Introduction: Stanley Compartment Rack

Picture of Stanley Compartment Rack

Purpose of the build:

I had began accumulating a collection of various compartment organizers in a multitude of shapes and sizes.

Finally, after loosing track of which had what I decided to embrace uniformity.

I decided on Stanley cases, which have little troughs, with a lid that is flush fitting to the top of the trough, instead of little clear plastic dividers that don't seal tightly.

I transferred all the parts and was left with about a dozen cases. These cases are designed to be stacked with some indentations to keep them together. But, even these shallow cases get pretty heavy when filled with screws, bolts, nuts etc, so stacking several high causes some difficulty pulling one out from under a couple.


This design was to allow the weight of each case to be independent of one another, instead of compounded.

There are a lot of other similar designs, some way more complicated with sliding trays holding each case, these were nice but seemed like over kill. I wanted something I could knock out in a weekend (including paint time).

This design utilizes the 1/4" lip on side of each case to hold it's weight on the two sides only. Importantly, the cases are rigid enough that that they don't sag even when filled heavily, or this design would not work.

Basically this is 5 sided box open in the front. Top, bottom and sides are 3/4" plywood, the back is 1/2".

The (24) rails which hold the cases are made out of a standard 2X3. I went with a 12 case unit, 9 shallow, 3 deep, because I wanted to achieve a certain height.

The plywood is screwed and glued and the back is screwed from the sides, and glued. There is another 3/4" plywood shelf separating the deep cases from the shallow to act as a stabilizer to reinforce the integrity of the square.

Measuring is critical. There is not a lot forgiveness when fine tuning the fit.

Step 1: Fit

Picture of Fit

Exterior: The cases are 13-1/2" deep, so the exterior 4 pieces are all 14" wide. (The back inserts into the opening for integrity purposes).

As noted, the side to side fit is a bit tricky, since you want a nice flush fit to make case insertion/extraction smooth.

I wanted the most surface contact between the lip of the case and the top of the rail, while having enough clearance between the sides to mitigate friction, but not enough to allow a wobble.

I made the the rails 3/8" thick and worked from there, by cutting the top piece a little long and then dry fit the top and 2 sides. Shaving down the top on the table saw until I got the resistance I was looking for, then cut the bottom piece the same width.

Step 2: Rails / Jig

Picture of Rails / Jig

This design called for 24 rails roughly 13-1/4 in length to hold the cases in place.

I decided on 3 screws to hold the rails, you could probably get by with 2 if you glued them.

Not wanting to cut 24 rails and drill 72 holes, I first created a jig roughly the size of a rail and proportionally drilled 3 pilot holes.

I used a 2X3 for the rails so I marked the stock to the dimensions of the rail (including) blade width, then drilled the 2X3, with the Jig at intervals of roughly 13-1/2 inches.

Step 3: Rip the Rails

Picture of Rip the Rails

Once drilled I ripped the stock piece down to 3/8" thick (5 cuts)

Step 4: Rails - Crosscut

Picture of Rails - Crosscut

Stacking the 4 ripped pieces back together and utilizing a stop piece on the miter saw i crosscut them into uniform pieces.

Step 5: Mount the Rails

Picture of Mount the Rails

Placing the rack sides "inside up" adjacent to one another I mounted the rails using a (straight) scrap wood piece as a uniform spacer that spanned across both side pieces.

So taking care to get the first two rails perfectly square, the rest went quickly and this insured no variation between the two side rails relative to one another.

Special note: I utilized a 1/2" spacer clamped to the backs of the 2 sides for ease of positioning the rails and so as to have a nice snug uniform fit for the back piece to rest against.

Step 6: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

At this point the only thing left to do is glue and screw the 4 sides, measure and cut the back to fit, and screw that in place.

I did cut some trim pieces out of left over scrap to finish out the top so that there was a sort of pocket on the top to put a case bordered in such a way that it couldn't be knocked off. I finished it out with some rubber tool drawer liner i had laying around.

Fill, sand, prime, and paint. I went with fire engine red to match a drawer stand I have with my drill press on it.


Jesper75 made it! (author)2016-07-29

Made a similar rack of small parts boxes last year, inspired by various youtubers. Mine was built from old Ikea melamine clothing cabinets. It's a great storage solution, and I'm sure you'll like it. My boxes have customizable dividers, but having used them for a while now I know that next time I'll prefer something with small boxes inside. Also since I'm not super organized, I can never remember which one of the boxes contain want I need, so I often find myself pulling half of them out before getting to what I need. So maybe some kind of labeling would be great.

Alex in NZ (author)Jesper752016-08-04

The Stanley brand boxes of the original post hang by their edges, but I have the same storage cases as you. Could you post a more detailed picture of how you've racked up these please. Many thanks :-)

Jesper75 (author)Alex in NZ2016-08-05

Hi Alex. You are right, my boxes can't hang, so I put small shelves on each side of the cabinet to have the them in the rack. I might have been able to squeeze an extra box in if they could hang, but those boxes was what I had at hand. I just screwed the side shelves in from the outside of the cabinet. Painted the whole thing with a shining paint. It covers the screws a little bit, but after all it's just a cabinet for my show. I've made a small drawing that shows you how to make this out of one long panel. I haven't put measures on it, as that depends on your cases of course. I'll recomment 5 mm from top of one box to the shelves above. There is also another picture in a higher resolution, maybe you can see some detail you are looking for.

Alex in NZ (author)Jesper752016-08-05

Thanks for that! I like the rounding on the front of the shelves, which I hadn't noticed in your first photograph. Thanks also for the recommendation on shelf-gap: that's the kind of thing which can take a _long_ time and a lot of stress to find out.

Many thanks :-)

J-Po (author)Alex in NZ2016-08-04

Hi Alex,

could you be more specific?

I am unsure what you are asking.

Alex in NZ (author)J-Po2016-08-04

Apologies, I was trying to ask Jesper75 some questions about his "I made it!" but I must have flagged you instead.

Your case looks great, but your Stanley boxes have straight sides which mean the edge of the box can support it (hence your batten design).

Jesper75's photograph shows the same cases which I store components in. They have slightly curved edges. In the image which was posted in his ",made it", I could see that he had provided the much deeper support needed, but I couldn't make out how so I was asking for a closer look.

seamster (author)2016-07-29

This is a great way to make a storage rack. Very nicely done, I like it!

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