Cleaning up - observations and suggestions

Cleaning up or not cleaning up is a recurring topic of frustration. While we can put our effort in to ways to find the culprits, I would rather we put our effort in to simply keeping the shop cleaner. To that end, I have some observations , and others can add theirs. My point here is to articulate some expectations on a shared space beyond the vague “clean up after yourself”.

In the woodshop, just about everything creates dust, and the dust goes everywhere. If you only clean up your work area, that’s not enough. In this shared space, there isn’t anyone who’s job it is to clean up the common areas. Those are also your shared responsibility. Clean up in a wide radius around your work area, around any tool that you use, and under nearby tables.

If someone is waiting on a tool, clean up. They may tell you not to worry about it, that’s fine. But plan on cleaning up. If you happen to jump in on a tool while someone is using it, offer to help clean up.

The drill press, band saws and chop saw are problem areas. If they are clean, it’s a surprise. Many who use this equipment, “only make a quick cut”. That still makes a mess. 30 seconds of work is still a mess. If the area is not clean, do your work, then clean it up. Someone is going to have to. Behind the equipment, inside the bandsaws. Don’t forget to clean inside the doors of the bandsaws, and the floor all around.

Anything that we do while sanding or cutting is getting the entire shop dirty. Reach the broom under your work table. Reach under the tables next to it. Your dust went there, too.

Jointer, planer and router. These things throw chips all around them. The middle area around the vacuum seems to collect chips from all three pieces of equipment. Each of these has multiple surfaces in, around and behind the equipment to collect shavings. Get a hand broom and knock it all off.

On the planer, chips collect on the housing, under the feed table. You gotta get in there too. Get under the planer, if you can.

On the jointer, chips collect behind the fence in all of the contours. Empty the jointer chip bin into the trash…

Router - everywhere, but especially behind it and under it.

Sander, same thing. Brush it down, sweep the floor all around.

CNC machine - the chips go over both sides, and under the table. Grab a broom while a job is running.

The table saw has a huge dust radius. All the way past the sanding stations and into the lathes. Forward onto the extension table, and under it. Out both sides to the work tables and chop saw. If you’re not sweeping off the entire top of the saw, the top of the extension table, the aisles on either side, and back to the sanders, you’re not cleaning up. Clean the miter slots, the fence slot, the handles, face plate, etc…

How far and how deep you clean can vary on how much wood you cut. But with even a single cut, you should run a hand broom on the surfaces, and a floor broom all around the equipment. If you have been there for a while, go deep.

“It was already dirty” is not an option.

It is frustrating to clean up someone else’s mess. This is a shared space that we are all responsible for. The equipment is kept working, and the lights are kept on. The cleaning has to get done as well. If you’re using the shop, you agreed to help keep the shop up.

If you’re thinking that “it’s not that bad”, or “it’s just one cut”, then there’s a decent chance that you will be contributing to the problem. If you haven’t picked up a brush and a broom after working, then you are definitely contributing to the problem. There are days when any and all of us have made a mess that was not cleaned up. It’s going to happen. Let’s work together on making that an “oops” and not a habit.

Finally, don’t forget the trash and dust collectors. Similar philosophy. If it’s not quite full, and you have been using the equipment hooked up to collection, empty it anyway. If you haven’t taken out a trash can in the last few trips to the shop, empty the trash cans. Dump 2 or 3 into a single can and take that out. This is all shared responsibility. Set a goal to take the trash out every couple of visits to the shop. Maybe you’re already doing it every time, but for those who aren’t, make sure to do it some of the time. If you can’t remember the last time you took the trash out, it’s time.


I would also comment about the trash that especially if you are taller or stronger person, please try to make a trash trip every time you hit the space.

I’m normally in the electronics lab, but I almost always try to make a run to the trash with the woodshop trash cans. It’s sometimes difficult even for me (I’m 6’+ and 200lbs+) to dump a full trash can into the dumpsters; I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for someone significantly smaller.



Thank you @buzmeg. I am too short for this task. To make sure I’m doing my part, i always choose something else to clean up really thoroughly if I can’t reach the specific mess I created.

If you have any limitations on cleaning certain types of things, just give the community a heads-up, and we will help. If I fill up a trash can, I’ll just post here that I need help with it.

1 Like

I do think that organizing the cleaning supplies would be very helpful in encouraging folks to clean up more freqently. At the moment none of the vacuums, brushes, or brooms have a dedicate home, so the first step in cleaning up is walking around the shop to find the supplies needed.

I propose we create three dedicated cleaning supply locations in the workshop. One near the back bathroom where some supplies currently live, a second at the workshop sink, and a third near the jointer and bandsaws. I think we should consider taking down the black shelving unit that holds screws (mostly empty containers for screws and one catch-all bin) and use that space for cleaning supplies.

Each of these areas needs to have a shelf for paper towls and spray bottles, a dedicated area for a vacuum with it’s own cyclone dust collector (I like this vertical one as opposed to the horizontal type, and hooks/holders for angle brooms, push brooms, brushes, dust pans, and extra bags for the large dust collectors.

The area near the bandsaws will service the bandsaws, jointer/planer, router table, drill press, and miter saw. The area near the sink will service the table saw, sanding table, lathes, and CNC. The area near the bathroom will service the workshop tables and can house any extra cleaning supplies for the lasers.

Having brooms and vacuums nearby should reduce extra steps of having to locate each item before actually cleaning up. I know I’ve felt frustrated before by having to walk into all four corners of the shop to find a broom, dust pan, brush, and vacuum, and then discovering that the vacuum doesn’t have suction becasuse the bag is full (they do fill up quickly) or there is no bag and the filter is clogged. Moving the vacuums to their own cyclone dust collection will save the filters and make it easer for folks to empty them.

We’ll also be able to keep the shop stocked with paper towels and disinfectant if everyone is getting them from the same place. And having extra bags for the large dust collectors in a visible spot will faciltate changing them out. I’m sure many new folks have noticed the dust collector bag is full but don’t know where the replacement bags are and don’t know how to change the bags out. This does need to be demonstrated during the facility tour or woodshop class.

Lastly, what is the deal with the mop bucket by the sink? Does anyone use that? From what I can tell it has been full of brown, murky water for months. It’s super gross. I think we need to get rid of the old fashioned mop and switch to a spray mop. We can use the heavy duty blue shop paper towels in place of the washable towels that come with the spray mop.


I would not currently feel confident emptying any of the dust collection bags. I’ve never even seen it done. I would like to know how to do this. How can I (and others) learn?

1 Like

If I’m in the shop, just ask me. The planer dust collector is definitely a 2 person job. If I’m emptying it, I ask for help, since the band is a challenge to get set back in. I’ll be glad to teach anyone for either of the dust collectors.


Yeah the one by the planer i emptied this morning alone. The most difficult part as Charlie said is getting the band back in there without the bag resituating itself to where it doesn’t complete the seal.

I think once we can get a formal Facilities Committee up and running (hopefully within a month), this will be one of the first big tasks – improving education and accessibility to cleaning (accessibility in the sense that @Mollie brought up). @EricP has a 1-sheet template for what we’d like to do with each machine that shows some very basic info and links to more info. We’d like to make very short clean up procedure videos for each tool showing exactly what needs to be done for it to be considered clean and put away after use.

I’ll post separately about this committee in the next few weeks to see who all would be interested in joining. It would be run by @EricP and @Jon, probably only meet once a month for ~30 min and be more action oriented (check-ins to establish what needs to be done, then mostly focusing on getting things done).


I totally agree with all of that. I do find that I am pre-cleaning when I use the shop and then again afterwards for my mess and a bit further outward from where I was working. Even if I make only a little trash, I still throw it away. It’s a great habit to get into. I use Blue a lot so I spend a lot of time over there and I try to do a little extra while my stuff is cutting. Just a little extra will add up if we all do it. One more note, I notice that almost every morning, usually 7 am, that I go in and no one is in the shop, all the lights are still on. So, as a routine, the first thing I do is turn off the shop lights. Those electric bills can add up. It is also a good habit to hit those lights after you are done cleaning up if there is no one else in the room or area. Just a thought.



We used to have more occupancy sensors in the space but they weren’t very reliable, and having the lights turn off on you while you’re working is a safety risk. Maybe someday we’ll get a more industrial-grade lighting control system, but until then every little bit helps.

1 Like

I’ve been last in the wood shop a couple nights now. Where are all of the light switches? I think I’ve only managed to find 2 of them, but there’s still a few lights left on. (I did get the switch with the giant “LIGHTS” sign)

Theres another one directly to the right of that one towards the sink and the other is between the drill press and the bandsaw. There is one row of lights that will stay on just FYI

1 Like