Shop organization progress, mid 2023


During The Month Off in 2022, I realized that one thing that was bothering me was how much of a complete mess my basement shop had become. I had decided then that the following year, I wanted to clean it all up and make a nice clean workspace.

The plan was to have a "dirty shop" for woodworking, and a "clean shop" in a mostly finished room for 3D printing and electronics work. For years, I've done most of my electronics work in the same room I use as my office, and it's resulted in some difficulty for myself and my housemates. My office is crowded and cluttered. I needed to tear down and rebuild the electronics set up as needed. This made it very frustrating to just start tinkering. Moreover, bits of wire components, and so on would end up wondering around the main floor where it would become a hazard to pets and bare feet.

The first job was to store all the random stuff and half-finished projects I had neatly. Eventually, I settled on mounting shelving to an otherwise empty wall in the "clean" portion of my shop. The basic unit of storage was a plastic storage box usually used for shoes. These boxes not only are fairly cheap, but are large enough for most things. Since I already had a label maker from an earlier networking project, I used that to label the contents of each box.

Mounting the shelving wasn't too difficult once I had figured it out. I marked out the studs on the wall using painter's tape, a marker, and a studfinder. Initially, I didn't want to buy a laser level for this project. I had tried a method using a string, a plumb bob, and a protractor to strike a straight line. This worked, but it felt inaccurate and frustrating. I eventually gave in an bought a laser level the the difference was instant.

With the laser level, I could line up the screwheads of each shelf bracket and get a completely level installation. Once that was done, filling out the shelves became easy.

While the storage system was a step in the right direction, There was more yet to do. I had built a rolling toolcart, which I really should write about in it's own post. I then built on top of that success and starting building a large tool chest, but that got derailed by frustration and yet another project. I recently tore down my Ender 3 Pro 3D printer and I'm in the process of rebuilding it as a Voron Switchwire.

The Ender Switchwire Conversion, or "Enderwire", was going to require a lot of electronics and fine work. I needed a dedicated workspace for that, but there simply wasn't one anywhere which wasn't full of computers, tools, or half-finished projects. I had wanted to build a new desk for electronics work, but I could never make the numbers work out financially.

And then, a few things happened which made it much more possible. For one, I sold my first 3D print. While it didn't bring in that much money, it was something I could combine with on-going Patreon income to finance a new bench. The problem was, I wanted one that was adjustable so I could use it sitting or standing. I had built such a desk before, but it was it's own project, taking a lot of time to finish the work surface. Worse, it offered no built in storage. Surprisingly, I found that I could get a mobile workbench with two large drawers for about what I would spend on a building my own desk.

It only took an afternoon to put together the new workbench, but already it felt like it made a huge difference to have a dedicated space for electronics and fine work.

A lot of this week was taken up trying to fix a problem with the Enderwire. Like my Voron Zero, I had wanted to install a Klipper Expander to control lights and fans remotely. The problem was, there was no where in the design to mount one. After installing the power supplies, Pi, and mainboard into the redone chassis, I did found a small strip where I could mount the expander, but I could find no existing mount that would work.

So, I pulled out OpenSCAD and started work. I already found a design I really liked, and hoped to modify it with a needed flange that would fit my use case. Since the original design wasn't complicated, I first replicated the entire thing in OpenSCAD -- the original only had an STL -- and then modded that to include the flange.

It took almost 9 different versions to get the spacing, bolt sizes, and thicknesses all right, but it did work in the end. I've uploaded the files to Github if anyone else wants to use them.

The biggest problem the basement shop is facing is how I still don't have any sort of good tool storage. I had hoped to build that, but it's getting so frustrating to be slowed down by much more enjoyable projects I'm tempted to just buy some of that storage outright. That will have to wait for a little bit, though, since I still have the workbench to pay off.