Thursday morning I went down to the airport here in Palestine, Texas, where my flight instructor (prior to selling the plane) helped me put the hangar door back on its track.

Last weekend, we had serious winds come through East Texas. The NASA Balloon Base recorded winds as high as 68 MPH. That’s just two miles an hour short of hurricane force.

After that was taken care of, we loaded up the truck with the things you need to keep an airplane going. Air compressor and my roll-around cart plus assorted this & that’s.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned the “joy of carts” before. But since it’s Friday and with luck you’ll have some projects to do around home this weekend, they do warrant discussion.

First time I ever saw carts in use was when I did that hugely expensive owner-assisted annual inspection of the plane in 2012, or so.

“Go over and get me the spray can of etching primer…” the mechanic began. “It’s over on the paint cart.”

“Where’s the paint cart?”

He looked around for a moment (big hangar and all) “Over behind the fastener cart.”

Turns out there was also an air tool cart, a wiring cart, a “special tools” cart plus one or two others. Sheet metal tools, if I remember.

I don’t know about your shop, but mine always used to look like a train wreck. So when I got back from that adventure, I ordered one of those steel roll-around carts. Something like Amazon’s offering of Luxor Multipurpose W26E 2 Shelves Fixed Height Steel A/V Cart – 26″ H, Black.

Shop organizing is difficult enough as is, but once I started to get through my head that “Bench space is for work in progress, the cart is for tools…” life became a lot more manageable. Amazingly, for a few weeks with two carts, projects ran smoothly.

Working on the solar panels, for example, was a simple matter: I thought for a minute or two about what I wanted to get done on the panels (adjustments and putting back covers on the junction boxes). The question to ask here is “What can I use in the way of tools that will turn this into a very fast project?”

A trip through the shop – putting the necessary tools and supplies on the cart – and then pushing it up to the panels….piece of cake.

When done, I rolled it back to the shop, unloaded the supplies and tools and done!

Then a terrible thing happened: I needed a cart down at the hangar. The roll-around worked fine there, but now I didn’t have one for the shop at home.

Since 2012, my shop has been in disarray: The recipe for an orderly shop was gone. And until just a few weeks ago I argued with myself about whether I should get a second roll-around and get the home shop whipped back into shape.

The the little voice in my head reminded me: “You’re not going to have the airplane forever, so don’t get another cart. When you sell the plane, just bring the cart home – and save your money…”

Still, for about five years, every time I got a sale flyer from Harbor Freight (remember, I’m a tool slut), or a Northern Tool catalog, or a new Family Handyman magazine, I would be looking for a roll-around cart.

Terrible waste of “mental processor” resource, but I think we’re all still fascinated with tools at least at some level, because “tool use” is what separates us from most other animals.

There are a few other animals that use tools – and if you read this Wikipedia entry, you’ll see the animals that are “in line to replace us” as the dominant tool-using apes.

Today, I’ll be working on reorganizing the shop. Although I understand the “recipe” of shop organization, it’s something I’ve never really been able to follow. Now? Well, there are still problems.

I’ll give you an example: One of the tool roll-arounds has a drawer called “sharps.” If you need a “sharp tool” you’ll find it in this drawer. Razor-scrapers, sharp knives, box cutters, glass-cutters… But now the problem as we zoom in.

Where do you put the spare blades for things like the glass-cutter? Do you file that under “supplies” in a supply cabinet? And what about the glass-cutting oil? Shouldn’t that be in the sharps drawer, too?

Glass projects can be fun, but they illustrate the terrible truth of organizing a shop for ease of use. When cutting glass you’ll often use a tool called “running pliers.” These are pliers which have a wide, arched jaw. You score glass with the glass cutter (using some oil) and then apply the pliers to one edge and gently squeeze. The scored line with “run” as it breaks from one side to the other.

You have to draw the line somewhere, when organizing, though. So the running pliers are in the Pliers drawer. This drawer is where the Channel Locks go, along with the lineman pliers, gas pliers, brake pliers….well, you get the idea. There is even a tool used for trimming goat hooves in that drawer because it looks like a pair of pliers. You’ll also find the flush-cutting pliers, too.

I’m hell on theory. The problem is when comes down to the “practice” of all this organization, well, that may be a different deal.

I’ll let you know how it goes…maybe even some before and after pictures.

If you only have a handful of tools, it’s not an issue. But if you are seriously into MAKING things – which we covered yesterday – the ugly companion that comes along is the organization problem.

If you have any particularly keen insights into how to keep a complicated home shop sorted out, please send ‘em along in the comments section. Thanks.

Colds Are Good!

My cold started getting better the minute I noticed that it had arrived just after the airplane sale.

Reminded me of a book I have: “The Mind and Cancer” (1990, Tom Laughlin). Been meaning to add another book in that area. Perhaps Bill Moyers: Healing & Mind.

Point is, once I got back from the airport, admitted to myself that my cold was likely the result of psychological re-adjustment to “self-grounding” I knew the cold wouldn’t last much longer.

I took a huge load of vitamins and minerals (and zinc) and a Benadryl and hit the rack where I spent an hour under those 660 nm red lights.

Today, I’m happy to remove I feel damn near average again.

The point? Next time you feel yourself coming down with a sniffle pause and ask “What has changed in my psychological surroundings?”

Sometimes, you might find a surprising answer. And no, don’t throw rocks at Christian Science.

OK, weekend is nearly here…

Write when you get rich,

George@ure.net

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