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A Savage FOR Toolrack

Build Log

This is a build page about my version of the Savage First Order of Retreivability (FOR) toolrack. What's that, you say? Adam Savage (of Mythbusters, Tested.com, etc.) a while back came up with the idea of FOR to address the problem of smooth work flow in the shop. The idea of FOR is that you shouldn't have to move something out of the way to find the tool you need, and the tools should be in an arrangement that makes them easy to find and put back. No more opening different drawers and rummaging within each one for something. You should be able to just glance over at the tools, grab the one you need, and get to work. Savage's first corollary to FOR was "Drawers are where things go to die!"

Fig. 1

At least part of the problem is better understood by the chart above - way too much time is spent getting the tool you need in order to proceed on the next step in the project. This doesn't apply to me, of course - I've just heard its a problem for others. Really. I'm just asking for a friend.

Having built a nice tool chest, a matched set of "drawers of death" that I do find rather useful, I was skeptical at first. Nevertheless, I admit I know all too well the workflow effect of tools when they are either hidden or not handy, so I thought I would give FOR a try. This webpage is a description of where my FOR toolrack experiment is right now, but I have come to learn that it always will be a work in progress as it adapts to my changing repertoire of projects. I've also learned that having the tool handy not only makes it easier to get, it makes it easier to put back, so you get a double dose of efficiency. That I liked. A place for everything and everything in its place.

Fig. 2

The first step for anyone who makes one of these is to wrestle with which tools they find to be the most important, since these should be the ones closest to you. In my way of thinking, tools that are rarely used can go into drawers or other forms of storage because putting them away won't interfere with the daily flow of work. Which tools get the nod depends on the kind of work being done, so since we don't all build the same things, everyone's idea of the most important tool set is pretty unique.

I cut three 2x4 plywood panels for the sides, bottom, and door, and used scraps for the rest. I started by making the basic rack sides and bottom, pretty much like the one Adam shows off here, and putting it on swivel casters, cutting out shapes on the sides to lighten it a bit as well as grant both visual and physical access from the side.

I found myself agreeing with Adam about having the glue on top, so on the very top I made an open box that holds pens, pencils, and markers as well as glues, glue brushes, nail files and erasers. The first shelf holds a variety of screwdrivers and tweezers. The next shelf has files, scissors, and several other hand tools I use often like a deburring tool, hemostats, nail sets, awl, etc. The third shelf has a full set of both SAE and metric nut drivers and SAE and metric handled hex (aka Allen) wrenches. The last shelf holds larger handled tools like many forms of pliers, vise grips, etc.

The bottom has a power strip in it to provide power for the soldering tools and the battery charger for the black case that contains my cordless drill and impact driver.

Note: these photos may be examined in more detail by right clicking the photo and selecting "View Image" or "Open Image in New Tab" depending on your browser.

Fig. 3 Fig. 4

Because I am often soldering things, I decided to provide a soldering station in the back. I used a drop down door to hold the mat, as well as making holders for the solder reel, a solder tip scour, and the soldering iron. I edged the door with a strip of wood to keep any parts from rolling off onto the floor. At the rear of the door is a small shelf for holding other related accessories, like flux pens, solder wick, flush cutters, wire strippers, etc. It is also where I put the PC board vise when not in use. Hanging above off the back of the shelf that holds the files and screwdrivers, are a pistol soldering gun, and a charcoal filtered fan for absorbing flux fumes. Above that is a rod that holds colored electrical tape and many 3D printed reels of wire. Wanna solder something? Just drop the door, and everything's right there. When not in use, the door just folds back into the cabinet.

Fig. 4

From the side, on top we have three slots for pencil erasers, with a socket rail for SAE 3/8 drive sockets, and 3/8 inch drive sockets for metric below that. Under that is a magnetic strip that holds ratchets for 3/8 and 1/4 inch sockets, and next to them are extensions for both sizes. This is followed by a set of SAE ratcheting hand wrenches. Below the magnetic strip is a rack of SAE and metric 1/4 inch drive sockets. Under that is a holder for a claw hammer, a utility knife, and a small plastic and rubber faced mallet. Still room for more on the bottom.

Fig. 5

Seems like most projects I end up doing a lot of layout work, so this side of the rack has layout tools - rulers, squares, calipers, measuring tapes (most are both metric and imperial) and templates for circles, ellipses, squares, french curves, etc. The three pronged wooden device in the middle is a Fibonacci divider I made, allowing layouts to be made consistent with the golden ratio (phi) which I have been found to be surprisingly useful.

(Sorry about the chaotic background - I was in the middle of an unrelated shop "rearrangement" when the photo was taken.)

Fig. 6

This toolrack integrates into my shop very well. I think it hits about 90% availability, which means that 90% of the time when I pick up a tool, it is on the rack. No, I haven't done any large population longitudinal studies on it, but that is what it feels like so far. I still use the drawers in my tool chests, though - like in the sockets drawer I still have outlier tools like wobble extensions, various adapters, and all the spare sockets and ratchets that seem to accumulate over time. My rule of thumb now is that if I go to a drawer for the same tool more than three times, I consider if there is a place for it on the rack.

The space at the bottom I am toying with the idea of placing the more oft used power tool, like a jig saw, random orbital sander, maybe a hot glue gun, etc. I am also thinking about another shelf to hold the increasing number of 1/4 inch drive bits I seem to accumulating, but we'll see.

Not bad for taking up a 2x2 foot floor space. I'm a believer!

As I said before, this is a work in progress. As I do more projects, more tools will come into common use, and what goes on the rack will change.

Comments may be directed to gary at liming daught org.

Thanks for viewing this build log!