Hardware Storage: DIY Tips and Hints

Updated: Oct. 18, 2023

Putting away little stuff is easy. Finding it again when you need it is the hard part. Not any more. Here are some great tips about how to store nuts, bolts, screws and other hardware so you can actually find it again when you need it!

FH060611_003_STOHAR_06-2Family Handyman
It's the little things that make us happy, right? Not when those little things are screws, nuts, bolts and other pieces of hardware that get stuck in a drawer somewhere never to be found again. We've come up with a great collection of tips for how to store hardware so you can actually find what you need. Happiness indeed!

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Muffin tin storage bin

Muffin tins are perfect for small parts

Put those neglected muffin tins to work holding small fasteners, electrical parts and more. Screw together a tote from three pieces of 1/2-in.-thick plywood cut to fit the width and height of your trays. Screw plywood strips on the inside to act as drawer runners for the tins and glue or screw on a thin plywood back. The tote shown here holds four tins, but you can build it higher for even more storage capacity. Cut the plywood sides long enough so there’s room to add a 3/4-in. – diameter dowel handle.

Rust-free nail storage

Steel boxes keep parts from rusting

For rust-free storage of expensive air nailer fasteners, use steel ammunition boxes from an army surplus store. They have a watertight seal to help prevent corrosion and they’re cheap (about $5).

Nuts and washers stored on pegboard

Hang up shower curtain rings

Old-fashioned shower curtain rings ($2 for a 12-pack at a home center) can organize and conveniently display nuts and washers on your pegboard. Load up the rings, add a tape label, and hang them near the wrenches. You can also toss them in a nail apron for on-the-go repairs.

Recycled peanut butter jars

Mount plastic jars under shelves

Plastic peanut butter jars work better for storage than glass baby food jars because they hold a lot more hardware and won’t smash into slivers if you drop one. Attach the lids of 28-oz. jars under a shelf with two screws (so the lid can’t spin when you loosen the jar) and screw on the loaded jar. For quick access, cut away half of a 64-oz. peanut butter jar with a sharp utility knife, leaving the neck intact, then attach the lid and jar to the side of a cabinet.

Magnetic mini storage

Use a magnetic strip, glue and washers

Want a handy storage roost for all the little screws, earplugs, nuts and washers in your shop? Pick up a package of Glad 4-oz. cups, a magnetic strip, several 7/16-in. washers and a tube of E6000 glue ($4 at craft and hobby stores). Apply glue to the cup’s concave bottom, press in a washer flush with the bottom rim and let the glue set for 24 hours.

Mount the magnetic strip on the wall

Mount the magnet, load the cups, snap on the lids and all your itty-bitties are easy to spot, nab and put away. Magnetic strips are available from Rockler (800-279-4441, rockler.com) and Magnaproducts (800-338-0527). The magnetic strip provides more than enough magnet power to hold a cup crammed with screws.

Hardware oil-ganizer

Recycle oil containers

Save up 12 plastic oil quart bottles, cut away one side with a utility knife, scrub out the oil residue and load them with nails and screws. Build a carrying case from scrap 1/2-in. and 1/4-in. plywood.

Build a tote to hold the containers

Then label the bottle caps and slide in the bottles. Add a handle and tote it to your next project.

Fastener bins for free

Recycle laundry detergent bottles

Save those 100-oz. laundry detergent bottles and use them to hold jumbo supplies of screws and nails. Cut the top off the bottle to create a wide-mouth bin with a built-in handle.

Portable hardware bins are easy to carry

Label the bins, load them up, and you’re ready to snag a handful when needed or carry a bin or two right to the job site.

Muffin tin hardware bins

Install muffin tins under shelves

Work surface cluttered with miscellaneous nails, screws, hardware, whatever? Clean it up and still keep that stuff at your fingertips. Attach a muffin tin under a shelf with a single 1/4-in. x 1-1/2-in. flat head machine screw. The tin pivots out from beneath work surfaces to organize and serve up any little doodad you frequently use. And you store all that little stuff without using up a single square inch of workspace.

Tins slide out but remain attached to shelves

For best results when installing your muffin bins:

  • Use muffin tins made from heavier gauge metal.
  • Drill and countersink a 1/4-in. hole in the shelf top, so the top of the screw is flush with the shelf.
  • Place 1/4-in. fender washers above and below the rim of the muffin tin.
  • Tighten two nuts against each other on the underside so the threads won’t loosen.

Tasteful hardware storage

Cocoa containers make great dispensers

Save jumbo-sized Nesquik containers to hold nails, lag bolts and extra long drywall screws up to 5 in. long. You can pack 4 lbs. of 16d nails in one can. They’re great dispensers since the fasteners lie flat and are easy to grab, and they use space better than coffee cans when you store them on a shelf. Store all your fasteners and hardware in these flexible, portable and possibly free DIY hardware organizers!