After about five years of work a considerable mass of steel accumulated inside and outside the studio. It was not readily useful because often the needed dimensional stock could not be found or was the bottom piece of a deep pile.
I concluded those problems illustrated the two most important principles of organizing materials. First, I must be able to find them easily and secondly, I must be able to retrieve them easily.
It didn’t happen quickly but over several more years I have largely developed a functional steel management scheme.
My stock is now well organized. Every piece of steel has a predestined path from arrival to eventual consumption. When I receive stock I cut the 20’ sticks in half. I have a rack under my 4 x 10’ layout table that houses 10’ lengths of square and round stock from 3/16” up to 1.5” and some other special stock. Tubing, pipe, channel, angle, “I” beam and other larger 10’ long stock go on a rack on the porch. When the 10’ pieces are cut down they go into the tumbler before they used or stored if they are shorter than 5’, which is what my tumbler accommodates. If they are longer than 5’ they are put on the shelf until enough is eventually cut off that they will fit the tumbler. If drops are shorter than 15” (but longer than 2”) they go into the porch buckets after they are tumbled.
The scrap pieces are all clean and deburred and easy to organize for storage. I keep a rack holding 28 five-gallon buckets on a covered porch on the north side of my studio. All cutoffs approximately 2” to 15” in length go into those buckets sorted by the type of stock, round bar, flat bar square bar, tubing, angle, copper and bronze, etc. Pieces shorter than about 2” go either into the scrap recycling bucket or into the tumbler to use as aggregate. Small pieces with sufficient mass are used to make sculptural tiles which will be explained in a future posting.
I waste no time looking for the right piece of stock and I don’t get cut on burs digging through a bucket.
Specific production type projects like my garden rain gauge, blow pokers, napkin holders, oriole jelly feeders or a botanical motif are stored in clearly labeled drawers, 5-gallon buckets or plastic boxes . The container stores all the blanks, jigs, templates, special tooling required for that project. The instruction file is stored separately in a file cabinet.
Developing the discipline to be compulsive takes a lot of work and it takes some time to pay off but it can separate those who make a profit from those who don’t.