As I travel around to do stories on some of America's Best Shops, I come across those pretty cool things that help make the shop work up to its full potential. This is one I came across years ago while traveling around northern Illinois. It was a cool, shop-made project that solved some efficiency challenges for the owners.
Doug Donnelly, of DeKalb, Illinois, told me back then that he could waste a lot of time looking for specific tools, or any tools really. The shop was a 4,000-square-foot truss building put up by Morton Buildings in the 1970s. His repair and maintenance work spanned two shops. It was a long way back-and-forth between shops to look for a 3/4-inch combination wrench. That meant Donnelly had to maintain two sets of everything -- two sets of screwdrivers, wrenches, files, extension cords, air hoses, air tools -- the list goes on and on.
Donnelly came up with a way to put his tools on wheels. "I built this cart to end all that back-and-forth," he said, pointing to a large 4-by-8-foot rolling workbench and tool storage cart. Mounted on a set of Kory Running Gear (www.koryfarm.com), Donnelly designed a heavy-duty workstation to be pulled between shops by an ATV.
His portable tool station is topped with 1/4-inch plate steel supported by a frame of 2-by-2-inch square steel tubing. The cart stands 38 inches from the ground to the top of the steel table.
On top of and under the table is room for five toolboxes. All the drawers are labeled. There are shelves at either end for electric and air-driven tools, a small generator and other larger tools. There is space for a small air compressor.
On top, Donnelly attached halogen lights to the end of a moveable arm. By swinging the arm or changing the pitch, he could illuminate his workspace and nearby equipment.
Donnelly wired the table with four sets of outlets. All are powered with a single plug connected to outlets along the walls. The lights are controlled by a set of toggle switches wired into an electrical box. "I can wheel this up to whatever we're working on," Donnelly said. "It saves steps. Almost everything I need is here."
-- Storage shelves at the front and back of the cart give Donnelly enough space to store his electric power tools, a generator and a small air compressor.
-- Donnelly inserted a slightly smaller piece of square steel tubing into the open end of his 2-by-2-inch frame, creating an electrical cord and air hose holder.
-- There are five toolboxes on the cart. Each drawer is labeled, and many of the tools are held in place by tool-organizing products such as Hansen socket trays. Find the trays and other organization products at Hansen Global Inc., Two Rivers, Wisconsin: www.hansenglobalinc.com.
DTN/Progressive Farmer is always on the hunt for America's Best Shops -- big, medium and small, new or rehabbed. We look for great ideas and efficiency of workflow. If we publish a story about your shop, we'll pay you $500. Send your ideas to Dan Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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