I sometimes wonder if manufacturers of products aimed at the do-it-yourself market ever try to use their creations.
So it was with some cynicism that I approached a product called the Shopkeeper, manufactured by Arrow Group Industries Inc., Pompton Plains, N.J. 07444.
I needn't have worried. This wall-mounted storage cabinet/workbench/vise is probably the best of its breed for a homeowner or renter who wants organization in a small space. Even if you have plenty of space in your garage or workshop, you might want to consider buying a Shopkeeper to store equipment for a specialized craft such as picture frame making or marquetry.
Industrial design is the secret of the unit's success, design by a company--King-Casey Inc., New Canaan, Conn.--that makes the Shopkeeper work the way it is intended. The firm specializes in marketing design for firms as diverse as Daimler-Benz AG, the Mercedes people; American Can; Harley-Davidson; Polaroid; Sears and Wagner Spray Tech, the power painter folks, according to Sue Bassin of King-Casey.
The unit, made of impact- and solvent-resistant polymer (plastic) material, is 40 inches wide, 48 inches high and less than five inches deep. It has holes to bolt it to any wall with 16-inch-on-center studs; the left side is hinged and the cabinet can be locked with a padlock to prevent children from playing with dangerous power and hand tools.
Other features include a tilt-out tool tray and a folding worktable/vise unit that is adequate for much of the work done around most homes. I tried it with the doweling jig shown in the photo and the vise worked well.
Tools are attached to the built-in peg-board surface with hangers that are supplied; the Model 500 Shopkeeper that I tried has plastic drawers for storing screws, bolts and similar small items; there are racks for storing brochures and owner's manuals and there is even a tote tray for carrying tools to the job.
I would rate the Shopkeeper the best design of its kind since Black & Decker's now legendary Workmate. That's high praise, since I've used a Workmate for many years.
The Shopkeeper is available in the larger 500 model, pictured, at a special close-out price direct from the manufacturer. A smaller model--without the tool caddy and tilt-out tool tray--is also available.