How to Stop Stuff Going Missing in the Workshop

Stop Stuff Going Missing in the Workshop

NOBODY LIKES TO THINK about it, but stopping tools & equipment from going missing is a challenge for just about every Technology Teacher that I talk to.

And there is no where worse than the Woodwork Workshop.

The culprits generally come from 3 categories:

  1. Students
  2. Staff
  3. After Hours Staff (cleaners, other people using the room when you are not there)

While maybe it’s students with sticky hands, other staff ‘borrowing’ the tools and then not remembering to return them again, or after hours staff who liked the look of something. Whoever is responsible, once the equipment is gone it’s generally too hard to get back.

So the trick is to stop anything from going missing in the first place. So the rest of this page is dedicated to preventing items from going missing in the workshop.

What HAS NOT Worked for Me

Audits of Tools

Your school might make you do these but in my experience they don’t seem to make a difference to tools going missing. Although if you play your cards right, they can make a good case for you to purchase more static machines and larger priced tools.

What HAS Worked

Locking Up Tools & Equipment

Although locking up tools can be a pain, when done properly it works.

By properly there are a few rules that you need to follow.

  1. Make sure the storage area is secure. This means that it looks secure to someone looking at it, it’s bolted etc, and you can’t see inside it when it’s locked.
  2. Don’t keep the key at school. Even if it’s in a staff only area.

A few tips with locking up your tools & equipment.

  • Buy padlocks
  • Keep it easy to see what’s missing. Use labels or a shadow board style
  • Make it easy to lock up your stuff. I only lock up power tools, as generally that is what goes missing. It also means locking up doesn’t take me 10 minutes every day after hours.
Class Power Tool Storage

Encasing this storage unit and installing padlocks and deadbolts has helped reduce tools being misplaced.


Labeling equipment is important. It does help you see what is missing easily. Which means you can chase it up as soon as it happens.

This doesn’t necessarily mean use named labels everywhere. An ordered shadow board will do the same job.

Tips with this:

  • Librarians generally have label machines which is the easiest way to label.
  • If you have more than one workshop, giving each workshop a colour and labeling the tools and equipment in that workshop that colour will also help.
Class Tool Storage Cabinet

This workshop is the ”yellow workshop”

Limit the Amount of People in the Workshop

There always seems to be people hanging around the workshop doesn’t there?

Staff, other teachers, students, admin, maintenance, people on school tours, or others who seem to find themselves looking or wanting something…

Tips for this:

  • Always keep doors locked from the outside. If you don’t have them already then request them from maintenance if you can. It doesn’t always work when everything is on the same key/fob, but it is something.

Good Behaviour Management

Although I can’t prove this one way or the other, I believe that having rules, routines and expected behaviours for students and staff in the workshop helps.

For students this includes a strong routine for entering the workshop i.e. put aprons on, get your work out and put it near a vice, wait for the teacher around the table. Also a strong routine for the end of the class.

There’s Nothing Left!

Although it can be a challenge, stopping tools & equipment from going missing isn’t impossible. Good housekeeping and some preventative measures will go a long way.

I plan on updating this list so if you have any ideas, comments or queries then contact me here.