Sunday, February 19, 2012

Storage and organization on a real budget

© 2012 Joshua Stark

Last year, for some godforsaken reason, we finally succumbed to our media overlords and purchased cable TV.  In our defense, it made internet access much cheaper and gave us a land-line.  Plus, we bought the cheapest deal, the "family package", in which we discovered that families don't watch sports or news (you know, like the kind that basic cable gets you), those being too fru-fru, I suppose.  There is probably a gem about the economic well-being of American families in there, somewhere; I'm just too tired to mine for it right now.

Anyhoo, I must admit that I have become hopelessly addicted to the DIY Network channel, with its interesting shows, its upbeat personalities, its 'go get 'em, Tiger!' attitude.  Even its commercial breaks tend to be entertaining, containing little tips on how to lay a floor, build an addition, put in crown moulding, etc.  The danger of the Do-It-Yourself channel is that it starts to convince you that you can, in fact, do it yourself.  However, there are some pitfalls, especially for a person who can only afford cable that doesn't even give him CNN.

It's the little things that get to me, like how to save ten grand on your kitchen upgrade (if my kitchen upgrade saved ten grand, it would leave me about $9,950 richer than I am now).  Or the army of helpers, power tools, and expertise each show comes equipped with.  If I had a radial-arm saw, a four hundred horsepower compressor, nail guns and a table saw with a cavalry's-worth of sawhorses, I honestly believe I could do it myself.  But, as I am reluctant even to purchase the 4x8 plywood for the lazy susan spinning shelf, my abilities are a tad constrained.  (In its defense, DIY Network has a show called "Renovation Realities", where they basically pick on people who don't have bottomless tool sheds and scores of minions... but, at least it is reality TV that shows reality.)

I do have a ($75) bandsaw and some rotary tool stuff.  I even have a circular saw.  And I have various wood-removing hand tools (scraper, teeny handplane, dentally-challenged Japanese pull-saw, tiny Marples saw*).  Of course, most of my tools have a beautiful, light, even layer of rust on their flat parts, a result of the seive-like roof of Castle Rattington, the storage shed.  I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of sawing down a palm tree with a Japanese pullsaw, but let me tell you that it's even more fun when the sawblade is missing a few teeth and looks like it was stored in a collander in a tidal zone.

I'd been overwhelmed by the notion of tackling that storage shed for a couple of years, and it wasn't until I tore out every hidey-hole for furred vermin that I realized I had a diamond-in-the-rough.  It's big enough (say, 14'x7'), and after removing the weird shelving from a previous owner, I felt like I had something to work with.  I knuckled under and bought a sheet of pegboard, hung a bunch of tools, and suddenly the place actually felt useful.  What I needed was more organizing storage... which, if one were completely seduced by the DIY channel and various interesting sites on the internet, would require more purchases.

Shaking my head to remove the consumerist fog, I looked around at what I already had:  An old duck-and-dog house that, for emotional reasons, I still can't touch; a few cedar fenceboards that I'd purchased when I realized how useful and cheap they are; various hinges and such from previous unfinished projects; a pile of wood boxes I'd acquired via craigslist's free site (another addiction that doesn't cost a thing, except perhaps the emotional state of one's spouse).  I cut a couple of boxes to size, attached them to a piece of cedar fenceboard, and now I've got a nifty little container for the rotary tool drill press.  I plan to mount it to the bottom of of a cedar fenceboard shelf, and build a cedar fenceboard spinning shelf atop it for the rotary tool bits and pieces. 

I just may have the nicest-smelling workshop in town.

...did I mention that the boxes were free?
 *Why did I buy a bunch of tiny tools?  Because I needed/wanted woodworking tools at one time, and in the store, the tiny versions are about twenty bucks cheaper... for good reason.  Advice for a future me:  just buy the danged router and regular tools, and don't think that tiny tools can do anything other than make tiny things.


Hippo said...

a cavalry's-worth of sawhorses...

and you say you can't write?

They say you get what you pay for. When it comes to tools, it is particularly apt.

I had everything, routers, planers, thicknessers, belt sanders, jig saws, circular saws, as well as the full range of hand tools AND IT ALL GOT KNICKED.

Right now, I could really use those tools but, as I gather from the math in your post, I am just as skint as you so can't afford to replace them, especially as here in Angola the import duty means a simple hammer action drill costs an eyewatering $1,000. Sometimes I go on line to a US tool company and read and weep at all the lovely jubbly tools there at accessible prices. American cars are crap which must be why the tools to fix them are so good! Amercian builders, with plenty of good timber available (US oak is better than English oak, hence that super ship 'Old Ironsides' which really pissed off English gunners when they saw their cannon shot bounce off it) are not afraid to use wood in construction hence the wide range of excellent woodworking tools.

Never mind ten grand for a kitchen, I'd blow the lot on tools and make everything myself.

See, if you had a decent sailboat I could introduce you to the old English, and very lucrative art of revenue men avoidance (smuggling). With up to an 800% mark up, think what you could make by the tonne... I have the smugglers cove, all I need is the boat and a man attracted to the solitude a long sea passage provides.

Man, how the hell does you cleaning out your shed lead to the transatlantic smuggling of tools? Maybe I should cut down sitting on the beach watching the sun go down. That and the spliffs...

Josh said...

Don't mock me, now. It's not my best, I know. I tried to think of a military number that would better relate, but couldn't do it.

I'm sorry about folks stealing your stuff. That always stinks, no matter what.

Are you telling me that some Chinese folks aren't selling knock-off versions of those tools for cheap in Angola? Of course, there's the old, "you get what you pay for". (Note how much I get paid for writing.)

As for American cars being crap... nowadays, not even Korean cars are crap, compared to the 1980's. But Fords are really good, ever since they dumped Jaguar and Land Rover. I'm no General Motors fan, so say whatever you like about them. And Chrysler isn't American anymore - I'm pretty sure it's Canadian now.

If I had a decent sailboat, I probably wouldn't be blogging, to be honest with you.

Also, I had to Google "spliffs", if that tells you anything about my propensity to criminal activity.

Hippo said...

If it is for personal consumption, it is legal in UK. Well, let's put it this way. It is legal to buy it but illegal to sell it.

I can't stand the stuff personally but it grows wild here.

Just cut a cool deal with some locals. They came and asked me what I was going to do with all the scrap timber recovered from the demolished cottages so I said let's sit down and have a chat. I explained to them that I needed a load of raised beds but wouldn't need all the wood. So tomorrow morning they will turn up, help me build the beds and in return they can have what's left.