How to Organize a Shoe Box




About: The name comes from the First Star Trek movie, that pretty much says it all.

This is one of my older projects, probably one of the first I ever did. When I was in high school I started accumulating electronic parts and they increased fast so I needed a way to keep them organized. We didn't have plastic storage boxes yet, but shoe boxes were plentiful. In addition my dad was working on the house making built in shelves and units and such and he generated a lot of wood scraps. His passion was working on the house, whichever one we happen to be in at the time, so it was not uncommon for there to be a pile of wood scraps from his table saw. One of my long ago memories was from preschool when I remember my dad talking to my mom saying that they really needed a door between the kitchen and the other room, that it was silly to have to walk all the way around. Next thing I knew there was a door there. Pretty normal thing to happen back then. Anyway I raided the scrap box and with some cardboard, scrap cloth, glue and wood scraps and a coping saw, I turned a couple of shoe boxes into storage boxes for my parts.  I hope it might provide some of you out there with a little inspiration of what is possible.

Step 1: Box One

This box I lined with paper from a shopping bag. It looked cool. The trays are made of cardboard wrapped with cloth, sometimes flannel, and glued to the cardboard. I found that gluing the fabric to the cardboard made it a lot stronger. The storage structures were built from the bottom up. I cut the cardboard to size, covered it with fabric and placed it in the box. Then I glued the outside pieces of wood around the edge while it was still in the box. So each piece became a custom fit. I cut the small pieces of wood with a little coping saw.  After the frames were dry I assembled the inner dividers, all cut to fit. The sizes were determined by how much scrap wood I could find that was the same size. The trays will only fit in one way.

I sorted out my resisters and put them according to color code which was how you determined how many ohms they were. By making a lot of little compartments I could store them in order. These components are not heavy so it was not necessary to make the boxes really strong.

Step 2: Box Two

The second box is pretty much the same as the first.

An interesting thing about this type of storage. You can put valuables in these instead of electronic parts and store them on a shelf with other shoe boxes. No one would ever bother to go through them, they would be camouflaged in plain sight.

You could make these really fancy, sand down all the wood and put a finish on it. Use a good cloth material instead of scraps. Lots of ways to make them nicer. I just needed a place to store my new junk so they are utilitarian and not for looks.

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    8 Discussions

    Very Cool Vyger! Your compartmentalized trays have a very rich look to them with the fabric lining, wooden slats & multi-coloured resistors & what-not.

    I've made trays, shelves & dividers using corrugated cardboard for all. Taping everything together with 2" wide brown packing tape - which looks like heavy brown paper. You pull cut off strips of it through a bowl of water to wet the glue on the bottom side. It is a quick & simple method, but without the elegant looks that you've achieved!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I LOVE it. I've always been a fan of using non-conventional materials for things like this, and you pulled it off with aplomb!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice execution! You really need shallow trays to store electronics and it is ideal to fit these trays in free of charge and light shoe boxes. I have several shoe boxes around the house and in some cases I rebuilt them to fit exactly the object(s) stored.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Where were you when I was being overrun with beads and crafting material!?!?! Nice project!!


    5 years ago

    Those are very nice! Can you add a picture of the bottom of those organizers? Is it cardboard or what on the bottom? What were you salvaging parts from??

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The cardboard I used was not corrugated , it was more like heavy poster board. I glued the fabric to the top and wrapped it around to the bottom. Then to make it look nice and cover any seam I glued the paper from grocery bags to the bottom. So the bottom is covered from edge to edge with brown grocery bag paper. If I had extra cloth I could have used that instead but the combination of cardboard . glue and heavy brown paper made the bottom pretty stiff.

    I salvaged components from a few old TV's and some mystery boards that a friend of mine got from his dad who was working in some kind of electronics development. Some of the boards were curved and the rumor was that they were from obsolete missals.

    If you still want a picture of the bottom I can get that for you but its just plain brown paper.


    5 years ago on Introduction


    This is why I can't go into the Container Store - I'm a total sucker for this sort of thing. :D