There’s nothing that hinders productivity like swearing you had just the right bit you needed for a project, but tearing apart your entire workspace, you come up empty-handed. Keeping an inventory of your tools is important to keep your workshop running smoothly, but it’s also useful for making informed purchases to add to your collection and handy when filing for insurance or seeking tax write-offs when making the jump from hobbyist to entrepreneur.

Organize to Know

One of the easiest ways to take inventory of your tools is to engage in some good old-fashioned workshop organization. By ensuring all of your tools have a logical, easy-to-access place on shelves, in drawers or in cases, you’ll be able to see what you have at a glance and reach right for it when the time comes.

As you put things away, make a list of what you’ve got. A pen and paper works fine, but if you’re in no mood to stop and write down the name of a tool or part every time you stow it, you can also snap a photo with your smartphone or other mobile devices.

Keeping an Inventory for Efficiency

An inventory can help keep you organized once you’ve got things put away in their permanent spaces. By keeping an inventory of what you have - and where it goes - you’ll know exactly where it is and where it should be. If the time comes to hire an extra set of hands or if you bring on a helper or apprentice, they’ll know where things go, too - and exactly what tools are available for you to work with.

A master inventory of your tools can also help cut down on impulse buys and repeat purchases. While routing is generally a hobby you can expect to spend some major expense on, you won’t need to devote your hard-earned cash to replace a tool or component you swore you had but couldn’t find. You can also eliminate unnecessary purchases by consulting your inventory and seeing if you have a tool that could already do the job of what you’re considering purchasing.

Keeping an Inventory for Insurance

Because routing tools can be fairly expensive, it makes sense to list them on your insurance and carry a rider that ensures they’re covered. This is especially true if you dabble in selling your work or are making the switch from hobbyist to entrepreneur.

Having a master inventory of all tools, supplies, and materials in your workspace allows you to inform the insurance company of a loss should you experience a fire, flood or other catastrophes. If you’re the victim of theft or burglary, you’ll be able to tell the police and your insurance exactly what’s missing and where it was.

Keeping an Inventory for Taxes

Owning your own business means an increased tax burden: you’re responsible for paying what would normally be withheld by your employer at a typical job. To offset some of the burden, you may look through your quarterly expenses for equipment or materials purchased for your work that counts as business expenses.

By keeping a detailed inventory of what you bought and when - along with receipts and proof of incidental costs, like shipping or gas mileage to go get it - you’ll be more prepared to hand that information over to your accountant. Or, if you’re truly bold, to file for yourself.

Creating a Tool Inventory

From routers themselves to collets, chucks, and bits, keeping a detailed inventory of your workshop can help you stay efficient, organized and saving money across the board. Whether you’re a hobbyist router, a business owner or somewhere in between, there’s never a bad time to start an inventory of the tools you have on hand. Organize your tools, assign homes to everything to stay tidy and make a list of what goes where - it’s a simple afternoon project that pays dividends in saved time throughout the year.