Organize your MakerPro workshop for efficiency and creativity

July 5, 2016 OpenSystems Media

As a MakerPro, you naturally need somewhere to work, and depending on what your interests are and what equipment you have, workspace needs can vary greatly. Like many others, I work out of my garage which, given its unfinished nature, lets me organize and clean things less often than other parts of the house. That being said, it’s important to have a workspace that suits your needs, and here are a few rules that seem to work well, though I’m guilty of breaking them at times.

First, if you have enough space, multiple workbenches are really helpful. So if you have a project that takes several days or weeks and are struck with another idea, you can immediately start on the other project without having to move the first to storage. Additionally, you can keep unwieldy or frequently-used tools such as a saw, soldering station, or drill press on top of them without taking up too much space. You never know when inspiration will strike, and if you can start on a project right away, this is extremely helpful.

Along with this, it’s important to keep the floors as clean as possible. In addition to helping find parts that might drop off your desk, tripping over errant tools or extension cords is a risk that shouldn’t be ruled out.

The indispensable whiteboard

Though having a clean desk is helpful for starting new projects, sometimes you won’t have the time or parts to start immediately, and sometimes you simply need to finish your other projects. For this purpose, I have a whiteboard above my main worktable. In addition to jotting down ideas, I sometimes make a sketch of something that I’d like to make. After a few days of thought, or perhaps discussions with others, a new and better method for accomplishing this task sometimes becomes evident.

Another use for a board like this is to keep track of what you might need from the hardware store. Too often I forget stuff and make more trips than needed.

Power Outlets

If you have multiple work benches, it’s important to have electricity available at each one. When building something, it’s easier to be able to plug your tools in immediately, rather than having to get out an extension cord and figure out a solution. This can be helpful when cleaning up with a shop vacuum since, as with all tools, it’s easier if you don’t have to find an extension cord.

Other considerations

On the other hand, a great alternative to your own workspace can be a communal makerspace. As I wrote previously, there are some huge benefits to this kind of workshop, and also a few drawbacks.

Finally, pictured here is one iteration of the walking device outlined in a previous post. Though it eventually morphed into one of my coolest projects, it occupied most of my garage space for more than a year. So when you’re building something, or thinking about obtaining a new tool, consider the space it will take up, and whether it’s worth the sacrifice.

Jeremy S. Cook is a freelance tech journalist and engineering consultant with over 10 years of factory automation experience. An avid maker and experimenter, you can follow his exploits on Twitter, @JeremySCook.

Jeremy Cook, Engineering Consultant
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