View Full Version : parts bins

04-05-2002, 06:05 PM
Anybody got any ideas on parts bins. I am kind of in a rebuilding stage in my basement shop, which also holds my woodworking equipment. I have bags and boxes of nuts and bolts and washers and screws strewn all over one of my benches to the point where there's not room to set anything down. Used to have a steel cabinet with many bins for such things. How about the plastic bins and the racks or louvered panels to mount them on? Thought about building them out of wood, can be done but I'm not sure it's worth the work. As always, looking for the cheapest way, but don't want junk either. Any ideas?



04-06-2002, 01:57 AM
I ended up buying the "assortment" trays that bolt places make up for all for my 1/4" and smaller stuff. End cuts, shafts, etc. I put in plastic 5 gallon buckets so they can't get wet if the basement floods (Lordy, Lordy - please don't do that!) and they are easier to move. I use industrial tool boxes and media storage vaults (3 for $20 at an auction) to store tools, parts, and what not. You have to decide for your self what you use, but check auctions - you may come across somenthing that will do the job for very little cash outlay. Industrial shelving and warehouse racking can be useful for some applications.

04-06-2002, 11:45 AM
Watch the paper. With Kmart and Ames stores closeing you could clean up on all sorts of stuff. Just remember that what you are storing is heavy. I went to a used book store the other day and they had just put up new shelving. Rough cut hemlock(sp) 1x8inch spanning 4ft, sagging like an old horse.

04-06-2002, 07:36 PM
I don't know if it is too much trouble for you or not, but here's a suggestion (like most it can be sent straight to the circular file if necessary).

If you get a bunch of your friends to save coffee cans, cut them down the center (creating 2 "scoop like" sections without handles) and build a wooden frame that will allow you to put then "side by side" to create metal "semi-circular" trays. Notch the front support on the frame to "nest" the curved front of the can. Keeps the contents in better if you angle the frame back 15 or 20 degrees. You might want to fashion some rubber or plastic tubing on the cut edges to keep from slitting your fingers and wrist all the time. Electrical tape could work also.

It usually looks "homemade", but it is a great way to recycle, if you're into it. Works for 1 or 3 pound cans, whichever is most abundant.

Again, just a thought.


04-07-2002, 06:51 AM
Organization is an ongoing shop problem, at least for me.

For small screws, nuts, washers, etc., of which there seems to be at least a million variations, I bought about a dozen of those multi-compartment plastic parts boxes, about 4" x 8", from Brownell's. Each compartment in the boxes is about an inch square, but that's big enough for 4-40, 6-32, 8-32, etc. I made a set of shelves just big enough to hold the boxes, two stacks of 6 boxes each, using 3/4" plywood for the sides, notched to take shelves made out of pieces of Formica. That takes care of a lot of the bits.

For larger stuff, I bought a set of metal parts boxes -- metal boxes with interior plastic compartments -- that hold the larger nuts and bolts, dowel pins, and whatever.

For taps and dies, I got one of those 60-drawer plastic organizers at K-Mart. With 60 drawers, I can go from 0-80 to over 1/2", with a separare drawer for coarse, fine, and "special" for each thread size.

I still don't have a good storage system for raw material. I made a set of narrow shelves under my bench, about 2" high by 6" wide, that hold drill rod and other bar stock, but the shelves are "end loading" and short stuff can get lost at the back. It would be better to have a lot of narrow "side loading" closely spaced shelves, but I don't have a good place to do that.

04-07-2002, 08:41 AM
I think I found an inexpensive great storage system for all kinds of small stuff and including some heavy stuff. The old fashined file cabinets have been replaced with computer files where the data from an old file cabinet can be replaced by several CDs weighing less than a pound and a tiny space. Fortunately the old cabinets are comming on the market very cheap. I bought 3 heavy duty units. They are 53" high X 30" deep X 18" wide. Lots of 4" high drawers wih ball bearing slides. They can hold even heavy stuff. Steel and iron storage near the bottom. Best yet my son in law who bought 3, gave me his.

04-07-2002, 10:41 AM
Built two wooden cabinets that just slide into my workbench with twelve 4" high (approx) drawers each, that handle a lot of the smaller tools and fasteners etc. Nails and woodscrews use their original boxes and stand up in a partitioned section of the drawers. Smaller items are in sectioned pastic boxes, previously mentioned, in another drawer. Pins, keys, socket head screws etc, etc are in large baby food jars standing up in sectioned drawers. The cabinets were made a bit short (depth) so that there is room on the backside for shelves holding 1/4", 5/16",3/8" bolts, nuts, washers and more in lidded coffee cans. Raw stock shorts are held horizontally in a converted newspaper store rack and longer stock stands in 20L (5 gal) metal pails out of the way along the wall. Have a shed on the back side of the garage to hold the longer stuff.

04-07-2002, 12:58 PM
Just an afterthought......... look at Roy Moungovan's book- SHOP SAVVY by Pop Science, ISBN 1-55654040-X Perhaps one of the best on shop organizing.

04-08-2002, 09:11 AM
For storing small fasteners, etc. check out the fishing tackle department at your favorite discount store (Wal or K mart, etc.). I've found those made by Plano in a variety of sizes to be just the ticket for many of my storage needs. Their flat, rectangular shape makes for compact storage, their transparency permits quik ID of the contents, and .... well, they're just doggone handy!

04-08-2002, 04:07 PM
My employer had some left over cardboard cigar boxes from a promotion. I got 6 cases of 32. I have given away 3 cases and used almost half a case.

I have used them to sort the small loose tooling bits from my lathe/mill.

Now I have to build a rack to hold them.

grace & peace

04-08-2002, 06:22 PM

That enough ideas for ya? If you just do about half of them, you'll have lots of storage. Problem will be, you won't have any time to sort anything, much less have any time to machine anything to use all your sorted stuff on.

But you'll certainly have storage. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Have fun!!!!!!!!


04-08-2002, 08:24 PM
Thanks all. I couldn't get to the computer for a day or so but I appreciate all the input. There are a fair amount of auctions and flea markets in my area during the summer months. Think I'll try and scout a few of them out. What I really would like to find is a steel bin unit like I used to have. I have a couple of those plastic boxes like they have at the discount stores but I need something bigger, like to dump a pound or so of bolts in each compartment.


charlie coghill
04-11-2002, 11:08 PM
You might consider this: Take a rectangular 1 galon can and cut one side out, bend the sharp edge over. Build shelves to hold the cans and use the old handles to pull the cans in and out. Charlie

04-21-2002, 11:29 PM
Bread pans. My shop looks like a bakery, I use them for everything. They come in several sizes, steal and Al, little handles and rounded edges. Cheap too, yard sales etc.
Some even have holes in the bottom, so good for parts cleaning.

Neil Peters

artificer in metal
04-25-2002, 12:07 AM
I have used oil containers (1, 4, and 5 liter) containers. You can cut these in a variety of different ways but you can organize using color too if you want!

04-27-2002, 09:05 PM
My biggest problem with "storage solutions" is having different sizes and shapes that don't go together.

Plano makes covered plastic trays with adjustable dividers, good for small bolts and screws sorted by sizes. Lowes has them. I use them for setscrews, retainer rings and pins etc, small enough stuff that all of them will go in one case. Like tackle boxes but better.

Akro Mills has multidrawer cases, I have a lot of bolts and scews in them, things that I need more room for and have lots of sizes of,

I like the old multidrawer steel cabinets that I get from estate sales etc. I think Lyons made them, but I don't buy new, too much $$.

The clever adapted coffee can type stuff isn't really practical, I find. The commercial storage cabinets are better to use and less work to set up.

mike thomas
04-27-2002, 09:45 PM
I think I really fell into it today. I had been thinking of the disorganized mess in the shop and trying to come up with a plan. Then today I stopped at a shop closing up. I picked up a Snap-on 4' roll cabinet, including a 4' riser with drawers, a metal under shelf mount set of drawers, 6 steel parts bins, and a little steel cabinet with with drawers and a top compartment. Enough to hide most everything for $200. Now I can get more stuff to throw on the floor and benches. Mike

04-27-2002, 11:08 PM
MIKE: You lucky dog ;-) sez he all green with envy. WALT WARREN

04-28-2002, 01:26 PM
I repair old toy trains so I use a lot of small machine screws. I have about a dozen 50 drawer plastic cabinets in which I keep all the screws, washers & nuts up to 1/4 inch. Anything that is larger goes into plastic stackable bins. I like Akro-Mills Products (good quality,cheap,and available at Walmart). Best thing I bought was a Brother P-Touch labeler. I use different color tape for different types of parts. This makes finding and reading what is in the drawer much easier. good luck