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Using toolboxes for parts storage (and some cheap dividers)

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Using toolboxes for parts storage (and some cheap dividers)

Old 04-14-24, 09:40 PM
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Using toolboxes for parts storage (and some cheap dividers)

I've been recently poking around at Vidmar tool boxes - apparently, I enjoy sticker shock at the tune of $700 for a cabinet of simple ball-bearing drawers - trying to come up with a decent solution for storing small bits in a manner that doesn't require me to pull my hair out.

I ultimately decided to experiment with this silly little 3/4 sized toolbox off Amazon (badged "ARTMAN" which is either a mildly humorous or deeply pathetic ripoff riff of "Craftsman"), as it clears the windowline and is small enough that the exit door isn't impeded. Not to say that something like this is worth it except for these edge case scenarios; the darn thing isn't cheap. Even getting a scratch-and-dent Amazon Warehouse job was $185, and they usually go for $200 + $50 shipping. When you consider that the Husky 42" boxes at Home Depot are running $279 or so - they're one of the best deals I know of at the moment - this tiny thing and it's pricing becomes outrageous.

Here's the DO-TOOL-THINGS-WITH-A-SEXIST-NAME box in what I expect to be its permanent spot in the shop (speaking of which, anyone know of a floor coating that isn't too industrial looking, durable to all the rust and grease that'll inevitably fall on it, and DIY-install friendly?).



The Akrobins on top will be removed eventually, in addition to the rest of the surrounding mess. Speaking of which, I'd like to replace the entire set of boxes to the left with 42" wide units, but the aforementioned Husky box has a wooden top, not a proper raised edge to keep stacker boxes from falling off. Plus, I'd much rather find a few old Craftsman units that allow me to mix-and-match drawers. Everyone on Facebook Marketplace seems to think their rusty Craftsman boxes are made out of 24 karat gold though, so that's unlikely to happen.

Side note, the FARTMAN drawers like to wander if you look at them a bit funny. Especially if they're carrying heavy loads. I'm constantly shoving the spoke drawer back in, as it loves to pop out.

At any rate, what is great is that the storage works surprisingly well when outfitted with these red dividers I found from Schaller Corporation (link for those curious). They sell their dividers as a sort of Vidmar alternative, but you can put them in anything (obviously). The main thing is they're sturdy and a lot cheaper overall in comparison to the flimsy stuff Amazon has right now (which are more or less light-duty desk organizers injection molded in black and not actual parts dividers).







The only downside to the Schallers is that the sizing available is arguably on the small side if you want to separate a pile of, say, freewheels or brake levers. Nevertheless, they do the job. I'm particularly enjoying the top 1" drawer. I can't tell you how frustrating these parts have always been to dig up in the existing Akrobins.



I'm still exploring options for the larger bits, so I'm open to seeing your solutions out there - especially if they're affordable. In total, I bought four drawers worth of Schaller dividers which ran about $80 shipped - not bad considering everything I bought and the quality of these things - but I'm really interested in any other methods that might not involve the need of an overpriced little squirt of a toolbox.

-Kurt
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Old 04-14-24, 09:49 PM
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I would suggest something like this;

https://www.harborfreight.com/20-bin...BoCfHYQAvD_BwE

​​​​​​$5.94 at Harbor Freight right now for the drawer and the organizers. Stack them in a corner - take them with you when you need to.

​​​​​​
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Old 04-14-24, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
I would suggest something like this;

​​​​​​$5.94 at Harbor Freight right now for the drawer and the organizers. Stack them in a corner - take them with you when you need to.​​​​​
I have a few miniature DeWalt versions of these. I know this type of storage is quite ubiquitous today, but I really don't like working with these clasp-closed organizers. They always require tabletop space to use and they can't be closed and opened in a matter of a second if you happen to pull the wrong one out. When jumping between bolts and parts quickly, this can become three of these open at once cluttering up an already cluttered workspace.

Just my personal experience. Nevertheless, I'm curious how many are working with these and are content working with them.

-Kurt
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Old 04-14-24, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888







I like these, going to see about getting a few for my small parts. For my large parts, I just use cheap plastic containers I bought from Loweís.

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Old 04-14-24, 10:33 PM
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Curt, I went with silverware drawer divider/organizers, some screen/wire versions but there are more robust versions, some are not that cheap so.....
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Old 04-15-24, 04:04 AM
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You can see the library microfiche filing cabinet that is my organizer for un-grouped parts...
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Old 04-15-24, 05:48 AM
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Love this - lots of inspiration here. Wish I could rely on cardboard in this humid environment, but down here, that's putting out an invitation for critters!

That microfishe cabinet is genius. Are the drawers friction fit, or do they have smooth slides?

-Kurt
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Old 04-15-24, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888
Love this - lots of inspiration here. Wish I could rely on cardboard in this humid environment, but down here, that's putting out an invitation for critters!

That microfishe cabinet is genius. Are the drawers friction fit, or do they have smooth slides?

-Kurt
Smooth slides. Ball bearing. Was $40, maybe?

Problem is, I am so efficient with the garage it masks how much too much I have...



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Old 04-15-24, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc
Smooth slides. Ball bearing. Was $40, maybe?

Problem is, I am so efficient with the garage it masks how much too much I have...
Yep, I clearly need one of these

-Kurt
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Old 04-15-24, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888
Yep, I clearly need one of these

-Kurt
Maybe a surplus library or school district sale?
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Old 04-15-24, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc
Maybe a surplus library or school district sale?
Our County library digitized a lot of our microfiche over the last decade. Might still be a cabinet out there that hasn't been divested from inventory yet.

Local uni also has a surplus department that I frequent.

-Kurt
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Old 04-15-24, 07:18 AM
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The only problem with using tool chests for storage becomes apparent if you ever have to empty them. I decided to repurpose one for the storage of tools, and the stuff I had in there filled up 6 large storage bins.
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Old 04-15-24, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
The only problem with using tool chests for storage becomes apparent if you ever have to empty them. I decided to repurpose one for the storage of tools, and the stuff I had in there filled up 6 large storage bins.
All the more reason just to buy more tool chests and never empty one...ever

-Kurt
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Old 04-15-24, 08:36 AM
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When I retired, I told my wife I wanted my retirement present to be a nice garage cabinet system to replace the mish-mash of workbenches, cupboards, and wire shelves that I had accumulated over the years. I got these from Home Depot. I'm still getting it organized (it's been over a year), but I like the wide flat drawers for bike components because I can pull them open and see what's there without digging through a bin. The bottom drawers are deep enough to store handlebars and saddles One drawback for this model is the drawer slides are not full length, so the drawers don't pull all the way out. The upper cabinets came with LED under cabinet lights to illuminate the bench. These pictures are from when I first put them in, so there is a lot more clutter now.


The bike corner. I use the plastic vise a lot to hold alloy parts. It doesn't have the same grip as a steel vise, but it is handy when you need a third hand, plus it doesn't scratch the soft metal.



General work area. The wall above the work bench is now covered with pegboard and I mounted my vise on the corner.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:39 AM
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Military ammo boxes. You either have people trying to sell them for $20+ each or $5 each once they realize that the full pallet of them they bought isn't moving. I have a number of them in a shelf I use to store medium size parts. The next time I find a bunch for cheap I plan on finding a shelving unit where they can fit perfectly. Add a bunch of magnetic tags and you got yourself a super solid solution for cheap
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Old 04-15-24, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc


You can see the library microfiche filing cabinet that is my organizer for un-grouped parts...
I like this, youíve inspired me to identify and inventory all my parts. Putting this on my to-do list for this weekend!
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Old 04-15-24, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by BMC_Kid
I like this, youíve inspired me to identify and inventory all my parts. Putting this on my to-do list for this weekend!
It was an eye opener how many redundancies I had and extra groups. I had to compare them against wheels and frame sets and it sort of made me a bit queasy at the excess (thus the sales).
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Old 04-15-24, 02:18 PM
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Kurt, find a local used medical supply store.

I took some of my dad's dental chairs in and was amazed at the cabinets available. Cheap too. Often with dividers in drawers.

example shown: It sold for much less if I recall. Bonus if you like older Celeste style green.

https://www.invaluable.com/auction-l...2-c-89a4a07967
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Old 04-15-24, 03:27 PM
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That's some impressive organization you guys have. I roll like this.




Before I retired, I was that one guy with the seemingly disorganized desk.Yet I knew where everything was.
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Old 04-15-24, 04:12 PM
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Found my parts storage drawers on the curb

It was my lucky day. Drawers are a huge improvement from keeping small stuff in boxes. Iím too lazy to organize within the drawers. I was lucky again
when my wife found an old card catalog on the curb in our neighborhood. As a hobbyist woodworker, Iíve been on the lookout for one forever.


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Old 04-15-24, 05:21 PM
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Kurt,
As much as I like you I don't think I'm gonna spend another dime on tool or part storage. Just look at all this storage and I still don't have enough and I'm beginning to think I need to down size.

40" of eleven drawers full of auto mechanic's tools, and those MAC and Snap-On items cost me plenty.

And another 40" of eleven drawers full of bike shop specialty tools.

And this six feet of Tool box and bench storage.

And this twelve feet of golf shop equipment. with at least 12 drawers of part storage.

And three ($4k@) golf club bending machines.

And the eight feet of drawer storage behind the bending machines.

And a 4foot by 4 foot workbench with twenty drawers under it.

And the carport tool box with mostly bike tools in it 40'" by three feet in four drawers. And a tail shelf with a 4"vise hanging off the side.
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Old 04-15-24, 05:38 PM
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Metal and bearing drawers seems smart, I am working with what I already have. Nice wood flat files, smaller blonde sets and larger/darker 15 drawer pair.

Kept their original labels just to make things confusing



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I still have 15 + empty drawers in the big cabinets

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Old 04-15-24, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Robvolz
Kurt, find a local used medical supply store.

I took some of my dad's dental chairs in and was amazed at the cabinets available. Cheap too. Often with dividers in drawers.
The aforementioned University surplus I mentioned is on a medical campus. Perfectly suited for these showing up. Except for when I want one...

Originally Posted by Mad Honk
Kurt,
As much as I like you I don't think I'm gonna spend another dime on tool or part storage. Just look at all this storage and I still don't have enough and I'm beginning to think I need to down size.
40" of eleven drawers full of auto mechanic's tools, and those MAC and Snap-On items cost me plenty.
And another 40" of eleven drawers full of bike shop specialty tools.
And this six feet of Tool box and bench storage.
And this twelve feet of golf shop equipment. with at least 12 drawers of part storage.
And three ($4k@) golf club bending machines.
And the eight feet of drawer storage behind the bending machines.
And a 4foot by 4 foot workbench with twenty drawers under it.
And the carport tool box with mostly bike tools in it 40' by three feet in four drawers. And a tail shelf with a 4"vise hanging off the side.
Smiles, MH
But just one more tool chest should do the trick!

Originally Posted by retroshifter
It was my lucky day. Drawers are a huge improvement from keeping small stuff in boxes. Iím too lazy to organize within the drawers. I was lucky again
when my wife found an old card catalog on the curb in our neighborhood. As a hobbyist woodworker, Iíve been on the lookout for one forever.
Did it come with the Mondrian theme already painted on it? Love it.

Originally Posted by bikamper
That's some impressive organization you guys have. I roll like this.
Been there, done that, and don't ever need to do it again

Originally Posted by SoCaled
Metal and bearing drawers seems smart, I am working with what I already have. Nice wood flat files, smaller blonde sets and larger/darker 15 drawer pair.
I still have 15 + empty drawers in the big cabinets
I wish something that beautiful would survive out in my shop. I have enough trouble with the drain not stopping up and spilling water between the gaps. Really need to invest in a different type of patio roof.

-Kurt
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Old 04-15-24, 06:49 PM
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Everybody up here in northern Illinois is liquidating and moving down by you. With all the townwide garage sales and estate sales going on right now you could fill a U-Haul with toolboxes in a weekend, some full of tools.
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Old 04-15-24, 07:03 PM
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Here’s my setup for the bits I need the most, sorta semi-controlled chaos:



Of note is that the unit on the left of the first pic and the red cabinets in the second all came from IKEA. The first is meant to be an organizer for a kid’s room, but the modular design is quite handy.
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