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Thread: Small Part Storage Ideas

  1. #1
    Too_Many_Tools Guest

    Default Small Part Storage Ideas

    I am looking for ideas as to how to efficiently store small parts.

    How have you done it?

    Pictures of your storage would be great.

    Thanks

    TMT

    (I am thinking about using the surplus film containers approach)

  2. #2
    tattoomike68 Guest

    Default

    Baby food jars with the lids nailed to the bottom side of a shelf worked for my grandpa. Im going to do it too once I get organized.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chilliwack, B.C.
    Posts
    9,542

    Default

    Can't post pictures of it yet, but one thing I came up with is using 2 inch square pvc downspout tubing. As you might imagine, the containers end up being 2 inches square. I ended up getting nearly 80 pieces out of two ten ft sections, after figuring out how to cut it without chipping on the table saw. I made bottoms for all of them, then because I have a 12 inch diameter drum sander, I was able to sand a nice curve into the tops of each one. I used a jig of course so they all came out the same. This leaves the front side lower than the back side, so when they are placed in the drawers, you can easily pick any one out by lifting from the back lip.

    It was a lot of work overall, cutting to length, sanding the slope on the top, deburring, cutting all the bottoms, rounding all their corners so they would fit, gluing them in, etc, but they are so nice to use. I made the height of them such that you can easily get two fingers into the bottom to pick up parts. I have all my nuts, bolts, washers, etc stored in them- whatever will fit. It's nice to be able to slide a drawer open and be able to look into all the containers, then easily grab one you want and bring it out or just take from it what you want.

    I went to this extent so I could remove a chosen container and use the contents where I needed to, but you could easily just cut pieces to length, then fit them together onto a bottom panel using a glue of choice. You might make several panels, each to hold maybe a dozen or so containers- saves you having to make separate bottoms for each container. Size the panels so they can neatly tuck into an existing drawer- this would also let you stack them two high in a drawer.

    What I have done with two drawers is to fit all these containers into the bottoms, then I have two trays in each drawer that slide on rails over top of the containers. If I slide both trays towards the back, I can see about a third of the containers below- if I slide one tray forwards, I can see the middle third of the containers, and if I slide both trays forwards, I can see the rest of the containers. Every one is accessible to remove easily.

    The end result is lots of small parts sorted into a fairly compact space, and all easily accessible.

    One of the benefits is that because they are square and the material is quite thin, they don't waste space in the drawer. In the past, I've made containers from mdf, etc, but found that the material itself takes up so much space that it seemed impractical. The downspout tubing is thin, probably about .030 or so, so even when two touch side by side, you're only using up a sixteenth inch of space.

    Another way to go about this if you can spare the top third or so of an existing drawer, is to make some rails that trays can slide on, as I've done above my containers. In your case they trays would be what all the sections of downspout are glued onto, and though they wouldn't be separately removable, they could still slide back and forth to expose stuff stored underneath them.
    Last edited by darryl; 10-31-2009 at 01:31 AM.

  4. #4
    Too_Many_Tools Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by darryl
    Can't post pictures of it yet, but one thing I came up with is using 2 inch square pvc downspout tubing. As you might imagine, the containers end up being 2 inches square. I ended up getting nearly 80 pieces out of two ten ft sections, after figuring out how to cut it without chipping on the table saw. I made bottoms for all of them, then because I have a 12 inch diameter drum sander, I was able to sand a nice curve into the tops of each one. I used a jig of course so they all came out the same. This leaves the front side lower than the back side, so when they are placed in the drawers, you can easily pick any one out by lifting from the back lip.

    It was a lot of work overall, cutting to length, sanding the slope on the top, deburring, cutting all the bottoms, rounding all their corners so they would fit, gluing them in, etc, but they are so nice to use. I made the height of them such that you can easily get two fingers into the bottom to pick up parts. I have all my nuts, bolts, washers, etc stored in them- whatever will fit. It's nice to be able to slide a drawer open and be able to look into all the containers, then easily grab one you want and bring it out or just take from it what you want.

    I went to this extent so I could remove a chosen container and use the contents where I needed to, but you could easily just cut pieces to length, then fit them together onto a bottom panel using a glue of choice. You might make several panels, each to hold maybe a dozen or so containers- saves you having to make separate bottoms for each container. Size the panels so they can neatly tuck into an existing drawer- this would also let you stack them two high in a drawer.

    What I have done with two drawers is to fit all these containers into the bottoms, then I have two trays in each drawer that slide on rails over top of the containers. If I slide both trays towards the back, I can see about a third of the containers below- if I slide one tray forwards, I can see the middle third of the containers, and if I slide both trays forwards, I can see the rest of the containers. Every one is accessible to remove easily.

    The end result is lots of small parts sorted into a fairly compact space, and all easily accessible.

    One of the benefits is that because they are square and the material is quite thin, they don't waste space in the drawer.

    Interesting...looking forward to the pictures.

    How and what were the bottoms made of?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    SF bay area, California, USA
    Posts
    1,054

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    It depends a LOT on what kind of parts you have but the babyfood jars are good. My dad's garage where I have my machines has babyfood jars and larger pickle jars. He also has one of those chests of tiny drawers which is where I go when I want to mess with a bolt.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Beaumont, TX
    Posts
    7,344

    Default

    I never liked the small jar thing. First, glass jars can and will break when I drop them. Second, they are round, and round packed with round necessairly wastes space between them.

    I generally store a lot of things in cardborard bins. They come in two depths and a variety of widths so you can choose the one best suited to the items at hand. And they don't cost too much. I often subdivide them with cardboard mini-bins. These are a little less than 2" wide and a little more than 2" deep and they are very handy.



    Another thing I have done is make wood blocks with drilled holes to fit inside the cardboard bins. These can organize tools like boring bars.

    And this one uses various tubes of various sizes made from soda straws and PVC pipe oh, and a mini-bin to store a collection of reamers:



    You can get both bins and mini-bins from a variety of places including McMaster, Grainger, etc. I don't have any pictures at hand but will try to take one tomorrow.

    Another item I found recently for very small parts, like #0 screws and nuts and other really small items is a bead storage box from the crafts area at Wal-Mart. Here's a picture:



    It has 24 screw top plastic containers in the larger box. The box is only about 10 inches across but some of the containers in it have 100 screws or nuts in them and none of them are even half full. The containers close tight so even a #0 washer will not slip out. As you can see, I used the CAD program to make some labels that are a friction fit inside the caps. It fits on a shelf between two of my cardboard bins and takes only about 1" of shelf space. In this case, round containers do work, quite well. It only cost a few dollars.

    Another thing I have used to store small parts is the plastic bins sold in the sporting goods stores for fishing tackle. They have a number of small compartments and can store a variety of items that are a bit larger than, say a #4 screw. I have a fair sized, fishing tackle box that I added several of the plastic bins to and also added covers on the fold out bins in the lid and I used it to carry electronic parts when I had a traveling job as an electronic teck. It would easily survive a trip in my checked luggage on an airplane and nothing ever got mixed up. But it might be fun in today's airport. Probably have to open it and show them every part in it.

    I have about 8 or 10 of the small plastic drawer units, but am not completely satisfied with them. The dividers for the drawers are always coming loose and really small parts will slip under those dividers even when they do stay in place. At work, I have a number of these and I have resorted to adding cardborard inserts in the bins to help keep the parts in place. With a bit of creativity, these inserts can both divide the drawers and label them. I print them on card stock, on a dot-matrix printer so the lines will fold easily along the printed lines.
    Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 11-01-2009 at 08:31 PM.
    Paul A.

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    Posts
    1,637

    Default

    I use the little multiple drawer storage bins for almost all of my little stuff. Not exactly the best but they do work. Biggest problem with them is they take up bench space and something always seems to be in the way of the bottom drawers when you need to open them.
    Last edited by Arcane; 10-31-2009 at 04:50 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Mass
    Posts
    368

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    I never liked baby food jars - especially those old roladex style ones from the 50's - waste of space and the glass will eventualy get broken .

    Here is what I do. If I knew I was going to end up with so much stuff I would have bought a case of the same dividers early on and not end up with all the different sizes. A label maker helps me grab the right bin for what I an looking for.




    Plastic bins are also good in draws.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Nottingham, England
    Posts
    15,247

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    I'm collecting all those nice wooden boxes that the Chinese send calipers, DRO bars, hight gauges and tool bits in.

    Some are spare because the contents have been fitted to machines but most are from DOA items.
    I also get a lot from items sent over for evaluation that we don't deem good enough to sell, the part gets dumped or given away [ usually dumped ] but the boxes are good boxes.

    Gert often buys sets of tools in boxes and splits the contents to sell individually on Ebay, she make a profit, I get a box

    Years ago we used to get blow mounded plastic boxes that held 100 needles for lace machines. They were about 3" x 2" x 1.5"
    As Nottingham was at one time the lace capital of the world, Google "Nottingham Lace " there were well over a 1,000 lace makers and these boxes could be scrounged by the 100's

    Unfortunately time and UV? have made these very brittle and I need to replace these.

    John Player is also in Nottingham and the Players tobacco tins finished up in all the local scrap yards, many new with printing errors and again these were available in the 100's for next to nothing. These last but the supply has finished as they probably sell in plastic bags now ?

    .
    .

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.




  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,644

    Default

    Look for an old mail sorter. I made this one from scratch in an afternoon:



    Each box is a different sized hardware. They're labeled, and I put the taps and dies in the boxes too.

    Cheers,

    BW
    ---------------------------------------------------

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