The No.1 boring woodworking task

We live in an apartment. Every space outside our humble abode is common space. That means I have to do all my work inside the house.
  • To cut a piece of wood I use the center table in the living room.
  • To bore a hole into wood I use the little space in the guest room
  • To Paint or stain wood I use either of the balconies
  • And my tools are all in the service area
Clean up the mess
This is only a fraction of the mess I make
Now, here's the downside to not having a dedicated work space. There is going to be lots of scrap wood, saw dust, dirty cloth, screws, nails, sand papers and tools all strewn across every square inch of where you work. What is even worse is the spilled paint / stain or the quick bonding fevicol on the tiles that takes lot of work to remove. And trust me, tidying up is the most boring task of any woodworking project. Sanding only comes second.

Here are some useful tips that you can follow to make things easier for yourself:
  1. Try to work in one place. Makes cleaning up easier even if you generate lot of mess
  2. Move your tools closer to your place of work. Reduces moving around while in the middle of a project.  I moved most of mine into an empty shelf in the guest room wardrobe.
  3. Spread news papers across the floor. When you are done, rather than picking up the bits and pieces, you can just carefully remove the papers and dispose them off. You may also want to do it on the wall. Paints and stains on wall are quite impossible to remove.
  4. Have thinner with you all the time. Any spills can be managed immediately by wiping off the stains from the tiles using thinners
  5. Try to finish your work before the maid gets to work. The sweeping and mopping will take care of most troubles you create.
  6. Wear latex gloves while using paint. They are inexpensive and can be thrown off after use. Also reduces effort spent on cleaning up your fingers. In Chennai, you can get these gloves for Rs.3 a pair at Nilgiris.
  7. Use inexpensive containers for mixing paints, sealants etc… Again reduces clean up work as you can straight away dispose them after use.
Most importantly, make sure you wear these essential safety gears while indulging in a woodworking DIY project. Mess can be cleaned up. But a broken finger may take time to heal.

Your turn now : 
  • Do you make a lot of mess while indulging in DIY ?
  • Do you enjoy the clean up process ?
  • Do you have other clean up tips to share ?

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- Somu

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  1. A few of your tips work for me as well..Like the disposable gloves and containers! saves a lot of cleaning work!

    1. Yeah Shiv, Infact for sometime I was trying to reuse the containers. But it is too much of an effort to clean it after use. So decided to move towards cheap disposable containers.

  2. Yes, Cleaning is often the most tedious part, especially when the home has to get back into order and even more so when it has to become baby friendly!
    Work before the maid gets there is a good practical suggestion. Where do you get masks for dust, and do you have any dust collection apparatus? If one uses a planer the whole room gets full of shavings and dust, and this is very difficult to get rid of.

    1. Oh I didn't even mention making the work environment baby safe. Am sure you should be having lotsa tips to share there.

      I bought the mask when I made a short business trip to the US. I believe respirators should be available online. I honestly didn't check. Check this place out though.

      I don't use any dust collectors. Considering my dust is mostly generated by Sanding, it is much less than what a planer would create. Do you have experience using dust collectors ?

  3. You say its boring.. and then make it sound super interesting... like.. I now really want to try this!! :-)

    1. Ha ha ! I think you are being super generous :P So now you want to work on a project or just create the mess ? :P

    2. I might just start with creating a mess... but promise not to post about it.. :-)

    3. Really ? Went mail it to me if not post :D It would make me happy to know that someone else is making more mess :D

  4. I can imagine how difficult it must be for you to work in an apartment.
    I have a suggestion use a large plastic sheets. These are quite thin and can be folded into small size approximating the size of a hand.

    You can use one or two on the entire floor and another couple hung up from the ceiling or attached to the ceiling by means of a couple of bamboos use 2-3 bamboos a couple of inches shorter than your ceiling put up a aluminium angle with the plastic sheet attached and use the bamboo to take it up to the ceiling use a piece of wood to jam up the bamboo from the bottom to the ceiling. So you will have an instant ceiling to floor plastic curtain.

    This will take a few minutes to setup but will save you lot of time in cleaning up.
    These plastic sheets are available in US for a couple of dollars in case you don't find them in India. They are very light and compact shipforlessdotcom can be used to ship to India I think they charge $10 to ship and custom clear (actual customs at actuals but for low value goods there is usually no customs) for things under 1Lbs.

    1. Hi Kittu, thanks... let me explore the possibility of using these plastic sheets... The thing with paper is that stains can easily seep through it and hit the floor... Plastic sheets surely can prevent them from bleeding underneath... Thanks for the pointer. Let me see if these are available in the local stores.

      I have seen tarpaulins being used for the same purpose here in India. When I had to give my home for a certain repair, my builder covered the entire floor and walls with tarpaulins to ensure the broken pieces of concrete do not damage the floors and to prevent dust from accumulating on the painted walls ! Is it the same that you are referring to ?


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