Never Stop Building - Crafting Wood with Japanese Techniques
Crafting Wood with Japanese Techniques


A carpenter’s notebook. The Never Stop Building notebook page features semi regular updates and musings on carpentry, building, Japanese woodworking, craft culture, travel and other topics.

Keep a Supply Closet

My Grandmother taught me a lesson that I just remember: Have a supply closet.

I recall, as a child, the excitement of getting to go into the closet in the basement where there was a large black supply cabinet. Inside was neatly organized pens, pads, tape, staples, pencils and other such office supplies.

Her office upstairs was immaculate, lined with bookshelves, filled with books, the desk was spotless save for a few strange paper weights. As I clean my desk now it struck me: "why don't I have a supply closet?" This is why my various desk drawers are filled with piles of sundry garbage. I am trying to combine long term storage with short term access. That can't work.

I don't need 20 Sharpies in my top desk drawer, I need the one I use; the one of which I always know the location. This struck me like a powerful insight. To some degree I am disorganized because of the mix. Obviously I shouldn't be buying stock of things, but invariably you accumulate supply. Things are packaged in sets. I need a pen, they come in packs of 5. I need a rag, they come in boxes of 100. So all the extra should be neatly stored in the closet. My imediate environment should have the minimum activly used items.

There might have been some unconsious logic about storing it in the basement, while her office was upstairs. The separation prevented intermingling. Suddenly I realize that the large cabinet in my shop may be doing more harm than good. It is filled with both supplies, but also bins with tools, some I use often, some less so. This seems like a recepie for inefficient work and disorganization.

I have added a rule to my code:

Keep a supply closet, this is your first stop on the way to the store. Only remove materials you need to replenish your active use supply. Don’t get more than you need, but store the extra.

Thanks Grandma for a little spark from another universe!