about your back when making a work surface or setting its height.

If you work standing up, try to have the surface height equal to your elbows. Model train folks do this when creating their layouts. You should be able to work longer without discomfort.
Old doors or door blanks make a good roomy surface.

Have something that you can rest one foot on that is higher than the other. This takes pressure off the lumbar area. Switch legs every so often.
We have a small wooden step stool that i use a lot.

William
 

ben_ullman

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My dad and I put in some heavy duty shelving in the garage. its not the cheap white wire crap for closets. its heavy gauge garage wire shelving that can hold 400lbs per 4 feet with a hook every 16". Its great stuff and we have 3 of 4 walls lined with it full of kits, buckets of AP, R45, casting sets, etc. Its great to be able to set stuff up there and not worry about it coming down!! (been there done that with closet shelving)

Ben
 

The EGE

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Have a great big desk with a solid top - mine's 3x5' with a quarter-inch glass top (on top of metal).

Magnets, especially the big ones from old hard drives, make excellent clamps, especially when a regular clamp can't reach around the edge.

Always have a set of mini screwdrivers, spring clamps, clothespins, and exacto knives handy. Also, a set of bandaids to go with that exacto knife.

Dental tools can be very handy. Notably their shears - high-quality little shears that can cut through anything up through sheet tin.

Kuhn fin jig. Always.

Never underestimate the strength of wood glue.

Have a good saw that can cut balsa, basswood, and thin plywood, and a decent bench vise really helps.

Epoxy clay. What did I do before this stuff?

Make sanding blocks out of 3/4" by 2" by 2" pieces of wood with sandpaper tacked to them. 60, 120, 180, 240, and 300 grit.

Get a good set of small pliers. One pair of snips, one general use with small wire strippers, and one needlenose. Craftsman makes good ones.

Get a metal ruler. You won't accidentally cut it with a knife.

Get a bunch of wooden skewers for spreading glue with. You can get a whole bunch from one of those fancy fruit arrangements.

:2:
 

rocketsmith

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I have an old drafting table I got for free from a school. It has the motor in it to move the table up and down. I have the table locked in the horizontal position which gives me a 48" x 60" work table that I can move to the correct work height with a push of my toe on the button at the floor. I would suggest this to anyone as it makes things like sanding much easier. They are getting hard to find though as Autocad has basically eliminated any need for old school drafting.
 

Micromeister

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Mark:
Recently added a Door Edge drying rack for both Micro and model rockets.
basicly it's a 2" x2" x 48" board with slighly angled up 1/4" or 1/2" dowel holes spaced either Micro or standard size models. 1/4" lite ply "cleats" are fitting to both sides of the 2x2 and door that are far enough back to allow the door to shut normally when the slip on 2x2 is removed.
From a standard 8ft 2x2 I have one that holds 12 micros and another that holds up to 6 standard 13, 18 or 24mm motor models about 4° up from horizontal while drying.
 
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mjennings

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Some of the more common things I reach for, during the build
A set of dental picks
Various tweezers
100 count pack of #11 blades
Q-tips
sanding bars with various grits (aluminum T sections with sand paper stuck on with 3m77 contact adhesive)
nice solid steel ruler and several small ones
and cutting mats

Dial Caliper while not used in my building lots there are somethings that it is just handy for.

posters and pictures for inspiration

for painting
airbrush & compressor
glass eye droppers
glass beaker ~50mL
glass stirring stick (a pain to find but so useful and easy to clean!)
beeswax for sealing threads on airbrush
 

georgegassaway

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Lots of shelf space. I used many metal shelving units. Some are 30” wide which are OK for cardboard filing boxes to go in two side by side. But my best ones are 3 foot wide which can hold two Sterilite boxes side by side, and stacked two high (so one shelf holds 4 of the 28 quart type Sterilite boxes.

I also have a custom made shelf unit running across 4 feet front of my 6 foot wide work table. Made it out of particle board. Most of what is on that one are cardboard bin-boxes 4” wide and 6” wide.

“Sterilite” type plastic containers such as 28 quart and also the approx. 3 foot long variety. Those are most useful for models, but I also use them for some parts when those are more suited than a cardboard box.

File folder type cardboard storage boxes.

Some “unique find” type cardboard boxes. Sometimes big, sometimes skinny. All of my balsa stash is stored in old slightly more than 3 foot long skinny boxes, some were what model plane kits came in, others are from Flower shipping boxes (there used to be a flower shop near the local hobby shop). So in this category, more a matter of keeping an eye out for interesting boxes and realizing what kind of stuff they’d be useful for.

I did not start out with lots of Sterilite boxes, but got them over time. But most of the metal shelving units I did get at the same time when I did an entire workshop overhaul in 1994 and finally got in all the shelf space I needed (well, at the time it was enough....). When I moved 1.5 years ago, I brought them all with me and set them up even a bit more optimally.

Last but not least - LIGHTING. I use a lot of lights. A two-bulb 4' fluorescent unit right over my work table (uses some bulbs that are a bit softer or “warmer” than typical office building types). Also many other lights. A number of them are mounted on swing arms, anchored to some of the metal shelving units to the left and right of the table, so I can adjust the lighting as needed and put it where I need it most if I am doing say soldering work on the left side of the table.

- George Gassaway
 
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jflis

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You should consider a few (2-3?) levels of "what's in your workshop".

I look at it from the point of view of my Boys & Girls Club kids. If I were to suggest things for their "shop" or range box, whatever, it certainly wouldn't begin with things like dremel tools, retail fin jigs, drill presses and the like.

Since you are likely to have rocketeers of many levels from beginners to hardcore rocketeers I may look at something like this:

Basic needs (also low cost):
- Razor knife and spare blades (emphasizing the need for replacing dull blades)
- Pencil, ruler, paper, etc
- white glue and possibly wood glue
- sand paper, different grits
- storage space for materials with suggestions such as shoe boxes, ream paper boxes, etc
- using spent motor casings glued to wood dowels as painting wands to hold models being painted
- brush on paints as well as spray paints
- good lighting, smooth/clean work area, trash can, etc

Next level up:
- Selection of different knives and razor saws
- exotic adhesives (CA, epoxy, etc)
- mitre box for razor saws
- sanding blocks (home made as well as commercial)
- tweezers, hemostats, vises, clamps and such to hold things.
- files and other such scraping/sanding tools
- angle iron for drawing lines
- More elaborate storage spaces for balsa, tubes and such, parts bins, etc

High level
- air brush
- dremel tool
- drill press, band saw, other power tools
- cad software
- storage cabinets, file cabinets, etc
- paint booths and other specialty painting apparatus

Each level gets into more serious tools and considerations and also more money. If you have someone fairly new to rocketry and start talking about a "workshop" and they are thinking along the lines of what their allowance can afford and you start right off with air brushes and dremels, they may be convinced that this isn't the hobby for them...

Just a thought :)
jim
 

cornyl

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I duct tape my entire work bench with some good double corrigated cardboard.
When it becomes too cut up and glue and paint is all over I simply tear it up and put down a new fresh piece.

Epoxy- I cut the double barrel syringe apart in two pieces so I can measure accurately.
When I am done using I pull back on each syringe and store upside down (syringe facing up) so it does not leak all over.

Fused Outlet strip- I plug everything into a switched outlet strip. Turning every thing off is easy just by turning off the switch.

I have a solid white epoxy floor. It makes clean up easy and when you drop parts they are very easy to find compared to speckled white tile.

I basically keep all my supplies in cardboard boxes. Don't really have much order to it but I know where everything is.

I'm lucky to have a basement window in my shop. Ventilation is very important and recommended on the MSDS sheets for most of the adhesives and paints we use.

Last but certainly not least....a refrigerator filled with your favorite beverage.
Sometimes it helps with imagination part of the project.

CornyL
 

GuyNoir

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Great ideas all around, folks!

Keep 'em coming!

As a NARCON aside for those attending, I'll be doing my "Growing Up Wallops" talk as well as the workshop talk.
 

georgegassaway

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Fused Outlet strip- I plug everything into a switched outlet strip. Turning every thing off is easy just by turning off the switch.
I forgot that one. That was the method I had before I moved.

In the apartment I moved into, the bottom outlet socket (of the two) for all the outlets in the room are wired into one wall switch. So I plug my power strips/cords into the bottom outlets for the ones I want to be able to turn on and off all at the same time (and that includes all the lights but one, as the room has no ceiling lights). For anything I might want to stay “on”, like a charger or security light, I have those plugged to the top outlets which are not switched. Of course this “tip” only works if your place is already wired like that, otherwise it needs to be the power strip method to turn things on and off.

- George Gassaway
 
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dedleytedley

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I use most of the handtools mentioned as well as a small drill press,small bandsaw,dremel with flexshaft and a polyarbor with an eight inch flexible drum. When I use wood glue I refill a small bottle with a very fine tip and for epoxy glue I like to use 10 cc syringes with the small tips available at hobby stores added on. They put the right amount of glue just where it's needed. My workbench is also elbow height to reduce backstrain. Ted
 

billspad

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Great ideas all around, folks!

Keep 'em coming!

As a NARCON aside for those attending, I'll be doing my "Growing Up Wallops" talk as well as the workshop talk.
Your NARCON talk is one of the reasons I volunteered to hold it. It seems I've never been able to get away in March for a weekend so bringing it here was the easiest solution. Okay, maybe not the easiest.

Here's another idea for you. This is how I store my paint. It's the lazy susan from a kitchen cabinet.

lazy susan.jpg
 

GuyNoir

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Here's another idea for you. This is how I store my paint. It's the lazy susan from a kitchen cabinet.
D*^%!

That is just completely brilliant.

I'm installing one today.

Now for that Friday night social thing, am I buying you an "adult beverage: or are you buying me one??? I've lost track of our bets over the years. . .
 

billspad

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D*^%!

That is just completely brilliant.

I'm installing one today.
Brilliant might be an overstatement. It was left over from a job and obviously way too good to throw away.

Now for that Friday night social thing, am I buying you an "adult beverage: or are you buying me one??? I've lost track of our bets over the years. . .
I'm sure it's my turn. Every time I read "adult beverage" I think Geritol.
 

GuyNoir

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I'm sure it's my turn. Every time I read "adult beverage" I think Geritol.
While the alcohol level may be good enough, I'll be looking for something with a different taste.

Say does decent bourbon make it that far north of the Mason-Dixon line??? :D
 

billspad

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While the alcohol level may be good enough, I'll be looking for something with a different taste.

Say does decent bourbon make it that far north of the Mason-Dixon line??? :D
You're talking to a guy who thinks red wine should be chilled so the odds of me knowing good bourbon from bad are low.
 

Gus

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Great ideas all around, folks!

Keep 'em coming!

As a NARCON aside for those attending, I'll be doing my "Growing Up Wallops" talk as well as the workshop talk.
Bunny,

I'm not going to be able to make NARCON but I'd really like to hear your Wallops talk. Any chance someone could video it? Even an audio would be good.

Steve
 

billspad

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I know an NAR Trustee who can help further your wine education! ;)
Perhaps we can get him to do a talk. We're trying to get speakers to cover a wide variety of subjects.
 

Spurkey

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*hm* It's not so much what's in my workshop, it's how it's organized that's the issue for me. I ascribe to the "Utter Chaos" methodology for tool storage, it's a bit of a pain... :( My work bench is shown in the attachment, will your talk be posted online anywhere afterwards? I need all the advice I can get. :)

rockets1.jpg


rockets2.jpg
 
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