Introduction: How to Make the Low Cost Inventory Storage System

Picture of How to Make the Low Cost Inventory Storage System

I posted a thread at Home Made Storage Cube--Get My Ribbon Organized (

A lot of feedback received asking for the instruction. So here it is -- Store inventory in the most efficient way.

Step 1: Get the Boxes

Picture of Get the Boxes

The best place is The boxes I bought are:

13X13X13 CUBE BOX 25/500 --$18 for 25 boxes

12X6X6 LONG BOX 25/900 --$8 for 25 boxes

25 cube boxes and 100 long boxes make 25 cubes.

Step 2: Assemble 13x13x13 Cube Boxes

Picture of Assemble 13x13x13 Cube Boxes

cut the flappers on one side. Black & Decker Cordless Power Scissors are used for this job (You can use any cutting tool you have).

Step 3: Tape Cubes Together

Picture of Tape Cubes Together

Tape cubes together--front, back and side. Then put them against the wall.

Step 4: Assemble 12x6x6 Long Boxes Which Will Be Drawers.

Picture of Assemble 12x6x6 Long Boxes Which Will Be Drawers.

Cut out a square at one end of the box. 4 drawers fit in 1 cube. Please note how the drawers are put into the cube--the tapes show where the flappers are sealed--2 vertical and 2 horizontal. Otherwise the drawers will be too tight to slide.

Step 5: Load Inventories

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Load ribbons (or whatever your inventories are) in the drawers, write the description on the box and then slide them into cubes. Sort the drawer by alphabetic order for best result. Here is the article about sorting everything in alphabetic order:

Step 6: The Cube Without the Drawers Can Be Used for Larger Objects.

Picture of The Cube Without the Drawers Can Be Used for Larger Objects.

No drawer boxes needed for larger objects.

Step 7: For Smaller Objects

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Use small containers to store small objects.

Step 8: How to Get Those Small Containers for Free?

Picture of How to Get Those Small Containers for Free?

These are tennis ball cans. Check with your local tennis club. You'll get hundreds of them for free.

Step 9: If the Containers Are Full

Picture of If the Containers Are Full

These cans are almost full so the box flappers (got a lot in step 2) are padded under the can's open side to prevent the hair clips from falling out.

Step 10: More Pictures

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Here are more pictures.

Step 11: More Storage Tips

Picture of More Storage Tips

Visit out website to view more storage tips and FREE how to make hair bow clip instructions:


schlieffenska (author)2011-10-16

A tip for getting free boxes.... if you're not down with dumpster diving, or if that's turning up not enough of the right size boxes, go to the postal service website, and they will ship you any and all boxes you need many as you want... for FREE. Just don't get more than you need, or you run the risk of ending up with an unexpected delivery of a wall of boxes full of boxes.....oops. yes, I did that. haha.

Re-design (author)schlieffenska2012-01-23

Using those boxed for any other use than mailing thru the U.S mail is a federal offense of theft. THey are not free they cost the post office money and are meant to be used for priority mail.

regina.bragg (author)Re-design2016-01-03

4 years later but still just as important ! ! !

vkowalczyk (author)schlieffenska2012-03-19

This is what I did. I ordered the boxes from the postal service then I also have boxes readily available for shipping product. Instead of cutting off the flaps I tuck them in. I just order more as needed and then I don't have to worry about the boxes getting weak from the weight of the products inside!

agutshall-diaz (author)2015-02-10

I think this is a wonderful idea.This also can be used with recycled boxes.A great way to sustain and organize.Good job

dsantil71 (author)2015-01-18

Like mistresszelena said about the mice & rats also includes roaches & crickets. I use Sterilite plastic storage containers. One suggestion for using cardboard might be to cover it with self adhesive contact drawer lining to make it more impervious.

alcurb (author)2015-01-05

Purely functional form.

mistresszelena (author)2015-01-05

I will probably use this for temporary storage but I have some concerns.One concern is water damage. I've lost so many craft supplies over the years to flooding, broken pipes, leaks, etc. I will always choose plastic with lids over cardboard. Also mice & rats love to eat through cardboard. Even in a rental storage unit things don't seem to be safe. Once without telling us, they ripped the roof off the unit to repair it, covering everything with debris. Another time the roof leaked and I lost a lot of fabric to mold. Your solution however is perfect for setting up shop if you have to travel or move a lot or if you are living on a shoestring.

Some of the comments seem to think postal boxes are a great resource for free stuff. Sure, if you want to run afoul of the law. Not to mention if you are in the USA people stealing these boxes doesn't help with the cost of postage that keeps going up and up.

imwilly (author)2015-01-04

Thanks for this. I've followed 'Instructables' for a while now, but your post has convinced my wife it could be worth checking out too.

imwilly (author)2015-01-04

Thanks for this. I've followed 'Instructables' for a while now, but your post has convinced my wife it could be worth checking out too.

ventifact (author)2015-01-04

Everyone must remember that gravity will prevail.

joseph.strubhar (author)2015-01-04

Another nice source for small round cans is Pringles Potato Chip cans - clear lids help you see what is inside!

dollarseed (author)2015-01-04

As a side note. If you want to find the stretch wrap from a warehouse, just go to one and ask for the end rolls. Most of the time these get tossed when their is still ample wrap still on a roll, but not enough to wrap a full pallet. The tubes it comes on are also handy for organizing things in, and are all of a standard 3 inch diameter.

dollarseed (author)2015-01-04

I have found that the small Sterlite Drawer systems are also great for storing small stuff. The drawers are easy to take out and reinsert for arranging them, but will not just fall out. They are also see through. I use these to keep my seed room organized @ DollarSeed. The large drawer systems also work great for the larger and heavier items.

Animatrixx (author)2013-09-29

oh other sources - shoe boxes from shoe shops, you will get tons of them as well and they are a great format and sturdy and none of the "stealing federal property" onus. Show boxes are also clean card as the leather would get besmirched if it was fulla crappy badness wouldn't it.. and they usually come with some neato tissue paper in em as well... finally, don't neglect your local fruitier, who has soft fruit coming in in handy sized, food safe flat card trays and they are ideal for storing paper and flat sheets of metal etc and are in addition made to be stacked and lock into each other .. good light ones are the Dutch pepper boxes excellent fitted lids and a very handy size as well, aprox a double shoe box or 2.5 times that size. And if you can get some of the pallet wrap that's used in warehouses you can wrap the entire block in that and it will hold them together flawlessly and fast and can still be taken off and the entire thing broken down in minutes, I have done so many things with pallet wrap i could write a book about it but the best thing you can do is wrap your boss to a chair in it and hen run him round a massive auto factory on the front of a fork lift while he screams in Doppler effect and you all laugh and laugh, ... ah those were the days! Anyhow - pallet wrap and veg and fruit boxes.. free and abundant. Watch out for banana boxes, tropical spiders abound.

Animatrixx (author)2013-09-29

another source for clean cardboard boxes and nice white smooth card as well - florists throw out masses of boxes with attached hinged lids and often with a clear cellophane window (handy for fabric i cant remember at all what it is if i cant see it lol) the cut flowers come in and hey are usually very clean and come in larger flat sizes that re ideal for things like fabric or longer bits of crafting stuff like dowels etc.. and they get them in masses they will be only too glad to get rid of them as they are a real space hog for them. AND you may well get a deal (or even free!) flowers and plants that are past their sell by as well. AND they have bits like florists clay and styro that gets broken that are perfect for things like organizing small drill and dremel bits or for making up yrou art and crafts.. ribbon gets thrown out., dried flowers and more. Dumpster diving is not only highly rewarding but it is the most ecologically sound thing you can do. recycling still uses energy to re manufacture but reuse is green as all get out.

ewilhelm (author)2007-12-20

Nice work. We're always looking to find old card catalogs to store little parts and hardware. Here are two shots of the screw-filled drawers in the shop right now.

WUVIE (author)ewilhelm2012-06-21

Be still my heart. Card catalogs. Sigh.

I don't use cardboard for any storage anymore because I may be storing something that could be damaged by the chemicals they put in cardboard. Finding inexpensive "archival quality" boxes has not happened yet! ewilhelm- I've always wanted a card catalog for my junk ---where do find them????? Are they really expensive? Just so I'm prepared .... thanks.

In my trolling on online art supply stores I just saw a fixative spray that was called "Archival Spray" or "Archival Fix" something like that. Sprayed on cardboard, pulp paper, etc. it supposedly sealed the surface so the destructive acids won't ruin the contents.

What about scrapbooking stores?  They have archival paper

couldn't you cover the inside panels of the box with archival paper? kind of like wallpapering the insides of the boxes where your item will come in contact with the box? or maybe paint it with something safe? (kilz maybe? I dunno..spray paint? No idea)

Look on Craigslist. Prices will vary wildly with condition.

BarginsTech (author)ewilhelm2009-09-14

Craigslist OWNS!

sveilleux tripp (author)2011-08-01

such a great idea! I can't wait to try to get some of these cans... perfect for craft and homeschool supplies!

ArtsyFartsyGirl (author)2011-06-23

Most of the craft sites I've seen, they have their ribbon on cardboard rolls, like from paper towels, etc, or wooden dowels. But, man, you've got so much more stuff than anyone I've seen!
You are like me, I never met a color or style of bead that I didn't like! Unfortunately, I don't have a separate room for crafts, but I found a beautiful and inexpensive tiny little six drawer cabinet, and I have all my beads separated by color. At first I thought it was all the room I'd ever need, but I'm also using a second one now. I also have many,many colorful metal containers that hold beads too. I manage to keep every thing relatively neat, because I work in my one room loft. Everything is neat except my desk. Things just appear there out of nowhere!!!!!
Also, being as prissy as I am, I probably would have spray painted thecontainers black, that would look so cool with all the pretty colors, but then again, I'm always making extra work for myself!

badart (author)2011-06-02

I really like this idea. Thanks I will do a version of this for my inventory!

tinker234 (author)2011-05-31

nice could i do one in wood

far4434 (author)2010-02-21

Wow!!  I thought I had a lot of ribbon.  I have been racking my brain trying to find a suitable storage and organization solution.  I make seasonal door wreaths.  What do you do with your ribbon?

Batness (author)2009-08-08

This is a brilliant idea. I haven't had much success with cardboard, but the tennis ball cans are so useful!

jamy_becki (author)2009-07-20

awesome!!! with a capital AWESOME these tip on making bow have help me so much it is hard to find the right color or style thank you so much from the bottom & top of my heart . I live the craft world we have such great people!!!!!!

danamos666 (author)2009-06-25

or you could go to the post offices website and get a free supply of boxes

colorslam (author)2009-06-25

I love this instructable. You've done such a great job showing it that I hate to ask for more, but I really don't get it how the drawer box is put together. Any chance you could add a photo showing the drawer box from a different angle? Are the flappers inside or outside? And what exactly is vertical or horizontal?? Did you put a window in the hole in the front? Or is it just open? I suppose a person could do either. Thanks!

americangeiko (author)2009-04-20

Or you can get free boxes from the post office for free provided that you eventually used them to mail stuff.

queen roo (author)2009-04-17

wow.. thats alot of ribbon! could you use like small cardboard boxer or a milk jug instead?

dhawktx (author)2008-09-16

Use it with some light, inexpensive Rubbermaid style plastic shelving units and the falling is a non-issue.

hipgirl (author)dhawktx2008-09-16

Thanks. I bought some rubbermaid 5 shelf units and they works great. Those 'homemade' cardboard units are against wall. They are still holding inventories fine. No falling so far. Thanks.

sideways (author)2008-03-01

This is great! I have lots of stuff stored in boxes to keep it clean but never thought to cut a window so I could see what's in them. I'll tape a piece of plastic wrap over the window to keep dust out. Very helpful.

kaleinor55 (author)2008-01-16

Thank YOU for the ideas and tips! I've been looking for a cheap and efficient way to organize my out-of-control craft supplies! This looks do-able!

kraM (author)2007-12-27

This looks like a good idea, but i'd be woried about the thing falling over on me.In my oppinion is still a good method for sorting out stuff,but to each his/her own.

hipgirl (author)kraM2007-12-27

Thanks. So far it works great. Nothing fell over yet :)

canida (author)2007-12-20

Wow, that looks great! You've inspired me to properly organize my craft supplies.

robodud3 (author)2007-12-20

great for holden wire and capacitors and resitors and potomiteters and transitors and leds and nuts and blots and screws and ICs and CBs and switches and all sorts of stuff i need 2 make one of these i have piles of crap in my "shop".

GorillazMiko (author)2007-12-20

i just might do this, this is very cool.

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