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Shop Is your shop messy or spotless?


What does your shop look like?

  • A total junk yard

    Votes: 7 8.9%
  • Organized Chaos

    Votes: 38 48.1%
  • Well used but messy

    Votes: 27 34.2%
  • Jam packed but room to move

    Votes: 23 29.1%
  • Not enough tools to be really messy yet

    Votes: 6 7.6%
  • Everything has a place & is in it

    Votes: 16 20.3%
  • No clutter anywhere - nothing on surfaces

    Votes: 3 3.8%
  • Spotless - you can eat off the floor

    Votes: 2 2.5%
  • Showroom Shop

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
Mine is always a mess during a project and there are always countless projects on the go at the same time! I try hard to organize and try to have a place for everything but tools seem to gravitate towards projects on the go and theres always new tools arriving that still don't have their own place.


Scrap maker
Premium Member
Mine is reasonably organized with lots of room to do metal and wood working projects. While some might pigeon hole a new machine acquisition into a spot, for me, If a new tool comes into the shop, something less useful has to leave. But I wish the shop were much better. Too many tools hanging from the walls and too many things on open shelves which give it a cluttered look and many of the cabinet drawers are inefficiently used. I keep saying this winter I will go at these problems. Maybe this winter I will LOL. I will say though, I see lot of people doing incredibly good work in incredibly cluttered shops, but I am not one of those people.
I'm making a concerted effort to balance every something that goes out the door project with shop improvement project.

Dan Dubeau

Ultra Member
I'm messy, but organized with parts and tools in the middle of a project. The problem is that there are always so many projects going on at the same times, in various stages of completion due to a variety of factors, from time, money, motivation and waiting on parts. Things tend to get a bit cluttered at times, but I generally know where everything is, and what it needs to get finished. Unless somebody moves something.....

One of my favourite times though, is when a bunch of projects get done, and it's cleanup time, and I get to start putting stuff away where it belongs. I've been on a big project finishing kick lately as I'm finally getting some more free time, and it's highly motivating to start crossing stuff off "the list" and cleaning it all up. It's a snowball effect.

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Tough one to answer. I actually probably have more free floor space than some of you, but it’s awkward on how to shuffle things around to utilize it. Plus it’s nice to be able to walk around and not walk through a maze

Likely no perfect answer, without unlimited money and shop space


Premium Member
I think I'm one of @Susquatch 's piler/filers. Every tool has its place so I can find them later but not so much with the Work In Progress (WIP) of the projects and odds & ends that don't have a home yet which can be found on a bench here and there.

I can find everything unless I put it in a clearly marked box on my industrial shelving and forget where I put it! :rolleyes: I can't emphasize enough the value of standard boxes on industrial shelving though!

Since the lathe lives in the basement I have to be diligent with floor cleanup at the end of every session because either I or the dog will track nice shiny pieces of metal upstairs..... How many of you guys & girls have a central vac in your shop? After sweeping up the biggest bits the retired (and repaired but not main floor pretty) central vac hose & brush get put to use.

The machine tools get cleaned between jobs or when switching materials because the swarf goes in a barrel for recycling.

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6.5 Fan

Ultra Member
Premium Member
My shop goes thru phases, i clean up and make a mess in a little while. Lots of floor space in the center that in winter has chore tractor parked in it, this year also parked the skid steer in the shop. Makes life sooooo much easier having a heated shop and equipment that will start. Had to move the band saw and big floor jack to cold storage for the winter though. No room along the walls, packed with work benches, big lathe and parts bins.


We all know how I am :) everything in it's spot and quite neat and organized. Though it's not a showroom or even an eat off the floor place, I use the garage, but I keep it tidy. The big driver for this is that I have a small garage that barely fits my two SUV's, so the only way to get them in every night is keeping it perfectly organized.


Premium Member
We all know how I am :) everything in it's spot and quite neat and organized. Though it's not a showroom or even an eat off the floor place, I use the garage, but I keep it tidy. The big driver for this is that I have a small garage that barely fits my two SUV's, so the only way to get them in every night is keeping it perfectly organized.
Blasphemy!!!! A garage isn't meant to hold vehicles. It's for the shop!


Ultra Member
Premium Member
The sad thing is I can't get vehicles in mine anymore and yours is still neater.

Hey! Say that with some pride you! How about....

"I feel for you @SomeGuy. Maybe someday you will have as many tools as I do and have to leave your cars outside too. In the meantime nice job keeping neat and tidy the way you like it."


Ultra Member
Premium Member
LoL I don't really want to leave my vehicles outside...it's squishy though. Here, took a picture right now, this is how stuffed it is with two vehicles in it:

View attachment 28583

I don't think my crew cab pickup would fit in there.....:(

Btw, you have so much stuff in your Toolbox top tray that you cant even close the lid. Better get on that! ;)

Here is a tip for you and others. Those jugs of washer fluid and oil up top are a disaster waiting to happen. I keep most of my fluid jugs on boot trays. The plastic those jugs are made from is the cheapest crappiest stuff possible. Sooner or later you will get one that will crack and leak all over the place. Ask me how I know. It's not if, it's only when. A boot tray provides some insurance against that by containing the disaster and providing a warning that its happening before its too late.

Mine are about 2" deep. I tested them to insure they would contain a large jug nestled among others. But usually the leaks are slow.


Each to his own, but I don't like jugs up high like that either. More opportunity to do damage and also a real pain to rescue one that is leaking.

I know it goes against your grain to fill up valuable lower space with jugs because that means other frequent used tools have to go up top. But one jug of windshield washer fluid leaked all over your tools and etching up your floor will change your priorities real quick.

You might say, "it won't happen to me". But that's a false hope. It has happened to me about 6 times now. Only the first time was a disaster cuz I got boot trays after that. Ya, it's still a mess but it's a mess that is WAAAAY easier to deal with.


Ultra Member
Premium Member
I confess that I am a bit surprised by the results so far. I expected a 50/50 split between the two groups that I will call organized chaos and neat and tidy (Pilers & Filers). The Steelcase Research was 50/50 for office workers. But so far the results of this machinist shop survey suggest it is more than double in favour of Organized Chaos.

On the plus side, I'll never be embarrassed about my shop again. The odds are that my colleagues shops look just like mine. And given the ratio, the odds are pretty high that even the neat and tidy guys are probably used to seeing messes, so they won't be offended. Heck, it might even make them happier about their own shops!

On the other hand, it's a bit hard to accept the results. A sample size of 50 is nothing to cough about. It's probably pretty representative.

Is it possible that the kind of mind that is likely to be a machinist is biased toward organized chaos vs the typical office worker? Or is it more that those who have shops that are organized chaos are more likely to belong to a forum? In other words, it isn't a behaviour related to machining, it's a behaviour related to forum membership. We organized chaos people need more help? LMAO!

Surely, many of us have non-forum buddies who share our hobby. Do you think half of them are neat and tidy? Or are they mostly organized chaos too? My own sense is that they seem to be biased toward organized chaos too. But my sample size is too low to be meaningful. Just looking for thoughts here.
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