Give Workshop Pencils a Flush-Mounted Home

Pencils and pens are apt to go wandering in a busy workshop if they don’t have a handy storage spot. For most of us a soup can or an old coffee mug does the trick, but for a prettier and more useful holder [Stuff I Made] has a short video demonstrating a storage unit made from an elbow fitting and a scrap piece of plywood. He cuts a plywood disk that is friction-fit into one end of the elbow, then it gets screwed into a wall making an attractively flush-mounted holder in a convenient spot.

With the right joint the bottom of the holder remains accessible, as a 90 degree bend would be no good. With a shallower joint angle, a regular screwdriver can still reach the mounting screw and it’s possible to access the bottom of the holder just in case it needs cleaning or something small falls inside. You can see the process and results in the video embedded below. Not bad for one screw, a spare joint, and a scrap piece of plywood.

Storage and clutter is always on a busy worker’s mind in one way or another, even if we all enjoy different levels of success in dealing with it. Gadgets and organizers, whether simple like the one above or more complex like storage drawers from empty 3D printer filament spools, are one tool to use in the fight against clutter. But when gadgets aren’t enough, it might be time to try a whole different way of thinking and acting.

17 thoughts on “Give Workshop Pencils a Flush-Mounted Home

    1. Not sure I agree with that. In fact, I would say that, in my experience, more good work comes out of a clean, well organized shop than a messy one, though both styles can go either way. One of the cleanest, best organized, and most productive, shops I have ever seen was at JPL, and I’d imagine it is still the same.

      1. As for me.
        I would say it is all up to the person.
        It does not matter to a good extent if the shop is clean or dirty to a good extent.
        But with saying that, if it is too dirty it becomes dangerous.
        I believe my shop is in between. Not to clean not to dirty. I just ran roomba last week. It was like shaking a ball in a can every few seconds it was hitting something. But it did clean the floor now I have to clean the desks off for christmas time.

        But saying that again, I really miss my wife keeping my area clean and organized.
        It was good we were so in tune that some how I new were everything was.
        It was so so cool.
        But now I am in a little can of a work shop not anuff room for 2 people to be in nicely.

      2. It goes through stages of mess and cleaning. When I’m focused on getting something done, I am apt to throw stuff around to get it out of the way, Clean is always a good place to start.

    2. I feel the ultimate counter-argument is to look at the McLaren factory, every photo taken in that places makes me wonder if their cars are assembled with tools at all. A shop foreman must come by and inspect people’s fingernails for dirt every 15 minutes to keep their place looking as clean as it does.

  1. Clean, messy, be honest… it depends on the task. Production lathes are a constant cleanup. R&D optics, all those fixtures and jigs on the perforated granite slab… It depends. Starting clean and organised is nice. Clean tools are nice. But opening a lunched small motorcycle engine can get messy. It’s relative and it depends. I am a tad anal about my vehicle oil catch pans. I want to know what came out in THAT oil change, if anything noteworthy. It depends. For a vid, clean can assist.

  2. Clean, messy, be honest… it depends on the task. Production lathes are a constant cleanup. R&D optics, all those fixtures and jigs on the perforated granite slab… It depends. Starting clean and organised is nice. Clean tools are nice. But opening a lunched small motorcycle engine can get messy. It’s relative and it depends. I am a tad anal about my vehicle oil catch pans. I want to know what came out in THAT oil change, if anything noteworthy. It depends. For a vid, clean can assist. I have a messy home at present. I can do sano. Middle if the road is hard for me… a constant effort to be more reasonable.

  3. Why stop at marking instruments? Little screwdrivers, tweezers, hemostats, pointy things, etc. can be stored this way. Come to think of it drain and sewer PVC could scale up for bigger tools. All my small tools are corralled in several pill containers hanging on the side of a big can with seven plastic open top containers inside. A large mass of tools at my fingertips in less space than a pizza. I would never want pegboard and flat-allover-the-wall store-style display of tools. Grouped together and very compact.

    Picking a pliers out of one of those pliers-pegboard clips, ugh!

    1. I am a little more surprised that nobody pointed out the most glaring mistake: that the “pencil” holder is surface mounted not flush mounted. If it was flush mounted there would be a hole in the surface with the PCV elbow behind it instead of the holder being screwed onto the surface it is mounted on.

  4. If I has a band-saw and used it like that I’d be known as ‘two-finger Whatnot’.
    Not criticizing, just slightly annoyed that I know I can’t pull stunts others seem to be able to do all day every day.

  5. I like the idea of a pencil/pen tied to a fishing line. The other end of the fishing line is tied to a small eye screw in a golf ball.
    The fishing line is threaded through a small eye screw in the ceiling above the workbench. When one is done using the writing instrument, the weight of the golf ball pulls the instrument up out-of-the-way, but within easy reach.

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