Introduction: Make Cheap, Easy Cardboard Small Parts Storage Organizers

Picture of Make Cheap, Easy Cardboard Small Parts Storage Organizers

How to make small boxes (at a very low cost) solve a need and organize small parts. I make these boxes as needed, so it doesn't become an overwhelming chore all at once. It's a good way to store small parts in the workshop. And we are reuseing cardboard that otherwise might not be recycled.

Step 1: Tools You Will Need.

Picture of Tools You Will Need.

Common tools, box cutter or mat cutting knife, straight edge, ruler, clamps and glue.

Step 2: Make As Many Blanks As You Want or Will Need.

Picture of Make As Many Blanks As You Want or Will Need.

Here I've cut 5 or 6 blanks, but could be cutting out 10, 20 or more.

Step 3: Score on Marked Lines

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At lines drawn at 1 1/4 inches around blank, score with the bone scorer.

Step 4: Fold Up Edges to Glue

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On the scored lines, edges are folded up, and the end flaps are folded inward and glued with clamps.

Step 5: Completed Boxes, Ready to Fill and Use.

Picture of Completed Boxes, Ready to Fill and Use.

Here is seen the results of our labors...several small boxes, some with dividers, ready to use.


MarkSindone (author)2016-02-26

I have always wanted to find a solution in getting the most out of my wardrobe and other furniture pieces like bookshelves and cabinets and this instructable piece is definitely what I have been looking for. It not only helps to keep things organized but also conceals in the mess which could be an eyesore. Furthermore, things can be retrieved easily if we were to label the individual cardboard boxes.

OmarN2 (author)2015-03-10

I have to build some boxes for my children toy box cubes. Guess I found the right idea, just by adjusting dimensions. good thing cardboard takes paint well, so I can have them decorate the boxes themselves and voila, quality time with children AND cheap replaceable boxes. Plus, I'm tired of spending a few bucks on plastic divider containers for my own screws and small parts.

DeanAshby (author)2013-07-30

Nice and neat indeed. A very smart idea to fully organize the tiny items that easily get lost or difficult to scour through should they get mixed up together. These simple yet very practical storage organizers will definitely save a lot of time and effort as compared to simply dumping them all in just one container altogether. It will enable you to work more efficiently and not have your mind in a mess too.

bobzjr (author)2013-06-05

Nicely done - thanks for sharing. Might be good for some of those extra empty boxes I have squirreled away. Have you ever tried this with plastic corrugated sign board? After some events, a ton can suddenly become available. Another upcycle possibility... Could we use some sort of super hot pliers to "spot weld" the plastic. This could let me get away with out glue (maybe).

graydog111 (author)2012-09-17

I have made containers for bolts, screws, etc out of 1 qt. plastic oil bottles. I wash them thoroughly, cut one side off with a radial arm saw. Write the name/size on the end.

HogHunter (author)2009-02-24

Just last night I was organizing my office/tool storage area. I was thinking it would be nice to have a better way to store my screws and nails. This is a good start. I think with these boxes I could create a larger tray/box to hold them and carry them to my work site. One thing I hate is when you go to work on something and realize you need a different screw or a longer nail. Then you have to go all the way back to your shop for them. I think these boxes laid inside a large wooden box with maybe a thin plywood cover between the layers then you could stack them up pretty well. I will see if I can do this this weekend and I will post my results. I have attached a drawing of the box I am referring to. As you can see, with a box like this, you could store 56 of your boxes assuming the boxes are 3" x 5.5" x 1". The drawing says the box is made from plywood, but as I was typing this it occurred to me that you could make the sides and bottom out of plywood and use plexiglass for the front and back. That would allow you to see the boxes.

corradini (author)HogHunter2012-08-20

I just made a few of these boxes/trays -- at these dimensions they end up being 6 x 3 x 1 1/4. Works pretty well, although they're nowhere near as neat as the ones in the photos where the OP used inside-corner tape... >;-)

ANYhow: I think HogHunter had kind of the same idea that I just had -- building a cabinet to hold lots of these -- but why the heck use plywood? If I'm going to do that (and I have the equipment & skilz), I'll build the drawers out of plywood too. What I think would be GREAT would be to build the overall cabinet, holding a lot of these trays, out of cardboard too. Obviously that'd depend on how many you want, high x wide -- but it'd be simple enough to design something representative (like: 5 units wide and 5 tall, which would be roughly -- I dunno - ~34" wide and maybe 16" high?)

The inner dividers could be cut halfway through, like wine-case dividers, and 'tabbed' to glue to the sides of the outer case. The trick would be to avoid having any of those 'tabs' or attachment parts interfering with the 'drawers' sliding in and out -- but I'm sure some clever soul can figure that out! >;-)

racastro62 (author)HogHunter2009-06-11

Hei HogHunter, your idea is really good. The problem happens to me so frequently that I use to go allaround the house with a 2 gall.-toolbox filled with screws and other typical small accessories. Your design is really elegant. May be too elegant when taken to reallity. I would make a small change: Plywood would sag because of the filled boxes weight. If you make the big box shorter (not more than 12" long) and higher (maybe 15" high), it would be not so comfortable . Regards, Raúl

AllenInks (author)2011-04-20

Using a box cutter and a plastic straightedge (as seen in step 2) to guide the cutting blade of the box cutter will typically lead to the straightedge no longer being straight...after being shaved and gouged by the cutter. A metal straight edge will typically last longer, I think - and it doesn't have to be a ruled straight edge. For example, I have a scrap piece of sheet metal (edges blunted by careful filing) that works well.

That being said, I like this 'ible! I've been trying to find a cheap source of the plastic small parts bins, but even though another instructable said they are cheap (90 cents apiece in batches of 25, or some such thing), that sounds expensive when you want more than just a few!

pfred2 (author)AllenInks2012-03-02

Cut down plastic bottles. My favorites are half gallon milk bottles. But I mostly use gallon jugs cut in half. Empty oil bottles make nice poly bins too. I'm up in the air whether I prefer Castrol or Penzoil style bottles though. I've a mix of both now. Though I've made plenty of custom cardboard boxes to hold things too.

Usually when I file metal I end up sharpening it. I file it square to do that though. I suppose if I chamfer file metal it knocks the edge off. Careless filing dulls metal pretty good :)

Regarding step 2; apparently a bone scorer doesn't hurt plastic rules. I've an extensive tool box and I must admit I do not possess such a device myself.

espence (author)2011-08-04


madwheels37 (author)2011-07-01

Thanks...simple to do, and very handy for me. Course your own sizes can be made for different objects or funky sizes.

TheHobbit81 (author)2011-01-01

Very nice, I think I'll make some larger ones for all my arts 'n' craft tools and scraps.

beehard44 (author)2010-11-21

i was thinking if i can make these for the drawers in my electronics workbench

Beagles (author)2010-08-22

Good stuff C'man, I love to see projects re-using cardboard. Is that box cutter holder a tool you made? Could really use something like that if if have further details, please. When it comes to making sharp bends in cardboard, right where you want them, a neat tool to make up is a board (say 3/4" thick) and bevel the edge at 45* on your saw. That sharp edge makes a clean crisp bend. I often make up cardboard cases for my magazines, to store a couple of years at a time, and had difficulty putting the bends where they belonged..........until I made up that board creaser. The cat food pouches we buy come in cardboard trays that measure: 3 1/2 W X 5 H X 8" L and are usefull for many things. Be on the outlook for other things like that. We have no shortage of cardboard, the local grocery stores all have boxes set out for re-use...............'cause we have a ban on plastic bags here (Toronto)

Creativeman (author)Beagles2010-08-22

Thanks for the comments, Beagles: Yes I made the holder to expedite the cutting of cardboard. Helps alot! Not sure I follow on your "creaser" however. Tell you what: I will update the holder construction by making a new instructable, if in turn, you will make one showing your board creaser? Deal? Have a good day. Cman

Beagles (author)Creativeman2010-08-22

Sounds good........but I may be run out of here if I tried to make that creaser an "Instructable" . It is a board that is cut on a 45* angle and the sharp edge is held over the bend line, then simply lift up on your cardboard. The "45" gives you a clean sharp bend, because you can also go past 90* to counter any spring back of the cardboard. In my case, the board was a 3/4" X 4" X 12" piece of white oak that was otherwise headed for the stove. Simple enough to make and use, was getting tired of the crappy bends that came with a square cut edge board. And thanks, for your holder info. Beagles

Creativeman (author)Beagles2010-08-24

OK, Beagles, got it! I cut a piece of pine and cut one 12 inch piece and a longer one as I usually make large boxes as well. I have added an instructable for the box cutter holder. .

Beagles (author)Creativeman2010-08-24

Yes, that is it exactly. Another small point, when you run across difficult (to bend) cardboard, it helps to take that pointed board and use it to crush the cardboard on the bend line. I have found that it makes the cardboard respond better. Thanks for your photos and your update on the box cutter holder. Beagles.

Creativeman (author)Beagles2010-08-24

Thanks! Cman

tulekah (author)2010-02-03

if you cut strips of thick cardboard and glue three pieces to the botton of the box (each strip being as long as the interior width of the box) the boxes would be stackable (one strip at each end and one in the middle so that the box does not get sway-backed).

Kevin12345 (author)tulekah2010-06-23

that's genious

mg0930mg (author)2009-02-01

Nice, how do you have so much cardboard laying around? haha. Next project for Creativeman: Making a room out of cardboard.

Creativeman (author)mg0930mg2009-02-01

HI mg....thanks....cardboard is everywhere. I always marveled at work how they would truck in many packing boxes full of supplies...some of those supplies were office type storage boxes, in boxes of their own! So we would unpack this box or these boxes, and then discard the original box....a great big disconnect there, somewhere. Maybe soon we will all be living in boxes, under the bridge! Cman.

mg0930mg (author)Creativeman2009-02-01

Maybe someone will try to make a house out of cardboard, if they can make an island out of plastic bottles, I'm sure this is not far behind.

Kadajo (author)mg0930mg2009-09-30

And here it is from

"Cardboard Homes
The chic cardboard house is no longer the domain of hobo’s and bums, but is now being called the Home of the Future. The idea of the cardboard home was to get away from technology and create a home with the most simplistic ideas. Cardboard is 100 percent recyclable. The first luxury cardboard home is being worked on in Australia.
Some people may think it is a crazy idea because there is no other place where cardboard is used to build a home. All of the materials that will be used in the home will be recycled. Of course there will still be reinforced walls and some insulation. The only great part about a cardboard home is that it is recyclable and the toilet is a composting system that only produces a nutrient rich water that is used for gardening."

mg0930mg (author)Kadajo2009-09-30

Wow! Thanks for that info.

WardXmodem (author)2009-03-23

A friend of mine does not hesitate to correct me when I use the wrong word. I say "cardboard" and start talking about something, he says "OH, you mean CORRUGATED". Meaning 2 sheets of kraft paper with a "sine wave" of paper between. OK, so this is really a corrugated project, but who cares. What I'd like to ADD, is that you can also (1) use the "cardboard" (for that is what it really is - ask my friend!) from a CEREAL box or other kind of box. If you buy the big "large container" kind like at Sam's etc, it is fairly thick. (2) use a HOT MELT glue gun to hold the edges and corners together. You can they spray paint them, or cover with some kind of sticky tape (I had a roll of "blue tape" that made a nice blue box)., Another trick for CORRUGATED, which also applies to "Foam Board" (another nice substance to make small boxes out of: carefully cut a "V" groove on one side -- carefully so as to not cut through the BOTTOM layer. THEN you can fold it up (or better, glue THEN fold) making a 90 degree bend, with a CONTINUOUS outside surface, and NO wrinkling etc. You can BUY a "mat cutter" at an art supply store, which will allow you to have a small hand-held "slide" containing a blade at either 90° or 45°, and set the depth; then run it along a ruler or other straight edge to make one side of the "V". Experiment on scraps. Really cool! Thanks for posting your instructible!

karossii (author)WardXmodem2009-07-24

Corrugated is only half the term, which you can tell to your friend next time you are corrected - this material is in fact corrugated cardboard. You can also get corrugated metals (tin comes to mind first), corrugated paperboard (different from cardboard), corrugated plastics, etc. Shortening the term to 'cardboard' instead of saying 'corrugated cardboard' is just as appropriate as is shortening it to simply 'corrugated'. Unless you and/or your friend plans to use the full term, it matters not which half of the phrase you shorten it to. If you're going to be a grammar snob (not an insult, I am a bit of one myself ;) ), do it right!

ausable (author)2009-02-02

Nice use of scrap cardboard. Thumbs up!

Creativeman (author)ausable2009-02-02

Thank you. Cman

About This Instructable




Bio: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.
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