Introduction: Stacking Shop Hardware Organizer

Picture of Stacking Shop Hardware Organizer

For years I have used small drawers, bins, tin cans, boxes, and pill bottles. This is good storage space, but when it comes time to find a small part it is a nightmare. The drawers go from orderly to any place where there is room to put a part. The cans, boxes, and bins suffer from the same malady, space takes priority over orderliness. The pill bottles are opaque and all the lids have to be removed to find out what is inside. Also with age the handles break off the small drawers and they have to be pried open to get to the contents.

Searching the internet I found that case organizers with clear lids were the preferred method of storing small hardware items. Next was the cost to convert the cases they range from $5 on sale to over $ 60 each, I have 20 so far and have not complete sorting. I had over 300 drawers to replace, plus the bottles, cans, and boxes.

The next problem with cases is that if you just stack them it is difficult to restack the pile every time you look for a certain part. Several plans for free standing cabinets are on the internet, but you have to know depth of the organizers you will be using. I currently have two different depths 2 inch and 3 inch, and I am thinking of getting some 4 inch and 5 inch for bulkier items. Back to the problem of not knowing the shelf height which may need to change as different arrangements are made. .

I currently do not have room for a dedicated cabinet for small parts hardware. If I get rid of the small drawers I can use that space for these case organizers. Then I need adjustable shelves for an organizer, I decided to build a box for each case organizer. Then I can arrange the boxes in any order that is convenient.

Step 1: Building the Boxes

Picture of Building the Boxes

I decided to build the boxes similar to the stack bookcases I build in another instructable.

I have some scrap material that I decided to use. The sides are 1 inch pine boards and the slats are 3/16 inch pressed wood salvaged from a old piece of furniture.

The end pieces are either 3/4"x3"x13-1/4" or 3/4"x5"x 13-1/4 (you will have to make these parts to fit the cases you have). The slats are 3/16"x 1-1/2"x17" (again these are sized by what you have and the size needed)

Assembly is accomplished by using spacers to orient the slats. On top the first slat is glued and nailed to the front edge. Then a 1-3/4" spaces is placed next to the first slat, then a 1-1/2" slat is glued and nailed. This is repeated two additional time to complete the top.

The bottom is assembled similar to the top, but first a 1-5/8" spacer is placed on the front edge, then a 1-1/2" slat is glued and nailed. Then a 1-3/4" spacer is placed next to the slat, then another 1-1/2" slat is glued and nailed. This is repeated two additional time.

That completes a box. Stack them on the self and load with the appropriate organizer.


Step 2: Lableing the Organizers

Picture of Lableing the Organizers

When the organizers are stacked only the handle is visible and the low cost organizers have black handles making it difficult to label them. To provide a white area for labeling a piece of Melamine edge tape with hot melt glue was attached to the handle. The handle was prepared by scraping the handle flat and a heat gun was used to melt the glue. (my wife would not volunteer her clothes iron)

Step 3: Gathering Up Small Parts From Around My Shop

Picture of Gathering Up Small Parts From Around My Shop

Next I started gathering up my small parts collection. I had 5-6 organizers on the workbench, screw. nails, bolts. bearing, electronic, hinged, corner brackets, grommets, rivets, plugs, pipefitting, tacks. brads. If items were organized they were left alone, in many cases I had multiples of items and they were combined. In other cases items were mixed and that will have to be a rainy day project to sort these items. Also I designated an organizer to tool accessories like router chuck collars, brushes for electric motors, and spare parts for portable shop tools..

As can be seen from the photos this is an ongoing project that will be completed over time. The photos are of the current progress. More boxes are needed (additional slat material needs to be identified). Additional labels to be made (more sorting of similar items), and more cases need to be purchased (waiting for a sale on the 3 inch cases)


Redgecko100 (author)2017-12-07

Great! I have these and was always jumbling to get to one on the bottom.

Do you find the pressboard deflects over time or is the added strength of the bottom shelf-box and top shelf-box enough to keep it rigid?

Thanx for sharing

baker519 (author)Redgecko1002017-12-07

The organizers distribute the weight to the corner pads of the case and that is near the 3/4" sides so there is little weigh unsupported. I do have a little sag just from the weight of the slat but that is about 1/16 to 3/32" and not a big problem.

NEIDO (author)2017-12-05

Love the plan! Good design. Vary functional.

What I would like to know is, how are your products sorted inside and out.

I always get confused with what goes with what.


baker519 made it! (author)NEIDO2017-12-05

With the transition from the drawers, I just transferred the contents to a bin in the case. After I had the drawers empty, I started arranging the bins between cases. My goal was to get similar items in the same case. I had wire nuts (electrical screw on caps for joining wires) in several locations and consolidated them into one case. Did the same for electrical crimp connectors. I dedicated a deep case to dry wall screws and cut the box tab off the box for easy identification. I will list the categories I have so far, they will be refined as I get more sorting completed.

Dry wall screws

Flat head screws (pointed)

Flat head machine screws

Round headed screws

Round headed and socket headed machine screws

Sheet metal screws

Nuts for machine screws

Small washer and lock washer

Electrical wiring parts (bushings, clamps, conduit fittings)

Wire nuts

Crimp connectors

Electronic parts (have not separated components yet)



Wood dowels, biscuits, plugs


Nails, brads, staples

Small portable tool parts (brushes, collects, knobs)

Misc. (glazer points, picture frame hangers, etc. )

As I get more organized items will be grouped by size, currently similar looks are the main grouping characterstic

Ermus (author)2017-12-05

I use a gold, or silver sharpie to write on the black plastic. Most of my HF organizers are stored vertically.

AZbubs (author)2017-12-05

Please share info on where to get the cases. I really like this idea!!

baker519 (author)AZbubs2017-12-05

I got most of the 2" cases from Harbor Freight on sale, $5.99 limit 9. Had a gift card from Menards and waited for a sale on the Stanley 3" cases and also took advantage of their 11% back (store credit) . Currently Home Depot has a Miller 3" case as a Christmas special, will wait to after Christmas and see if they reduce to clear inventory. Have not found any bargains at Lowes but I keep looking. Walmart also carry some for just over $6 each. Am also thinking of making some out of wood (will post when I have a design) for the deeper boxes of 4" and deeper. These will be used for tool storage like stapler and pin nailer and the accessories with these tools.

DDW_OR (author)2017-12-05

another good Harbor Freight box is this

I use several.

Nuts bolts washers screws

pop rivets

camp Kitchen

lawn watering system

Hydraulic parts,

Johnwayne (author)2017-12-05

Nice idea, but those Stanley organizers off gas something horrible!! I have some and can hardly use them for the (toxic) smell.

BarryK2 (author)2017-12-05

Found on under Stanley brand Sortmaster. Also on under protective & storage cases.

Otis857 (author)2017-12-05

X2 on where to get the cases for a decent price

dogwoodz (author)Otis8572017-12-05

Harbor Freight has them, get them on sale., These are good for home use. If you take them to a job site you may need to spend more at Home Depot or Lowes.

pmanthey (author)2017-12-05

Great design, simple and effective. I have a huge supply of fasteners and have purchased plastic boxes to organize them However they are stacked up and pulling one out means moving a number of others. This design will solve that problem. Thanks for sharing.

Jlombard1212 (author)2017-12-05

I have been looking for a flexible solution, thx!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-12-02

Nice. I have these exact same organizers in my shop. I need to make a set of these.

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