The garage is my most challenging area to purge. Its primary purpose is to house our two cars, but it also serves as storage for a wide array of other items. My primary vehicle is a 4×4 which we use to explore local wilderness and for camping and adventuring. I do a lot of my own work on this vehicle, so I have a large collection of tools. Cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of excess tools was one of the purge items I dreaded most. I had some time off from work over the holidays, so I decided to tackle my tool collection.
Two Sets of Tools
I had two sets of tools. One was a home set, and one was a travel set. I like to be prepared when heading into the woods in my 4×4, so I always bring a good set of tools with me. It’s better to be prepared than to be stranded in an area with no cell phone coverage. Actually, we rarely go alone, but I still like to be prepared.
Since our plan is to move from a house into an apartment, I knew I need to consolidate my tools into a single set that was easily transportable. This meant eliminating the home set and getting all the necessities into the travel set, which could be stored neatly behind the back seat. This also meant that I needed to empty the tool box, and hopefully get rid of it altogether.
Here is a before shot to give you an idea of the number of tools.
After laying it all out, I was a little horrified at the number of tools. It seems like so much less when it stuff in a tool bag or stored out of site in a tool cabinet. Laying it out on the garage floor, it was easy to see I had a lot of duplicates.
I found a large box to temporarily store the purged tools, and I started going through the tools in groups.
Screwdrivers, sockets, and wrenches, oh my
The main areas of duplication were screwdrivers, sockets, and wrenches.
I basically only use four screwdrivers: A large and small Philips and a large and small slotted. Yet I had a whole collection of screw drivers that never got used. I had a really nice pair of Craftsman screwdrivers, so I decided to keep these in my go kit.
Of all the tools that I use around the house, the screwdriver is the most common. So, I decided to keep two screwdrivers for the house, and moved them inside where they’d be more convenient. Both are multipurpose; one being a double ended small screwdriver, commonly used when working on computers and the other being a large screwdriver with a reversible Philips/slotted bit.
I also kept a huge pack of screwdrivers, which I can’t quite part with yet. It was a gift from my father, and they are in their own carrying case, making them easy to organize and store. I’m going to see if I can go a while without using anything from that kit, and then I can hopefully part with it.
The remaining screwdrivers went in the purge box.
I also had a lot of duplicate wrenches. That seems to happen over time and I’m not really sure why. The combination wrench (one open end and one boxed or closed end) is a necessity when working on cars. I needed to keep one set of standard and one set of metric. It turns out I had one nice set of each, so I kept those and put the others in the purge box.
Sockets, much like the wrenches, seem to accumulate and I have a theory they may possibly procreate on their own. Nobody knows what happens when the wrench and socket drawer is closed. I have one really nice Craftsman socket set that was given to me by my wife as a Christmas gift over 15 years ago. It’s one of the most useful and most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. This has been my go to set any time I need to do some wrenching. It is full of all the commonly used sizes and is neatly stored in a compact portable case. I also had a much inferior and somewhat incomplete set that I kept in my garage tool box. Needless to say, I tossed the inferior set in the purge box.
Drill bits out the yin yang
It’s pretty safe to say that you should keep your drill bits away from your yin yang, but I had so many I’m sure they were coming out of it. The thing with drill bits is they are extremely expensive when purchased as a single drill bit, to the point where you can buy a whole set for the same price as two or three individually purchase bits. I mention this because drill bits have a tendency to break. So, when a few of them break, it’s easier and cheaper to buy a whole new set.
I had four sets of drill bits, each containing a few broken bits. Actually I had five, but I had already gotten rid of one during our garage sale.
One was a big set that also contained screwdriver bits and hole saws. Most of that stuff never got used so I moved it to the purge box. I was a little sad about this since it was a really nice set, and looked like it would be handy, but experience shows that it really wasn’t.
One set was had many broken bits and was oddly shaped, making it hard to store. It went in the purge box.
I had one really nice set that contained standard bits as well as ones for wood and masonry. This was a good kit for around the house, so I decided to keep it for now, but it won’t make the move with us when we move to an apartment.
The set of drills that will move with us is a very compact little kit of commonly sized drill bits. It’s so small that it easily fits in one of my tool bags.
I went through the remaining items and added any other duplicate items or things that just never got used to the purge box. I trashed extra spark plugs and wires that I kept in a tool bag “just in case.” I also trashed anything that was broken or in poor condition. I also kept a set of large lug nut sized sockets, a breaker bar, and tire repair kit. Those things are handy when driving in the woods.
In all, I was able to consolidate my tools into three tools bags. Two small ones and one large one. I further organized the smaller bags by keeping wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers in one bag, and other odd items in the other. This makes it easier to find my commonly used tools. I also had three bags/containers of items returned to the shelf for now. My household drill bit set, my huge screwdriver set, and my dremel tool set.
Here is a picture that shows a couple of after shots.
I’m sure I’ll revisit the items that were returned to the shelf, but good progress was made, and I’m happy with the results. I have enough tools to still work on my car or 4×4 if needed, I eliminated the duplicates and I’ll soon be removing the tool box from the garage.
Hopefully I didn’t bore the non-tool users too much today. This was one of the hardest things I’ve purged so far, and felt it deserved some time on the blog.
I had two interesting developments after purging my tools.
1) I had been wondering what to do with my box of purged tools. I planned to set it out by the street with a “Free” sign on it. I was going to do it over the weekend, but then my parents called and asked if they could come by and go out to breakfast. My dad had given me a bunch of those tools, and I didn’t want to take a chance of him seeing everything I was giving away. He always seems so happy to give me tools, and I don’t see any need to cause unnecessary tension or hurt feelings. So I never mentioned the tool purge and held onto the box for another week.
That week the heat pump on our home air conditioner went out. We recently found a great A/C guy that is really honest and does good work. He’s an independent guy, just him, his truck, and a part time technician. He had attempted a fix last month, but it didn’t hold up. He came back out and offered to fix it for free, even though the problem ended up being caused by our previous A/C company. I decided to give our new A/C guy my box of purged tools.
He could hardly believe it. He wasn’t really sure what to say. It was easily $100 worth of tools, had they all been purchased new. He beamed a huge smile as he mentioned that he tends to lose a lot of tools, so this was a great gift. I felt good giving these tools a new home to someone that can really use them.
2) A couple days after I gave away my box of purged tools, my parents came over. You’ll never guess what my dad had for me. Yeah… a set of tools. He said, “I know you’re purging, and I found this really compact set of sockets.” They were 70% off, costing about $3.00. He’s not one to pass up a deal on tools, and he didn’t have a need for them. He eyed them lovingly as I looked it over and offered my thanks. It really is a nice small set, but I have no need for even the tiniest set of tools. I think I’ll try to find a good home for these, like I did for the other purged tools.
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