Simple Parts-Sorting Table




About: Old inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who wants me to invent things for around the house... Now how cool is that?

This simple sorting table is a great addition to shop or lab.  After jamming my fingers into cans filled with sharp screws and other lethal objects, looking for some specific bolt or screw, I finally decided to do something about it.

I didn't make an instructable while I was building my table, but after using it for nearly a year, it's become indispensable whenever I need to find a screw or other small part that's been shuffled to one of the large catch-all containers scattered around my shop.


Step 1: How Its Used:

When confronted with a large number of unorganized parts or tools, empty them out onto the table's clear plastic top.  You can then spread the items out safely, easily spotting the specific component needed.  

After the part has been discovered, a 3" opening on one of the table's ends allows you to sweep the unused parts back into their container.

Another feature that comes in handy is the table's clear top.  As I've done in the photo, the table can be set on top of a lightbox so all of the parts are lit from the bottom.  Sometimes spotting the shape of a single part, among hundreds similar parts is easier when everything is silhouetted.

The clear top also makes it easy to spot errant components that miss the table and end up underneath.

Step 2: Construction:

As I don't have the photographs of the construction, I've recreated the table and the parts needed to build this project in 3D CAD.  My table is slightly larger than the one shown, but if I had my way, I'd be happier with the smaller version anyway.  It would be less bulky and easier to store.

One 8'  2x4.   The 2x4 components are cut to these lengths:
4 pieces cut to 9"  These will be the legs.
2 pieces cut to 12" These will define the width of the table.  the l2 x 4s defining the length will cover the ends of these.
2 pieces cut to 18"  These are the length pieces and rest outside the 2 x 4 end pieces.

These dimensions add up to 8', which is a common length for 2x4s.  The acrylic or plate glass top needs to be cut 17.000" x 13.000.

Using 2-1/2" drywall screws, assemble these parts as shown in the 3D sketches.

The parts that hold the top in place are 3/4' trim molding.  Cut to the full width and length of the table, these form the top edge of the table, holding the glass in place and providing a raised edge to hold everything on the table's surface.  With the exception of a 3" gap on one of the short ends, the trim forms a short wall around the edge.  I used a concave molding because it was the first one I grabbed when I made it.  The shape of the trim piece is unimportant as long as it is high enough to form a short wall around the acrylic.
2 pieces cut to 18"
2 pieces cut to 15"

The ends of the trim pieces need to be mitered to 45 degrees.

The trim pieces are placed with the ogee (fancy) side facing outward.  Don't use screws on the trim.  Use nails, staples, glue or a combination of  staples and glue to attach the trim to the outer edge of the table top.  

At this point, the table can be sanded, taking special care to round all sharp edges and painted.  I've left mine in its natural state, but then again, my shop is always in such a mess, anything clean and shiny looks out of place:)

The clear acrylic top is set in place inside the trim and rests directly on top of the 2 x 4 frame.
the final task is to seal the gap between the acrylic and trim pieces with a bead of hot melt adhesive.

This table has saved me hours by allowing me to quickly sort, find and replace jars and boxes of small pieces of hardware.  I hope it can do the same for you.




    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest

    6 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    And thank you for your kind words. When I have a gazillion small parts, usually screws, bolts, nuts and unknown things, backlighting seems to help define the shape of what I'm looking for.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    very nice idea, my solution is one of those bendy white plastic cutting boards (since my studio is packed to the gills) but you got me started thinking about lighting from underneath.... thanks for your inspiration.


    5 years ago

    Nice. I'd consider putting a magnetic strip around the edges of the table and then I'd use a large magnet to collect the metal parts when finished.


    5 years ago

    Nice plans and drawings.
    A tilt feature would be nice on this too. Just put your empty container at the outlet and tip the table up to get all the fasteners back in. Just a thought.


    5 years ago

    Only a true Maker understands the need for such a table. Great idea!