Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Random Bits

If you're anything at all like me, you keep every useful screw, nail, fixture, zip tie, staple or other unidentifiable but undeniably useful bit that falls into your possession.  I typically find a cardboard box lid or other miscellaneous container with a cornucopia of things that have accumulated over time.  In the past, this overlooked treasure would go untapped.  One day, I happened upon some clear divided storage containers with adjustable dividers.

There are hundreds of types, styles and sizes of divided storage containers.  I found the clear ones to be most useful for spotting contents while closed, and the adjustable dividers handy for fitting different odds and ends.  I have three now as my addiction has grown with use.  One sorts small, delicate tools, like the wood carving awls I inherited from my grandmother, or the X-Acto micro fine saw and miter box, various surgical clamps, magnifiers and the like.  Another contains crafty items like beads, brass pins, generally neat bits and bobs that would work well for projects with the kids.  I can take this box and a glue gun, sit down with my grade school pups and have a good time.

The third box is probably the most essential.  In this I have sorted screws of several types into their own bins: sheet-metal, wood, self-tapping and bolts.  It also has various flavors of cast off hardware such as washers of many dimensions, nuts, a whole slew of round white plastic discs from some forgotten item, slivers of snipped up old credit cards for use as shims, small hinges, hooks, plugs... pretty much one bin for almost every type of thing I've happened across while cleaning up the garage, the desk or the workshop.

I say this is essential as when I start any new project, I am better than half likely to be able to source most of my hardware requirements from my very own reclaimed hardware store in a box.  Affixing the table leaf to the old changing table to make a kids work bench: each screw came from this box of treasures.  Same for some nails and some carriage bolts to mount the vice.

If you have a shop or a crafting room, you are hopelessly disorganized and wasting money buying little packages of what you need for new projects if you're not harvesting the left-overs from old projects with a simple little divided parts box.  I found mine for $5 a piece at Lowe's in the organizer aisle (made in the USA too) and I'm sure your local store has at least one similar item to bring order to chaos in your shop or lab.