View Full Version : Hardware (nuts, bolts, screws, etc.) Storage Ideas

Rich Riddle
02-09-2014, 10:12 PM
When looking online at available enclosed hardware storage, the results seem extremely expensive. What enclosed storage do you use for your hardware? I have eliminated open storage units as well as plastic as choices. Any other ideas would be appreciated.

Sam Murdoch
02-09-2014, 11:15 PM
These days I store most of my miscellaneous hardware in plastic (sorry but I prefer plastic jars to glass) peanut butter jars. Use to be Skippy but now the Crazy Richard's brand. I can easily and safely stack these 3 high in sections of 4 - so 16 jars per section on a lazy susan turntable with a 13-1/2" ply platform that I divided in 1/4s with plywood dividers. Not pretty and not sophisticated but very elegant. Everything can be somewhat easily seen or quickly sorted through. The entire set up can sit in a closed cabinet or on an open shelf at eye level.

I also use a parachute bag and a plastic container filled with plastic ice tea mix elongated tube shaped jars (brand unknown, from my mother) for fastenings that I regular take to the field for install work.

The peanut butter jars and turntable were a good evolution of otherwise not so satisfactory designs. I can provide a photo in the daytime if you care to see it. As I wrote - t'ain't pretty but works well for me.

Frederick Skelly
02-09-2014, 11:46 PM
Sorry Rich, I realize you said no plastic, but thats what I use. I buy those small enclosures of 20 drawers that Acro Mills sells. Mount them to the wall in a stack. They work very well for me.

Im curious - what made you decide to nix plastic? Not durable enough for the weight of what you have to store?


Steve Peterson
02-10-2014, 1:00 AM
I use the plastic drawers also. I have a 16" deep shelf with 4 drawer units lining the back wall. In front are 3 more units on rollers that slide side to side to provide access to the rear units. I keep the most frequently accesses stuff (screws, washers, batteries etc.) in the front.


Jeff Erbele
02-10-2014, 4:10 AM
Inexpensive, non-plastic, enclosed hardware storage is one set of challenging criteria.

Long ago, frustrated with hardware management I sold at a garage sale all of the little plastic drawer organizers, wall bins, coffee cans, jars and other re-purposed pantry containers of miscellaneous & assorted hardware. I had a lot of specialty fasteners, hardware and parts. Much of it I never used in the five years prior. I used to salvage hardware & fasteners from tools, plumbing and appliances before I discarded them thinking it was free and might save money later. The fact was it was a collection of clutter, not worth the time or space.

I bought two industrial pigeon hole style bolt bins and two industrial parts drawer cabinets with four drawers per unit.
The parts box on each slide lifts out so one can take it to a work bench or work site. The lid has a snap latch with an index in the lid. The parts boxes come divided in various size and number of compartments per drawer.

I stocked those with new, standard, hardware of the types I used most frequently, including bolts, nuts, flat & lock washers, machine, wood, sheet metal and sheet rock screws. I also have a few specialty bins stocked with brass, stainless steel and metric fasteners because I had a need.

Just like you see at Home Depot, Lowes or a hardware store or some automotive stores, from the fastener companies one can buy those drawers stocked with just about any standard fastener or parts assortment. e.g. cotter keys, half moon keys, tie wraps, O-rings, hollow wall anchors, concrete anchors, pop-rivets, picture hanging hardware assortments, wing nuts, wire nuts, dowels, etc.

I bought the storage units and the hardware from Kar Products a subsidiary or Barnes Distribution, because they serviced the shop I worked at the time, but I think most of the major fastener companies sell them; for example Fastenal and other industrial suppliers or companies that sell shop and warehouse equipment. McMaster Kar, unrelated to Kar Products to the best of my knowledge, sells that sort of stuff.

The pigeon hole bins are not covered, therefore not dust free, but one could add doors, or cover the front with vinyl upholstery, screwed at the top and Velcro'd at points along the side and bottom corners.
The drawer units are covered and always clean.

I bought those units over 25 years ago and they have served my needs well ever since. Because it was so long ago I don't remember what I paid for those units with hardware but I think it was under $250. I was most pleased with my decision especially given the problems they solved. Amortized it cost $10 per year disregarding fasteners on-hand, consumed and replenished, but the units are like new, still serving my needs and should indefinitely.

No more coffee cans. I know you stated you don't want plastic, but I also use a lot of two types of re-purposed plastic containers for various other things. We shop at Sam's Club and a lot of their products come in clear, screw-top square or rectangular containers; nuts and snacks, and spices or seasonings. For me they work well for plumbing, yard irrigation parts and things like that. It is easy to see the contents, which are clean and dry and they store very well, not wasting space as round containers do.

Rich Riddle
02-10-2014, 5:43 AM
Many people use plastic but those have been excluded. The shop has one of those pigeon hole industrial containers and for large things it's fine. Unfortunately, it fills with dust and such. Having the ability to move things to the bench a drawer (or whatever) at a time would prove nice. It's just shocking to see the prices these old parts bins bring. Some sell for thousands of dollars and are little more than pot metal and flimsy looking.

Jeff Erbele
02-10-2014, 7:02 AM
Steam table inserts, those stainless steel pans one sees in a buffet line are strong, durable, non-reactive and come in a variety of sizes. One could build a basic box cabinet with slots cut on the inside and use them as drawers. For hardware storage one would have to fabricate dividers, perhaps out of wood or sheet materials.

Jim Matthews
02-10-2014, 8:29 AM
I use second hand tackle boxes, or flatware organizers.

Most of my hardware comes in those little plastic "flip lid" containers.
Stacking those together, with the label facing out seems best.

I try not to have too much hardware on hand - the "Big Sort" is a colossal time suck, every Spring.

Myk Rian
02-10-2014, 8:47 AM
I made a drawer unit out of a used pallet.
Screws and nails get stored in the box they came in. I also use medicine bottles for the small amounts of odd sizes.
The larger stuff gets a Folgers coffee can stacked on a shelf.

mike holden
02-10-2014, 9:35 AM
Build a spice chest and use that. Probably the most glamorous possible hardware storage possible.
Failing that, build the nail chest that Roy Underhill has on the wall of his "shop/stage". Simple drawers in a case.

Steve Rozmiarek
02-10-2014, 10:40 AM
How much stuff are you talking about? We use parts cabinets in the farm shop, one that gets used for big drill bits and accessories is like this:

With these drawers:


I like the regular parts cabinets that we use for parts storage better, but they are far more expensive. Used is a good option if you want to save a buck:


None of this is cheap, but good stuff if you want metal cabinets, dustproof.

Brian Elfert
02-10-2014, 11:51 AM
I use the drawers like Steve has in the first part of his post. I have four drawers and paid between $200 and $250 for the whole setup from Amazon. The Lista stuff is great, but it costs mega bucks even used.

Brian Holcombe
02-10-2014, 1:27 PM

I've been kicking around the idea of building one of these setup for hand tools on one side and indexed storage for nuts/bolts/screws, taps, drills, ect and a few areas for odds and ends.

Quinn McCarthy
02-10-2014, 1:33 PM
I have everything in peanut butter jars. I eat a lot of PB so there are tons of jars. I stack the jars inside each of to take up less room.

Orion Henderson
02-10-2014, 1:59 PM
I would think a spice rack would be a good way to accomplish this. You could even make it yourself out of scrap wood. Then save your spice bottles and label them as you go.

Mark Bolton
02-10-2014, 2:52 PM
How much stuff are you talking about? We use parts cabinets in the farm shop, one that gets used for big drill bits and accessories is like this:

We use several of these in our shop as well. But as everyone is mentioning, your criteria (no plastic, covered, and cheap) are asking for water into wine. Especially the cheap part.

One of the small units Steve posted (we have several 4 and 6 drawer units) can cost well over 200 bucks even if you set up with a bin stocking program like fastenal or equivalent.

If your wanting to meet all your criteria, and are willing to devalue your labor to multi decimal place negatives, I would get on sketch up and start drawing a larger, but more streamlined, version of the spice cabinet suggestion. All shop made, commercial slides, removable drawers or trays.

In the end it will be nice but cost you ten times what these commercial options cost ;-).

If you wanna play, you gotta pay.

Bruce Page
02-10-2014, 3:12 PM
I picked up a used heavy duty 18 drawer storage cabinet at the local salvage yard for $35. It holds an amazing amount of stuff.

Jeff Erbele
02-10-2014, 3:20 PM

Thanks for posting. A picture is worth a thousand words :)

That (the first two photos) are similar to what I bought. The cabinet for the parts drawers was sold separately. I bought 2 cabinets with 4 drawers each for a total of 8 parts cabinets (individually portable if needed).

Compared to other methods of hardware management, this is a great solution. If this cost more compared to other systems I found it well worth it. It solved the problem forever. The hardware is clean, organized, easy to find and select, saving time and frustration.

I really considered the unit shown in the third photo, but back when I could not justify it based on need and usage at the time. Instead of spending big bucks to organize junk I rarely if ever used, I sold the junk at a garage sale.
With a new shop on the horizon, I may reevaluate this option.

How much stuff are you talking about? We use parts cabinets in the farm shop, one that gets used for big drill bits and accessories is like this:

With these drawers:


I like the regular parts cabinets that we use for parts storage better, but they are far more expensive. Used is a good option if you want to save a buck:


None of this is cheap, but good stuff if you want metal cabinets, dustproof.

Roger Feeley
02-10-2014, 11:11 PM
My brother gave me an old microfilm cabinet that his bank was getting rid of. It has wide flat drawers that are great. I cut strips of masonite to line the bottom of the slots that held the microfilm boxes. I put the thing on wheels and I keep my lunchbox surfacer on top.

John Bullock
02-11-2014, 11:55 AM
I am wondering if anyone has tried making a rack to hold convenient, inexpense deli containers? The come in convenient sizes, are clear for easy visibility, and always include the options for lids which firmly snap on top. I like the ideas suggested for yogurt, peanut butter and mayonaise jars, but I just don't eat enough of any of those products to make them practical to create such a system, whereas Costco, grocery stores and restaurant suppliers can all supply very inexpensive clear plastic deli containers!

Rich Riddle
02-12-2014, 10:11 PM
Thanks for all the ideas. Lots of folks had ideas that would have never been considered. Someone sent an e-mail about a system called old Dorman units that see like a good possibility. About the size of a milk crate and each individual drawer can be removed. Lots of good information here.

Rick Potter
02-13-2014, 12:30 AM
I have a file cabinet with drawers that are 6" high and 27" deep, very heavy duty. I keep a lot of stuff like router bits, etc in there.

Rick Potter

Lee Ludden
02-13-2014, 2:05 AM
Last cyber Monday, I picked up one of these from zoro tools. Very handy. I cleared out a lot of drawers of fasteners and stuck them all in here. Metal cabinet & drawers. Was under $200.


Brian Elfert
02-13-2014, 10:12 AM
Dorman does sell storage units, but it is not their primary business. There are many different models of vintage Dorman storage drawers out there.

Andrew Pitonyak
02-13-2014, 4:50 PM
Google roy underhill nail cabinet


tom coleman
02-18-2014, 3:02 AM
I use 3 roll-away tool storage chests from Sears. Made wooden drawer separaters sized for misc HW. Stacked trays 3 deep in largest drawer

glenn bradley
02-18-2014, 9:47 AM
Are we talking wood whop hardware that is mostly small (but numerous) or are we talking nuts, bolts and such? If you are set against plastic I would build to suit. Seems a lot of work for little payoff when Plano boxes and so forth are inexpensive, have curved bottoms to make getting that little washer out easier and have lids to solve your dust problem. However, if you are building it for the sake of building it, Chris Gochnour solved this with a wall-o-drawers:


Like several others I use Plano boxes in a shop made rack. This allows the carrying to bench option you mention but, they are plastic; good plastic but, plastic. I bought a boat load of Plano 3724 similar to these (http://www.planomolding.com/product.php?BCCID=127&PID=944) (but, with adjustable size compartments) that Lowe's used to sell. They blew them out for about $3 each and I have been beating them up for years without a failure. Very high quality from bygone days.

robert morrison
02-18-2014, 11:03 AM
I lucked into a metal parts drawer cabinet at a moving sale. It even included some large diameter fine thread hardware. It only cost $20 but It took more than 40 hours to derust, degrease, clean up, and paint it. The 70 drawer Cabinet is about 3' wide 2' deep and 32" tall. Each drawer has a sliding divider, but that only divides a drawer into two sections, and I wanted more dividers in most of the drawers. The solution came from harbor freight, who sells a parts bin system that I bought a few of. http://www.harborfreight.com/20-piece-poly-bins-and-rails-41949.html Using a jig and a fine tooth blade on the bandsaw, I shaved about an inch off the height off each bin. Four of these bins fit fairly snugly in each drawer. The bins make it easy to lift out a particular item and bring the bin of it, to your bench.

It might be easier to watch for government auctions that have card file drawer cabinets from libraries. Their attractive and solidly built with lots of drawers that you could add dividers to, or you could add the bins to it, like I did.