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Chisel Organization/Storage Question

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  • Chisel Organization/Storage Question

    I plan on making a tool chest with removeable drawers that can be used as chisel holders to use while I am actively carving. Since I started carving I have organized my chisels from lowest to largest sweep from #2 through #11 and then v-gouges and other specialty tools and then by width. (#2s from widest to narrowest, then #3s and so on.) My chisel collection has grown over several years to include nearly 80 chisels and I am now at the point where it is hard to have them all laid out at once and am thinking of the best way to organize them so I can have one drawer/holder of say 20 chisels out at a time. My question is whether I should change the way that I organize my tools by width first instead of sweep. For example, all sweeps one inch or larger, then medium widths, and small widths. This would permit me to have the larger size gouges all available when in the roughing out stage and then move to smaller ones as I get into more detailed work.

    My goal is to be able to complete a carving session with one group of 20 or so chisels (one drawer's worth) without having to dig into other drawers frequently. Any thoughts or suggestions?



  • #2
    Hum.... 80 chisels is about 4 drawers. You want to use about 25% of your chisels in a session.
    How about sorting by the most used? Murphy's Law states that you will do 80% of your work with 20% of your chisels.
    "Quality is not expensive. It is priceless!"


    • #3

      I have a tool roll that holds 24 full size gouges that I work from. Underneath my Burke I have a box with maybe ten unique or large gouges. When I need the big stuff I just swap out some of the gouges I know I won’t be using and as the project progresses they get rotated back to the box. I also have a tool caddy that holds my palm tools, knives, files, calipers, pencils……….

      Tools are in the roll by profile; left to right, 1 to 15.

      When I was a teenager my dad told me it was my bar of soap and I could use it however I wanted. So you should do what makes you happy.


      • #4
        The answer will come from your own experience. I have seen photos of 100+ carving tools laid out beside someone's project. In my own case I rarely have more than six out of their storage place. I do not organize them according to number and/or width because they are marked with that info. I have two boxes - one with twenty of my frequently used gouges and knives - the other (see photo) with thirty gouges used less often.

        box 005.JPG


        • #5
          1.5 legs from worn out blue jeans will make one tool roll for maybe a dozen gouges.
          Big gouges, medium and little gouges. That's as close to classification as I ever get.
          For crooked knives, I drew the sweep on the butt of the handle. Most days, I don't put the covers back on the blades when I quit.

          Old Heidi-cat is too weak to jump 36" straight up to the bench so I don't put tools away like I used to.
          She has an awful time with the stairs now, as I do, so I never expect to see her in the downstairs shop any more.

          Right now, on the 64" story poles, I'm using two gouges, a 3/18 and a 5/18. Maybe 3-4 crooked knives, two are very skinny to get into groove bottoms. No mallets, it's all parings and slivers.
          I have not opened a tool box or a denim roll in weeks. What I'm using is scattered on the bench so I just leave it that way.
          Brian T


          • #6
            Originally posted by johnvansyckel View Post
            How about sorting by the most used? Murphy's Law states that you will do 80% of your work with 20% of your chisels.
            80/20 Pareto Principle.


            • #7
              Tim, that just seems like way to much organization. But if it works for you, then it is fine. I go for k.i.s.
              Carve On,


              • #8
                Man, you guys are organized. I keep my carving tools arranged in a disorganized matter on my carving table
                . . .JoeB


                • #9
                  I have my mallet tools in the top 3 of 5 drawer craftsmen toolbox. They are lined up by type, left to right by size. I use a tool roll if I travel with them.
                  We live in the land of the free because of the brave! Semper Fi


                  • #10
                    I'm in the "disorganized" camp and just leave them scattered on the bench. Just in the DNA, I guess.
                    Living among knives and fire.



                    • #11
                      joepaulbutler and woodburner807 I guess we have the same basis.
                      My tools are quite disorganized too (the one moment I don't know where I have layed them a moment before).

                      So I have to take care I don't use and buy too much tools.
                      Last edited by wasserretter; 10-05-2021, 05:19 AM. Reason: added something
                      If you don't like to call me wasserretter call me Dirk


                      • #12
                        Dang, some of you guys must have a ton of gouges! I only have 50+ gouges and about 12 knives. I subscribe to the theory that chaos enhances creativity.

                        To me, organizing can become an end in itself, another hobby, if you will. But then, being old and cranky, I don't feel obligated to always be logical, LOL!


                        • #13
                          This is the set up I use. I arrange starting on bottom left #3 to #7, top #8 to 11. # 1 and V grooves in case on the right. Other carving tools and supplies in drawers.



                          • #14
                            I think Arthur has hit on an important point - the acquisition and organization (and perfection of sharpening) of carving tools can actually work against what we strive for in this hobby. They can divert us from the creative expression which motivates our choice of this activity. Each of these may require our attention for a bit of time, but should not become ends in themselves. Now! Back to carving!


                            • #15
                              I practiced a lot to become proficient at freehand sharpening. That way, I don't pay a lot of attention to that process when I'm carving. I don't have to think about it any more. A few licks and I'm back at it.

                              Making and hafting blades in handles of the correct size was an exploration that I enjoyed immensely.
                              When I build a knife now, I know I'm thinking more about the carving than the blade.
                              Brian T