Introduction: Spare Parts Storage

About: I've been an artist all my life. Probably nothing I couldn't accomplish according to my grade school teachers who said "I would make a perfect student if I would just stop drawing all the time". I'm …

Now if your like me I have a love hate relationship with compartmental storage organizers. Because their expensive and take up space and don't always fit where you want them to fit. With this Instructable you can create your own customized organizer to whatever size area you want.

Now, If your a big Pringles chip fan, then here is another reason to like them. There are a multitude of uses for the little plastic trays they come in. So rather than see them end up in a land fill somewhere, I save these things for many reasons, their great for small paint projects, temporary storage while working on a project with many parts (for example taking apart an re-calibrating components in my time machine), or for the purpose of this Instructable: make a storage rack with many trays for keeping track of spare parts.

The great thing about this is (depending on what you put in them) they are light weight and theoretically you could make a huge version of this for many many compartments. So lets get to it….

Materials used:

  • Cardboard
  • Pringles (single serve trays)
  • Gorilla Tape (color choice yours)
  • Utility knife
  • Hot Glue
  • Metal ruler
  • Tape Measure
  • Sharpie
  • Pencil
  • Spare Parts

Step 1: Measure Area or Space and Parts

I had a space under one of my many shelves that over hangs my work area. And since its not really big enough space to put anything of substantial size I determined this would be a great spot for this project. I measured the height & width of the open area. Then I spaced out and and measured a group of the trays to see how many I could easily fit width wise. I took depth and height measurements of the individual trays as well. I determined I could do 6 trays wide and 2 rows based on my measurements.

Step 2: Cut and Score

On my sheet of cardboard I measure out the parts:

  • Top shell (31.5" wide x 4" deep) and sides (6" tall x 4" deep)
  • Inner shelf (19" wide x 4" deep)
  • Backside (19" wide x 5.75" tall)
  • Bottom (19" wide x 4" deep)

NOTE: the sides are part of the Top shell piece are to be scored and folded. This part is needs to be accurate for proper assembly. Cut the parts down. As mentioned in intro, you could really customize this to whatever area you need and add as many trays as well.

Step 3: Assemble Outer and Shelf

With base parts cut out and top/side scored and folded we can begin assembly. I first folded down the sides and attached the back. The easiest way to line these up is to lay flat in position add the length of tape attached to one piece (either the top or back). Then fold the tape up over the edge of the cardboard.

Then lay the other piece down on the tape in position and securely push down tape edges. With long edge joined of the back and top fold down the sides and tape this in position. Try and tear your tape with about a 1/2" extra overlap on the ends (these can then be folded over or wrap around the edges of the cardboard, see TIP).

Attach inner shelf, be sure to get it placed as close to the center of the back as possible. Finally attach the bottom edge to the over all assembly. Then double check the trays fit overall.

(POST NOTE: If you decided to add dividers pre cut the notches for the vertical supports into the shelf before assembling into place)

Step 4: TIP

When applying the tape to corners, and you've secured the long edges of the tape but the over hang has an "L" shape left. Take your scissors or utility knife and cut along the corner fold, then you can fold down the two individual pieces around the edges.

Step 5: Incorporate Dividers

This part is kinda optional. Depending on the weight of what your putting in the trays, you may or may not even need vertical supports. However at the very least, again depending on how wide your area your filling, you may find it necessary to add at least a few vertical supports to keep the shelf or shelves (depending how many your doing) to prevent sagging. I went all out just to show you what is possible though.

Double check the space from top to bottom of the assembled box. Note the difference between the bottom or top distances if any. Cut out however many pieces of cardboard you'll need for vertical supports. In this case I did 5 total.

I cut a notch on each divider (about a 1/4") out of the middle side half way in (again keep in mind any difference it shelf height, so notch may not be perfectly centered). Using the trays in place I marked positions for each vertical support on the center shelf. Then I cut a similar notch in the center shelf (about 1/4").

Insert each vertical divider into position, sandwiching each notch together. You may find you'll need to trim down the top or bottom edge if your measurements weren't precise. To secure their positions, as they tend to tilt left or right due to tight fit, I put a small piece of tape just inside on the top and alternate to the opposite side on the bottom. Not critical but will help with stability.

Step 6: Clean Up and Tape All Edges

Test fit your assembly in the area before final taping. If it fits you can finish up by taping all exposed cardboard edges to give it a cleaner look and better durability. Be sure to burnish down your tape for a good seal.

See Earlier TIP: When applying the tape to corners, and you've secured the long edges of the tape but the over hang has an "L" shape left. Take your scissors or utility knife and cut along the corner then you can fold down the two individual pieces around the edges.

Step 7: Add Tape Pull Tabs. (Optional)

Another optional step depending on how tight you made your spaces. You find your trays fit a bit tighter than anticipated. They'll push in ok but might be hard to pull out if you made the spaces tight.

To remedy this you and a strip of tape cut about 1/2" wide and width of your the tape roll. Fold over the edge to about again 1/2" of the tape and attached the remainder to the inside of each tray at the long end, folding over the folded tab to stick out. This will give you something to pull the tray out in case of tight fits.

Additionally: If you really want to get organized. For quick visual reference you could use different colored tape on the tabs. Silver for metal parts, Brown or Tan for Wood pieces, Yellow for plastics, Orange for Electric, Etc. You get the idea.

Step 8: Hot Glue Examples on Tray Fronts (Optional)

As mentioned before, one of the things I hate about compartmental storage organizers you buy, besides the cost, most leave no way of knowing whats in each little cubbyhole or bin. Even if their clear, I find myself open and closing a half dozen or more just to find what I'm looking for. So get your hot glue gun and zap a part to the front of each tray. Another option is you can write on each with a sharpie or draw a pic your so inclined.

Step 9: Sort and Store

With all your trays marked sort our your mess of parts and fill and store each bin. If you end up using up all the parts in one you can easily fill with some other type of parts with a new tray or reuse the existing one. One advantage of just drawing a pic of the item or tape label is if empty you can stack and store with any spare you have until you need again.

This has worked so well. I'm thinking doing a really large on that will be positioned vertically between two of the wall supports. I could even do them in segments and just stack and add as I need them.

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