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Tool storage and organization

Discussion in 'The MX Hangar (A&P/AMT)' started by modernicarus, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    When I started my current job as an airframe mechanic, I inherited a messy, disorganized toolbox at work that I've been trying to straighten up. It's a long, slow process though because I'm always super busy trying to keep over two-dozen UH-60 helicopters and a half-dozen or so EC145 helicopters flying, but I try to make improvements to it now and then whenever I get a chance.
    At home I have one of those hideous wire shelves that I took out of a closet during a recent remodel. So, the other day I got the idea to see if I could repurpose the wire shelf into a file rack. I cut it down and then bent it on the brake, this is the result.
    Not very much planning or time was spent on it, but I think it will be a pretty handy way to help me keep my files organized, sharp, and easy to find, while minimizing the footprint in my drawer. This is the first "prototype", but it will probably end up being permanent. I might trim it down where the short 6" files are too.
    I'm open to feedback and other ideas. What are some things you have done to help keep your tools organized?

    [​IMG][​IMG]

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    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
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  2. Flyinthrew

    Flyinthrew Well-Known Member

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    I work in a place where tool accountability is placed way ahead of pretty much everything else. We use black foam in every tool box drawer and cut out a spot for each tool. Then we number it. We also use shadow boards for stuff that goes on the wall. Then it is all backed up with paperwork.
     
  3. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    Tool and Fod accountability is huge where I work too. I do a tool and Fod inventory after every repair, and a tool inventory every day before I lock my box and go home.
    This toolbox had foam cutouts too when I got it, but they looked like they were cut out with an axe or chainsaw and the foam layers aren't glued together, so my tools tend to vanish from their respective homes, and slip under the foam. It's very irritating so I ripped all the foam out of this drawer, which seemed to be the worst.
    My clecoes had cutouts too, and they would disappear all the time, which often freaked me out, then made me angry, but I fixed that problem a while ago. I love my Cleco solution, it works really, really well.
    I'll eventually make new foam inserts for my drawers, but it's hard to find time. This repurposed shelf stores the files upright on edge and it is obvious if one is missing from it's slot.
    My toolbox is a work in progress.
     
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  4. gotWXdagain

    gotWXdagain Highly Visible Member

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    A man's toolbox is never clean.
     
  5. bustinminimums

    bustinminimums Well-Known Member

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    I am a bit OCD about my box. Took me almost a month to get everything shadowed. Been on the civilian side for quite a while,but it is just one of those things that followed me from my days in the Corps. Just like to know when something is missing.
     
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  6. knot4u

    knot4u Repeat Offender

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    I like the idea of shadowing, but in practice you can end up with a toolbox twice the size of what you need due to wasted space. With most boxes the drawers are deep enough that you only end up utilizing 1/4 of the capacity when they're shadowed.
     
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  7. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    Truth, @knot4u.
    These files were previously "shadowed" laying flat and took up almost all of the space in that drawer, and on top of that, I'd usually find them missing from their respective locations because the shadow coutouts were horribly executed and the foam layers weren't glued together. I had to dig around for them in the drawer pretty regularly. Crapsmanship at it's finest.
    Now they are laying edge-wise, are easy to retrieve, easy to inventory in seconds, stay put, and only take up a relatively small corner of the drawer. It's not a beautiful, glamorous, ooohh-aaaahh solution, but it works well, and it was free.
    Also, after using this rack for a few days, I ended up rotating my file rack 90 degrees in my drawer because I found that opening and closing the drawer caused the files to work forward in their slot and occasionally fall off of the tang rest. Every once in awhile I would find one or two, still in the proper slot, with the tang/heel area laying on the floor of the drawer. It was always the small 6" files, never the bigger ones. Rotating the drawer solved that problem though, I've not had a problem since.
    My clecos were originally shadowed too, same problem as the files. They took up an entire LARGE drawer just by themselves and wouldn't stay in place due to crappy construction technique when the cutouts were made and installed.
    Now I keep them in a very small drawer in neat, portable racks that I can remove and take to the aircraft with me so they aren't loose. They're also super easy to inventory before I walk away, and I never have to waste time counting them.
    Shadowing is great (if it's done with careful thought and quality) and definitely has it's place in my tool box too, but I've found that it's not always the best solution for me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  8. bustinminimums

    bustinminimums Well-Known Member

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    I can understand that. When I shadowed my box I tried to put everything close together to maximize space so I would not waste that much and luckily I still have room to fill up about 5 more drawers in my box since I added a side cabinet. I sold my soul to the Snap-On dealer so filling those up will only be a matter of time.:biggrin:
     
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  9. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    Here's a quick little rack I fabricated this morning for some locking C-Clamp pliers that were floating around in one of my drawers without any foam cutouts. They're bulky and would use up LOTS of realty if I made a foam cut-out drawer insert for them. You can barely see it, but I also bent about a half-inch of the end of the rack up slightly to help prevent the pliers from freely sliding off the rack. It's mounted to the back of the small drawer/end cabinet of my toolbox.
    I like it because it's simple, it was quick and easy to make, it's easy to inventory, and I don't have to deal with those clamping pliers in my drawer anymore. They were always in the way and never stayed where you put them in the drawer. Pixar should make an animated film for mechanics called, "Tool Story" because I swear these things get up, move around and socialize with the other tools in the drawer. Maybe they'll reproduce at one of their tool parties and then I'll have a couple more to put on my rack, I have room for two more. Haha.
    I'll probably make a lock for it tomorrow so they don't "walk away" since they aren't in my locked drawers anymore.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
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  10. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm...probably should have titled this thread "Useful Shop and Toolbox Hacks" or something like that instead.
    Anyhow, I got tired of mechanics coming into my shop and never cleaning up after themselves after using my grinder, and also letting the sparks burn the wooden bench top. So, I made this bench grinder spark catcher today out of an empty 1-gallon acetone can I rescued from the trash. I bent the edges over so it isn't sharp, and I'll probably paint it grey to make it look nice(r), and so it matches the grinder.
    Cleans up easy with a wave of my telescopic pencil magnet. Thinking about experimenting with putting some magnets underneath it to see how that works out too.
    The narrow piece of steel underneath it was my previous quick stop measure so they wouldn't keep burning my bench every time they used my grinder, but it quickly became obvious that something else needed to be done to keep the bench clean too, since they don't know how to use the foxtail and dustpan which are literally within three feet of the grinder.
    Some people...:bang:
    The narrow piece of steel will probably go into my steel scrap/recycle bin tomorrow.

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    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
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  11. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  12. bustinminimums

    bustinminimums Well-Known Member

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    You should come work at my outfit. We sure could use a sheetmetal bubba. My boss is a regular poster on this site. I will let him reveal himself.
     
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  13. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the suggestion, but I don't have an A or a P right now. I've been doing airframe work since 2013, but it's been all Army work, which doesn't require those certificates.
    Last week I found a local civilian mechanic who will let me shadow/work with him part-time so I can get schooled -up on the powerplant side enough to show the FSDO experience so they will let me take the A&P knowledge, oral, and practical exams. I'm hoping to be ready next year (2018) or 2019 at the latest.
    I enjoy airframe work, and rarely feel like I'm actually "working" when I'm doing it, but I'm trying to get a floatplane and bush plane pilot career started. I really want to do that, or at least I think I do, but I wouldn't mind doing both I guess. A best of both worlds kind of situation. Anyway, I'm starting to drift this thread out to sea now, so I should haul it back in and point it to shore...
     
  14. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    Not as simple as the stuff above, but here's my Heat-Lamp stand. I have two of them.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  15. bustinminimums

    bustinminimums Well-Known Member

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  16. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    When fabricating parts, like stringers and doubler patches for example, sometimes you need a sharp/tight bend and other times, a large bend.
    For making bend radiuses of various sizes, I made these nesting radiuses out of .032 301SS and numbered them. To use them, I nest all of the ones smaller than the one I want to use to ensure that it doesn't get bent in the brake. For instance, if I want to use the #2, I also have to have the #1 nested in it. I have all four nested together in the pics below. They are all about 12" long if I remember right. I made them a few years ago, but they still look relatively new despite being used every week.
    Do you use the same method to make different radiuses? If not, how do you do it?

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  17. bustinminimums

    bustinminimums Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately sheetmetal work is not my strongsuit. Doing the very basics is me having a good day. Bad things have been known to happen to aircraft when I get ahold of a rivet gun.
     
  18. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'll definitely PM you. Very interested to talk with you about what it's like up there. Right now SE AK looks rainy and crazy expensive, but lots of people live there and visit there every year, so maybe it isn't as bad as it sounds.
     
  19. modernicarus

    modernicarus Well-Known Member

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    That's all I do. Aluminum, stainless, fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon fiber are the most common materials I work with. Sometimes magnesium, titanium, copper, and carbon steel, but very very seldom. Never wood and fabric though, I need to work on that before I go to the FSDO for A&P testing.
    Aircraft engines and transmissions are my weakness. I'm not too bad with cars though, so I think I can probably pick it up pretty well. Avionics too, I suck at that. Haha!
     
  20. Urp99

    Urp99 Well-Known Member

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    We have a few of those in the shop I work at also, but I have to admit that I usually just adjust the setback on the brake to 'close enough' and go with it. To be fair though I work on AG aircraft and the priority is to get it airworthy, not pretty.
    I admire your craftsmanship though, I'd like to take the time to hone my skills at some point.
     
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