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Old 01-27-2012, 12:02 PM
John Courte John Courte is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 634

Every few sessions, I reach a saturation point at which I just can't stand the mess, so I go medieval on it. Sort of like a reboot when the PC gets too slow. However, I try to vacuum up all the chips and scraps off the floor as immediately as possible because I don't want my dog walking around on them, and I like having him in the shop. Because my space is small and weird, I often reconfigure arrangement of tables, tools, and the plane itself before significant construction phases, which is another opportunity for a good cleaning. I figure cleaning/rearranging is part of the process, so there's no shame in spending a whole session cleaning and organizing.

Everyone has a different comfort zone for this kind of thing, but when things are in the way in such a manner as to be actually dangerous, or too much time is spent looking for things instead of building, it's probably time to tidy up.
RV-7 N313TD
SOLD 7/2/2020
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:19 PM
islandmonkey's Avatar
islandmonkey islandmonkey is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Posts: 538

I have dogs, so it is sweep up chips after every session- Has to be a habit.
Anthony Johnston
Brit working in Zurich, Switzerland.
1500 hour pilot and ex instructor and examiner.
RV-4 s/n 4572 Emp Kit.
RV-3B s/n 11460 Emp Kit. (In storage).
Anthony's RV-4
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:01 PM
RV10Man RV10Man is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Posts: 1,058

Originally Posted by DonFromTX View Post
I can verify he is telling the truth, I have been there to see it! However I would be quite distracted in building by all those antique tractors sitting there staring at me
Thanks Don.
I didn't know Wayne had brought you down.

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Old 01-27-2012, 02:17 PM
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Mark12A Mark12A is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 89

Originally Posted by flyingshocker View Post
... 'shadow' boxes work well, it greatly reduced the number of bucking bars, inspection mirrors, and wrenches that got closed up in the wings. Its scary to think that the "professional" builders let these things slip by.
Ditto. I ran an Aircraft Battle Damage Repair squadron working on F-4s and later on F-16s. All our tool boxes were shadowed and if there was a tool missing, the entire group would stop and look for it. It's a lot easier when you're only working on one airplane at a time. You did NOT want to be the guy in charge if some wandering O-6 found a wrench in the inlet of a jet ready to be tested...
Jay Staub
Lt. Col., USAF, Ret.
N6565S Reserved
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:01 PM
David Paule David Paule is online now
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 4,658
Default Thanks, Everyone!

These were helpful.

I appreciated Sam's tips for not wasting time, too.

RV-3B kits on order
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:07 AM
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Closterman Closterman is online now
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: La Sarre, Qu?bec, Canada
Posts: 90
Default Tool near of the job

I have a small shop, and when I setup my shop to build my RV-7, I had to find some way to optimise the few space I have... So, I had the idea to put 2 old door just above the workbench. The upper shelf are storage for long parts. The Lower shelf are for the tool I use often (drill, rivet gun, box of cleco, box of hardware and rivets, #30 et #40 bit, ect. ect).. I really like that.. Just one thing, make sure your tool are secure and don't fall.... (Don't worry it's not happen....for now.. ).

Martin "Closterman" Rousseau
Piper Cherokee C-FEYI (sold)
RV-7A C-GMYL Status : FLYING with perpetual RV Grin!!!
RV-9A Status : Tail & Wing 90% Fuselage: 10%
Hatz Classic : building wings (on hold)
Donated to VAF (12-2017)
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:24 AM
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pilotian pilotian is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: CMH, OH
Posts: 191
Default clean

Shop vac is your best friend!

I have a hard time staying organized, but after building at my friends house (he is a organized pro!)I realized that knowing where everything is and having it there always saves you more time than you could ever imagine!
Ian Hoyt

N527DH (reserved) RV-8
Tail Kit: 80% done

Follow my flying journey on
Twitter: ianhoyt
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:33 AM
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Mike S Mike S is online now
Senior Curmudgeon
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Dayton Airpark, NV A34
Posts: 15,707

Originally Posted by Ironflight View Post
Once we had things out for a major project, we left them out until it was done - then did major cleanups and tool "put-aways" periodically.
Yep, that is pretty much how I do it also.

Originally Posted by Ironflight View Post
The truth, however, is that at the age most of us start building an airplane, the chances that you're going to change your overall habits are pretty small.
AMEN to that.
Mike Starkey
VAF 909

Rv-10, N210LM.

Flying as of 12/4/2010

Phase 1 done, 2/4/2011

Sold after 240+ wonderful hours of flight.

"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it."
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:47 AM
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longranger longranger is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: 45G, Brighton, MI
Posts: 1,888

I am my father's son; he would roll his Stearman out of his hangar after an annual and you could still see the planform of the airplane on the floor in scattered tools. He did win the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic award (postumously) though.

I read Sam's essay 14 years ago when I started my Rocket, and I've tried to take it to heart. I am a very slow learner, but I AM getting better. I only put all the tools away at the end of a major assemby, but if I notice a tool on the bench I haven't used in a while, I'll take the time to put it in its place in the tool box. That little bit of time pays back many times over the next time I need that particular tool.

As good as it gets:

About normal:
Miles (VAF# 1238, Paid up as of 12/20)
RV-7 TU 904KM (reserved)
Wings Fitted and Finish Kit on site

Construction Log
Empennage Album, Wings Album, Fuselage Album

1955 Cessna 170B flying since 1982

'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.' -Unk.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:02 PM
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empennage empennage is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Southern California
Posts: 5

Organizing is either my gift, or illness (depending on who you ask). Here are a few tips I have learned:

- Have plenty of trash cans in convenient places. If you don't, trash will accumulate in piles on your work areas.

- If you look in a specific storage place for a tool/item 3 times, move the item to that space. Let's say you have screwdrivers in the 3rd drawer of your toolbox, but you keep going to drawer 5 for them. Move the screwdrivers to drawer 5.

- Keep items often used together near each other. Although it makes sense to put rivets, nuts, and bolts together, it makes MORE sense to put rivets and riveting tools together.

- Have a stack of plastic baskets (or similar containers) for temporary storage of in-use items. Maybe it's going to take 3 or 4 (or more) sessions to finish a task, so it would waste time to put the necessary tools away at the end of each session. Place them in a basket and they will be there when you need them tomorrow (and you will be able to find them).

- Make efficient use of your storage space. If the shelves are adjustable, move them so there is no "dead space" above the shelf's items. If they aren't adjustable, you can hang wire baskets, or hooks, or even stretch bungee cords across the underside of the shelf above to utilize the empty space.

- You don't want to have to move something to get to something else, ideally. Boxes that can be accessed from the ends, while stacked, are better than boxes with top access that you have to unstack to open. Drawers work well, too. You can make racks out of C-channel or right angle strips to hold those compartmentalized plastic boxes in a way that they can each be accessed individually.

- Have cleaning supplies handy and easily accessible. Mentioned by several people already is the omnipresent ShopVac? - the wall-mount idea is brilliant! If that isn't an option, you can at least pick up 3 or 4 dustpan & brush sets for dirt (groan) cheap at the discount store. Hang them in convenient locations.

- Have clearly defined areas for stuff. Have the cleaning supplies shelf, and the power tool charging shelf, and the measuring tool drawer, etc. You are much more likely to remember where things are, and where things go if there are classifications. We even have silly names for things in our shop such as The Adhesives Cabinet and the Safety Shelf (for PPE). It's goofy, but I will never forget where the hearing protectors, masking tape, or epoxy are again!

Hope this helps, and happy building!

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