Hello All,

I am asking folks for input, based on your fly tying expertise and experience, in an effort to improve/refine the various designs I have for bench-top tool caddies as found on my website www.Benchbuddys.com My basic assumption is that a tool caddy is important to the craft of tying and can (and should) be a piece of art as much as the flies themselves are. Its not that I’m completely out of ideas (well, maybe I’m close) but the notion of getting constructive feedback from folks familiar with my products is what’s driving this. I doubt that there is a single, optimum design given that the tools available (popular) today may not be so in the future, and everyone’s available space is different. Before you tackle a response to my request it may be helpful to peruse my website and familiarize yourself with the various products currently available. So, please help me out by sharing your thoughts on the subject. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  1. ) List the essential tools that you use for tying and how many of each you
    have at the ready on your bench. The following is a partial list that will get
    things started;
    a. Scissors
    b. Bodkin(s)
    c. Hackle pliers
    d. Bobbin(s)
    e. Bobbin threader
    f. Hair stacker
    g. Dubbing brush
    h. Whip finisher, sm – med – lg
    i. Tweezer(s)
    j. Hair packer
    k. UV light
    l. Pawn, aka magnet on a stick, material holder
    m. Tube fly tool(s), attachment(s)
    n. Glass/plastic/metal tins (stackable?)
    o. Jar(s) head cement (round, square, oval, other)
    p. Allen wrench(s) for vise adjustments
    q. Vise jaws (spare)
    r. Dubbing Spinner
    s. Ruler
    t. Sally Hansen – jars
    u. UV Resin
    v. Zap-a-gap, Superglue
    w. X-acto knife (other)

  2. ) Dimensions
    The flat caddy’s I produce generally run 1 ½” – 2” in thickness (height), 7” – 12” in width (when viewed head-on) and 3” – 4” in depth (front face to rear). They need enough thickness to allow holes deep enough to allow a tool to stand upright. And enough length and depth to accommodate a lot of holes of various diameters. Would you say these dimensions are adequate? What do you think would be the most useful and/or comfortable dimensions for a flat caddy?
  3. ) Hole – sizes and number

    Hole sizes in the caddys I have produced thus far run the gamut from 1/16” (0.5mm) to 3”+ when using Forstner bits and conventional drill bits. Innovations such as the foam “pin cushions” for bodkin storage found in many of my flat caddys eliminate the need for really small (say 1/16” inch) holes. This leaves more space available for larger holes to accommodate larger tools which is a good thing. Or is it? Larger holes, sometimes square sometimes round or oval to house glues, varnishes, UV resins or other liquids (think spillable and messy) are  important to many tyers. While I can (and have) built custom caddys to meet requests for storing specific containers I am looking for input on finding that “happy medium” of sizedistribution that will work for most tyers. So, please share your opinion on what you would like to see in terms of the number and sizes of holes in a flat caddy. It will apply to some degree to the vertical style caddys too.

  4. ) Materials
    Well, I’m a wood guy as you can see from the website and I don’t see that changing, well not much anyway. I’m certainly not adverse to using other materials especially in unison with wood so long as something aesthetic and practical (may as well throw in affordable too) is achieved. What other “stuff” would you like to see these things made of? You can suggest anything but foam, and titanium. Remember, I enjoy and embrace reusing, recycling and repurposing things.

  5. ) Odds n’ ends
    From time to time I have installed small disk-shaped magnets on tool caddys and particularly the fly display stands that feature alligator clips. (I thought this was so clever that I even surprised myself) They can be terribly handy because they’re quick (no  searching for a slot) and pretty sturdy. So, my question is should I employ more of them? If so, would you like to see a lot or just a few of them. How about magnetic strips. Personally, I think they’re tacky but if they work for you, what the heck! In case you haven’t noticed, I also offer a variety of bodkins and dubbing brushes. They are fun to make and I have been including them (gratis) with flat caddys because they double as a push rod for swapping out the “pin cushions” through a hole in the bottom of the caddy. The tyer has a choice of three colors of foam made from recycled packaging (or pool noodles) OR a recycled foam sanding block that has enough grit left on it to have a cleaning effect on bodkin needles. Clever eh? I have used sections of bamboo fly rod (way beyond its useful life) and standard wood dowels for the body’s of both items and Velcro strips for the dubbing brushes. I want to know if you find that these things actually work, are comfortable to work with and should be continued. If it’s a thumbs up, can they be improved in any way? i.e. better gripping surfaces, thicker, thinner, longer, shorter etc.