May 07 2011

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Small Parts Storage


Hanging on the pegboard, you can see two of the systems I use for storing screws, nails, and other miscellaneous fasteners. The first is the plastic bin. In the above picture, you can see several red bins I’ve hung on the pegboard. The second is the Plano compartment style boxes. I’ve found if you leave the hanging tab on, you can hang them from a hook on the peg board. Now, if you look up, you’ll see my latest system.

For a while I’ve also been using the $1 plastic shoe boxes to store things like small cutoffs of scrap wood organized by species, small tools and jigs, fasteners, etc. They’re also handy for keeping all the small parts of a project together. While they are transparent so you can see inside, it’s still hard to see what’s in them from the side. They do also stack nicely, but of course the box you want is always on the bottom of the pile.

That’s why I was excited when I read this Instructable a few weeks ago. I’ve seen rafter storage systems before, but what struck me about this one was that it was already using my storage box of choice and storing them in otherwise wasted space.

The author of the Instructable decided to mount handles to the bottom of each shoe box to make it easier to reach the boxes in the rafters, but I decided to forgo the handles for several reasons: I can reach my shop ceiling, building the handles and attaching them is time consuming, and the boxes won’t sit flat on the table. The less effort I have to put into organization, the more likely I’ll keep it up.

The workspace above my large pegboard seemed to be the best place to try the new system. It was the largest expanse of open ceiling and had the least amount of stuff to move around. As it was, I had to move my ceiling mounted box fan filter and temporarily move a light. Since the bays between the floor joists are supposedly 14-1/2″ or so wide and the plastic shoe boxes are about 14″ wide, they fit length wise between the joists. I did discover that the joist spacing did vary up to 1″ from bay to bay, why I can’t even guess.

To keep the shoe boxes suspended, I cut 4 foot sections of some 2x6s I had handy and ripped them down to around 4″ wide. Then I drew a line down the center of each board and started 2″ construction screws every 10″ or so. I screwed the first board to the joist, trying to keep the overhang the same on either side. Then I held one of the plastic shoe boxes up for spacing and screwed in the next board.

The four boards I screwed in gave me three bays that could hold six shoe boxes each for a total of 18 boxes. If I need more space I can expand over to the left, the light is blocking my way to the right. To find something I need, I can just look up into the boxes and see the contents, reach up and push up the box I need, and tilt it to free it from the bay; replacing it is just the reverse operation. There is Romex running through the bays above the plastic boxes, but it only interferes with two of the 18 slots, so sometimes I might have to remove a box before I can get to the box I want.

Permanent link to this article: http://workshop.electronsmith.com/content/small-parts-storage/