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Sajeev
Community Manager

Community Question: Storing and sorting automotive hardware?

We have a simple question for this week: How do you organize the little things your car needs? 

For my collection of 80s-90s cars (with a fair bit of unique bits you can't buy anywhere, anymore) I got this organizer from the place that is everyone's guilty pleasure: Harbor Freight. It's pretty flimsy, the drawers don't lock into the chassis very well, but I needed something cheap...and this was very cheap at a mere $15. 

 

I spent another $12 for the label maker, which I am sure I will use again for my projects. 

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26 REPLIES 26
JimR
Instructor

That probably makes more sense than those emptied wooded cigar boxes I use.  Car specific hardware, spare sensors, brackets...each box gets a masking tape label listing contents before going into an old metal file cabinet in the back of my shop.
Yes your purchase makes WAY more sense, and since I don’t make my living as a tech, I love HF. But with cigar boxes I get to claim I’m a green “recycler”. 😇

Sajeev
Community Manager

@JimR I like your line of thinking. If I smoked, or had access to these, I'd likely do the same. 

autbone
Pit Crew

Make them. Make boxes in whatever size suits your needs. There are thousands of helpful youtube videos on making simple wooden boxes.

 

jonZ
Instructor

I'm with you on this. While waitin on parts may as well make something. Beats watching TV

jonZ
Instructor

I have one similar to yours. It's ancient but still gets the job done. The stick on labels that came with it long since weathered away, as did the clear fronts on the drawers. Other than that I use what ever I can get my hands on. Organization is very important but I'm not very good at it. Looks like I'll be headed to Harbor Freight! At my age I'll prolly forget where I put when I get home.

JerryM
New Driver

I use flat storage cases (with a handle), one for electrical stuff, one for stainless screws and so on.  If I'm working on a particular job in a car, the case comes with me so I don't have to make trips back to a wall hanging unit to fetch a small part.

GRP_Photo
Instructor

Organize? What's that?

ACE_Sonoma
Detailer

Even as a child, I was fascinated with storage devices, they appealed to my OCD need to 'organize'.  I thought the Old School way of screwing the lids of discarded glass baby food jars to the bottom of a shelf, was ingenious, providing a multi-pronged solution where the stored pieces were visible, off the work surface, and could be toted to the work site and returned, safely stored until needed again.  This led to all manner or similar containers; cottage cheese, pudding cups, metal Band-Aid packs with snap lids, breath mint boxes like Altoids, etc...

 

I've used the ones like you've shown, Sajeev, but they're a little clumsy when loaded, so I stick to lightweight stuff like electrical connectors for those.  I worked for a Shop Consummables company as a younger man, KAR Products, who utilized a fantastic selection of sectioned bins and covered trays which slipped into roller racks as removable drawers.  When we would outfit a new account, we would remove and replace the exact same storage equipment from the previous supplier.  When told to just 'discard', I thought, 'hell no'.  I asked if I could take it home, and he said 'Sure', and thus began a very industrial, yet elegant solution to my Home Shop Storage Dilemma.  I was able to amass a fair collection of various dimensions, and am now the envy of my Fellow Gearheads...

 

"They're Out There..."

Sajeev
Community Manager

Oh man, I would love to get some real bins like that. Maybe one day! 

autbone
Pit Crew

My dad was an engineer for Chrysler, in the 1960s and 70s. He collected a LOT of nuts and bolts and parts. Over the years we moved from using oil cans with the tops cut off, to baby food jars, to cleaned clear plastic peanut butter jars and rubbermaid tubs. I also have made wooden open-top boxes about a foot square and five inches deep. If I were to invest more, I'd build a wall of cubbyholes sized for the peanut butter jars and I'd buy a large quantity of them in two different sizes. The clear plastic is safer to keep things in than glass. For larger pieces I would use the wooden bins and stack them.

Spudsly
Intermediate Driver

How do I organize my automotive hardware ? Lets see... Oh yeah I put them in the garage !

Tinkerah
Technician

Filing cabinets are terrific and often free; for smaller items orphaned power tool cases are great. A critical lesson it took me decades to (not) learn (yet): as the contents outgrow the container and get reassigned, THAT'S the moment to re-label. I've spent more time than I'm willing to admit hunting for things that I imagined still inhabited the previous container.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Oh wow that rolling cabinet is AWESOME!  I love it! 

OldRacer79
New Driver

I went 1 (rather large) step further, building this cart to hold all of my bolt bins and parts drawers.  

 

For labeling the various bins and drawers, I use a Brother label maker.  It prints very legible labels that last a long time.  When the glue gets old and they start to peel off, I just cover them with a piece of clear packing tape.

 

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cp2541
New Driver

You win for best organizer.  Homemade and built to last.  Very functional and mobile too. 

mrhammered34
Pit Crew

I am a retired mechanic for American Airlines, Bowman was our supplier of fasteners, every so often they would remove the bins and replace them with new ones, I would grab them out of the trash and bring them home to my shop behind my home, they also sold  us wall cabinets at a great price, I stocked my recycled bins with bolts and assorted hardware directly from Bowman.

Tinkerah
Technician

I worked in the Polaroid machine shop right up to the bankruptcy, some of us diverted Lista cabinets from their destination in the dumpster. I will always cherish my two.

JimR
Instructor

Organization and order. You guys are killing me. That’s just wrong. 
My system is geared for the slightly senile. I have to leave something in the wrong place and then randomly stumble across it  a couple of times before I can remember that I even have it...let alone recall where it is. 

bowebow
New Driver

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 didnt have wall space to spread out more. this folds, and holds alot.

Sajeev
Community Manager

That folding cabinet is awesome...I will do that one day! 

OLDERbastard1
Detailer

I use ALL (or mostly) of the previously mentioned: Peanut butter jars, old tobacco tins, baby food jars, 1 liter (Canadian eh.....lol) yogurt containers, store bought organizers, etc, etc. But some of my most favourite are wooden drawers from old kitchens (or bedrooms, or wherever) that most people throw out when doing home renovations. They come in a million different shapes, sizes & depths & can be easily cut down (re-shaped) to whatever suits you. Also they are FREE & can be made to stack or attach to wherever you need them. 

DaveLV
New Driver

I use an old library book cart that came out of an elementary school.

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flashg
New Driver

I like Qt  yogurt containers for all my British fine thread bolts and nuts etc and my coarse thread stuff is all in old AC delco  distributor cap boxes from when I worked at Caddilac

jaysalserVW
Detailer

I have several plastic cabinets with multiple drawers.  Each drawer is labeled for contents.  Since I am dealing with vintage vehicles of a specific make, there are drawers of specific washers, specific nuts, specific bolt, studs, dash bulbs and on and on and on.  This gives me almost immediate access to hundreds of vintage small parts.  For my personal vintage vehicles, I have a garage closet with shelving which is loaded with spare parts designated for my personal cars.  These are  listed , by shelf, on my computer.  All of this certainly helps to quickly locate vintage car parts when I need them.  I also have a set of plastic cabinets for generic nuts, bolts, washers, screws and much more--just for those home projects--all separated from my vintage car parts, of course.  Computer inventorying my personal vintage cars' bits certainly has simplified repairs.  And, it has kept me from buying duplicate parts when I already have them shelved.

Guitar74
Gearhead

I am glad I'm not the only one who does this. I used to at the motorcycle shop as well (valve shims separated by size, brand and bike). It's a little more work initially, but it makes up for it in the long run.

Rob1
Instructor

Just ran across this posting LOL lived in the same place most of my life and moved at retirement and built a new shop all kinds of stuff packed still in boxes/crates/pails not sure whether I will ever get it all sorted and likely dont need half of it LOL no pics available but my father kept every broken down fridge we ever had built shelfs in them and there was his parts cabinets we looked like a used appliance center.LOL R