At any given moment during a project, it is possible to find many tools scattered about the workbench. Here I am cutting hinge mortises and installing brass butt hinges on a door. Can you guess which is the most valuable tool in this picture?
Not surprisingly it is not the errant Golden Retriever paw behind me, and fortunately it is the cheapest tool on the bench.
Years ago I bought a 200 pack of these little plastic cups to use for mixing and applying epoxy. There is rarely a project that comes off my bench where I don't end up using one of these cups. In this case it is the perfect receptacle for holding all the tiny brass screws and hinges for the doors on this clock I am building. As a project draws to a close, the anticipation rises and it is natural that I start to rush a little. I have to constantly remind myself to slow down and to use the same attention and care I use during the joinery phase. So it is with the desire to finish that tiny screws and hinges get knocked off the bench into the shaving strewn floor never to be seen again.
Generally I use my hinges to layout out the mortise on the project so I'm constantly picking them up and putting them down. I then need to check the fit and tweak the mortise for a snug install so I shuffle the hinges around again. Then while I'm drilling the holes and threading the screws in, I'm constantly reaching for the tiny screws. All this movement can quickly get things knocked to the floor or placed in a far corner of the shop where it disappears.
When it comes time to install hardware on your next project, take a minute and drop all of it into a jar, cup, Tupperware, or whatever. Be vigilant and drop the screws and hinges back into the cup each time you test the fit of a mortise, drill, or pre-thread the screws. That way no matter what happens to interrupt you in the process, you always know where your hardware is.
…Just don't knock the cup off the bench.
This "Hand Tool School" series is provided courtesy of Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker. Rogers is founder of The Hand Tool School, which provides members with an online apprenticeship that teaches them how to use hand tools and to build furniture with traditional methods.
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It's easier to just throw them on the floor right away get the cursing out of the way all at one time this will save you a ton of time (pro tip )