“Set In Place” is the second “S” in 5S implementation. It encompasses the arrangement of tools and supplies in logical ways. But woodworkers who have taken a class with me and are utilizing the principles of 5S to make their shop time more efficient and fun know that we don’t just “Set In Place,” but we also learn to “Set Back In Place Clean & Ready To Go.” Putting a tool away when we are finished using it keeps our workspaces clear and uncluttered and allows us to work safely and concentrate more fully. Taking a few seconds to clean the tool before storing it keeps our storage areas clean and we save time because the tool is ready to use the next time we need it.
Thus when someone asks how my shop stays so neat and clean I repeat my 5S mantra, “Put tools and supplies away when you are through using them!” But there is allowance for one occasional exception to this rule.
When making cope and stick cabinet doors, I always start with the coping cut. Fiddling around with shaped backer boards to curb the blowout on a cope cut always seemed like a waste of time, so for me “rails/copes first” makes sense. When all the rails are made (and a few just‐in‐case extras) I change over to the sticking bit and make all the long grain cuts in rails and stiles at one time.
A shortage of clamps (who really has enough?) means I have to glue‐up doors in batches. Recently I was gluing up the fourth large batch of a large door order and came to one where I had failed to rout the sticking cut on the stiles. How did that happen? Trust me, I checked everything twice (or thought I did) before I unplugged my router table, disconnected the dust collection, and rolled it out of the way. Fortunately, though, I had left the sticking bit in the router, all set up and ready to go. Whew!
If a project includes a complicated or “finicky” setup, it is okay to leave the setup in place until you are sure… very sure… you have all the parts you need. This should be relatively rare though, and 99% of the time, putting things back where they belong when you are through using them is a good “5S” work habit.
Want to learn more about 5S and how you can gain more space, have more time, and enjoy your workshop even more? Check out my 5S class at Popular Woodworking University.