If you're anything like me, you spend a lot of your precious time in the studio looking around for that tool you were just using a minute ago. For me, sadly, this tendency to lose track of things is not only limited to when I am in the studio. For example, I am pretty sure I have NEVER EVER set my keys down in the same place twice.
But there is hope - at least in the studio! In today's post, Lawrence Weathers shares how he keeps track of his tools with magnets and metal shelving. - Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Never Misplace a Tool Again!
by Lawrence Weathers
I noticed that I was spending a lot of time digging through the mess around my wheel to find tools. I had tried numerous plastic containers to hold them, but this didn’t work very well because at least half of the tool was hidden from view, so it was difficult to identify which one I wanted without pulling most of the tools out. Even worse, sometimes I would knock one of these plastic tubs over, sending a bunch of tools to the floor. I needed to keep my tools completely visible. Also, since I’m not very good at putting things back where they belong, I didn’t want a system that would require me to put a tool in a specific place each time to find it again. Since my throwing area is bounded on three sides by steel shelves, the vertical sides of the shelves were unused storage space that I could utilize by putting magnets on my tools. This allowed me to have easy access to them and be able to see all of them at once. Also, I didn’t need to put tools back in the same spot. Any shelf edge would do, and there were a lot of them within arm’s reach.
Make your life easier with custom tools!
In addition to his fantastic throwing and carving techniques, Adam Field shares the details on making his own tools in his technique-packed DVD Precision Throwing and Intricate Carving. Adam demonstrates how to make a sangam carving tool, a trimming knife and an adjustable worktable—three tools that are invaluable to his success.
I bought 40 6 mm × 3 mm grade N42 neodymium disc magnets online for less than $10. Most such magnets are grade N35, but since they were so cheap, I decided to go with a 20% stronger magnet. The stronger ones worked so well that I ordered 40 more.
Attaching the magnets is easy, you’ll just need a drill and some epoxy. Bore a shallow hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the magnet in the side of each tool. For better adhesion of the glue, it’s best to rub the magnet back and forth on a piece of sandpaper to create a rougher surface. Fill the hole with epoxy. Then press the magnet into the hole and clamp while it dries. Make sure that the surface of the magnet is slightly above the surface of the tool.
I also use magnets to store my metal tools, such as needles, ribs, and those made from hacksaw blades. With these, you can just put a magnet on the shelf edge and stick the metal tool to it.
For more great homemade tool ideas, check out Ceramic Decorating Tool Techniques: How To Use Clay Pencils, Slip Trailers, Glaze Pens, and Carving Tools to Decorate Ceramics, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily subscribers.