I was inspired to build these storage bin racks for three reasons.
First, my basement shop is filled with hundreds of small parts of various quantities and types. I build lots of different kinds of things, mostly from found or salvaged items.
Second, I noticed that my office was throwing away at least one, sometimes more, of these nice, sturdy, plastic containers every week. There had to be a good use for them, I thought. So I began collecting them.
And finally third, I found that the big box hardware stores wanted hundreds of dollars for their plastic storage bin rack systems. I didn't have hundreds of dollars to spend. At least not on plastic bins.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed
- Qty 21 - plastic coffee containers (rinsed out, unless you enjoy that stale coffee smell)
- Qty 1 - 24" x 48" plywood sheet, 1/2" thick
- Qty 1 - 1x6 pine board, 8' long (ripped into 2-1/2" wide boards, then cut to 48" long each. This will give you 4 boards, but you'll only use 3 of them)
- Qty 30 - 1-5/8" coarse drywall screws (to hang the containers on and to attach the boards to the plywood sheet)
- Wood glue
- Paint (if you want to get all fancy)
- Tape measure or yardstick
- Drill motor
- 1/8" and 3/8" drill bits
- Phillips head driver bit
- Chop saw or circular saw (to cut the boards, or have them cut when you buy them)
- Table saw (to rip the boards, unless your home improvement store will do it for you. Mine doesn't.)
- Quick-clamps (to hold the boards to the sheet when attaching)
Step 2: The Containers
I ended up with two sizes of containers, depending on what the office manager was buying that month. The one on the left is 6-1/4" tall, the one on the right is 8-1/2" tall. Both are 6-1/4" in diameter.
I have made racks for both sizes using the same process. Currently I have two racks full of the larger size, and one rack full of the smaller, with enough large containers left over to make about three more racks. And enough parts to fill them all.
The red color was a bonus. The decaf comes in green containers. Other brands have other colors. Pick your favorite.
Step 3: Spacing
The home improvement stores sell pre-cut 24" x 48" plywood sheets in the lumber aisles, or you can cut your own. Seven of the 6-1/4" diameter containers fit comfortably across a 48" wide plywood sheet. And three rows down the 24" height allow for a good tilt.
I wouldn't use anything thinner than 1/2" plywood unless you plan to screw it to a wall, since the thinner stuff could warp or bow without reinforcement. Plus the hanging screws don't have much to bite into if the plywood is too thin.
Same problem with MDF. Use 1/2" plywood and save yourself the headache.
Step 4: Mark and Drill the Plywood Sheet
Using the marking template (above) as a reference, measure off from the bottom edge of the plywood sheet and draw horizontal pencil lines at the following distances:
Measure from the left edge of the plywood sheet and draw vertical pencil lines at the following distances:
The screws that the containers hang on will go where the blue lines intersect the green lines.
Look at the template and note the small black dots where the red lines cross the center and two outermost green lines. The dots are 3/8" (half a board thickness) above the red lines. The red lines in the template will be where the bottom edge of the boards will sit.
We will eventually attach the boards with glue and screws. So, we need to put three screws through the plywood sheet and into each of the boards. To do this we need to drill holes through the sheet.
Using the 1/8" bit, drill a hole through the plywood sheet where each of the small black dots are shown on the template (9 total). Remember these are 3/8" above the red line so they will fall in the center of the boards.
Step 5: Attach the Boards
Put a line of wood glue along the edge of one of the boards. Using the marking template as your guide, clamp one of the boards to the sheet so that its edge is aligned with one of the red lines and it is covering the three holes next to that line.
Turn the sheet over and attach the board to the sheet using drywall screws. Run the screws through the holes you drilled. Wipe off any glue with a damp rag.
Do the same for the remaining two boards.
Step 6: Install the Screws
Refer back to the marking template. The screws that the containers hang on will go where the blue lines intersect the green lines.
You'll need to get the screw in at about a 35 degree angle. I did it by starting them straight in, then backing them out and going in at the angle. Take your time.
You want them to be in through the depth of the plywood sheet thickness, but not so far that they are sticking out the back.
Also make sure they are in the correct orientation/direction. The board that is along the edge of the plywood sheet is the bottom edge of the rack. You want the heads of the screws to face upward.
Step 7: Mount the Rack
Now's a good time to mount the rack in its permanent location. I mounted mine to the legs on the work tables in my shop. The next set I build will probably be mounted to a wall.
Make sure to leave enough clearance around the rack (especially the top) so you can get the containers on and off easily.
Step 8: Drill Holes in the Containers
Drill a 3/8" hole in the bottom of each container just in from the edge. This is the hole that allows the container to hang on the angled screws. The 3/8" hole is just large enough to go over the head on the drywall screws.
On these red containers, there was a convenient point where two of the plastic mold seams came together that made it easy to always hit the same spot on every one. Make sure you keep your containers in the same orientation so they all hang in the same direction for a good uniform look.
Step 9: Hang the Containers and Fill 'em Up With Stuff
After you've mounted the plywood to a wall (or a work table, in my case), hang the containers on their screws and start filling them up with stuff.
When you need a container of parts, just lift it up off the screw and take it to your work area.