If you're a maker, they you probably have acquired a vast assortments of parts, screws, widgets and assorted random bits. And if you're like me, then they've all disappeared into cabinets and drawers, never to be found when you really need them.

I decided to organize all my parts into bins that allow me to easily see in a glance what parts I have. At first I was going to build standard shelving, but then I came upon a solution that's inexpensive, easy, flexible and fast. And it looks pretty cool, too!

Step 1: The Storage Bins...

The key to this project is the bins. I picked up these made by Akro-Mils at a local Grainger store. They're also available on the web for $0.90 each, in cases of 24. This is the model that is 5.5" deep by 4" wide by 3" tall. Blue, yellow and green.

The key feature for the bins is the hook along the back, that is designed to fit into their shelving systems.

These bins also have a 3" by 1" slot in the front for a label.

Other brands & models may work well, but I can vouch for these.

Step 2: ...and the Mounting Rails

The hardware I used as mounting rails is actually intended to be flashing for dry wall. It cost about $8 for an 8 foot length, which will hold 23 4" bins. Yeah, the math doesn't work out perfectly there, but the bins are actually a hair wider than 4", and you want a little bit of space between the bins when you hang them.

Step 3: Preparing the Mounting Rails

This is pretty sttraight forwards. Drill a hole at each end and about every foot along the rail. I think I used a 3/16th bit, but it just needs to be large enough for your mounting screws.

Step 4: Mounting the Rails

Using a level, mount the rails on the wall.

This would probably be a fine time to point out the obvious: You should be mounting this on some sort of finished walls, rather than on a wall that's just exposed studs. If you have the latter, hang 4x8 sheet of plywood on the wall, and attach the rails to it.

I seperated the rails by 4 inches, and used a level to guarantee some semblence of levelness. Although I mounted them myself, it probably would have been a bit easier with an assistant.

Step 5: Hang the Shelves on the Rails, Fill With Parts, Label and Resort

Once it's all mounted, hang the bins. I got 92 bins to fit in this space. Amazingly, when I went through all my stuff, I ran out. I guess I'll be building more...

For $150, this gives me a really nice organization scheme. Parts are visible, classified, and easily accessible. I will be investigating using some larger bins in other areas to handle oversized parts, but so far, it's been an unqualified success.
<p>Most EXCELLENT idea! Works great even on my 4 foot wall! This wall will hold 66 bins and I have another wall that will get the same treatment that will hold ANOTHER 66 bins (yes, I have a lot of spare parts!) Thanks for the idea and instructions!</p>
Nice job, those bins look pretty sturdy, I could only find cheap flimsy ones, I'll check out A G. I'm hoping they have different colors as well. BTW I see you use rafters for clamp storage like me.
<p>Very cool. I've also used the steel panels with parts bins <a href="https://www.plasticboxes.co.uk/gavanised-steel-louvre-panel-rhino-tuff-parts-storage-bin-kits.html." rel="nofollow">https://www.plasticboxes.co.uk/gavanised-steel-lou...</a></p><p>Having the bins angled like that is a good idea. Thanks</p>
<p>Organizing things regardless of where the location is will help to maintain a neat and tidy area to encourage easy retrieval later on. I am in the midst of sorting items out from various rooms around the house before putting the rest up in storage and I think I&rsquo;m going to start with the workshop with your instructable.</p>
<p>real nice.....just what I need</p>
<p>That looks so cool!</p>
<p>Thanks for a helpful instructable. This got me going in the right direction for what I needed. I ended up finding a set of 20 of these bins for $10 at Harbor Freight (including some plastic rails).</p>
What no &quot;before&quot; photo? Good instructable!
The before photo would have been a bare plywood wall and a mess of parts scattered all over my workshop, and me desperately hunting for a particularly sized screw in the mess.
Mike, I should post some pics of my messy garage - it would certainly be worth a laugh. Hey we should have a contest! I'll try to throw up some samples later today.... Ever find yourself buying the same tool multiple times because you can't find it?
Speaking about the plywood on the walls, I found it interesting you got a delivery of plywood with so many sheets with the knots lined up. Almost like printed wall paneling.
That's because plywood is made from veneer which is made by &quot;unrolling&quot; a log using a giant peeler. The roll is flattened out to make a veneer. Knots in a log will repeat every time the log rolls back around to the same spot. Of course, the repeats will be a little closer each time because the log diameter gets smaller as the wood is stripped off.
I am using the large bins - and so used lengths of scrap inch angle iron, cutting off two inch piece, and welding them opposite to each end so they acted as feet.. to keep the rail away from the wall, then drilling through and screwing in... Angle also required a quick dust with the angle grinder to make the edge thin enough to take the bins... - was about to do and instructable on it...
Nice - <br> <br>I'm using J-channel from the drywall section of home depot, it is about $2 for 10ft.
I always do this sort of thing by myself... like shelves (the uber simple kind, wood (1&quot;x8&quot;x8') on L brackets) and my husband comes home and just looks in astonishment.<br> &quot;How? What? You could have waited!&quot;<br> &quot;You'd only get in the way,&quot; I say.<br> <br> I've been doing it solo for 15 years...<br> It's almost easier when you're trying to balance the length of wood/flash/bracket/whatnot and the level and the pencil and the drill as opposed to just the pencil.<br> <br> ha!
I use a very similar set-up on my RMA service bench at work. It makes keeping different parts organized very easy and I've thought about doing something like this at home but have always put it off because of the cost. Using your idea I might actually do it now.
That does look like a great, easy-access system! One question, though, is how much sawdust do they also end up holding? Or is there a suggestion for minimizing the problem? My workshop is a rather tight space, and where I'd put such a setup wouldn't be very far from my things-that-create-sawdust.
My solution to the sawdust problem might be a flap of 6 mil plastic attached to the wall above them-creating a &quot;flap&quot; for each row of bins. If they are labelled, you should still be able to see what is in them, and no sawdust! Just reach under the flap.
On the akro-mills page for these bins, they list bin lids for certain sizes towards the bottom:<br><br>http://www.akro-mils.com/industrial/coupon_display.asp?id=59<br><br>I got a few bin lids for some (different sized) bins, and they work well enough. They're clear, high-impact plastic so you can see into the bins, but they should keep pretty much all the dist out. Of course, they do prevent you from overfilling the bins, but that shouldn't be a huge issue.<br><br>And a dust collection system is always a good idea, not just for keeping your parts clean but for your overall respiratory health as well.<br>
I love your ideas. Maybe you have an idea for my beads.<br>As a 'beader' jewelry making, I have a lot of boxes but they are not accessible and not so visible!<br>I keep the beads in boxes that are transparent and divided, and also little transparent plastic bags, and every type of beads in a larger plastic bags, so every time I need beads I spend a lot of time looking for them. It is tiring makes the planning cumbersome and takes out all the fun of the creativity that I love very much!<br>I am in a very large community of beaders in my country and all over the world, we are all connected more or less together. I am sure all of them will be glad to have a solution for this problem!
I had to smile... I am not the only one who stores clamps in rafters. :-)
Honestly? Who wouldn't. I have a sash clamp up there, and all my G and F clamps are fastened to a truss too. <br><br>One trick for storing stuff is to use either hooks, or put 6&quot; nails in but with a bend to stop stuff falling off in a quake.
Great idea. One question. How strong are the metal rails and will they bend under the weight?
This is a great idea, but I have a suggestion to possibly improve it. I'd consider replacing the sheetrock channel with a more structural standard aluminum channel (with a 1/16&quot; or 1/8&quot; wall depending on the groove on your bins). On the downside, you'd either have to rip one side of the channel down on the table saw for screw clearance, or drill some thru holes to pass the screw thru the front into the back. The advantage would be the ability to use much larger bins (they make many more sizes than these), carrying far more weight. Great job!!
The rails seem &quot;strong enough&quot;. I've had this up for about 4 years now and I haven't had a failure yet. It seems to distribute the load pretty nicely across the length of the rail, so even if one bin is particularly heavy, the load is taken up bu a couple feet of rail.<br><br>I suppose if I filled a few bins in a row with slugs of lead there could be a stress failure, but I'll avoid that use case. :) As it is I've had bins filled with screws on there for years and it hasn't been a problem.
Way kool. I'll have to visit my local &quot;G&quot; store and see what they've got. But, if the parts are 'classified' and I don't have clearance, are you gonna have to shoot me??? ;-)
This is going in my workshop NOW. exactly what iv'e been looking for. are the bins available in that size only, or are there other bin sizes available that would work with this system?<br>
The bins I use are made by Akro-Mills. Here's a link to their product page:<br><br>http://www.akro-mils.com/industrial/coupon_display.asp?id=59<br><br>They come in a very wide range of sizes and colors. Other brands will probably work just as well but I can vouch for these.<br><br>I get them at a B2B distributor called Grainger ( http://www.grainger.com ), which has pretty good prices and availability on a wide assortment of industrial products that can be really hard to find. They're all over the world, so there's probably one nearish you.<br><br>Complete tangent here: You need a business license to shop at Grainger and most other B2B stores, so get yourself a business license. A business license is something EVERYINE should have, even if you don't own a business. It gets you all sorts of perks and benefits once you start looking for them, and they're only about $40/ear in most states. If you don't have a business, then you just have to file a &quot;No business activity&quot; tax return every year.
thanks a bunch for all the info. i have bought things from Grainger in the past, on my dads business license. I am a minor, technically, so tax returns are not my problem (yet :/)
Absolutely what I needed for my work space!!!
Bought a bin for outside storage of the propane tank, I recently had the same problem. I used a shelving system from Home Depot for most of the stuff, got a tool box and still working on other items needing storage. Good luch with your storage projects.
Awesome. This is on my list of must-do projects now.
Thanks for this. I bought 12 bins from Grainger then saw that my Home Depot had <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.stanleytools.com/default.asp?CATEGORY=ZAG+ORGANIZERS&TYPE=PRODUCT&PARTNUMBER=056208L&SDesc=Stanley%26%23174%3B+Bin+%232+Bonus+Set+with+Hangers">this set of 8 bins</a> for $6.97. They come with little plastic hangers so you don't need to buy the drywall mount. I do like the plastic hangers better than the drywall mount - they hold the bins a little tighter to the wall - but on the bins themselves the slot for labeling is smaller and nearly unusable. Wanted to let people know about the option though.<br/>
I appreciate how you value your time and "random bits" enough to give them the attention and organization they deserve. Hopefully our (former?) throw-away society will embrace your mindset. Thanks for taking the time to share
do you think they would sell these little boxes at Home Depot?
They should have them but you may want to look up Harbor Freight Tools first. Should be cheaper there. Atwoods carries them also!
After I put this together I discovered that Harbor Freight has a nice deal on these bins. I can get a business license discount at a local distributor, which brings the price pretty much comparable to the Harbor Freight price. Also, Harbor Freight only sells them in gray, at least the last time I checked, and I like the aesthetic quality of all one color. On the otherhand, a well-organized color system can enhance the usability of the system.
Yeah, $5 for a pack of 3 small ones, the 5" ones get to be around $2-4 each...
Drool.... How I wish I had a workspace that wasn't in my living space :p
Drool... I wish I had my own living space! (So that I might be able to work in peace) Oh, and nicely organized storage bins, too! My room's a bit..... messy....
Ugh... I wish I had one big abandoned/repurposed hangars instead of 3 smaller ones... so that I could fit my workbench next to the metalwork instead of having to haul the project from one to the other...
lol i could use my own living space to work in to i dont even use my room ushualy our living room my room is a bit ah ... disasterific
I amass quite a few of these at about .25ea at thrift stores and Salvation army shops in a bigger city. I also have a few that are about 4x as big as the lnes you have that I was told to throw in the dumpster. Also have 4 of the smaller red ones with those cheesy plastic rails that hold all 6 in each box but the end ones stick past an inch or so. I hung mine on my new unfinished garage with a couple of pieces of the angle iron we used to use on oil storage tanks. I just cut a slot into the bottom of the angle that would slip over the galvanized upright posts and still have a spot to run my water and air compressor lines to the door! None of that weight will ever bend 1/16" metal!
Another approach is to screw glass jars <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/aplumb/2105199969/">underneath shelves</a>. Works very well for mixed small parts.<br/>
My grandfather did the same sort of thing with about an 8" 2x2 and 16 baby food jars. He put 4 on each side and attached it to the wall with a bracket so it could spin and he could get to any of them.
I just did something like this via the standard shelving route because the plastic rails that came wit the bins looked like picking up a million small parts to me, I thought the shelves might help keep dust and such out of my parts and premade metal flashing never occurred to me! I'll have to post a picture of mine and ride on your coat tails. ;)
nice work area, AMAZING INSTRUCTABLE! finally, i really needed something like this, if i can, i will do this in my room (favorited) this is just AMAZING!
nice work area :-)
Nice work Mike. I definitely have no need for 93 of these, but making a 4 - 2' rows might be perfect for the amount of stuff I've accumulated over the years.
Looks really good!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi! I'm a general-purpose maker geek, living in Seattle. Interests include beer brewing, robotics and woodworking. I like to go camping in the desert ... More »
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