12 Handy Hints for Using and Storing All of Your Fasteners
Every legit DIYer has a stash of fasteners in their workshop that can quickly become a disorganized mess. These tips will help you fix that.
Reuse an Rx Bottle
Use old prescription bottles to hold nuts and bolts, screws, nails, etc., on a shelf by your workbench. Remove the original label, so you can easily see the contents inside.
You can also make a simple customized shelf for your fastener storage bottles by using a 2-in. hole saw (or one that is just larger than the diameter of your bottles yet just smaller than the lids) to drill a few holes in a shelf. Then the bottles will fit through the holes, keeping the bottles and your fasteners easily visible and organized. — Mike Yavorski. Plus: Learn how to choose and use concrete fasteners here.
Store and Label with Foam
When disassembling a piece of furniture that needs to be repaired or moved, thread the screws and nails into a piece of rigid foam. Group similar fasteners together or arrange them however it will be most helpful when piecing the furniture back together. You can also write on the foam with a pen or marker to label the fasteners or to make notes that will be helpful when reassembling the piece at a later time.
Don't have a chunk of rigid foam handy? Reach into your recycling bin and tear off a piece of corrugated cardboard from a box instead. You can thread screws through the flat surfaces of the cardboard or insert them into the corrugations in the sides. And you can write labels and notes on the cardboard, too. — Jonathon Walton
Chap Stick for the Toolbox
Lubricating screws is especially important when working with hardwoods such as maple, walnut or cherry, when driving fasteners can be difficult and produces a lot of heat. Many woodworkers keep beeswax or even a toilet wax ring in their workshop for lubricating screws, but lip balm will do the job, too. It’s small size fits nicely in a toolbox or in a pocket for toting to different jobsites, plus you can use it to soothe dry lips. Next, learn about structural screws vs lag screws. What's the difference?
See-Through Junk Drawer
I store my extra fasteners in a clear plastic bag instead of a coffee can or junk drawer. Searching for the correct nut, bolt or what ever is as easy as looking “through” the bag, reaching in and plucking it from the mix. — Gail Snyder
Nut and Bolt Sorter
Every shop has a jar or can of assorted nuts, bolts and screws. Instead of spreading them out on your workbench, try pouring them into a plastic flying disc (Frisbee). You can rummage through the fasteners without having things fall on the floor. Once you’re finished, bend the disc in half and pour everything back into the container. Plus: Tips for Loosening Nuts, Bolts and Screws
Tasteful Hardware Storage
Save jumbo-sized Nesquik containers to hold nails, lag bolts and extra-long drywall screws up to 5 in. long. Reader Harold Koch packs 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 ’em on a shelf. — Phillip Apple
Make your time in the workshop more productive by keeping it clean and clutter-free with these tried-and-true tips. Check out these 11 ways to keep your workshop neat and tidy.
Reader Herb Witt sent us a witty use for takeout coffee four-pack cartons. The ones we used are made of stiff cardboard and offer 3-1/2 in. wide square bins for jumbo plastic drinking cups. (Whoppers malt balls cartons cut in half are also great bin liners.) We loaded our carryall with a 10-year supply of four styles of drywall fasteners—we always need them but can’t find them in our heap of surplus hardware. You’ll know where your wire spools are for years to come!
This handy double-decker carryall is great for toting your fasteners and anchors to the jobsite. Build it from a quarter sheet of 3/4-in. plywood, 1/8-in. hardboard strips, glue, nails and a 1-1/4 in. dowel. Cut the pieces as shown; just keep in mind that it works best to cut the 3/8-in. deep slots for the hardboard dividers before you cut the sides away from the base. An average 1/8-in. kerf saw blade in your table saw works perfectly for cutting the 1/8-in. hardboard dividers. Be sure to cut the dado “key” slots (using multiple passes with your table saw) in the ends of the top tray to lock it to the tote tabs so you can carry it as a unit. Make these slots about 1/16 in. wider than the 3/4-in. x 3/8- in. tabs so you don’t have to struggle to lift the top tray off the bottom tray.
Want a much bigger storage workshop project? Try this cabinet system.
Ladder Hack: Magnet Extra Hand
I attach a magnet to the top of all of my ladders to hold nuts, bolts, nails, screws and other metal fasteners while I work. It’s like having an extra hand!
It’s best to use a round base magnet or one that is made with a hole in the center for easy attachment to your ladder. Then all you need to do is drill a hole and use a bolt and nut to hold the magnet securely in place. These magnets are also strong enough to hold small metal tools such as a handheld screwdriver. — Mark Ammons
Easy-to-Build Benchtop Organizer
A stack of plastic bins can organize thousands of small items. But it’s not very convenient when the bin you need is at the bottom of the stack. That’s the point of this cabinet: You can slide out any bin—no stacking and unstacking. You can easily build a cabinet identical to this one. Or you can customize it, using larger or smaller bins, more bins or fewer. Whatever configuration you choose, this project is a great clutter solution for the garage, workshop or craft room. Click here for the full plans.
Waxed and Ready
Next time you’re assembling a project requiring a small army of screws, stick the whole batch point down in an upside-down wax toilet ring ($4 at a home center). The wax is super soft, so it’s easy to press the screws in and pull them out, plus they’ll be lubricated for easier driving. Build a little framed platform for the ring to ride in so it won’t pick up dust when you plop it on a workbench. Many thanks to Dan Allmon for this very slick tip. Check out more revolutionary techniques for driving screws.
Garage Shelving Plans: Hardware Organizer
Organize your garage shelving with this plan for a system of hanging wood bins. Store fasteners and hardware in the bins, then carry the bins to your project as you need them. This is an easily personalized project and will work for any storage location. Find the full project here.