How to survive finding things during a workshop
Use pill bottles for organizing stamps, buffs, points and such and to keep them clean. They're also great when you're going to a workshop.
A buddy that sticks with you
I keep a couple of magnets stuck on my light over the work area. I use one for my keychuck, and it's also a handy place to park a bit or point if I'm switching back and forth between a few of them. I have another magnet that holds my sawblades that I'm currently using.
The easiest way to lube
From the Orchid Forum, I learned the neat trick of using pill containers for holding cotton soaked with lube for my burs. It's a lot easier to dip your bur into the cotton than trying to apply one drop at a time to the bur, or to keep the hole filled with lube. I do like Bur Life from Rio Grande. It cuts down on the chatter better than any other lube I've tried.
A file box for metal?
I've found a file box to be the easiest way of organizing my silver wire, and you can also use it for sheet. On the left side I have "round, 1/2 round, square" etc., and on the right I have the sizes. This way I can find what I want easily. Each wire is put inside a ziplock to keep them from getting messed up, especially on the very fine wire, and the ziplocks keep them from getting tarnished. I have several tabs with "order" on them so I can put it on whichever file folder that has wire that's getting low. That makes it really easy when I'm putting together an order.
Shallow drawers=less headaches
I splurged and bought myself a map chest. These have shallow, large drawers that are perfect for organizing a bunch of little parts. I have gem jars and those nifty watchmaker's tins from Lee Valley Tools. I like the tins better because I can write either on the glass tops with a marker or on the bottoms, and when I've used up the contents, the marker can be wiped off with some alcohol. It's also great for keeping findings and small tools organized. I got my map chest from Home Decorators Outlet for $300 shipped, and it's all wood, mostly solid. It weighed a ton and it was already assembled!
I have super magnets, aka rare earth magnets, scattered all around the perimeter of my bench. They keep my tools that I'm using for a particular project handy without them being in my catch pan. That way I don't have to worry about dropping a stone on them and scratching some of the softer ones. The cheapest I've found them, depending on the sizes, are Amazon and Ebay.
Hope the hints help. Stay tuned for other postings on "For the Metalheads."
Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak