Introduction: $4 DIY Electronic Parts Storage

Picture of $4 DIY Electronic Parts Storage

Having a place for everything is key to a productive workbench.
We want to make stuff, not look for stuff! :-)

While we could make the cabinet out of wood, as long as your the parts are not too heavy, foam core is strong enough, inexpensive, and quicker to make than a wooden cabinet. Plus, no one has ever gotten splinters from foam core! :-)

I was able to make a 30 drawer parts bin for $4 by shopping at my local Dollar store.

Parts List:

Tools List:

  • Box cutter
  • Ruler (metal recommended)
  • Hot glue gun (not pictured)

Step 1: Plan and Cut

Picture of Plan and Cut

I worry that the boxes would easily fall out, so I slanted the shelves slightly (each shelf front is slanted 1cm higher than the back).

I also made the shelves not as deep as the actual container so I could grab the bin either by the sides or by the top and bottom.

Remember to take account the thickness of the shelf when measuring the height between shelves.

I arranged my containers 5 across and 6 high, but of course you can arrange them anyway you wish.

Step 2: Hot Glue

Picture of Hot Glue

Hot glue dries quickly, so I hot glued one side first, and then hot glued three of the shelves on the other side. The remainder of the shelves ,I hot glued the remaining shelves afterwards and used a screwdriver to cleanup the excess glue.

Step 3: Done!

Picture of Done!

For the backing, I recycled cardboard packaging. Alternatively, you can use foam core for extra strength.

If you have tips, on how to hot glue a lot of surfaces at once, please leave a comment. That's one part that I'm not pleased with. Keep making!

Thanks to the numerous people who has left helpful suggestions to improve this instructable!
- Use pins


AshJ7 (author)2017-11-28

this is great, and I am pretty sure I have all of these items already haha! :D

nikonman461 (author)2017-03-05

great idea

pranav.mistry003 made it! (author)2016-01-05

Its an awesome idea bro. I made it with the Bakelite sheet.

Here are some snaps.. Thank you so much..

HariFun (author)pranav.mistry0032017-02-11

That looks quite a bit larger than the ones I used. Looks awesome! Thanks for sharing.

Where did you get those containers?

HariFun (author)pranav.mistry0032016-01-05

That looks pretty awesome! Great job!

pranav.mistry003 (author)HariFun2016-01-05

Thanks once again !!

fractal7 (author)2015-10-27

Nice project buddy! the only thing I would suggest is that you go out and get yourself a super cheap woodworking router, then you can cut slots for the shelves to fit in which will make them really strong when you add glue. although i've never used foam board for anything other than insulation type stuff (would it respond well to having a slot cut out about a 1/3 of the depth of the sheet?) I have something similar to what you have, made out of plywood and i have found over the years it actually gets really heavy but I have a lot of nuts, bolts and leftover parts from flat packs that you just can't seem to throw away.

Thanks for the cool idea.

JC41 (author)fractal72016-09-12

An alternative to routing a groove would be to use two layers of foam board, with the inner layer having spacing to create grooves. It's quite a bit more work, and will take more material, but will add strength the way fractal7 is suggesting. See sketch below.

fractal7 (author)JC412016-09-12

That's an excellent idea!

HariFun (author)fractal72015-10-28

Woodworking has been on my list for years. However woodworking takes more room than I currently have, so for now I have to live vicariously through others :-)

JeremyS41 (author)HariFun2015-10-29

I love finding new channels to subscribe to. Thanks!

I am in a similar boat but I do have a one car garage. I have been spending this past year building up a little shop with what tools I can afford and need as I get started with small projects.

pfred2 (author)HariFun2015-10-28

Sometimes you have to be creative finding a work space. Dedicated workshops are a luxury not everyone has.

ChristopherJames (author)2015-12-27

I love it when a storage solution comes together like this! Perfect fits are music to my obsessive compulsive ears! Haha! Thanks for sharing!

HariFun (author)ChristopherJames2015-12-28

Thanks Christopher! All I need now is more space in my basement to put more shelves. lol

jeanniel1 (author)2015-11-08

I love how you planned to have the shelves be 1) not as deep as the containers, 2) slanted downward toward the back so that the bins don't fall out accidentally, and 3) reusing materials. What a great idea! Keep it up!

HariFun (author)jeanniel12015-11-08

Jeanniel1, Thank you for taking the time to leave me encouraging feedback. I really appreciate it.

SherryB21 (author)2015-11-01

I'm very impressed with your cost effective alternative to store bought cabinets, but please be cautious about ESD sensitive semiconductors. I recommend you place your ESD sensitive components into conductive bags or insert them into a conductive foam mat (bug rug) prior to placing them into your containers.

An excellent point. As an alternative, you can make a plastic bin like the ones above ESD safe (safe enough) by covering the inside with aluminum foil tape (found at hardware stores or online from companies like ULine). Make sure the tape goes over the lip so there is a conductive strip on the outside when it is closed (ideally it would cover the inside surface and also wrap around to the bottom). When picking it up, so long as you touch the conductive tape surface, you equalize charge imbalance between you and the components, making for safe(r) handling of parts.

ESD can damage any electrical component (even resistors), but parts that tend to be most susceptible are FETs, high-speed ICs, anything that says "high-speed", BJTs, ICs (including 3-terminal regulators), LEDs, and assembled boards (e.g. shields), in roughly that order.

Sealed static bags (silver ones, pink/blue ones are rubbish for protection) are going to provide better protection, but the above is good enough for most cases.

An ESD wrist strap clipped to a cookie tray or similar conductive surface is also a good cheap way to create an equal charge surface to protect sensitive stuff during handling and assembly.

HariFun (author)SherryB212015-11-01

Another excellent point! Instructable community is awesome! I'm going to have to update the instructable to include your warning and other useful tips from other members as well. Thank you!

slammers (author)2015-11-01

Sadly there is no Dollar Tree in Germany. :(

GerbilsOnToast (author)slammers2015-11-02

Dollar Tree has an online store, and he's provided the link directly to the product. :)

slammers (author)GerbilsOnToast2015-11-03

Yeah, but they only ship in the US. :)

GP Spampinato (author)slammers2015-11-01

Try the EuroShop. They have many of the same discount retail staples.

momoluv (author)2015-10-26

Wow I'm impressed!

HariFun (author)momoluv2015-10-27

Momoluv, I've just browsed your instructables. Wow! You've done 127 instructables!? So, praise from you is extra special. Thank you!

john mantova (author)HariFun2015-11-02

lie the side pieces down and hot glue each shelf one or two at a time then take the other side and glue one end and let it set. Then flex/bend it up so you can get glue onto the shelf ends and lower the piece back down to contact the glue while it is still hot. Do one at a time releasing the bend a git more as you go. As to glue use Depron glue Plenty to get if you Google for it to get best value. You might get it a the Dollar store. Or use UHU por. Doing one at a time gives a better bond too.

Chris EV (author)2015-11-01

Another way to keep hot glue warm while you are applying it to a large area is a heat lamp to keep things warm. Another trick to large assembly do the inner spaces with craft or white glue and hold the outer pieces with hot glue. The hot glue will set faster holding your project together till the other glue dries. Watch out for shifting wth the wet glue, pins are helpful for preventing movement. Great project keep up the good work.

HariFun (author)Chris EV2015-11-02

I'm amazed how many useful comments people like you have posted. It is such as simple project that I didn't think there would be much that could be done differently. I was proven wrong. lol. Thanks for the helpful comment!

bricabracwizard (author)HariFun2015-11-02

Once you've run your glue strip drag a soldering iron through it (the soldering iron melts it very quickly) which will soften the glue all at once and stick the item down. Your soldering iron will need a good clean up if you are to use it for soldering again. I use this trick to remelt badly adhered artefacts.

hewittm (author)2015-11-02

I've been using plastic organizer boxes stacked in EuroBox enclosures, but your method is much much better. Going to the store this week to get all the parts and start the conversion. It will be better, smaller, and lighter than my current system, too. Thanks for a great instructable!

tladoux (author)2015-11-02

Great Instructable. Another adhesive alternative would be 2P-10 by FastCap. I recommend watching the Youtube video demonstrating its effectiveness.

baryza (author)2015-11-02

I have found that plastic prescription contains also make excellent storage containers for things like LEDs, resistors, diode, and the like. You can often get them free from relatives with daily medical needs and the come in multiple sizes. you can

AnthonyP15 (author)2015-11-01

I use spice bottles (great for diodes), and small peanut containers. Works a treat.

throbscottle (author)2015-11-01

Great idea - I might have a go at this :)

Tip for hot glueing larger runs or areas at once - pre-heat the surfaces with a heat gun, that way the glue stays hot and runny for longer. You can also re-heat and melt areas that have cooled off before you've stuck it together. (Could be a disaster with foam board perhaps?)

I started wondering if I could use centrifuge tubes to store smd parts but couldn't think of a way to stow them, now you have shown me the way - using foam board with lots of holes in! Thanks :)

jimvandamme (author)2015-11-01

Hot glue dries too quickly, and regular wood glue takes mours or days to dry. I like to use gorilla glue, which has a work time of maybe half an hour, and sets up in a couple hours. and is very strong and fills gaps. It's expanding urethane which cures on water exposure.

HariFun (author)jimvandamme2015-11-01

I will get some gorilla glue! Thanks Jim!

jimvandamme (author)HariFun2015-11-01

It's weird stuff. You wet down the pieces you want to glue together (best on wood) then spread a little glue into the joint and clamp it together. Over the next half hour it foams up a little and fills the gaps. It's urethane, which seems to stick to human flesh best .... but after a couple hours it hardens on your fingers and you can peel it off. about then you can file or sand down the drips and paint. I've glued oak and maple joints and splits back together, and it's as strong as the wood.

ntwrkguru (author)2015-11-01

I'm thinking of doing this, but will probably use normal glue and using straight pins to hold the foam in place until the glue dries.

HariFun (author)ntwrkguru2015-11-01

Great idea! Makes lining up the shelves easier too! Someone else suggested the pins for strength, so you could probably leave it there even after the glue sets.
I love the improvements people suggested. Thank you network guru!

MarcusAvery (author)2015-11-01

Very nice job! I have been building with arduinos and they always have so many small parts. This will work great!

HariFun (author)MarcusAvery2015-11-01

Make sure you read the comments left by others, there are some very good suggestions such as using gorilla glue to give more time to glue the surfaces, using pins to strengthen the shelves. Arduinos are a lot of fun, aren't they? Thanks for leaving a comment Marcus!

Fezder (author)2015-11-01

Pretty much any hobbyist runs in problems with workspace, nice work! i mean nice work by this idea of course....just to clarify hehe :) OT. i see rigol,(?) have that myself too, has the fan been bothersome for you? (not for me, listen music pretty much all the time so...)

HariFun (author)Fezder2015-11-01

Thanks Fezder!
Yes, the fan on the Rigol is excessively loud, and so is my cheap desktop PSU. I only turn them on when I'm using them which is not very often, I mostly use wall adaptors or PC USB port to power my Arduino projects.

DancesWithRobots (author)2015-11-01

Great find on the bulk storage containers!

One thing that concerns me slightly about using plastic bins for storage of electronics is the possibility that they may accumulate static charges. But to be honest--It's not enough to stop me from trying this. And I suppose that if it really is a concern, there are simple ways to solve the problem of static electricity.

BirgitJansen (author)2015-10-26

So far I always used regular craft glue for foam board and it holds up very well. I am not sure about what weight it could hold, but might be worth a try? And besides the glue, I really like your instructable. Very easy and clean design! :-)

HariFun (author)BirgitJansen2015-10-26

D'oh! I didn't even think of using anything but hot glue!
I'll try craft glue on my next foam core project. Thanks Birgit!

lemonas (author)HariFun2015-10-26

grate project. Maybe a long the way, you can recycle enough yogurt containers. So it would make even cheaper and more environment friendly project. All in all, grate job.

sandra225 (author)lemonas2015-11-01

Small yogurt containers used to have lids instead of the peel off type. I used them for all sorts of things. I wish they would go back to that.

HariFun (author)lemonas2015-10-27

Lemonas, thanks for the yogurt container idea!
I checked out your instructables, I think your speaker looks awesome! I don't drink, so I'm completely unfamiliar with whisky, I thought Ballantines was just the brand of the speakers! lol Placement of the label above the speakers is perfect! Very professional looking. Well done!

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