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  • Managing disparate random fasteners, etc

    You guys know the deal. You have two dozen coffee cans full of rusty finishing nails. Some have a collection of random screws, washers, and weird brackets. Some you don't even know where you got. Then there are the baby food jars that were "the answer" in the 60s.

    Now what? I don't know what I have, so when I need something I can either spend time looking, or just pick up something from the Big Box for $3.

    Throw it all out? I wouldn't be any worse off but no one wants to do that.

    Organize it and buy containers that are all the same size, and label them?

    How do you do it?

  • #2
    I'm still in the process of organizing my "stuff", and it's a never-ending ordeal. But I have found that it helps to sort fasteners into fairly broad categories, such as #4, #6, #8, #10, 1/4", etc. For large quantities of often-used fasteners, I'll be more specific. Of course, wood screws, sheet metal screws, and drywall or construction screws are separate. Nuts and washers may go in the bins with associated screws. Stainless steel and brass are separate, as are metric fasteners. I have many bits of hardware still in original cardboard boxes and plastic bags, and I try to keep them together along with a tag from the packaging to fully identify them.

    I also have industrial quantities of many electronic parts, which pose their own challenges for organization and storage. I have found that really small parts like SMT components are best kept in paper coin envelopes or plastic pill bags. Some of them are in old library card files, and others in plastic totes of various size. I assign them part numbers that include reference designation prefixes with values and package type, so capacitors are like C_10n0_100V_CM_0805, resistors like R_10k0_1/8W_1%_0805, transistors like Q_2N3904_TO92. Envelopes are much more compact than drawers, but are not quite as handy, as it takes time to open the envelope. Thru-hole components are usually better stored in drawers. Small hardware might also be best stored that way, and are less susceptible to spilling.
    http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
    Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
    USA Maryland 21030

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    • #3
      Well, I sort em out myself. My problem is not having a coherent system of containers.
      Idea: find some broke students and offer a $20 to do it.
      Give an engineering lesson on fasteners in the process.
      25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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      • #4
        over the years I've gained a number of large multidrawer organisers for just this sort of thing. Every so often I spend an afternoon of so organising what I have by thread size and so on. I have one large one each for metric and Imperial, with separate draws for socket/screw/nut/taps. then whenever I get some random screws or nuts I sort them there and then and add them to the relevant draws. I do get accused of being an anal retentive nerd every so often, but it does make finding the right fastener/ tap a lot easier and quicker.

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        • #5
          not popular among this group of frugal hoarders but throw it all out. time is valuable. now go to the big box store and get some multi compartment containers. every project, buy a couple extra fasteners and populate your containers. obviously by size and metric/sae. pretty soon you will marvel at how organized you've become. and you'll make less trips for hardware.
          san jose, ca. usa

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          • #6
            Originally posted by gambler View Post
            not popular among this group of frugal hoarders but throw it all out. time is valuable. now go to the big box store and get some multi compartment containers. every project, buy a couple extra fasteners and populate your containers. obviously by size and metric/sae. pretty soon you will marvel at how organized you've become. and you'll make less trips for hardware.
            Agree with the above, especially the rusty/used stuff, deformed washed, they go right in the trash.
            Until you bite the bullet and get some organizers, it will never change.

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            • #7
              Matt has the only workable solution. I use it also. I have a set of old metal drawers that have been set up for all the US standard sizes from #8 to 1/2". Separated by length,, but not by head style. Easy... walk over, pull out relevant drawer, find length section and grab the part wanted.

              Gambler has a point, but I disagree slightly.

              I would take the time to sort out at least some of what you have, as a "seed" for the drawers in the more popular sizes.. The time between throwing out what you have, and re-populating the drawers, is a rotten time when you never have anything. If you "seed" it, you have enough to get through that unless you need a bunch of the same type.

              I have also found that with what I had all sorted, I had sizes and threads that I needed, but that simply were not available without ordering, and some were not available at all at any price. I have been happy that I did not pitch them all.

              I cheated, my wife sorted them out because she was bored between jobs, and hated seeing the mess. Yes she did a good job, she worked on cars with her father as a teenager.
              CNC machines only go through the motions.

              Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
              Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
              Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
              I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
              Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

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              • #8
                I have to admit , 3 Phase was the King of Small part Storage.. at him he may have had more than was needed..

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                • #9
                  Being a cheap bastard, I'm not about to throw out my 50 year accumulation, not to mention my inheritance from my father and friend Chris. Neither am I going to spring for fancy multi-drawer cabinets to house the collection. I use the round metal tins that Danish butter cookies come in at the holidays. Everything is segregated by type and grouped by size range (i.e. 1/4-3/8, 7/16-1/2) and labelled. The tins are wide and shallow enough that you can sort through the contents without dumping them. Probably the biggest drawback is that round containers don't occupy rectangular cabinets very efficiently. I find sorting fasteners to be calming and therapeutic. And I get to eat the cookies.

                  Click image for larger version  Name:	WP_20200329_18_54_24_Pro[1].jpg Views:	0 Size:	1.87 MB ID:	1865012
                  Last edited by MrWhoopee; 03-30-2020, 12:17 AM.
                  It's all mind over matter.
                  If you don't mind, it don't matter.

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                  • #10
                    Yeah, if it is rusty, deformed, or of questionable quality, I generally toss it in the scrap metal bucket. Everything else gets organized in plastic bins and drawers that I've accumulated over the past 12 years or so. I have tons of these gray bins from Harbor Freight (they used to go on sale for $6 and have held up well over the years) and these drawers from Menards (which also used to go on sale for $14 each). They've worked well for me.

                    Gray bins: https://www.harborfreight.com/20-pie...ils-41949.html

                    Drawers: https://www.menards.com/main/tools/t...074-c-9189.htm

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                    • #11
                      Yeah I'm in the category of sorting as I need something from a coffee can that is labeled wood screw, sheet metal screws, metric hardware ETC. I do have these bins Click image for larger version

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                      in my cabinets that a red bin is for each bolt size and 1 each for washers and nuts. then for special hardware I use the 1/2 size and put many different things in them. tape label on the front tells me whats in side and I'm good to go.
                      The one thing that I have that helps in sorting is a 1/2 size and a full size cookie sheet pan with good sides that I got at garage sales years ago, then I just dump the hardware into the sheet and sort for what I'm after, and if I come across a lot of the same item I start pulling them too while I'm there.

                      These bins are not that expensive and really let you organize with good use of space. I've not stacked them but you can if space is really limited.

                      TX
                      Mr fixit for the family
                      Chris

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                      • #12
                        Seem this is a never ending problem. One of the best solutions I've found is the shallow drawer with a nested series of topless, lift-out containers in it. Open the drawer, you see at a glance what's in all the containers, then you grab the rear lip of a container and pull it out. The tops of all the containers are higher at the back than at the front- in other words the open top is at an angle. This means each container is easily grippable.

                        I made my containers from square pvc downspout, which I had to put a bottom in and de-sharp all the exposed edges. This was not without problems and was time-consuming, not to mention the concern I had for static build-up and possible damage to electronic parts.

                        In my case, these were containers for all manner of nuts and bolts, screws, washers, anything and everything that will fit.

                        If I had to make these over again, I'd do it in sheet steel. I'd have a sheet metal shop cut me some strips, of the desired height, then I'd do the marking out and folding at home to make square boxes. I'd put the join at the front and fold down the front two flaps over a piece of wire or a strip of sheet steel to secure the join at the top of the box. Make this fold inwards. At the bottom a single wrap of hockey tape holds it together. Now you set a number of these together in a pattern- a good layout might be 4 x 6 of them, which would give you 24 containers. Lay some baking paper on a piece of mdf or plywood, then put a border around the nest of boxes so they are a snug fit. This is a mold. With all the boxes tucked down nicely, mix up some epoxy and fill each cavity to about 1/4 inch, maybe a tad more. When that's cured, you remove two pieces of the border and break all the boxes out. The hockey tape and the baking paper will release easily, and you remove the hockey tape and sand the edges.

                        Presto- boxes with bottoms, with a clean inside.
                        I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MrWhoopee View Post
                          ...... Neither am I going to spring for fancy multi-drawer cabinets to house the collection. ...........[/URL]
                          Not even when a range of drawers in a metal cabinet cost a whopping 20 bucks at a tag sale?

                          That IS being cheap.....Especially when the cookie tins as-supplied cost a few bucks each, and then you have the cost of gym membership to work off the results.....
                          CNC machines only go through the motions.

                          Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                          Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                          Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                          I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                          Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mr Fixit View Post
                            Yeah I'm in the category of sorting as I need something from a coffee can that is labeled wood screw, sheet metal screws, metric hardware ETC. I do have these bins Click image for larger version

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                            Uline stocks a wide selection of Plastic Shelf Bins. Order by 6 p.m. for same day shipping. Huge Catalog! Over 40,000 products in stock. 12 Locations across USA, Canada and Mexico for fast delivery of Plastic Shelf Bins.

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                            • #15
                              I just recently finished putting up some Equipto steel drawers and cabinets. They had been in an old leaky shed and I had to scrape off lots of rust and even patch some badly rusted through areas, but they turned out pretty good. Now I need to put stuff in them, in an organized and useful manner.

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                              http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                              Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                              USA Maryland 21030

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