Getting my organize on

One of the few things in life that I seem to no be alone in is trying to keep my hobby / modeling / painting area organized.  First is simply keeping all the paints, which sometimes seem to spontaneously breed.  Then there are brushes, water pots, paper towels, palettes, etc.  Before you even start painting are modelling tools - glue, hobby knives, green stuff, blu-tac, basing materials.  So when Impudent Mortal did a kickstarter for THEO - The Hobby Equipment Organizer, I was interested.

I figured I'd throw a couple of bucks at it, and ended up going a 'wee bit' more than that.  Well it came in this past friday, and I nearly gave myself a hernia lifting the box.  I had ordered 16 cartridges - and they included 4 full size wall units to hold them.  I went all MDF, as I wasn't looking for anything fancy, and it was just a little bit cheaper than going acrylic.

Before I go further, I do need to mention that though this kickstarter 'technically' funded, it was very close.  All kickstarters have to deal with some pledges that end up never getting collected - they have a credit card that doesn't work and never fix it.    Unfortunately because of this, they didn't actually get the money it looks like they did, and while kickstarter views it as funded, if you subtract the noncollectable pledges it actually did not fund.

Walt and his crew were very honest about this.  It did mean a couple of products (the carrying case, the figure display case) were not going to be able to be made, and they refunded those people who had selected those are part of their rewards (or they picked other items).  I didn't want either of those, so this didn't affect me.

Unfortunately, with fulfilling all the pledges, this just didn't actually leave enough for them to actually go to retail with this product, and I feel that is a shame.  I liked the idea, and I like the product even more.  I already would like to purchase more if I could.

I still want to show this off - and maybe in the future they can do it again and be more successful.

So the system is based around cartridges - each cartridge is 11" x 5.5" and 3 1/4" deep.  The key here is that two cartridges fit in an 11" x 11" square - and then the wall units exactly fit four cartridges (there are some half units as well that fit 2 cartridges).

I had actually purchased a couple of their paint racks a few years ago.  I liked them, but they took up a lot of table space, and I had no way to easily store them when I needed to clean off my workspace (which is a corner of our dining room table).  When I had to clean it off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, everything went into a laundry basket and box.

all my hobby / painting 'stuff'
I was actually really looking forward to this coming in, so I could organize my stuff and get back to modelling / painting.  Now I had a huge box of MDF to assemble!

To start are the wall modules.  These are actually pretty simple to put together.  Of course with four of these to put together, you would think I would actually remember to take a picture of the parts.  Of course I didn't think of that, and did not realize it until editing yesterdays pictures.  But here is the assembled wall unit.

As you can see, there are already mounting holes pre-drilled.  Unfortunately I don't have a wall to hang actually hang these - but that would actually free up even more space.  Each of of the two sides is 11 x 11 - so fits two cartridges.  Some cartridges are vertical - with two fitting side by side, while other are horizontal, with one fitting above the other.  But they are all standard size and all interchangeable.

The first cartridge I put together was for the "eye dropper" paints (I prefer Valejo paints).    There are four options for these - top out, reverse (top in, showing the bottom) - and each of these either vertical or horizontal.  I liked the horizontal style with the top out (I paint the tops of my paint bottles with the actual color to make them easy to identify).  I bought six of these - enough to hold all the paints in my two old racks plus extra space - because I know I'll need more space!

the parts laid out
These were a little tricky, as you had the back and two internal pieces that you would attach the top and sides to.  I found it easiest to put in the two middle pieces since they would stand alone somewhat when the tabs fit in the holes.
two inner panels
I then attached the back and the top.  The top of each cartridge has a hole in it to make it easier to grasp.

Then the two sides went on - and the first cartridge was complete.

with some paints I had on my desk.
Each eye dropper cartridge holds 32 paint bottles, so a pair holds 64 - with is 2 short of the paint racks I was using.  This is why I bought 6!

In addition, I bought a cartridge to hold paint pots (like Games Workshop makes) because I still have a few of those.

Impudent Mortal has a pdf on their website with instructions on how to assemble all of these - but the horizontal pot cartridge is missing (though the vertical one is there).  This took me a minute as it seemed like I had WAY too many pieces at first, until I realized it came in two parts, with one sliding into the other (ultimately holding 28 paint pots in all per cartridge).

The main cartridge has two levels.  Make sure you dry fit everything as the lips on the two pieces are different lengths.
main 'outer' cartridge
'inner cartridge'
 So there is a lip to hold the pots.  There is a lot of space in the main cartridge

and the inner cartridge is half as deep

So it slips perfectly into the main cartridge.

The other paint cartridge is for 'craft' style bottles.  I also picked up one of these.  However after I put it together and pulled out all my craft paints (most of these are airbrush paints I picked up on Amazon after I got my airbrush and before Valejo started coming out with their Game Air line) in, I still had more (it only fits 11 craft bottles).  However it turns out the pot cartridge very comfortable holds a craft bottle laying down - so I was able to get a few more in.

Next was the brush cartridge.  This turns out to be the most difficult to assemble, and I think I must have done something wrong.  Like the pot cartridge, it has two pieces.  The first is a water cup holder, very simple to put together.

The main cartridge has a brush holder (assembled in the picture - I thought I would get pictures of the three pieces when I put the second one together - and (of course) I forgot).

A very, very tricky point is the brush holder is a piece of foam with two mdf pieces on the top and bottom giving it strength and structure.

The instructions do say that you need the "compress" the foam to get the brush holder to fit - which helps to hold the brushes in better.  This was not easy, and I actually broke the top mdf piece on BOTH of these getting them together.  I'm don't have a better idea at this point - but the brush holder did not go together smoothly (I put it first on the back piece, then put each side on - it was the sides that were difficult).

Lastly, there are two pieces that are effectively shelf brackets to hold the cup holder.

These went in very smoothly, and clamped in nice and flag against the inner sides (or so I thought).  However when I went to slide in the cup holder - it would not fit.  There is a bit of a lip on the top and bottom of the cup holder to slide into two of the bracket spaces - this did not fit.  The back of the cup holder would rub up and get stuck on the sides of the brackets as well.

I actually tried to sand down both the brackets and the cup holder, and could get it in - but it is pretty much stuck in (it is meant to be adjustable to you could have your brushes point down in the cup).

This is one where the large flat brackets (for me) aren't working - instead of there were just strips to hold the cup (so think of the pieces that were cut out of the brackets).  Or just make the cup holder a bit smaller - 1/16" on the sides would do it easily.  It should go in and out easily, and it doesn't.

I will admit that this may be entirely my fault and I may have assembled it wrong.  The glue I used could have caused the pieces to expand (and the tolerances are tight enough as to not be able to handle any).

There is also a tool cartridge.  I also picked up two of these.  This has three drawers and a small tool caddy.
tool caddy parts
inner shelf attached to the sides.  Back and top are next to it.
Three sets of the pieces for the drawers
The main cartridge the back and shelf pieces
The rest of the cartridge pieces with the shelf assembly on the back
tool caddy
I like this one - but I think they missed with the tool caddy.  It fits into the cartridge, but only when empty.  So to put it back you have to take everything out - and I don't find that useful.

And like the water cup holder - it didn't fit for me either.
This was as far as I can fit the caddy into the cartridge
Maybe if the caddy would be able to slip in with the tools in it (this would mean you could only put short things in it, and it would be about half the size - but then it would be more useful to me.

I like these caddys, and plan on using them - but they will never go in the cartridges.

Now this is not a fault of any of these components, but I have already found I need to get a label maker to identify what each drawer holds. I am already opening every one looking for stuff, and I'm not really even using anything yet :-)

So while I wasn't thrilled with the brush and tool cartridges, I do really like the drawer cartridges.  I bought two of both the vertical and horizontal.

two horizontal drawers per cartridge


Vertical drawer cartridge was just as easy

three vertical drawers

vertical cartridge

So after only about 8 hours of work, all 20 pieces were assembled.

I like the flexibility of how I can arrange these.  I've already changed them around several times.

Since I'm not mounting them, I've found I can put the wall units either horizontally

or vertically.

 Maybe arrange them all in a corner in two layers.

Or right now my current configuration is my own "hobby wall" sitting on the table. 

Hobby Wall
But one of the best parts is when I have to move things, it is now much easier.  The four wall units can all just be moved to the side.  I'm thinking of getting some velcro to actually allow these to be closed so they could be carried and nothing could fall out.

very compact and out of the way when need be, even if I don't have a wall to hang them on
Overall I'm very happy with these - and I can already see that I'd like to have two more vertical and two more horizontal drawer units.  But as I said, unfortunately these are not going to be commercially available.

Because it is all fun and games . . .