Firefly Workshop

Firefly Workshop

firefly1.jpg firefly2.jpg firefly3.jpg firefly4.jpgWhile I love a good, messy workshop, I appreciate a clean one if only to get tips on organizing my own space. Craig and Cindy Smith’s shop, which they call the Firefly Workshop, offers some neat tricks. Also, what’s up with the astromech dome and Wall-E eyes?

I am not a ‘green freak’, but I do use a lot of scraps in my workshop organization. My main workbench was a damaged countertop from a lumberyard’s bargain pile. Lots of shelves, storage and organization cubbys are from my scrap lumber pile. A metal shelving unit was about to be tossed out, but I made it into a low doublewide shelf with a worktop. Storage under my stairs was impossible to access, plus occasional basement water would have me pulling it all out to prevent trapped moisture mold. So I made a roll-out storage platform that keeps items off the floor; airflow & fans during the occasional downpour keep it dry, safe and accessible.

Pegboard is for suckers. All that expense and work for the pegboard, mounting it with furring strips behind, and the expensive hooks themselves… no thank you. A scrap of plywood and assorted construction/drywall screws/nails for hangers is easier, more customizable and WAY cheaper. My screwdriver holder is a 22″ piece of 1X3 with holes staggered along it, screwed to the board with 3″ screws.

Power tools tossed on a shelf can take up lots of space, and cords from one tool can get caught in another, so pull out your drill and three tools fall out. So I made an appliance garage with cubbys for various tools out of scrap plywood for my outdoor garage workshop.

Readers, what techniques have you found to organize your tools? Share them in comments or email me photos at

24 thoughts on “Firefly Workshop

  1. volkemon says:

    Nice workspace!

    I really like how you are MAKEing the map of the USA out of car tags- need a florida tag? I cant see behind the shelves.

  2. machright says:

    Ahhhh……… Tools, Organization, Open Space, …..a thing of Beauty!!

  3. craig says:

    The Wall*e was a project that started before the formation of the yahoogroup, I have ties to the R2 Builders from the early days as well. The astromech dome is part of my all aluminum & brass droid that is fully R/C and even does 2 to 3 leg transformation. I built that droid after the Make: #2 issue interview when I only had two astromechs completed. Hey, I didn’t grow up, my action figures just got bigger. 8^)

  4. Snow says:

    Very nice. We like it. You have 2 workshops? One in the garage and one in the basement?

    We did put up pegboard, but we had exposed studs on the storage and utility side of our basement, so we could attach the pegboards directly to the studs. All our wheeled things are on the floor, but everything else is on shelves.

    Snow and Mike

  5. Dre says:

    OMG! You kidnapped Wall-e!!!!

  6. richms says:

    After an accident with the saw and ending up with a 250mm power cable, I am thinking that is the way to go with tools. They are inevitably used with an extension cable anyway so losing the 1.2m or so of cable is no big loss, and they store so much easier.

    I always wondered why they dont just put an IEC or figure 8 socket on handheld tools. Many places I know wont allow repair of damaged cables so replace tools as a result. While that gets me the odd drill etc for free, it is very wasteful.

    1. Spades says:

      Removable cables seem a nice idea. But then it’d be impossible for me to stand on a ladder, hold a screw in one hand, the srewdriver in the other and have the electric drill hanging from my belt on its cable. ;-)

    2. RocketGuy says:

      I have to deal with some weird sockets from time to time at work, but I have to admit that I really like the feel and function of the locking sockets, like NEMA L5-20 and L6-30.

      (For those not up on sockets, imagine the three prong tabs as part of an interrupted circle). You insert and then twist them to lock them together. L5-20 is for 110v/20A, the L6-30 is much bigger and for 208/220V and 30A(too clunky for this application).

      The only downside is that you’d have to put the corresponding socket on your extension cord, but that means it’s your tool cord only which might not be horrible.

      It might also encourage you to actually unplug while changing blades/bits etc, since it’s right there and is fun to do. Just add a cord leash and you’ll really have no excuse!

  7. jeff-o says:

    I love the cubbyhole idea. I’ll be rebuilding parts of my workshop this summer and will probably use that idea for my tools.

    It’s great having a set place to put things, that’s for sure!

  8. craig says:

    I had a few offers for missing plates, thanks anyways. Unless you have a big stack of east coast states, I love poking around in old shops and finding western plates here & there. I do have a Florida.
    The appliance cubby was made by cuting 3/4″ slots halfway through the center shelf and short verticals. They slide together notch-in-notch. Then upper/lower horizontals are screwed on, then side verticals screwed on.
    The other shelf was made with conduit pipes as seperators between the shelves and threadded rod going through keeping it together with nuts.

  9. Adam E says:

    Your workbench looks so simple and yet it must work just fine. I’m building one with 4″ thick legs to support a vise, but otherwise 2×6″ pieces. There are so many workbenches (and plans on the internet) that are so much heavier and it’s a relief to see a simple one like yours!

    1. craig says:

      So many workbenches in both plans and homemade don’t have diagonal bracing or plywood backing & sides. If you don’t do this, it will rock and sway with every saw stroke. Better yet, fasten it to the wall with a few screws so it’s rock solid.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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