Over the years, I have struggled to find sensible ways of storing my collection of thousands of small parts in an organised way. If you are like me, you have a huge collection of boxes, parts drawers and plastic containers to store your parts in. Not only are they quite expensive, but they suffer from other problems - parts drawers can tip over and either lose or mix up components, and plastic divider boxes are no better - both of these take up a lot of space as well and as soon as you add a few new components when you have filled up all dividers in the box, or trays in the component bin, you have to work out how to resort your entire collection again!
This method uses ordinary ring binders, zip wallets, and grip-seal bags and allows you to create a hierarchical storage system, where you can easily add or remove new categories (folders), sub-categories (zip wallets), and components (grip seal bags).
Step 1: Collect the Bits!
The pages I use in the files are a "Zip Punched Pocket" from Rexel - again, I got these on ebay from here as they worked out at only 16 pence (US $0.33) each. In the US, try something like this.
The final item is a pile of 'zip lock' or 'grip seal' bags - again ebay was where I got mine from, but they are also available from packaging stores, like this one in the US. The 3 inch by 2.25 inch size I find great for small parts, as it is the perfect size for electronic items like strips of resistors, but you might also want some larger ones as well.
If you shop around, you can buy a handful of folders, 50 punched pockets, and 1000 zip lock bags for under 25 pounds (US $50.00) - this will be enough to completely organise thousands of small parts!
Step 2: Customise the Folders
Step 3: Organise Everything!
One big advantage is now obvious - you can add and remove the zip pockets in the folder whenever you want, and you can also add or remove the little grip seal bags in the same way. With everything zipped up, you can also literally shake your parts system about, and nothing will fall out. Even if one of the little bags was left open, the worst you will have to do is unzip the pocket, collect the bits, and put them back in the little bag.
Step 4: All Done!
I have finally got everything organised, for less than 25 pounds (US $50) - it is cheap, flexible, extremely compact, reorganisable, safe (handles the shake test), and portable - perhaps the ultimate small parts storage system!