Sticky Tools: A Simple and Cheap Way to Keep Track of Your Tools

Never Misplace a Tool Again!


If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of your precious time in the studio looking around for that tool you were just using a minute ago. For me, sadly, this tendency to lose track of things is not only limited to when I am in the studio. For example, I am pretty sure I have NEVER EVER set my keys down in the same place twice.

But there is hope—at least in the studio! In today’s post, Lawrence Weathers shares how he keeps track of his tools while throwing with magnets and metal shelving. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

I noticed that I was spending a lot of time digging through the mess around my wheel to find tools. I had tried numerous plastic containers to hold them, but this didn’t work very well because at least half of the tool was hidden from view, so it was difficult to identify which one I wanted without pulling most of the tools out. Even worse, sometimes I would knock one of these plastic tubs over, sending a bunch of tools to the floor. I needed to keep my tools completely visible. Also, since I’m not very good at putting things back where they belong, I didn’t want a system that would require me to put a tool in a specific place each time to find it again. Since my throwing area is bounded on three sides by steel shelves, the vertical sides of the shelves were unused storage space that I could utilize by putting magnets on my tools. This allowed me to have easy access to them and be able to see all of them at once. Also, I didn’t need to put tools back in the same spot. Any shelf edge would do, and there were a lot of them within arm’s reach.

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Make your life easier with custom tools!

In addition to his fantastic throwing and carving techniques, Adam Field shares the details on making his own tools in his technique-packed DVD Precision Throwing and Intricate Carving. Adam demonstrates how to make a sangam carving tool, a trimming knife and an adjustable worktable—three tools that are invaluable to his success. 


I bought 40 6 mm × 3 mm grade N42 neodymium disc magnets online for less than $10. Most such magnets are grade N35, but since they were so cheap, I decided to go with a 20% stronger magnet. The stronger ones worked so well that I ordered 40 more.

Attaching the magnets is easy, you’ll just need a drill and some epoxy. Bore a shallow hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the magnet in the side of each tool. For better adhesion of the glue, it’s best to rub the magnet back and forth on a piece of sandpaper to create a rougher surface. Fill the hole with epoxy. Then press the magnet into the hole and clamp while it dries. Make sure that the surface of the magnet is slightly above the surface of the tool.


I also use magnets to store my metal tools, such as needles, ribs, and those made from hacksaw blades. With these, you can just put a magnet on the shelf edge and stick the metal tool to it.

**First published in 2016
  • Allison A.

    I’ve seen people use a piece of foam (like from an old futon or even just a large sponge like the kind typically used to hand wash cars, or foam padding used in certain packaging) with slits and holes cut into it as a stand for tools while throwing. It is especially good for sharp tools bc they stick right into it. This method keeps the tools standing upright too which is nice.

  • If you use an electric tooth brush, don’t just throw it out when you’re replacing it. Take a pliers and pry off the two magnets attached to the brush head. They’re incredibly strong and small, and free.Sure, it might take you 20 years to save enough magnets, but you might have a little more incentive to change your brush head more often.

  • Margaret J.

    I have an old fashioned looking wood tool holder with a handle that I bought at IKEA. It’s big enough that I can put plastic and metal cylinder shaped containers on both sides of the handle. I have come up with a silly system for holding my various sculpture tools and each time I finish working I quickly put my tools away. It works! Maybe part of the aging process is to get a little more OCDish and putting my stuff away every single time fulfills that part of my needs system. As they say, ” A place for everything, everything in its place.” TRA LAAAAA!

  • Susanne S.

    been using an old coffee can, very low tech and sloppy, the way I like to be in my muddy studio!

  • I use a sheet of pegboard next to my wheel, keeps everything organized and within easy reach.

  • Sally R.

    Thank You!!!
    I have a jar of rare Earth magnets I use in my science classes and now can keep the kids in ART organized with some of them too!

  • Subscriber T.

    I use the clear plastic lids that cover a 100 stack of CD’s. I worked at a company that did replications and it killed me that they were going into the garbage and not being recycled. I passed on 100’s to my instructor and he uses them for storing his mosaic pieces. Most places are happy to give things away. This is also how I got all my wooden bats, by going to a business that made speakers and were discarding their holes.

  • Stephanie H.

    For $10, at our local charity shop, I purchased an individual computer workstation. It has a top shelf the same height as a standard dining table with a pull-out keyboard shelf below. The keyboard shelf is a few centimetres higher than the edge of my Venco wheel’s splash pan and overhangs it by a few centimetres. I keep my throwing tools on a tray on the keyboard shelf. They are close to my right hand, without being in the slops. The workstation is on casters and has a shelf at the bottom, intended as a foot rest. I keep buckets on that and all my other tools on the top shelf.
    It really is a very good mobile tool caddy.

  • I keep my throwing tools on a two tiered turntable. Most used on top, others on bottom. Easy to reach and easy to grab what I need!

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