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When most people first start building a shop, whether it’s at home in your garage or in a commercial space, they have the best of intentions. You imagine that the shop floor will stay clean all of the time, and finding your tools and anything else you need will always be a breeze. You’ll be organized, effective, and efficient.
Sadly, though, if you walk into the vast majority of garages, tool sheds, or shops, you encounter a sea of tools on tables, tossed on floors, and jars filled with nuts and bolts of all sizes. When the owner needs a bolt for a repair, they can spend hours looking for one the right size.
When they get fed up, they end up going to the store to buy more of what they need, and then the rest of the bolts in the container eventually make their way into a variety of jars as well!
Keeping things organized in your garage, shed, or shop certainly makes life easier. Jobs are done faster, and you spend less money buying parts you don’t need because you already have them. All you need to do is find them.
Here are 19 nut and bolt storage ideas that will cut down on how long it takes to find the items you need and stop you from having to go to the store for something you already have.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the books used by people all over the world. Mason jars are cheap, they’re clear, and it’s easy to stick a piece of masking tape on them so you can label whatever is inside of them. You can line your shelves with mason jars with or without the cap on them to make grabbing any bolt or nut a ton easier.
Look for deals online or at your local stores to get a lot of mason jars at a great price. Buying them in bulk can save you a good deal of money and you’ll be ready for when your tool collection inevitably expands.
Sort By Size
This tip doesn’t have to do so much with what you put your nuts in bolts in, but instead where you put them.
People usually spend most of their time looking for a certain size. Well, it would be a lot faster if your fasteners were organized according to size instead of thrown into a hodgepodge mess. Start with the smallest at one end and build to the biggest.
Arrange Nuts & Bolts According to Frequency of Use
There are certain sizes or types of fasteners you’ll use for 80% of the work you do. You need to be able to get to them quickly instead of sifting through the other 20% in the pile as well.
If you don’t want to have a separate container for every obscure type of fastener you have, just keep the main ones in their own containers and toss the rest in an “other” bucket.
That way, when you need an obscure piece, there won’t be too many to sort through.
Use a Sorting Device
What happens when you need a nut or a bolt and it’s in a container? Usually, you pour a bunch into your hand to look for what you need.
When you can’t find it, you pour a bit more out on the table. The round nuts and bolts go rolling around everywhere and find their way underneath your shop cabinets.
Instead, use a clear plastic bowl, a frisbee, or anything else you can think of to sort through your nuts and bolts when you need to find a specific item.
Buy a Funnel
Depending on the size of your jars, a funnel will help you put nuts and bolts back without spilling. They’re cheap and available in most stores or online, so you can get some in different sizes if need be.
The next time you need to put fasteners back into your jars, you won’t be cursing the ones that hit the rim and go missing under a car or something.
If you don’t spend the money on glass mason jars, chances are you’ve got plenty of other things around the house that you can use as a container. Here are some:
- Shoe boxes
- Red Solo cups
- Old yogurt containers
- Coffee cups
- Other plastic bottles
As you can see, nut and bolt storage is sometimes about using your imagination to find the best organizational plan.
Just find something you can put them in a place where getting to them is easy and they won’t spill. If it’s see-through, great, but if not, just put a label on it so you know what’s inside.
Make a Wooden Carryall
Yes, you can buy a carryall with compartments for nuts, bolts, screws, and small tools that you can carry around with as you move throughout the shop. If you’re handy enough, you can also make one! With some basic pieces of wood, a saw, and some nails, you can craft a carryall that will fit all of your fasters in one mobile place.
For a relatively small amount of money, you can find benchtop organizers designed for holding tools, nuts, bolts, and other things you work with all of the time. Most of them come with see-through shelves, but you can also stick labels on them.
Others have shelves that are sort of like briefcases – they can be removed and have clasps on them so things won’t fall out. You grab what you need and move over to where you’re working to save time if you need more than one nut.
Invest in a Label Maker
We’ve already mentioned putting labels on things several times in this article. Yes, masking tape and a sharpie pen will do just fine for most folks, but if you want to take organizing to the next level, you can buy a label maker at an affordable price.
A label maker will help make things look and feel more uniform in your shop.
Lots of companies sell organizer bins made of plastic with openings at the top for easy access. You can buy them in different colors to help organize nuts and bolts according to size, purpose, etc.
Some companies even make peg walls that let you stack the bins vertically if you want to save space and keep them in a fixed position. These go great on top of a workbench or on a wall next to where your car goes.
Go To a Military Surplus Store
If you want to find a deal and you like military equipment, then you should look up where your local military surplus store is and pay them a visit.
The military is known for taking the organization to the extreme, so you’ll find all sorts of interesting containers that you can use for your nuts and bolts. Bonus points for your shop looking extra cool with all of the military gear inside.
Invest in Drawer Organizers
If you’re teetering on the edge of garage OCD (like many of us are), then you may not want loose bins or jars laying around on benches or shelves. You have drawers, so you use them. Just avoid having them turn into a jumbled mess like most people.
One thing that helps with this is buying drawer organizer inserts. Think something like a silverware organizer in your kitchen but made specifically for tools and shop drawers.
Yes, you read that right. Think about it. Muffin tins are made of metal (durable), and they have lots of small open holes (accessible), making them perfect for nut and bolt storage. You can buy them basically anywhere, and they won’t cost a ton of money.
You can also store six, eight, or twelve types of nuts and bolts inside of them. They’re stackable to some degree and will fit easily on shelves. Seriously something to consider if you’re looking for a new way to stay organized.
Plastic Drawer Units
If you look on Amazon, you’ll see thousands of different nut and bolt storage options. These come in a large plastic container with see-through plastic drawers or bins inside of them. There is a range of different sizes available, so you can configure them as you see fit.
They all generally cost less than $100, so won’t break the bank either. Buy something with a ton of positive reviews to make sure you get something that will last.
Use a Wheeled Cabinet with Drawers
If you’re working on a project or a repair, you’re probably going to need more than one nut or bolt. A wheeled cabinet that fits against your shop wall when not in use is a fantastic solution. You can buy them in all different sizes with drawers and containers inside of them.
With a wheeled cabinet, your shop goes with you, so you’ll also be less inclined to toss extra fasteners anywhere they fit when you’re done. You’ll always have it right next to you, so you can put them right back where they belong.
Find Nuts & Bolts with a Magnet
Sifting through piles of nuts and bolts can be a challenge, especially if they’re in small bins or drawers where it’s not easy to get your meaty fingers deep inside. One way around pouring them all over your floor is to use a magnet stick and dip it in to find the piece you need.
You can pluck off what you need and scrape the rest back inside the containers to avoid spilling anything and making a mess.
Do an Annual Inventory
If you’re anything like most people, at some point you are going to end up with way more tools and fasteners than you need. Keeping things manageable in your garage or shop is key to staying organized.
Bite the bullet and do an annual spring cleaning to make sure the number of nuts and bolts that you are keeping stays within reason.
Donate, sell, or throw away the extra and don’t think about it another minute. There will always be more. You’ll know how much you need and you should resist the urge to keep more just in case.
Use a Tackle Box
Companies that make tool organizers know that they can charge a premium. People want nice things and will pay extra for a brand name or convenience. However, you can find effective nut and bolt organization solutions without paying all that money.
A fishing tackle box is a perfect example. It’s plastic, durable, see-through, and it’s cheap! Try using them to store nuts and bolts that you use regularly and you can carry it around your shop or toss it in the truck when you need to be mobile.
Organize By Reference Number
If you’re at the point in your life where you’re ready to take organizing to the max, then you can sort your nuts and bolts and store them according to the reference number.
This is the best way to track how much you have of every part and when you need to buy extras. It will require a bit more work at first, but once you get a system down, your shop will be a well-oiled machine.
Keeping your nuts and bolts organized is always a challenge!
Make things easy by trying new things that fit the way you work. One person’s solution won’t work for everyone, so try some of these tips and keep going from there!