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Cheap containers to help organize taps, dies, small amounts of hardware, etc

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  • Cheap containers to help organize taps, dies, small amounts of hardware, etc

    A number of people commented in a different thread about taps rattling around loose in a drawer. I just wanted to share a chemist's solution that is inexpensive (if you hunt down the bargains), easy, and durable. Plastic disposable screw top and flip top centrifuge tubes.



    These things are used by the hundreds in laboratories all over the world. Price competition has pushed the price of cases of these things down to the ridiculously cheap level. Before writing this posting I checked and found a 250 count case of 15 ml tubes on eBay for $30 + $11 S&H - about 16 cents each. In the past I have stumbled on even better eBay deals and gotten cases of 10, 15, and 50 ml tubes for as little as 5 cents each. The best deals can be found when cases of sterilized bags are past their use-by date... Laboratories won't use them so sellers dump them for whatever they can get.

    A 15 ml tube holds one 3/8 tap nicely. They are protected from each other, and the screw top protects them from moisture. 50 ml tubes are great for the little assortments of tiny nuts, bolts and screws I have. A 50 ml tube also holds the smaller diameter dies, and protects them from moisture. You can also use them for mill bits, router bits, etc.

    They are robust so they don't break like baby food jars or tear like ziplock baggies. However, they are limited in upper size. There are 100 and 250 ml centrifuge tubes (and bigger), but those are specialty items and they aren't cheap.

    They are cheap enough that I use them when tearing down a machine... I pull off a part, then put the fasteners and small loose odds and ends in a 50 ml tube, and label it (for example - carb parts). Since the disposable tubes are cheap I can toss them if they get greasy or dirty during such a project. Then again - I have a few thousand laying around from the other stuff I do...

  • #2
    Have you looked into tool net(ting)? Can be just as cheap, you only need a piece long enough to cover the cutting edge, reusable, one diameter stretches to fit a range of sizes. McMaster is but one source. Wont work for very small taps/end mills/reamers/etc.
    https://www.mcmaster.com/#protective-nets/=19t4pfz Material to protect a 3/8" tap would cost about 4 cents.

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    • #3
      might as well use baby food jars

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      • #4
        Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post
        Have you looked into tool net(ting)?
        That could be a really good alternative for people who don't already have more than a thousand centrifuge tubes laying around.

        Unfortunately my shop is closer to aquarium than to arid. Rust is a BIG issue in my shop. The centrifuge tubes help a lot in that aspect.

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        • #5
          It's great to see another option like this. Just one more trick to add to the collection.

          When it comes to options for stuff like this I think we all have our own tricks. And many of them will be based on what we do for a living or for other interests. And certainly there's lots of different ways.

          For me with pretty much equal interests in wood and metal the natural option is to use a hunk of wood and drill a bunch of holes to make a block that holds all my cutters or taps. I've done blocks of this sort for all manner of drills, endmills, taps, collets, standard hex screwdriver tips and other similarly shaped things I need to organize and protect from damage all at the same time. And other tricks with slots to store knives too. The only common theme being that the items are wood or wood products that I can easily shape and connect.

          Or the old 35mm film containers that I have a lifetime supply of which get used for storing all sorts of small goodies.

          In your case you work with such tubes so for you this is a natural fit. I must admit that if I ran across a plastics store or surplus place that had this sort of thing in a bin there is no way I'd walk out without a dozen or so each in a few different sizes. They ARE very slick and would be perfect for a lot of things. But I can't see myself going online and buying a case each of two or three sizes and having to store away that many of them. And particularly when I've got my wood shop just a few steps away......
          Chilliwack BC, Canada

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          • #6
            There are many good ideas for storage. (even if it is a first world problem. )

            One problem I see with many (like the old baby food jar deal) is the problem of expandability.... when you have more than fit, then what?

            Another is having too many competing storage solutions, each used for what fits in it, even when the same type item ends up in 3 different types of storage solution. That leads to chaos. Some screws are in the jars, some are in boxes on a shelf, and the big ones are in some drawers elsewhere..... It's unworkable.

            But those are definitely a good way to get tubes to store reamers etc in as protection, especially if you have plenty. I lucked into a big box of the clear tubes and caps, so I use those. If the pic is what you have, those can work too.
            CNC machines only go through the motions

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            • #7
              I've found that the cheap poly bins from HF ($10 for 20 bins + rails) plus lots of Akro-Mils small plastic drawer units holds most of the small stuff and provides a quick+easy way to find the hardware you need.

              Here is a panoramic view of my woodshop with a bunch of HF poly bins and Akro-Mils mounted. It's worked out very well. In fact too well as my son is raiding them all the time

              It's a large image, so a link is more appropriate:

              http://www.bbssystem.com/pictures/woodshop.jpg

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              • #8
                Inexpensive? I found free. With my daily ration of pills, even when I get them in 90 day sized increments, I get a lot of plastic pill bottles. I like the ones from Walgreens because I can cut the child lock off with a pair of diagonal cutters.



                Since my pills are various sizes, I get a range of different sized bottles. I currently have at least two bags of them waiting for use. I made a template in my CAD program for round labels that I stick on the tops.

                Then those pill bottles move into my next level of storage, cardboard bins. These bins make the storage modular so no space is wasted. These bins come in a wide range of widths from 2" to 12" or more so a wide range of items can be accommodated.

                Then I use standard shelves on the shop walls, but they could be free standing as well. The nominal 12" shelves hold the 12" deep bins perfectly.



                This shot was my screw area before I started using the free pill bottles. Now it is on another wall and almost all the screws are in the pill bottles.

                Here is another area, a storage room lined with the shelves which are filled with the cardboard bins.



                You can see that the shelves can be adjusted vertically for any needed height. My only problem is I usually try to cram too many on a wall and find that I can't fit the taller items.

                Here is another idea, not free, but inexpensive. Wal-Mart and hobby stores sell this type of plastic box for storage of things like beads. They are only about 1" thick and have 24 of the small, screw tip plastic containers in each one. I use these for small items like #4 and smaller screws, all of my set screws, and many other small things. I made a CAD template for a trapezoidal label that fits inside the screw on covers but it leaves the "bottom" area of the cover open so I can see the contents. These are great and at only a few dollars for each box, the individual storage bins are relatively inexpensive ($0.20 or so).



                When stored on my shelves in a vertical position, these clear plastic boxes are a very efficient way of storing the smaller screws and parts. These clear plastic boxes and the pill bottles both provide a clear view of the items inside them so you can choose what you want very easily and quickly.
                Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 10-14-2017, 01:40 PM.
                Paul A.
                SE Texas

                And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                You will find that it has discrete steps.

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                • #9
                  Paul, I found this in your album... Remind me never to come over for a quick drink

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
                    might as well use baby food jars
                    Well, the 15 ml tubes are really great for taps, which is what got me thinking about this thread. As for jars... I'm so greatful for PETP and other modern plastics. I drop about one jar of hardware every week.

                    Originally posted by BCRider View Post
                    Or the old 35mm film containers that I have a lifetime supply of which get used for storing all sorts of small goodies.

                    But I can't see myself going online and buying a case each of two or three sizes and having to store away that many of them. And particularly when I've got my wood shop just a few steps away......
                    I miss the old film cans... I even remember the metal screw top ones. As far as cases of tubes I guess I over emphasized the large scale buys to show how cheap they could be. There are a lot of sellers from China who sell them 10 at a time, free shipping, for a couple of bucks.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dan_the_Chemist View Post
                      That could be a really good alternative for people who don't already have more than a thousand centrifuge tubes laying around.

                      Unfortunately my shop is closer to aquarium than to arid. Rust is a BIG issue in my shop. The centrifuge tubes help a lot in that aspect.
                      Are you spraying a little corrosion inhibitor into the tube when you put a tap or endmill away? Maybe you want to create a storage area/cabinet that would be temperature and humidity controlled.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
                        might as well use baby food jars
                        I work at one of the two largest baby food factories in the world (and have for many years now). I do not have one baby food jar in my shop and would never.

                        Although most of our product is now in plastic, I do not have any of those tubs either ... although they would work OK.

                        Lots of great ideas on here though.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post
                          Are you spraying a little corrosion inhibitor into the tube when you put a tap or endmill away? Maybe you want to create a storage area/cabinet that would be temperature and humidity controlled.
                          Yes and yes. I have what could be called a large refrigerator that I use for humidity control (it's actually a CO2 incubator, but the principle is similar... It has a door that seals tight). I use molecular sieves to keep the humidity below 40%... I keep my micrometers, height gage, gage blocks, machinist squares and stuff like that in there. It's amazing how quickly one runs out of room...

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                          • #14
                            Only sort of related to the thread....

                            ...years ago at a surplus store I picked up a whole case of 48 GLASS urine specimen bottles. Said so right in the molded in letters on the glass. The bottles were intended to be capped with the same paper flat caps that were used way back with glass bottles of milk.

                            I bought them both to mix things like glue or paint in because they had markings in ml on the side as well as for the novelty aspect to serve drinks at parties in these. Particularly rye and ginger

                            I used a few here and there and finally dumped a bunch in recycling and eventually gave the last half dozen to a nurse to use for HER parties. Figured that the medical group would appreciate them more.... besides they were too small to hold a beer
                            Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                            • #15
                              That box now has over 60 reamers and all cutting edges are protected. Each size is marked and easy to find. I have another bin box with a collection of milling cutters. It works well but I did discover that I need to put a bit of cotton or felt in the bottom of the straws because the silicone caulk I used to plug them seems to generate rust. I recently purchased some rust preventive paper and I may cut some strips to drop in them.

                              If you come over I promise to make coffee, tea, or if you give me some notice I will have some brews cold and waiting. Just tell me your favorite brand.



                              Originally posted by 3 Phase Lightbulb View Post
                              Paul, I found this in your album... Remind me never to come over for a quick drink

                              Paul A.
                              SE Texas

                              And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                              You will find that it has discrete steps.

                              Comment

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