There are a lot of ways to store hardware But the trick is finding what you need when you need it Thats where these two storage projects that can help

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I used to think a good hardware storage system was a bunch of coffee cans and mayonnaise or baby food jars sitting on the workbench. And an "organized system" consisted of dumping all the screws in one can or jar and all the nails in another.

But after a fruitless 20 minute search to find 10 screws all the same size, I knew there had to be a better way. So on my next trip to the hardware store, I came home with a dozen plastic storage bins that stack one on top of the other.

I filled each bin with a different type of hardware and stacked them up in two columns to save space. I soon found out the laws of gravity still apply whenever I tried to get anything stored on the bottom. Thafs what inspired this open bin storage project.

It's designed to use minimal space on the workbench (they're stackable). And since each bin is like a little drawer, it's easy to pull them out and get at what you need, see photo. I thought these bins solved my storage problems until I had a home fix-it project that needed tending to.

I quickly found out that carrying the open bins to the job wasn't any better than hauling coffee cans around. So on another trip to the hardware store, I happened to wander into the sporting goods department. Here, a tackle box with another smaller box inside

(the kind that holds hooks, sinkers, and swivels) gave me the idea for a tool tote.

So I made a portable storage unit to hold six of these small boxes or trays. You simply sort out all of the same type of hardware and put it into one of these trays. The trays are clear plastic, so you can see at a glance what's inside. And it swings closed when you carry it to "lock" the trays in place. Now it's easy to load the tote with the hardware you need and avoid those return trips to the shop for whatever was forgotten.


This open bin storage system is a simple, stackable case that holds plastic hardware bins available from most hardware stores, for additional sources, see page 31. The beauty of this design is that the organizer is constructed around the size of the bins you purchase. Although the one I built holds 4" bins, the dimensions of the organizer can be easily changed to hold the size you need.

Note: It's a good idea to purchase the bins before you start building the organizer. This makes it a lot easier to determine any dimensional changes needed.

What makes these organizers useful is the way they stack one on top of the other.

This way, as your surplus hardware grows, the organizer grows with it. Of course, as things stack up, they also want to fall down.

To get around that problem, two small feet are added to the bottom. They keep the case from shifting side-to-side. This way a light bump won't spill the contents of the bins all over the floor.

This organizer is so simple to build, you'll probably want to make three or four at the



Dado for bottom (see detail b.)

Tongue fits in side piece (see detail c.)




Back holds sides square during glue up

NOTE: Attach feet 1 after chamfering edge


Router fence chamfer

Rout chamfer on/' front edges only

Chamfer bit same time. They're simply two Vi>"-thick side pieces, with a VS"-thick bottom, and a V4n-thick piece of hardboard (Masonite) glued on the back to add strength.

sides & bottom. I began construction of the workbench organizer by cutting the sides (A) (43/411 x 5V&"), then the bottom (B) (4VS" x 133/4") to finished size, see Fig.

1. What's a little unusual here is the sides are wider than the bottom by V411. The reason for this difference is there's a rabbet cut in the back edge of the side pieces, see Fig. la. Later, the hardboard back will fit into this rabbet to help strengthen the sides.

Next, a W'-wide dado is cut on the bottom of the side pieces, see Fig. lb. This is the first half of a tongue and groove joint used to join the case together.

With the sides complete a W-long tongue is cut on both ends of the bottom piece, see Fig. lc. This tongue is sized to fit the dado already cut in the sides. Now to complete the bottom, a pair of W-wide dadoes are cut on the inside face, see Fig. Id. These shallow dadoes hold two hard-board dividers added later.

Note: An easy way to cut these dadoes so they end up evenly spaced is to use the rip fence for a stop. With the fence set, make your first cut, then rotate the workpiece end-for-end and make your second cut.

Finally, the sides and bottom can be glued together. Simply glue and clamp the pieces making sure the sides are square to the bottom, see Fig. 2.

back & dividers. To strengthen the bottom and side pieces, a V4"-thick hardboard back (C) is added to the organizer, see Figs. 1 and 2. This piece is cut to fit the opening between the rabbets in the side pieces and flush with the bottom. (In my case, 5V2" x 133/4".) Then glue the back in place.

Next, I cut a couple hardboard dividers (D) from some scrap pieces. They fit in the dadoes already cut in the bottom and act as spacers to keep the storage bins apart. These pieces are VS" wide and fit flush with the back of the bottom piece. Finally, glue them to the bottom.

chamfer. Once the glue dries, the next step is to use a V4" chamfer bit on the router table to rout a chamfer on the bottom front edge and the two, top front corners, see Figs. 3 and 3a. This chamfer is cut to protect the top of your hand when you reach in to pull out a bin. To prevent chipout when routing the two top corners, I used a backing board for support.

feet. All that's left to complete this storage project is a pair of hardboard feet (E) glued to the bottom. They're set in Vz" from the sides and V4" in from the back, see Fig.

2. These feet "lock" the completed cases in place so they won't slide off to the side or off the back when one storage bin is stacked on top of another.

i<- H

Va" s--

H -----

rabbet i TOP/BOTTOM

V I /

FIRST: Rout top and bottom dadoes (See detail a.)


NOTE: Case pieces constructed - from Vï'-thick maple stock

The second hardware storage project, the hardware tote, combines storage with portability. It's a carrying case that holds a variety of hardware needed to fix small projects. Note: Here again, you make this tote to fit around the storage containers that go inside. It can be built to most any size, but it's a good idea to build the project after you purchase the containers (the containers I used were 4" x 8"). It's easier this way to adjust the measurements so everything fits. (For container sources, see page 31.)

case. The case for this tote is basically two small boxes joined together with a pair of hinges. Tray supports on the inside hold up to six plastic containers. These containers are like small trays with snap-down lids. And a large handle on top makes the tote easy to carry. Since the case is the heart of this project, I started with it first.

sides, top & bottom. This case consists of identical sides (A) separated by identical top (B) and bottom (C) pieces, see Fig. 1. I started by cutting all the pieces to finished size from V2"-thick maple stock.

Once the blanks are complete, dadoes can be cut into the side pieces. The dadoes cut at the top and bottom fit together with tongues cut on the top and bottom pieces to join the sides together, see Fig. la. I

And the three | dadoes in the mid- i die hold V4"-thick [ hardboard tray | supports that support the plastic trays, see Fig. lb. Note: The bottom support is located just a little above the bottom of the case. This provides clearance for your fingers to grip the containers.

Finally, a tongue can be cut at both ends of the top and bottom pieces to fit the dadoes, see Fig. lc. Sneak up on the thickness until the tongue fits snug in the dado.

case assembly. With the tongues and grooves complete, the case can be assembled. Simply glue the top, bottom, and side pieces together, see Fig. 2. Keep in mind that this hardware tote consists of two matched boxes that have to fit together flush. So double check that each box is square before the glue dries.

Shop tip: Ifs not always easy to glue up four sides of a box and still keep everything square. So I cut a square piece of plywood first to match the inside dimensions. Then before tightening down the clamps, slip the plywood square into the box. It keeps the sides from shifting when clamping pressure is applied, see Fig. 2a.

case back. With the case assembled, it's easy to size the back (D) to fit the case. This V4"-thick piece of hardboard is cut to fit flush with the top, bottom, and sides and then is glued in place, see Fig. 3. (My back piece was 8V8" x 93/8".)

Then, to soften the sharp edges, I routed a Vs" chamfer on the back and side edges, see Fig. 4. Note: Don't rout a chamfer on the inside face where the two boxes mate. This will create a gap when the tote is closed.

tray supports. Next, hardboard tray supports (E) are added to the inside. These V4"-thick pieces, cut to finished size (XV2" x 43/4"), are glued in the dadoes cut in the side pieces, see Fig. 3.

side dadoes (See detail b.)

THIRD: Rout rabbets on top and bottom pieces (See detail c.)

handle. Finally, to complete the case, a handle (F) is added to the top. Each half has it's own V4"-thick handle. With the tote closed, the two handles come together to form a thicker handle that's easier to grip.

The handle is cut out of a W-thick piece of hardboard (2" x 53A" blank), see Fig. 5. But to get identical handles, I carpet taped the two blanks together and made both handles at the same time.

I started by drawing layout lines for the handle on the blank and then removing the waste from the middle. The easiest way to do this is to drill overlapping holes with a 1" Forstner bit, see Fig. 6. A drum sander can be used to clean up the leftover waste in the middle and round off the outside corners.

Finally, drill three evenly spaced mounting holes in the bottom of the handle. Then separate the pieces and countersink the holes. This way the screws will fit flush.

Before the handle can be installed, a notch has to be cut on the inside edge of the case, see Fig. 7. This notch recesses the handle so the box will close completely. I used the handle as a template and marked the location on the case.

Simply use a router table to remove most of the waste, staying clear of the layout lines at the corners, see Fig. 7a. Then use a chisel to clean up to the line. Finally, glue and screw the handle in place.

hinges & catch. All that's left to finishing the tote is adding the hardware. This includes a pair of 1" butt hinges and a catch on the front.

I started with the hinges. They're mortised into the edge of the sides and allow the tote to swing shut making it easier to carry, see Fig. 8 and photo below. Simply cut a mortise into one edge of the case with the depth equal to the thickness of one hinge leaf. Now to transfer the hinge location to the other half, just install the hinge and use it to mark the position on the other edge.

Finally, to keep the tote closed, a latch is installed midway up on the front side. The screw that came with the hook was a little long for the W-thick sides. So I shortened it by cutting off part of the tip. □

Portability. With the tote closed, you can easily move hardware to the job and not worry about spilling the contents.

Glue and clamp top, bottom, and sides

/ Use square piece of plywood to keep case square

Glue and clamp top, bottom, and sides

/ Use square piece of plywood to keep case square

Trim plywood to relieve corners

Trim plywood to relieve corners

Back fits flush with case


Back fits flush with case



Cut dividers to fit slots

1" diameter Forstner bit

Handle constructed from Va" hardboard

Handle constructed from Va" hardboard

Evenly spaced mounting holes on handle

1" diameter Forstner bit

Drill overlapping holes to remove waste


Drill overlapping holes to remove waste

diameter bit

Depth of notch equals thickness of handle


Depth of notch equals thickness of handle


Use straight bit to cut notch for handle a.

diameter bit iX


Portability. With the tote closed, you can easily move hardware to the job and not worry about spilling the contents.


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