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Wood Shop Tips: Storing Nails, Screws & Other Mechanical Fasteners

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Using a tackle box for fastener storage (c) 2006 Chris Baylor, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Every woodworker eventually ends up with a rather impressive collection of screws, nails, brads, tacks and numerous other styles of mechanical fasteners. Keeping this assortment organized can be a bit of a challenge. It makes sense to have a system of organization for your leftover fasteners so you don't have to go buy more every time you prepare to begin a woodworking project.

Fastener Storage Systems:

One of my favorite fastener storage systems is to visit the sporting goods department of the local discount retailer and pick up a number of inexpensive fishing tackle boxes, as shown in the picture on the right. These tackle boxes have adjustable dividers, so I can make the compartments the exact sizes that I need them to be to accommodate the screws, nails, etc. While this system excels for small screws and brads, it isn't the most effective for larger nails and screws.
There are some other ideas that I've tried for storing fasteners. I like to keep the small instant coffee, hot cocoa and Altoids tins when they've been emptied and use them to hold assorted fasteners. Large coffee cans with resealable plastic lids are another time-honored standby.
I used to keep any glass mayonnaise, pickle or peanut butter jars and use them for storing fasteners, but I got away from that method because I tired of having to figure out how to organize the jars and keep them from falling off a shelf and breaking. The biggest advantage of this method is that you can immediately see inside the jar to tell what fastener is stored inside. I even liked to cut off the label from the fastener box and insert it inside the jar so I know when I need to buy more.
However, I'm reconsidering implementing that method again, based upon a system that I recently remembered encountering about twenty years ago. In an old friend's garage, I saw that he took a 4x4 about two feet long and drilled a hole all the way through the immediate center (down the long axis of the stock) to accommodate a threaded rod. He put a couple of washers on each end, then inserted each end into 16-inch tall 2x4s that were mounted vertically onto a small homemade base.
This allowed the 4x4 to spin freely on the threaded rod axle. He then took a number of glass jars, removed the lids and screwed them onto the 4x4. When all four sides of the 4x4 were evenly filled with lids, he could fill the jars with fasteners, screw the jars onto the lids and, Voila! Instant fastener storage organization system! He could freely rotate the assortment and remove any jar whenever he needed a fastener.
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