Organizing shop (what to do with all those little screws.....?)

Greetings All, I'm trying to get a handle on straightening up my shop/basement and need an idea or three on how to keep hardware organized, but not hidden. I'm sure you all are like me, with all sorts of nuts, bolts, screws, widget holders, ad infinitium.... I have the cheap organizers that can be bought just about anywhere, blue sheet metal chassis with thin plastic (sometimes sliding) drawers. This just don't cut it any more. I need something with different sized drawers, fairly abuse resistant, and something that can be labeled on the front so I know what's what. I think McFeeleys may have something, so I'll look there also. I know some people still like the old baby food jars with the lid screwed to a shelf bottom, I'd rather not..... Anyone have a good system they'd like to brag about??? Thanks as always, Mark
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Mark I have been using "Steel" parts bins drawers for 20+ years and they still seem to be the answer to storage solutions of screws, nuts, bolts, etc. The bin drawers are painted "steel" and measure about 10" deep, 5" wide and 3" tall. They are housed in a steel cabinet 3 rows high and 6 columns wide. I also have a smaller steel cabinet with same sized drawers 1 row high by 6 columns wide. Each drawer has notches that will let you put in steel dividers every 1.5" inches or so front to back. Each drawer will allow about 8 separate compartments.
You don't see these in retail stores as they are normally used in commercial settings such as in the "parts departments" in automobile dealerships. These storage drawers bins will last you a life time.
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Depending on the quantity and size I use several different containers -
For large hardware, hoses, etc - I use the flip top bins that are about 18 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches. I find that I can put a whole lot in them (e.g. 40 strings of christmas lights) and with translucent sides, I can get a good idea of what is in them.
For Nails and Screws in 5 lbs box size - I typically leave them in the boxes until they are about 1/2 empty (or the box wears out) - then I move them to plastic bins that fit in bin racks - mine are portable and have a handle on top (holding 12 bins) - I have not see the holders in a while.
When I get to the last few I use solid divider clear plastic keep boxes about 12 x 9 x 1.5 inches - to put the last few in or small parts that come in baggies. Most of mine have 15 or so compartments - so I can get a lot of different things in one box - I have one for picture hanging and other indoor fasteners - I have another one for brass screws, washers, etc. - i have one for electrical parts (wire nuts,etc) and so on. I have a total of about 10 of them - all in an old kitchen cabinet on the wall.
I use the Ikea 12 x 18 bins for sand paper and other consumables - I built a set of 12 x 18 x 28 inch high racks for the bins and store the rack under the work bench - when I need to move it, I grab the handle that I routed in the top and carry it out to my work location.
Hope this helps.
Doug
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I have 4 of these: http://www.stack-on.com/tool_and_hardware/drawer_storage/dsb-18.html
I store nuts, bolts, screws, washers, rivets, small hinges, and misc. hardware. I bought them at Lowe's.
I have one of these: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00965622000P?keyword    65622&sLevel=0
The plastic units (Stack-on) have proven to be as "sturdy" as I need. The metal one (from Sears) is overkill for me (and over-spending) I used an inexpensive, Brother "P-Touch" labeler (from Office Depot) to print stick-on labels.
Max
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Hide it, just hide it in the right place. I can't see anything in my place, but I can walk straight over to where it _ought_ to be, and it's actually there. I can root through by elimination to find the exact size, so long as I don't have to go through more than one crate and certainly not the whole workshop.
Four dozen plastic tubs from Ikea (the blue plastic ones for a buck - about 18" x 12") on shelves just wide enough to hold them end-on. Nothing else goes on those shelves. Nothing is allowed to stick out beyond the tub space. Everything in them is at least vaguely sorted so that I _can_ go straight to the right tub.
Buying screws from the brand where the boxes last more than 5 minutes and 2 openings.
Keeping an "on-site screwbox" in my toolbag, a cheap plastic divider case sufficient to carry all the common screw sizes I need for an on- site job. No more screw boxes getting squished in the bottom of the bag. No more litter of screws in the bottom of the bag.
Ziploc bags. Stuff like nuts and big bolts goes in these, then into a blue tub. One tub is "Below M6" one is "M6 and above". That's enough to keep me sorted.
Ikea's plywood drawer boxes (3" x 4" size). This is enough to sort "locks", "cabinet hinges", "brass knobs" etc. I can't make them for that price.
A steel filing cabinet with two-dozen A4 sized shallow drawers in it does most of my fine tools.
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wrote:

had the memory to remember where everything is in the basement. For me, out of sight is out of mind rings very true....
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I write on the ends.
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http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber198
Mine were a bit less money and came with hanging strips, but same principle... I like this method because I can grab a bin or 2 and take them to what ever part of the shop I'm working in...
I have 30 or 40 or these in various parts of the shop and a bright yellow sorting bin hanging in easy reach... Dump a bin of washers or whatever in, grab what you want and put them back in the bin..
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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I use empty 3 lb. coffee cans with labels - machine screws, wood screws, etc. I also have some drawer-type bins for smaller stuff like washers, nuts, etc., but the cans are easiest to use...and they hold a LOT. Don't try to pick up a nearly full one with one hand if you value your toes. I just dump the contents out on the bench, find what I need and shovel the stuff back in.

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The last time I finished off a case of oil for cars, I put the whole thing (box and plastic bottles) thru the table saw to cut it off to uniform height just after the end of the taper. This way I ended up with a box with twelve bins and a bit of rust inhibitor already applied to each bin. Also, boxes of screws slide into the bins.
Jack
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wrote:

Are you from Alabama?
Max
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They only COOK with oil there, Max..
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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I have to admire his ingenuity. And frugality.
Max
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I use something like these:
http://cgi.ebay.com/STANLEY-VIDMAR-STORAGE-CABINET-WITH-COMPARTMENTS_W0QQitemZ280210553591QQihZ018QQcategoryZ41953QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
or these:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Durham-DS-12-C-Small-Parts-Storage-Box-Screws-Crafts_W0QQitemZ330221937664QQihZ014QQcategoryZ42363QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
Jon

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"mark" wrote:

You have received lots of suggestions describing storage devices.
I'm going to suggest something else based on my experience in the electrical distribution business.
First, there is "authorized inventory", basic items you probably buy by the box, 100 pcs at a time.
Gets used on every project.
Next there is "project inventory", specialty hardware for a specific project.
A screw here, a bolt there, etc.
When a project is completed, scoop up all the remaining "project inventory", put it in a plastic bag that you seal shut, date and label with a felt pen, and store in a box..
A year later, if the bag hasn't been opened, THROW IT AWAY.
You will not only clean up the shop, you will also save money and frustration.
You need less storage, thus you save money.
Less stuff means what you have is easier to find.
Have fun.
Lew
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Hah! You could be like a friend of mine: he keeps a couple of five gallon plastic buckets around. When he has extra small parts, they go into one or the other, depending on whether or not they're for his collection of garden tractors or for woodworking. Upend either bucket, as needed, and spend some quality time sorting the bits until you find what you need--and you almost always find what you need. Or did. His shop was destroyed by fire last year and the buckets melted into their contents, so he has to begin again. I doubt he'll ever match that 50 year collection, though.
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I now have a drawer full of bags and really hate to throw them away.
You are correct, that is the way to handle all that crap.
Lew Hodgett wrote:

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This is a wood working group. I had the luxury of some good solid wood bookcase shelving built in. The sections were roughly 48 wide with 3 sections roughly 12" tall each. This stuff was and is all utilitarian - it ain't pretty or fancy.
I subdivided the spaces with some scrap horizontal ply making 3 spaces in the top and middle sections and a vertical break at mid point to stiffen the shelves. I made boxes from scrap - 1/4 stuff for the sides, 1/2 for the bottom and ends with some additional blocks in each "drawer" to create smaller spaces. The drawers are about 2 1/2 tall, 4 wide, and 12 long. I did belt sand the outside corners to make them easy to hold. I have used MDF, ply, and wafer; they all work well/ This stuff is shot together with staples, and if something starts to wear out they sure are easy to remake. The bottom section of the book case requires bending over, so avoided like the plague; but it is just right for dairy cases (of course I bought them <g>).
The top left box has 1/4-20 nuts, spacer block, 1/4-20 washers, spacer block, lock washers, spacer, anything odd that is 1/4-20 like wing nuts, couplings, nylox, etc. There are 5 boxes total for 1/4-20, each subdivided into various lengths of bolts. Number 4 is divided only into mixed flat head and machine bolt. Number 5 has carriage. Repeat row 2 for 5/16 Row 3 for 3/8 7/16 1/2
Right hand top section. Same boxes split at mid point. Coarse 1 1/8 drywall / fine 1 1/8 drywall C 1 1/2 / fine 1 1/2 2's 2 1/2's 3's
The rest are filled with hex drive screws, self drilling, fender washer, square drive, etc Write what they are on the ends of the box. If it changes, swap ends or sand it again.
I did acquire a really nice card index from a library. Nice wood cabinet with high grade plastic drawers. I had a neighbor who used LOTS of medicine who collected prescription bottles for me. Make sure they are clear or yellow so you can see what is in them, the blue or white ones suck. One drawer for air fittings, one for electrical testers, replacement blades, etc I have one small bread pan, like for a rum cake, full of all those mixed nuts, bolts, fine, coarse, long, short, hex, square, phillips, straight, flat, pan, hex mixed hodge podge for everything smaller than 1/4 . Larger quantities of any one thing get a pill bottle, but the bread pan gets used every day. Make a spill tray to dump it out, search, return to bread pan. Everyone needs a Junk fastener bucket.
Hope this gave you a few ideas.
There are other sections of little home made drawers. It is always a work in progress. Quit worrying about exotic cabinet grade work, just create something that works, works well, and doesn't scream - oh, don't scratch me!. Don't have so much time or material invested that you wouldn't be willing to toss for a better idea.
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