Sunday, August 23, 2020

Garage Organization: Storage Cases

Nuts, bolts, and washers are expensive, especially when you are talking about automotive-grade hardware.

Not to mention a real pain when you need one to finish a project (usually late at night), and you are unable to find the one you need in an ocean of nuts, bolts, washers, rivets, nails, wood screws, dirt, and those ubiquitous dead bugs that usually make such piles their final resting place.


There's no easy solution to the dilemma unless you develop some form of storage as in a hardware store. And if you are like me, chances are you wish you could afford to stock as well as organize your garage like that.

For years I've used cheap storage cabinets, like the ones in the photo above. The problem with them is that they take up valuable counter space and also tend to fall apart. And the tiny bins they come with are made out of some sort of soft plastic that deforms over the years.

I also have stackable bins since they are convenient and usually come with a wall hanger that frees up counter space, but they are not ideal for heavy hardware.


Fortunately, you can start getting better organized by investing just a few bucks in some form of portable storage cases, which you can readily find at most home improvement centers, although the cheapest ones I've been able to find are available through Harbor Freight Tools.

Storage cases are great. However, they end up all over the place unless you make some sort of storage system for them. And based on your ability, you can make some cool-looking shelving either out of wood or metal. All you have to do is search YouTube for videos on the subject.


Anyway, since I had to start somewhere, I decided to make a small storage system. In hindsight, I should have used just wood which would've saved me both time and money. But it seems that given two choices, I will always pick the difficult one.

I am not a woodworker and have limited tools for such projects, although I usually get by with a circular or hand saw, and a drill. In my dream workshop, I would have a nice table saw with an outfeed table, routers, miter saw, planer, jointer, sander, and so on. Alas, I don't have the funds for such extravagances. So I make do with what I have, usually with mixed (sometimes questionable) results.


I just happened to have a few leftover MDF pieces that I cut to size in order to make a shelf-mounted cabinet for a total of four portable storage cases.

For this project, I used a 2x2 aluminum angle for the slides. They worked fine, but they are a lot of work to make, although you save room if you use them.


Since I wanted to fit the cabinet inside a shelf, I built it based on those dimensions, but the beauty of making your own system is that you can make it any size you want to suit your needs.


I did quite a bit of dry-fitting to ensure the storage cases would fit the unit properly, especially since I had space constraints. This was time well spent. And as the saying goes, "Measure twice and cut once."


I also sanded it down and cleaned up the edges. When I started the project I was all ambitious thinking I would also paint it to make it look better, but after a few hours of sweating in the garage I was ready to be finished, so I left it au naturel, which really means unfinished, but sounds better.

I may brush on sealer or varnish at a later date, but for now, I consider it done.


I secured the cabinet by screwing the base to the shelf. I also made it about a quarter-inch taller than the available vertical space since that gives me an extra 1/8" of room at the top to store an additional 8-bin large parts case.


The storage cases are great since you can remove each bin separately in case you need it close to the work you're doing, making it truly portable and convenient.


You can store quite a bit of stuff in these cases, and the larger case provides even more storage with only 8 bins, versus the 20 of this one.

However, as the photo above shows, the plastic bins will bow a little after sitting in a hot Florida garage for some time. This can make it hard to close the case, but I can deal with that.


As with most HFT items, you can save even more if you can find one of their ubiquitous coupons. I located one for the 20-bin cases for only $5.99 (retail price is $8.99). By the way, it seems they go on sale every other month, so wait for a new coupon and stock up!

The one shown here expires (or expired, depending on when you read this article), August 31st., 2020.

If you are unable to find one of the Storehouse coupons as shown here, they do accept the 20% coupon for those, but you're limited to one item per purchase, versus four storage cases per purchase with the item-specific coupon.

You can use the coupons at any HFT store or online. I usually keep coupons saved on my phone since they work the same way as paper coupons, and I like to save money every time I can.

Anyway, as you can see, there's no reason to have hardware scattered all over the garage, filling old jars or food containers, so I am going to be building additional racks for more storage cases in the future.

Ultimately, my goal is to have my garage as clean and organized as possible, and as a bonus, looking great.

By the way, I managed to get rid of one of the countertop storage cases.

I like the flexibility of having several Storehouse cases on hand which allows me to rearrange the compartments as needed, and in this example, I converted a 20-bin case into a 28, and the other from a 20-bin into a 12.


The great thing about having this flexibility is that you can customize cases per your own needs. And as the photo above shows, the 28-bin case has a combination of small, medium, and large bins, while the 12-bin case only has large compartments.


I admit that even after getting rid of a bunch of hardware I was never going to use, I still have many items that simply take up room. But I'm getting better at simplifying and throwing stuff away.

However, try as I may, I'm not sure I'll be able to master my mania of hanging on to bits and pieces within this lifetime.

It seems that every time I go to a You-Pull-It salvage yard, I end up bringing home a pound or two of automotive nuts, bolts, washers, etc.

You may laugh, but I clean and reuse them. They are of great quality and they look right. Besides, who wants to drive a classic car that looks like it was restored at the Home Depot?


Anyway, I did manage to free up a few additional square inches of counter space!

The old storage cabinet has been relegated to the garage-sale pile of stuff which should generate a few bucks that will allow me to get more storage cases. You know... for hardware that I have yet to collect.

The cycle never ends.

Thanks for following my '76 Vette Blog!



Product Links... (#sponsored)

Parts Bin Shelving Organizer (60 Bins)

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