Speaking Of Fasteners And Storage

This subject has spawned literally thousands of products over the years. I’m pretty sure I have posted about this before but it’s one of those subjects us guys can always find something to talk about.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with these things and their variants,

parts bins

I’d have to go count them but I have at least eight of  these in various sizes and flavors.

Some small and portable, some huge and wall mountable.

They were a perennial favorite back in the day and can be a great score at garage and estate sales if you can find them cheap enough.

Especially if they already have stuff in them.

The biggest drawback to these I have found over the years is that the drawers tend to break and/or discolor. They also seem to be easy to misplace for some reason.

Still, they can be quite handy as you can see what’s in the drawers.

Then we have the parts bins.


I bought one of these from Harbor Freight a year or two ago for just under $40.00.

It turned into a Catch All for all kinds of crap and I wound up giving the damn thing away here just recently to a buddy at work just to get rid of it. I’m sure some people just love them, we have scads of them at work and they do have their uses but they take up a huge amount of space when you start taking into account just how many different sizes and types of fasteners that are out there and we are talking bulk here anyway.

I don’t need two hundred of anything.

Of course if money is no object you can buy the metal drawers you sometimes still see in certain places that come with the slide outs.


I actually have one of these I got way back in the mid 80’s.

They are tough but can get VERY HEAVY when full of nuts and bolts in a big hurry.

They also start taking up real estate in a hurry but they are tough, no doubt about it.

A couple of years ago, I ran into what for me, are almost the ideal little storage units for fasteners and small parts also.

Harbor Freight was carrying them and they turned out to be pretty damn handy.

Of course they no longer offer them.

Even an internet search took me a while to find just a picture of one.

Harbor Freight was selling them for under $20.00 when they had them.

It looks like Wal Mart was selling them at one point, at almost double that price but they are out of stock.

I’m telling ya, if you can find these cheap enough, get a BUNCH of them. They are even stackable!


The ones I was getting at Harbor Freight were the same color of yellow as the handle on this one.

I don’t care what color they are, I just want them to hold my little goodies and make them easy to find.

This little unit does both, plus they are portable and in a pinch you can throw some tools up in the top and pack it off. You can also use that area to store bulkier items that won’t fit in the drawers.

I’m telling ya, these things are the bomb.

You can use a Sharpie to write on the little cases or on the outside.

I have one for the fine threaded fasteners that the Sprite likes to use by the handful, one for crimpable electrical connectors, one for small fittings, one for various lengths of Deck screws, you get the idea.

Stack one on top of the other and you can get an amazing amount of crap in them and all you have to do is peek at the front to see what’s in them.

There is a see through door on the front that latches to keep the drawers from falling out and you can pull an entire drawer full of stuff out and move it to wherever you are working without having to drag the whole thing around and the little drawers have lids with flip up latches to keep the parts in them.

Naturally, when I finally find something that works and works well, I can’t hardly find them again and I’m not paying forty dollars for one of them even if I do find a supplier..

All I can do at this point is scour the internet or hope Harbor Freight gets a deal on them again and puts some back in stock.

If you run across one of these at a reasonable price, snag it.

You will be glad you did.


13 thoughts on “Speaking Of Fasteners And Storage

    • Old school garage storage solution! I have seen some impressive
      homemade shelf units with the caps fastened to the bottom sides in
      a row. You can even use large pickle jars for larger parts. Soak the
      labels off or use some solvent on the print, and you can see at a
      glance what’s inside.

      That’s the way my dad’s generation did it.


  1. Years back I saw a video with Adam Savage (Mythbusters) and his Sortimo briefcase-style small parts containers. Very, very slick. Very, very expensive.
    Did some research, wound up with the Stanley versions; the 25-bin unit is shallower than the 10-bin one, both allow either taking the entire briefcase to the job OR removing the individual bin and taking the parts to the job, just like Sortimo, both have clear tops so you can see what’s in it, and they stack and interlock. Thin washers can migrate between bins – sometimes – if you carry it like a briefcase, but if the lid is latched closed and you knock it over they won’t spill and stuff stays in the bins. Drop it and the lid – sometimes – will pop open making the kind of small parts mess on the floor you’d expect. The 25-bin has 3 different sizes of bins, extras are available from Stanley but it’s much, much cheaper to just buy another whole unit. You can remove an entire row of bins to make a long space for stuff and the other bins will stay anchored in their “foot slots” as long as the lid is closed. Amazon used to put them on sale every Black Friday, about $10.50 for the 25-bin, and Stanley offered a $10 off for >$50 of Stanley stuff, so I ordered 5 at a time. I’ve got 44 of the 25s and 6 of the 10s, still need another 8-10 25s. The 25s are pricey at Amazon now, for some reason, but about $12-14 at Home Depot (none of the HDs near me stock them but ship-to-store is free). Harbor Freight has their version, not quite as spiffy as the Stanley but cheaper, about $9 IIRC. I’ ve got a couple, they will stack and interlock with the Stanley units, but are slightly different in height and in X-Y dimensions so the bins won’t interchange. The weak point of the briefcase system is it needs individual drawers for each briefcase, otherwise the one you want will always be the 5th one down in the stack. Mine are in a cabinet, stacked in 2 columns of 6 briefcases to a shelf, so I know about that. There are a zillion web pages with still pictures and youtubes on building a drawer unit for the briefcase-style parts bins so you wind up with what Savage had for his $$$ Sortimo system, you just have to build it yourself. I’d buy a cabinet in a heartbeat if anyone made one (hello, Ikea?) for a reasonable (or even semi-reasonable) price.


  2. I’ve used #10 cans for storage for years.
    Easy to get at your local restaurant, or school lunch kitchen.
    They are happy to see them reused.
    I built special shelves to hold them and used a paint marker to show the contents.
    Course, this was for larger volumes of nuts, bolts, and washers


  3. I’ve got some of the cabs with the sliding plastic drawers. The drawers seem to get brittle after a few years, and never seem to be big enough.

    I’ve got a ton of small machine screws, washers, and nuts (#2 through #10) I need to sort through and figure out how to store. I’m just keeping them all in plastic bags for now….


  4. As others have said, there are a bunch of containers like that in the fishing section of sporting goods stores. I have personally seen them in Cabelas and Dunhams. I suspect Academy and other competitors have them also.
    I’ve seen similar items in craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels aimed at sewing, beading, and other hobbies with many small parts.
    Another thing you can do with them is pull out and take with you the 1 or 2 containers that you’ll need for the current project. I like that these don’t spill when knocked over, unlike the other storage solutions you show.


  5. Apology for the off topic, Phil, you posted a few weeks ago about how much the car tabs were, time for a rant.

    I renewed mine last month, the rant is about the cost. Now, in “normal” circumstances, this would be reluctantly acceptable, because driving is a necessity, going to work, grocery store, etc….. I have no qualms about using the bus for getting around, done it before, a lot of people use the bus, that’s not the point.

    Here we go.

    Sound Transit is a organization/corporation that has been involved in planning and supervising the construction of all the light rail in the Puget Sound area for over 15 years. The funding is from local bond measures, sales tax, vehicle tab renewal and whatever.


    The cost overrun has been outrageously epic for over 5 years now, and most likely won’t improve any. Here’s an example from July 2018 about the fraud.


    Dori Monson has been discussing this for several years.

    I voted no or didn’t vote for this, like many others, which meant nothing in the overview.

    The cost for the car tabs that is passed on in the renewal looks like this, yeah, this is for my rig.


    $30 License fee funds road construction and maintenance projects.
    $25 Vehicle weight fee funds highway improvement and transit
    $4.50 Filing fee funds go to the county
    $8 Service fee retained by subagent, or funds ferry replacement
    $0.25 License service fee supports the computer system
    $0.50 The DOL service fee supports the computer system
    $20 Transportation Benefit District
    $248 Regional Transit Authority tax http://www.soundtransit.org


    Now, the obvious question is, why don’t I not be a silly shit and move, the short answer is, there’s several reasons, including medical, why I’m still here, in the Puget Sound area. I would much rather be somewhere else, and am working on that.

    Appreciate the space for the short rant, Phil.


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