Workshop Hand Tools Missing

  • Need more calipers — Only working pair of calipers in woodshop has a missing battery cover. Everything works except the calipers, since moving it jiggles the battery. Might make sense to have a couple dial or even vernier calipers for backstops?
  • Drill Bit bin has many empty bins; a member was in want of a 15/16 from finishing project. Zoro sells loose bits in bulk
  • No tape measures in the tool wall or on tables that I could find.
  • Screwdriver subscription needs renewal

15/16 and 15/32!

I don’t know which of these we actually guarantee to provide. And you have to be kidding about the tape measures – there are so many random tape measures lying around on various tables and cabinets that they are actually a nuisance.

We go through a lot of tape measures each year, but they’re good to keep around. Same with screwdrivers. Well get some more in.

In both cases, they disappear. I find a lot of the small tools left around the shop. Not returning tools adds to the problem.

Drill bits are a real issue. We occasionally put out a bulk set. Within a day, it is disorganized. Particularly small bits. They do not get returned to their proper slot, if they get returned at all. Grab a bit out of the 3/32 bin, and it’s 1/8. But you can’t read the diameter at that size.

My general recommendation is the more precise/ fine finish work, the more you will want to invest in your own precision, or sharp, tools. Drill bits, Forstner bits, router bits, chisels, try square/ machinist square and calipers. Even tape measures. You really want to use the same tape measure from beginning to end of a project. They are not all the same. And they can drift depending on how they have been treated. For rough cutting, no big deal. As you get to finish dimensions, be careful.

We do try to keep that stuff around, but by the time people have dropped it 10 times, not put it away, or simply lost it, you don’t have what you need, or you get a result that you may not be happy with.

It’s great when a Makerspace has everything that you need. Just remember that everyone has been using it. How have they been treating it?


I always used to tell people we keep an assortment of drill bits that’s guaranteed to be missing the size you need.


I’m new around here, but I find it sort of amazing that we have “some” of the things I might need. I have a hard time finding the right “anything” in my own shop most of the time. I can’t imagine how hard it is to keep track of small tools and measuring devices in a shop that so many different people use on a daily basis.

I assumed when I joined that anything “consumable” was on me to provide for myself. CnC, Drill, Router bits for example. I guess tape measures, engineering squares, screw drivers and the like are not really consumable, but I wouldn’t want to use any of those if they were not something I did not personally own. I think it’s probably a impossible task trying to make sure these types of things are always available and easily accessible.

I suppose you could have sets that are checked in and out but then you have to manage that access and hold people accountable when things get misplaced. Doesn’t sound like something we really want to manage to be honest.

Just my humble opinion of course. :slight_smile:


I brought in a 2" chisel last week. I’m interested in seeing how it’s lasted thus far. Im hoping nobody used it to pry nails from pallet wood.

I agree with bits, it’s one of those things that you should just have on your own person. Same goes for squares and a tape measurer.

I do wish we have more sharp things stocked. Chisels, saws, planes etc. But I know well that these things don’t really keep in a community shop.

Is there a flyer or page on the website that instructs folks on what they probably want to stock themselves?

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There isn’t for the woodshop, but I think this would be a really good idea for us to have. I know a recommended kit list has been made for sewing in Textiles. I think this would be nice to create for all shop areas.

I too often struggle to find tape measures in the woodshop, but I also always have a tape measure within reach everywhere I go (literally one in every purse and several around the house/garage). There isn’t a clear tape measure bin on the tool wall which would help with keeping them in a place they’re findable. The little under the worktable compartments for brushes and tapes could also do with some large crisp labeling to make them more obvious and encourage members to both look there for them and return items to them.

The items @mrflip listed here are indeed items we want to have on hand with the caveat that they are community use and much of the time they will be in usable, but not amazing shape (if you want amazing, bring your own). All of these items have been ordered as well as a fresh square.

Plugging this volunteer project – Create a recommended maker kit list

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I have almost complete set of Lie Nelson Hand Planes that I have been “considering” loaning to the space because I don’t use them all that often. What is making me hold back is that those kind of tools, planes, chisels, etc… have to be maintained as you use them. If you don’t know how and when to sharpen them correctly (as you use them) you can quickly ruin the blades. Also, they would really need to be checked in and out like we do with the Domino, Shaper, Track Saw and that might be more overhead than we want to sign up for.

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@griff0527 If we can get a basic hand plane/chisel/etc use class including sharpening going, we can absolutely store them in the lockers and grant access by course completion like we do for the Shaper, Domino, and track saw.

We can chat about it if you want. I would like people to have access to them, I just don’t want them used as hammers or to pry apart things stuck together with two sided tape :slight_smile:

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When I teach Woodshop safety I always mention that there may be hand tools and consumables that you can use for your project but I wouldn’t count on it.

If you’re like me and have to be real intentional with your time there, make sure you have your own 150 grit sandpaper for the drum sander, that 5/16” brad point drill bit, the 1/4” round over bit for the router table and if you really need that edge to be clean even your own blade for the table saw (provided it’s the correct size).

Even if those things are there, they are shared with almost 400 other people, so there are no guarantees about their current condition or location.

The bandsaw isn’t going anywhere but the 3/4” forstner bit might. Nothing is more frustrating than buying material and making time to go there and finding out that you just wasted your time and or money because that thing you need isn’t there or is jacked up


One thing that is an issue is that, when I find a measuring tape or screwdriver sitting somewhere, I don’t know if it belongs to the space or someone working there. I leave things all over the place while I’m working in the space, and sometimes someone grabs them as a result. And I never return these random tools to their proper place because of this.

I have now marked most of my tools; if you see something with a blue and a red dot on it, it’s probably mine. And I was thinking of marking some of the metal shop tools in a similar manner. People sometimes borrow them to use in the wood shop. I generally don’t begrudge that, but I do if it’s not returned to the metal shop properly. I was thinking a yellow paint dot for the metal shop tools. Maybe we should mark the small Asmbly owned woodshop tools with a green dot? (Larger tools can have Asmbly written on them in marker.)


It’s notable that the attrition is not in $80 power tool batteries but rather in ninety cent drill bits, Philips head screwdrivers — both are wear items — and in tools that have either no clear home or every clear home (tape measures). This is a system shortfall, not a trust or community failure.

If you are able to take weekly inventory I’d see what happens with another push on organizing the tool area. That would solve the missing calipers/vice grips/ screwdrivers problem and given what I’ve seen y’all accomplish so far, improving that would be a walk in the park. Weekly inventory would give a handle on what the actual factual cost and admin burden of replenishing drill bits and other shrinkage is (likely low once you have data and a buy sheet)

If the volunteer capacity is able to perform a daily inventory, you could put higher value / higher velocity / higher expertise tools behind an unlocked cabinet door with a dedicated camera.

Consider setting a first tranche budget that would go:
Phase 1: money and time to

  • organize the tool wall
  • make and staff an inventory process
  • maybe fill in the basic gaps like tape measures
    Phase two: AFTER that is in place, a full replenishment of tools plus backstock.

Based on what you learn about the actual carrying cost of tool shrinkage once things are easy to put away and audit, the next tranche would be to have a nicer set of tools with closer visibility of maltreatment/shrinkage.

I am preparing an inventory and laser printable organizer set for my own workshop which should give a good start; here is the very-work-in-progress so far;

… the important feature is not my layout but that it is editable with well-enough-sized placeholders and I typed all the damn labels in to make it a living planning and inventory document.

I’d prioritize your layout for inventory and find ability - if you squint you can see I have category boundaries for OOPS / LOOK / BASH / GRAB / TURN / WHIR.

@mrflip I think you know well that small/hand tool organization is a Herculean effort with constant maintenance and continuous improvement that is a whole 'nother level when the community shop aspect is thrown into the mix. We absolutely could do better and are due for a clean up and reorg. We’re working on building more volunteer capacity for these kinds of tasks through the On Duty Program ( On Duty Volunteer Program - Earn Free Membership :awesome: ) and will hopefully be able to affect change in this area.

Unfortunately, it’s not a simple quick fix item like replacing an old bandsaw and lot more difficult to get volunteer engagement on. Inventorying the shop is something that has been suggested many times with a few volunteers raising their hands saying they were interested but ultimately hasn’t ever been completed (curious to hear how the TookStock project has gone). Lasting improvement in this realm is something that will take time and ongoing dedicated effort to establish.

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Honestly I think the biggest impact on the hand tool situation would actually be less tools

There’s like 87 random screwdrivers and other tools I never see anyone using, and generally speaking hand tools are the kind of stuff even the most novice of maker would have at their own house that they could bring. Some of them should just be taken out of commission (I’m looking at you jigsaw).

No single person could organize maintain and keep track of all the stuff we have over there without being behind some kind of checkout counter all day.

It is up to all of the members to take care of their workshop, at the end of the day that is what it is.


Agreed that there is a problem with too many junk tools. I yeeted a few infestations and can do a better and more civil job when I’m in later – may I put the misfits in a box by the back corner by the lathes?

Sorry that I’m coming on too strong. I’m really fired up by the progress you’ve made and trying to provide the perspective of unfrozen-caveman hackerspace member for things that almost worked before and to my eyes might well work going forward. You all have a far better understanding of how to effect incremental change.

Here is a google sheet with my work-in-progress inventory list, which I’ve made world-writable for the moment and can fork off for your use. Invite all to compare with their Go kit or home shop to see what’s missing.

Yes this is also in support of having Tookstock able to inventory workshop supplies :slight_smile:

Curious what you’d hear asking “What kinds of tools do you have at home” at orientation – there’s a strong chance of survivor bias in “people who use the workshop” vs “people who can afford to have their own workshop-lite at home”. Have you investigated to what extent makerspaces of ASMBLY’s caliber and aspiration maintain a full set of hand tools before they have a full-time steward?

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Oddly, dial calipers are much more sensitive to drops than digital ones. With vernier calipers, the issues are that 1) most people don’t know how to read the things and 2) if you have less than awesome eyesight they are a PITA.

With drill bits, perhaps rather than assortments we need to bulk buy 1/16", 1/8", and 1/4" (and maybe 1/2") and that’s it. It’s pretty easy to distinguish those by sight. If you need something other than that bring your own.

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I measured lids for the French cleat slotted boxes, will burn labeled versions later. You’ll want to build more of those. I’m going to lay it out for recommended tool count (ie there will be a lot of empty holes) and save the lightburn files somewhere plausible.

I also culled the dupes for most of the tools, they are on a chair in the back corner.

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