Introduction: Adjustable Shelving for Part Bin Organizers

About: I enjoy dabbling in everything. By trade I am a software developer during the day. At home for fun I like to dabble in electronics, minor woodworking, house projects, IOT, Smart Home setup, software developmen…

I enjoy playing around with woodworking and electronics for fun. The downside is that you can accumulate a lot of various parts and equipment, especially smaller in size. It's not fun trying to keep it organized, especially when they all come in different sized containers, with some ranging in quantities of one to 100. Usually they all can end up in a messy drawer or box and I wanted to get a handle on all my small parts.

I needed a solution and having some spare plywood, I only needed two sheets of plywood to build. This cost around 40 dollars.

Here is where this solution comes into play. I've seen many use portable bin organizers. However, once you get a few of them, you then have to organize them. My measurements here are based on Harbor Freights Portable Storage Bins so feel free to adjust to your needs, as there are other brands or your storage requirements may be different. An advantage was that some of my other tool cases were able to fit as well, like my Dremel and socket set.


Parts (~$30-$60 pending spare wood and quality purchased)

  • 1 - 4'x8' Sheet of 3/8" Plywood
  • 2 - 4'x8' Sheet of 3/4" Plywood (Only need a little out of a second sheet, either for the top/bottom or 2 of the fixed shelfs)
  • Screws
  • Set of 4 Casters
  • Wood Glue (Optional)


  • Drill
    • Drill & Driver Bits
  • Table or Circular Saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Square/DIY Jig/DIY Guide
  • Router (Optional if have table saw and dado blades or other solution)
  • Pocket Hole Jig (Optional)
  • Kreg AccuCut/RipCut or similar (Optional if no table saw)

Harbor Freight Portable Bin Organizers (Optional)

Step 1: Initial Tips

Some initial tips and insights that I learned during the process or would suggest.

Safety First! Safety First! Safety First!

Please use proper eye & ear protection!

Please use all safety guards on your tools!

Please read and understand how to use and operate your tools as they might not match how mine are used.

Project Note

I hope this instructable can serve both as a instruction manual, as I'll provide my dimensions, but also as a tool that you can use to change it up to your needs. Whether that is making it bigger or smaller, adding more shelves or fewer, changing the shelf spacing or more. The only limit is your imagination.


With a few of the steps there could be various methods, both that I know and share or that I might not know. Work with the potential tools that you are able to do safely. For example, I used a router, but a table saw could also work. I ended up using pocket holes, but they are not necessarily needed. Just make sure to put safety first!

I also might recommend making a jig if using a router to make your life easier.

(5/15) Some good feedback in the comments. For reccomendation to have all the dado cuts line up during assembly. Cut the dadoes first THEN cut out each wall, would recommend cutting Side, Middle, Side to reduce risk of alignment issues.

Measure twice (and trice) and cut once..... unlike I did with my first side and had the wrong measurement. Thankfully it will go to a future project and I had other large scraps to make the project work. :)

Step 2: Planning

Planning will save you later down the road. I based my plans around Harbor Freights Bin Portable Storage Cases. I planned the shelf spacing based on the shorter cases, allowing the adjustable shelves to be pulled out so the larger cases fit. The width and depth were planned for it as well. If you plan to use something else, double check measurements and adjust accordingly.

For the frame and fixed shelves I used 3/4" plywood, for the adjustable shelves I used 3/8".

I planned this out initially by drawing it out on paper and have now created a CAD drawing too.

Step 3: Cut Frame Pieces

(5/15) From some good feedback in the comments making this recommendation to switch this step and the next one. To reduce risk of having all the dado cuts line up during assembly. Cut the dadoes first THEN cut out each wall, would recommend cutting Side, Middle, Side to reduce risk of alignment issues.

All easy straight cuts for this project. I personally don't have a table saw, but that would be one method. I used my circular saw and the Kreg Rip-Cut and Accu-Cut tools to cut my straight lines. You can cut the two sides, which are the same width and height, as well as cut the back wall. You can also cut out the top and bottom pieces that are both the same size.

Step 4: Lots and Lots of Dadoes!!!

Now is for the fun and time consuming part, cutting out all the dadoes on both side pieces and the back wall.

I personally used my router and set the depth to half the thickness of the plywood (3/8"). Since all the adjustable shelves are to be 3/8" plywood I used my 3/8" router bit. Adjust all according to your plans.

I first measured out all of the spacing and grooves. All shelf spaces are spaced at 2.5". For my plans I did 5 adjustable shelf pieces of 3/8" (so 6 slots spaced at 2.5") and then placed a fixed shelf of 3/4" plywood and so on. If you are matching my plans, it would look like this for dado sizes: 5 -- 3/8", 1 -- 3/4", 5 -- 3/8", 1 -- 3/4", 5 --3/8" with 2.5 inch spacing between each.

I clamped my large quick square down as a straight edge for the router. The square did not go all the way across to route a straight line. After routing down one side I rotated the plywood and finished routing the other half. In hindsight I would recommend either building a dado router jig or make your own larger square out of scrap pieces that can cover the full width.

You could also potentially use a table saw with a dado blade set if you're able to safely do with your saw.

Step 5: Assemble Frame

Next step is to assemble the main frame. I decided to use pocket holes to attach the sides to the back wall. You could also just screw in from the back wall into the sides if you don't have a pocket hole jig (recommend pilot holes).

I would recommend to dry fit and dado check alignment. I did have to route a little bit extra off for some shelves, as the edges didn't exactly align and it is easier to fix now. I used some scrap pieces of plywood to help with the dry fit.

After you've done that you can go ahead and glue up the sides and screw together. I would still recommend using some scrap plywood pieces to hold the walls in position during assembly.

After you have the walls in place, you can screw on the top and bottom pieces. After doing so, you can go ahead and add castors if desired.

Step 6: Cut and Add Fixed Shelves

I felt for sturdiness and rigidity to have some shelves fixed. (These are the 3 -- 3/4" dado sections and plywood)

If all is assembled as planned, you should be able to cut out 3 -- 13 7/8" x 17 3/4" square pieces out of 3/4" plywood. (I would recommend double checking and measuring the space so they fit properly)

Place these in the proper shelf locations and screw in place, coming from the side walls screwing into the shelf (Make sure to drill pilot holes).

Step 7: Cut and Insert Adjustable Shelves

Next step is cutting out all of the adjustable shelves out of 3/8" plywood. Out of one piece of plywood you are able to get 15 total pieces. There are 20 total slots but if you have some of the larger bins you won't need a total of 20.

Pull out the table saw or Kreg Rip-cut and cut out all of the shelves. That should hopefully be 13 7/8" by 17 3/4" out of 3/8" plywood. (Cutting out of a 4'x8' sheet - cut the 13 7/8 wide long strips, you should get 3 of them. Then you can cut 5 - 17 3/4" out of each strip)

Once you cut them out go ahead and place them into your shelf!

Step 8: (Optional) Finish Touches/Labeling

After completing the last step, you can call it a day. That's were I personally stopped.

One option I might still do is to cut out a section in the front of each shelf to expose the handles of the bins for ease of grabbing them.

If desired, you could also paint or stain your assembly. Since mine is just sitting out in the garage workspace, I currently don't feel the need to do that.

To stay organized can go the extra step and label all your bins and part so they can be easy to find!


Declutter Speed Challenge

First Prize in the
Declutter Speed Challenge