Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Tools organization ideas

Hi all,

I am trying to organize my studio. I read Charles’ essay on how to
organize, and I was wondering if any of you have any “helpful”
hints. Small things that you think no one would be interested in,
but really helps you out. What have you used to organize rotary
tools, how to keep stuff clean, types of containers, etc.


Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a rotary tool for your jewelry projects? We recommend:

For my diamond setting bench, I use plastic peg-boards. They are darn
cheap about $12.50+tax each, for this price I have 5 on my desk. I
have these 5 ALL IN ARMS REACH. I use them ONLY for the various burs.
One peg board for 156c (under-cutting) 77b cup burs) another two
boards for round burs all in sequential order. Actually all the
boards contain burs all in order of size, from largest to the
minuscule e.g. #031 => #003. Another peg-board is used for only
pumice wheels and paper "Medium"disks of various wears…(new and
almost new!). Finally, the last is for whatevers, wire wheels and
stuff that should not be left of the desk…:>) Hope that this is a
help. Gerry!

Hi Judy. I suggest you look at other jewelers’ benches and you’ll
see to some degree many examples of what works for them. Visit and good luck.


Hello Judy, This is a great question and opportunity for a very
useful thread. Good going.

Color coding helps me a lot… For instance, on file handles, a
bright red band means coarse, pink means medium, etc. A similar
coding on bur shanks. Plus it’s a great way to use up old nail
polish . This wouldn’t be too effective for color-blind folks.

Here’s a question though. I’ve been keeping each gauge of each kind
of wire in a separate ziploc bag and writing the gauge/wire type on
the same corner of each bag. I use small stacking drawers and
designate a drawer for each type of wire (round, half-round,
patterned, etc.) This method is becoming an exercise in shuffling
plastic! How do others manage this???

Judy in Kansas, where spring is on hold… again.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

Foredom makes a rotating “tray” stand for rotary tools that I am
very pleased with. Under $15 - I got mine at Lowe’s. I also love
Rio’s plastic stands for holding pliers (I wire wrap) - also cheap, I
think maybe under $10. Have sure made my worktop more efficient!
Wish I had a wall to put that board with holes in it (sorry - I
subbed for an art class today,and brain is dead - too many teens and
pre-teens!) - then you can put pegs in (ah…brain kicked in…peg
board!) and hang lots of things from it.

I store gems, beads, and findings in fishing tackle trays, and label
them so I know what is where - one tray holds only pearls, one has
rubies, emeralds and sapphires, etc. I get those at Wal-Mart.

Then I have small plastic “baskets” from Wal-Mart for my stringing

Beth in SC

Judy, I keep my wire in an expandable folder. The kind you buy at
any office supply store, with the elastic band for keeping it
closed. Also have another expandable folder for my sheet metal. It
does get heavy at times, but is convenient to flip through to find
what I want. Of course, I’m not keeping giant sheets or rolls of anything. Kay

Hi Judy. I too, tire of the plastic shuffle. Try a heavy paper
accordion-pleated file from office supply for sheet and wire storage

  • just label the tabs with the gauge in each section.

Pam Chott

I use an old file cabinet… with hanging files for both sheet and
wire. The wire still goes in large ziplock freezer bags (10" x
10"?) and these are then “filed” in descending order for base metal
wire, and ascending order in the silver drawer. Platinum and gold
sheet/wire are kept in a plastic hanging file box in the safe, and
short pieces are kept in a file card box (recipe box) with an
"accordion" folded out of construction paper. Again in ziplocks, and
all ziplocks are marked with date purchased/ price per
oz,/gauge/length/weight/material, and last date used. Patterned
sheet or wire goes behind plain gauges, again in order.

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
2207 Lucile Ave.
Stockton, CA 95209
209-477-0550 Workshop/Studio/Classrooms

I use small stacking drawers and designate a drawer for each type
of wire (round, half-round, patterned, etc.)  This method is
becoming an exercise in shuffling plastic!  How do others manage

Hi Judy, I keep my wire in labeled plastic bags and then sort them
into an accordian file, the kind used for tax receipts. Pam

Someone gave me a couple of old wooden cigar boxes that I turned
into cases. Just cut a 3/4" piece of plywood to fit inside the box,
drill the shank sizes you need, sand and you’ve got a great custom
case. Each of the boxes holds 200 bits so I’ve been able to break
down rows into shape and graduating size making it really easy to
find the bit I want. They’re compact and stack.


Judy, You’re halfway there. I also use the plastic bags but then
file them vertically in manila file folders. You can then contain
the file folders in the metal or plastic file boxes with a handle on
the top that seem to show up everywhere around tax time. They can
easily fit onto a shelf.

Additional organization idea…I have used cup hooks to hang
pegboard from each side of my jewelers bench. I hang things that are
larger than will fit in the drawers or things that I want easy
access to.

Orchid Rules!
Karla in Sunny / Rainy / Sunny / Rainy / Sunny Southern California

For wire organization, I keep my wire in a file cabinet. I use one
of those cheap plastic ones on wheels so I can move it around. I use
the hanging file folders (not manila folders) and label each one for
each gauge/type. They also make accordion folders if you have a lot
of wire. I usually keep the wire in the plastic bags but you could
do away with those and use tarnish strips. I also file my sheet,
disks, solder, etc. It’s compact and when you are ordering supplies,
it sure is handy to just thumb through and see what you are running
low on.


For organizing my wire, I screwed horizontal strips of iron on the
wall. The wire goes into labeled ziplocks hung by the corner on the
strips with one half inch neodymium magnets. Hanging the bags by
the corner allows them to overlap so more bags can be put on a
strip. The corner of the bag is sandwiched between the iron strip
and the magnet. The magnet is outside the bag for easy removal;
placed thus, it provides enough friction on the bag so that it will
not slide out from under the magnet, even it it weighs several
ounces. Having an edge of each bag showing allows me to quickly see
what I have available. Bags are all labeled and sorted first by
wire alloy, second by wire shape and third by wire size.

The magnets are powerful and inexpensive; there is a price break
when you buy 50. The steel cups that are available for the magnets
are a must. The steel cup increases power of the magnet and allows
it to be attached to a wooden handle (a one and one fourth inch long
piece of 1 inch diameter hardwood dowel works fine). Be careful
about buying larger magnets…the 3/4 inch magnet needs 22 pounds of
force to lift it off of the iron strip. The magnets are available

As for folks in countries that use metric…sorry about the inches
ounces, pounds etc. I just don’t know what materials and sizes are
available in your country. Although, not intentional, I really
didn’t give an inch :slight_smile:

Howard Woods
Eagle Idaho

Line a drawer with ice cube trays, viola! Dozens of compartments.

Jumpong in a bit late, but I, too, use the large accordian files for
my wire. If you get the ones used by accounting with the numbers
1-31 on each section, you have built in guage numbering.

Carrie Otterson

Does anyone buy eggs??..:>) how about those little trays made of
plastic, sometimes if I have many earring studs to polish, all of
separate sizes or qualities, paste a little piece of paper on the lid
with branding of each listed below and keep all of them in their own
compartment. “steam & clean” separately of course!!! look for the
plastic with NO holes in the bottom of the trays…Gerry!

Good morning everyone.

What a creative idea! I have lots of extra icecube trays. I also
like the suggestions earlier about the expandable files for storing
wire. Jeanne

Jeanne M. Bellone
Vintage Treasures (Est. June 2001)
Registered Member Jewelcollect
Member VFCJ

I also use large zip lock bags to store silver wire. I reinforce the
bottom edge of the bag using clear packing tape, punch 3 holes in
that and keep the bags in a LARGE 3 ring binder. Then I can just
grab the binder and page through the bags to choose my gauge. I have
the zip opening on the out side. I made a loop of wire and hang the
binder on my peg board. Annette

I thought I didn’t have anything to contribute to this thread, then
I realized my organization systems are so second nature that I don’t
notice them.

I think a good, solid bench is the starting point to being
organized. After that I am partial to drawers. I have a tower of
skinny drawers, (IKEA) a tower of these plastic things that hold
those plastic bead organizing things. (Home store, hardware dept.)

And I have a tower of drawers (seeing a theme here?) for paper work
and office supplies. These are narrow drawers – the kind you could
find at Target or Container Store.

My next step will be to put shelves on the walls so I can get more
stuff off the top of my bench.

Another thing that has really helped is getting rid of the excess,
like many of us, I’m a major tool hound, and moving things out of my
small workshop that I’m not actually using right now, has really

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992

I thought I would make my small contribution to this as I am in need
some light relief at the moment. (My dear mother who lives with us
has Alzheimer’s Disease and now has to go into care. ) I too have some
narrow chests of drawers courtesy of the Great God of cheap -oops, I
think I mean affordable- design, Ikea. The drawers are shallow and I
keep in them sheet metal, wire, solder , burrs, files, ok ok you get
the message. Someone gave me a large flat box of Ferrero Rocher
chocolates a few years ago and the box with its plastic tray
provides about 50 little sections in which to keep all manner of
small bits. As an added bonus it fits in the IKEA drawer. The box has
been more useful than the contents. Perhaps I should get out
more… Ruth in the UK