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What's The Best Way to Organize Nuts / Bolts / Washers / Fastners? Answered

As a fairly capable "do-it-your-selfer" I still struggle with organizing my substantial collection of fastners of all types and sizes.

I have a dedicated 14 drawer tool box with 41" W X 20"D X 2"H drawers in which I now just throw all of the fasterners of a given type, size or material in a zip lock bag.  When I need something I have always have to open all the drawers to "maybe" find what I'm sure I already have. 

I know drawer dividers and lables are part of the solution but I'm not sure how best to make them nor how to "lay out" the various sizes, materials etc...

Maybe you have had this problem and solved it.  All suggestions are welcome & thanks in advance.


Suggestion: Walk into a good hardware store. Look at how they have their drawers of bulk fasteners laid out. Do something similar.

Typically that means dividing first by general type (screws versus bolts/nuts versus nails), then by thickness, then by thread (so bolts and nuts which fit each other are grouped near each other), then by length, then by head (slot/phillips/hex/whatever). Washers should probably be sized first by ID, then by OD, and grouped with the bolts and nuts which are the closest fit.

That's the _best_ way. For most of us with smaller storage than your toolbox. we break off somewhere before the bottom of that chain is concerned. I have some things sorted out exactly, when they're sizes I tend to use frequently; others may share a bit (preferably in a way that still allows me to tell them apart, but I do have a few "pi bins" of intermixed hardware that either hasn't been sorted or that I don't expect to have enough of to make complete sorting worthwhile.

Excellent answer to which I would add one missing point. In that section of the store you will also generally find a sizing standard of nuts and threads of marked sizes with which you may devine the size of the part you are holding in your hand and trying to match. They are called thread identifiers, and come in small, medium and large, where the medium sizes are the most common and might be most useful. Grainger sells them in a sae/metric combo for about 40 bucks. I sort my extras into the multi bin racks that have the small clear drawers. Thread identifiers make excellent presents for shop oriented persons.

The best way, I've learned, to organize small, annoying things in large quantities is with watch tins. My father and his father both worked as jewelers, constantly working with watches, so I had constant access to these little, tin canisters with clear lids. They're not expensive, and they're kinda cool looking. They have served as a great way to organize thumbtacks, bobby pins, nails, you name it! Not only are they small containers with lids, but the lids are clear so you can see what's inside of them without having to dig through every box/drawer you have. Hope it helps!


.  Machine screws/bolts separate from wood screws
.  Screws and bolts sorted by diameter. Sub-divided by pitch, if needed.Sub-sub-divided by length, if needed. sub by grade, if needed.
.  Nuts by diameter. Sub-divide by pitch, if needed.
.  Washers by ID. Sub by OD, if needed. Sub by type (flat, star, &c), if needed.

Good idea. 

And get some labels for the outside of the drawers.

Make some dividers for the inside of the drawers.  Maybe just divide the drawers into quarters.

Given the size of those drawers, I'd divide them down a lot farther than that, unless you have a metric *load of a given item... in which case it make more sense to store most of them in a box on a shelf and just restock when the drawer runs out. If I buy a few hundred screws for a project, most of 'em stay in their box.

Thanks for the comprehensive reply my friend.  I selected your last reply as the "best answer" to my question yet received.  Now I gotta figure out those dividers!  Take Care...


One thing that I do I learned from my dad is use/reuse old peanut butter jars.  Screw the lids to the bottom of a shelf and you can see what nuts/bolts/nails are inside.  When you need them you unscrew the jar from the lid.  I've seen this done with babyfood jars and other types of jars. 

Check these out for great ideas. 



Thank you.  I inherited a boat load of various nails from a neighbor and low and behold he kept them in penut butter jars!  The difference is they have not been mounted under a shelf.  I will do this with the nails due to space and quantities involved. Thanks again for the help!