I didn’t do much modeling over the summer. I’d been increasingly dissatisfied with my little workshop and storage system. A big issue was the fact that I never seemed to have the correct paint, detail part, styrene thickness, etc. when I needed it. Earlier I had begun a process to list everything I thought I should have “in stock” but while I was prepared to spend the money for all this new stuff, I had nowhere to put it.
With that in mind, I made a few changes…
To see what my workbench used to look like, click here. Back before all these changes, I only had a few jars of paint and weathering products. Now I have over 150 from Tru-Color, Ammo of Mig Jimenez and Vallejo that need to be easily accessible but not take up valuable real estate on my workbench. The solution I found came from a company in Poland called HobbyZone (http://www.hobbyzone.pl/en/). They make a modular workshop system as well as a few different styles of paint racks that are designed to be hung from the wall. The also produce similar paint racks that AMMO sells under their brand. I chose to use one wall mounted rack that’s designed specifically for AMMO 35ml weathering jars, one that’s designed for AMMO and Vallejo 17ml jars and two generic types that are sold direct from HobbyZone and have shelf spacing that works with True Color jars. I also purchased a worktop paint and brush organizer that sits next to my spray booth. I use this organizer to store mixing jars and any colors or brushes I’m currently working with.
Since I needed more room for tools and small parts as well, I also bought a number of the HobbyZone modular components. These sit under the paint racks on my workbench. One is a small case for keeping current projects safe and clean, three (including a neat corner module) have drawers of various sizes for parts and small tools and one holds a rolls of paper towels (much more useful than I would ever have assumed, though European paper towels must be a bit shorter than North American ones, as all the rolls I tried wouldn’t fit without “modifications” that involved a bread knife and a huge mess.)
I also bought two of the tiered modules from HobbyZone. One holds all the small tools like files, pliers, sanding sticks, clamps, etc. that I use regularly. Another holds bottles of adhesives and specialty painting or weathering jars.
Finally, I still have my trusty 9 and 3 drawer Ikea boxes (no longer available unfortunately) and 3 other boxes that some friends and I built. These store larger tools or tools I don’t use often, as well as large detail parts, decals, gloves,and anything else that doesn’t already have a home.
The last change I made involved how I store my current “work-in-progress” models, track components and detail parts. For the WIP’s I cut special foam cradles to fit inside some divided clamshell boxes I bought at Home Depot. These cradles hold locomotives so that detailed or painted surfaces won’t touch the sides of the box. The smaller spaces in the boxes hold sub-assemblies like trucks, fuel tanks, frame and detail parts specific to the build.
I used the same boxes to store and organize all the components for the Mole switch machines I’m using on my layout as well as the pieces for my P:87 turnouts. I also have a box that organizes the numerous types of Sergent couplers and associated tools.
For detail parts I used 3-ring binders with baseball card pages, an idea I got from a Facebook group I belong to. This makes it much easier to find parts I need and determine if I’m running low on something. For parts in larger packaging I used photograph pages.
I’ve been using my new bench for a couple of months now and it’s been a big improvement. It’s a lot easier to keep clean and everything I need is easily accessible. Most importantly, it’s an environment that looks and feels comfortable which is a big motivation to work on projects when I might otherwise just want to lie on the couch.
A quick note about HobbyZone. You can find more photos and information on their Facebook page. Just search for HobbyZone.
When I ordered, they didn’t have a US distributor and I believe that’s still the case. E-mail them before you order and they’ll assist you (they’ll respond in English if you don’t speak Polish). They take Visa and Paypal and ship via UPS. My order made it across the pond much faster than I assumed it would. (EDIT: The HobbyZone workbench system is now distributed via Hobbyworld USA: www.hobbyworld-usa.com and at https://www.facebook.com/hobbyworldUSA.com)