Small bits / parts organization

There is a set of draws that contains bolts, screws and misc that looks a lot like grandpa’s garage workshop kind of stuff. Can’t tell what’s in there without opening every drawer.

Eric P. and I discussed tossing the lot. But, an alternative solution is clear plastic jars. Question is how to organize them. How do we standardize them etc. As a living breathing grandpa I’ve found that Talenti ice cream comes in a convenient size with a wide mouth clear jar in my workshop. There are probably baby food jars and other products that “COULD” contain small bits. Still there is the issue of how to store / display those kinds of items AND find them later.

Eric and I wrapped discussion of more flexible / organized tool storage into the discussion above and agreed that a cleat system is desirable. Each corded tool would have a custom rack that would cradle the tool and keep the cord tidy in the rack. The rack system would be adapted to hand tools as well as corded tools. The advantage would be the flexibility organizing tools in a more compact setup.

Sets of shallow shelves have worked to organize the bits and parts in this grandpa’s workshop. I recycled cabinet drawers so didn’t have to build much - just remove the drawer fronts. Then just screw on a cleat on the back (bottom)

Building this could be disruptive for a short time. If there’s stuff people are attached to in the current steel drawer sets please let me know.

If people are fond of Talenti ice cream (it’s really good) please save the jars if so inclined. If other size CLEAR PLASTIC WIDE MOUTH jars are identified then please bring them to my attention. I’ll set up a space to leave clear plastic jars in the space.

The tool storage area will not change location, Shelves for bits and screws etc would migrate to that area.over time. I the space where the steel drawers are located, there is talk of building a proper storage for 3D printer plastic that will keep it dry and view the colors easily.

In a better world, members could take a few or leave a few screws from their projects without creating a bigger mess.

tlaenti shelves
steel drawers

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Sounds like a good plan to me! Thanks!

Asking me to buy ice cream is very dangerous… but I will take that bullet.

I’m into it.

The same sort of reorg would be very beneficial to the open shelves at the back of the woodshop, where all the handheld power tools and drill bits etc. are.

If we’re gonna disrupt the shelving area anyway, maybe it’s a good time to introduce some sort of labelling and inventory of what we have? I was looking for a 5/32" drill bit the other day and there were none, though there were some very dull, basically useless 11/64" drill bits in drawers that were labelled with other sizes.

Drill bits are a special state of matter – their physical presence is inversely proportional to their need. They’re second only to taps in their ability to evade inventory management.

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Reminds me of Douglas Adams’ “Bistromathematics”, the special way that numbers dance on a waiter’s notepad outside the laws of regular math…


Seems like drill bits are the kind of thing we should just buy on a prescribed schedule (every 3 months give or take?) to ensure we’ve always got good ones on hand.

Containers that can come off the shelf seem helpful (plus eating gelato sounds fun :stuck_out_tongue:), but I wonder if we would see more disorganization on the shelves as a result with things being put back in random order. Another idea that popped into my head is replacing the fronts of drawers with clear acrylic which we could easily cut on the laser with “pre-drilled” holes for attaching to sides and handles. Even still with a clear front, I find labels most helpful for this stuff and we could certainly make better printed labels.

For my take on the drill bits, we need a drill dispenser, so we can keep a small inventory of all the different sizes.

I made a dispenser at my old maker space, and i use them at work.

its not a perfect design, but its cheaper than buying the actual drill dispensers.

At my first job we used to use drill index that keep 1 of every dril…until one of the upper management got pissed off cause all 5 of the indexes we had were missing the same drill bit. So we opted to get dispensers, and ive used them ever since.

I’ve got the .dxf files for making our own dispensers for letter, wire size, and metric drills.

If anybody wanted to take on making them let me know. I could make them but it might be a while before i can get around to it.

Or if somebody wanted to do a redesign i could give you the dimensions for all the drawers, their based on the dimensions for the Huot dispensers i used at my old job.

(you can also use the same style dispenser for taps and end mills)


@Tookys that design looks nice to me

I like the drill case design too.

To Valerie’s concern: the best label is the thing itself. But then there are screws and bolts that in grandpas shop are all in one jar. Personally I’m not in favor of that. There are some craft cases that are good for small screws and bolts. They are good for #6 thru #12 screws of odd lengths. But I question whether members have the patience to keep that kind of thing organized.

If we can find like small clear food jars like baby food? but not glass? I’m no longer a dad of young’uns so don’t know what’s out there.

We tend to use different style of these carousels for small parts. We have one for pcb board components, and another for bolts, screws, nuts etc.

I think it’s important to wrap our heads around what our needs are for small bits and parts. I do anticipate that if people have projects requiring hardware they would supply their own - hinges, connectors, brackets along with screws for same. It’s the occasional screw for a jig where you’re making something on the fly that needs the odd screw - the drywall screw, the sheet metal screw etc. Is it one of six types of heads (pan head oval head, flat head…) and tooling (slot, phillips,hex key…) It gets overly complex too fast.

I don’t think our goal in THIS part of the project is to provide or stock a full range of fasteners. Home depot does that. The goal in my opinion is to offer a small supply of:

  1. sheet metal screws in ranges and lengths
  2. machine screws
  3. drywall screws
  4. nuts
  5. washers

If people have leftovers after completing a project the invitation is to contribute what’s left over to “the cause”

Suggestions for screw containers to be set into SHALLOW shelve just one jar deep in maybe two or three size jars:

plastic jars 01

The idea is that someone could see whether what they need is there or not there in 30 seconds without rummaging through drawers or creating a disaster looking for things.

With respect to the tool storage there are hand tools, battery operated tools and corded tools

The “French cleat system” (google it) is one that I think is versatile and easier to modify than the pegboard system.

It also offers the opportunity to build custom cradles for power tools where the cord can be neatly stored - a major headache - along with the tool itself. Specialized wrenches and spanners would be on an integrated shelf or drawer. The whole setup is one caddie.

Hand tools of like kind likewise would be in one caddie.

This doesn’t look ANYTHING like this grandpa’s workshop - yet.

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I would appreciate anything that we consider to be resilient with the fine dust that is omnipresent in our space. Something easy to clean. Meaning, a vigorous sweeping of the top and side is possible, and nothing is dislodged or inherently gets more dusty.


Is that better than the pegboard or retail “slatwall”?

Slatwall is a readily available standard, strong, versatile, and has a lot of durable off-the-shelf fixtures designed to work with the standard.

Not all is the same material, I see that there’s PVC and aluminum stuff at the hardware store now, but the stuff I worked with before was the stuff that’s been around since like the 80’s (still totally available and probably still the most common) was really strong engineered material. At first look it may seem like MDF with a melamine face and slots cut it in it, but in fact it’s so dense it you couldn’t drive a screw through it without predrilling. You can do a lot with slatwall.

Danny, I trust your judgement the Slatwall is a good product and can hold up to the abuse we’re likely to throw at it. There are a lot of accessories too. I just want to be sure that members needs for tool storage will work and be flexible, adjustable, neat.

These brackets would be appropriate for custom tool caddies at under $2 each

and then there are a multitude of hooks.and baskets at less than $4 each. For corded tools these might work great.and easier to keep clean

In my opinion the small parts (screws, bolts, nuts, washers and the like) should go in jars. People being people who are not mindful of subtle differences like pitch and size and will easily throw things together that don’t belong together - especially in something like a tackle box organizer. If the box tips or spills, no one volunteers to sort it out. Problems avoided are problems solved.

I can put a BOM together and present it to Eric P.

Members are welcome to comment. The current set of drawers will need a new home when the new space is set up. Goodwill? ReStore? Let’s put out feelers.

I’m in the process of taking an inventory of the different storage needs. It’s clear that this project will proceed in bits and not all at once. Just changing the peg board to slat board will be disruptive to the space. Kind of like having a new roomie that volunteers to empty the dishwasher but doesn’t know where anything goes.

The slat board is available in 24 x 48 ’ slabs which will dictate doing a a 48" x 48" space. I would like to order four boards (48" x 96") plus baskets and brackets to organize accessories. Not to throw shade on other member prior efforts to store and organize stuff, it looks like Grandpa’s Garage Assorted Stuff (GAS). Grandpa’s GAS needs a place to go. Don’t pull his finger. Don’t do it.

The concept is to put up the slot board starting on the left where the bit drywall squares are.

to about 96 inches over

Everything that is there will stay there - just organized in a more compact arrangement but taking up less wall area.

I propose putting related tools and accessories together in one place. As an example I suggest putting a drill with a case of bits and keep them in say on of those baskets for the moment.

I’ve seen some novel ideas to store cordless drills in a small section of 4" PVC pipe or other input always welcome.

a drill

Might add a set of driver bits along with the drill bits. Damaged or dull bits in the case would be replaced as needed from the drill bit inventory

drill bit inventory

We could try that out for a while and see how well that works.

Similarly the pop-rivets would go with the pop rivet tool side by side.
pop rivet tool

I’d like to put the pop rivets in those small jars putting the tools and the rivets in one place not three places and you can see at a glance what the inventory is for the different tools. All that will take time of course, but conceptually that’s what I’m thinking.

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I am preparing a BOM for Eric P. but for the record I am including a picture of it here.

There are some links to Amazon products including the baskets, brackets plus the following

Slatwall rated at 100# sq ft

4 oz jars

8 oz jars

16 oz jars

Drill bit case

Slatwall brackets to secure shelves and cases to the Slatwall

Slatwall baskets

plus locally sourced lumber to secure the Slatwall. It needs to be screwed to studs 16" on center.

I figure that shelving and custom made tool caddies can and will be assembled by volunteers from scraps of plywood left over from the laser bin and wood shop area. The shelves might offer shallow recesses to keep the small jars organized in a semblance of order. An easy CNC machine project. The jars are stackable so the shelves could be two jars high to save space.

Cordless tool storage
cordless tool storage example cordless tool storage

In this plan, where do the hardware dregs go? I’m talking about the leftover bits and bobs that are left behind for community salvage (like the liquids in the flammables cabinet). Are you thinking there’d be a bunch of spare clear jars for people to dump stuff into, or should we have a smallish cabinet to keep miscellany?

@stepho raises a very good point – once stuff gets coated with a rime of dust, it tends not to be used. Clean hardware is easier to identify.

If it’s Grandpa’s GAS I’d recommend tossing it in the bin or taking it to the Re-store. Either that or leave it in the “lounge / theater” and let people pick through it.

(How much seating do we actually need?)

One of many volunteer tasks might be just sorting through stuff, tossing the nasty bits and organizing the rest. There is a drill gauge but the drawers are not organized. Yeah it’s a mess really. The screws and mystery stuff??? Put it out for rummage and bin it all after a week or so.

The drills and stuff that kinda looks like a tool, make a caddie for it or put it out for rummage.

I’m all for grouping stuff by trade - like sheet metal stuff and tools together, sanding stuff together, painting stuff (yeah there was a spray gun on a shelf).

People are gonna have different ideas how stuff should be organized. I would stay away from alphabetizing it or by date acquired. 'o) But there probably ought to be some sort of logic to grouping stuff together instead of what we have now which is all the little bits are together regardless what they’re used for. Safety stuff in one area makes sense. Measuring stuff make another group.

Things like screw drivers and hex key screws I think need some thought and custom bins or storage. I’ve seen some ideas on Pintrest on drill storage and gripping tools like pliers and wrenches using short lengths of 3/4" or 1/2" PVC pipe / tubing.

Personally I find these difficult to use even while someone went to a lot of work putting them together.

hex key wrenches

Bins of misc. sizes of hex wrenches might find a better home in little PVC pipes. Of course sorting metric from imperial is a challenge for loose keys. Might be more efficient tossing the loose keys and getting some sets. Open to ideas.
hex key sets

And to respond to Jon’s question about member “donations” I would want to have an inventory of jars around (or to ask for). Just need the shelf / wall space to put the stuff. Just need to proffer some sort of universal organizing philosophy. Wall space should be considered valuable real estate. Drawers keep stuff less dusty but difficult to locate the stuff inside them. Wall space makes stuff easier to find stuff but will need some cleaning maintenance.

Really appreciate all your thoughts and efforts into this @David78737! FYI - I’m adding two 16oz jars of Talenti to my next grocery order to contribute :grin: