Stupid question? How do you keep your bits tidy?

I’m getting ready to get into Arduino and micro controllers, but first need to rid myself from other stuff hogging up space and generally just dragging me down - motorcycle related mostly.

Since I will be moving in the next couple of months, and after this afternoon’s clean out of one box (dismantling some kind of machine I got from my previous employment - electro-pneumatic thing) I came to wonder:

How can I store all my bits and pieces neat and tidy in a easy toolbox or box or case of some kind? :-?

I am familiar with the resistors being sold (newbie in electronics, forgive me) in those strips, yet what about the other parts. My thinking is leaning towards getting a bunch of similar size (Industrial Engineer coming out there) medicine pop-bottles to keep each collection of components in (100ohm resistors in one, 150ohm in another) etc. Only thing is, static - how big a deal is it with these components? The Arduino board I will keep in a anti-static bag just to be sure, but the rest is still kinda fuzzy.

Its a stupid question that isn’t really THAT important, yet what do the rest of you do that has been playing with electronics since you where born?

P.S. I’m 28…no wait, 29 year old male, getting into electronics via the Arduino to hopefully apply in my new career(s) in the film industry, and just plainly play around with. Too much info? :-X

I have one of those small units with pull out drawers. like what you would keep screws in

static is not as big of a deal, most passive components are not effected by it, and most silicon come in esd baggies or tubes

How do you keep your bits tidy?

soap and water :wink: though that is a bit personal

How do you keep your bits tidy?

I don’t. ;D


I have a whole bunch of Stack-On brand multi-drawers in my shop to hold everything.

The question for you will be “will you be moving any time again after your move” - for me it was “no, not for more than 10-20 years”, most likely; so the multi-drawer boxes made the most sense.

If you think you will be moving, or you want a more portable way to move your parts, think about something like fishing tackle boxes. They make several different kinds, many with clear inspection windows. Some are designed to be easily stacked. You might even be able to find some that can be stacked and used on a bench like regular multi-drawer boxes, but portable.

There’s also specialized tool boxes and such with dividers and drawers and similar partitions available for electronics and regular hardware (go to your big box home depot type retailer and look), that might be able to be used - meant to carry parts like screws, nuts, bolts and such on job sites (home construction and such). They may or may not be more or less expensive than fishing tackle boxes.

But here’s the key - whatever system you ultimately use:

  1. Buy more of the boxes than you need (because, eventually, you’ll need or want more).
  2. Buy and use a label maker for labeling your parts bins.

The reason for number 1 (and this applies to any time you are buying storage containers of any sort) is that inevitably, you’ll run out of space in the containers you have, and want more. You’ll go to the store - and find that the container/case you bought before, is no longer made or sold (not really true for Stack-On brand multi-drawers - that’s one reason why I like them - long-term availability); having all kinds of different style containers/drawers/cases/toolboxes makes for a storage nightmare. So invest early, and invest a lot. It won’t be cheap, but it will be worth it long term.

The reason for number 2 is so you can easily identify and find your parts; you want to sort them and store them in logical groupings, so many of each type in each bin, with bins arranged in groups (so you might have a tackle box or multi-drawer of only resistors, and another for capacitors, and yet another for something else, etc). Also - always leave a few empty bins available in each case/container/etc - so you can easily expand (that’s something that’s nice about multi-drawer boxes, though - to expand, you just place and shift the drawers about - other solutions may mean you have to move parts, because the drawers/bins/whatever aren’t removable - which can be a pain).

Whatever the system - it needs to -be- a system, and not just a mishmash jumble. Plan the system out beforehand - how you want it to look, how you want to arrange things, what kind of parts (and how many of each) you plan to have on hand, what the logical groupings will be. Once you know that, then you’ll have an idea of how many bins/cases/etc to purchase, plus how many extra for future expansion.

Also - take a look around at your options, and try to choose the option that, should you need more in the future, you likely can get the same one (as I said, Stack-On has been pretty good in this regard). You might find something else. You might find that something “homebrew” works really well (baby food jars with the lids nailed/screwed to a board, for instance) - where the containers haven’t changed much in decades. The ultimate keys here are consistency, labeling, and logical placement for storage.

Lastly - realize that doing it this way above will not be cheap - plan on spending a couple hundred dollars or so on storage. It will ultimately be worth it. I did this process last year, around this time - to my own shop. My storage solutions that I had in place was completely broken down and no longer serving a good purpose. I ended up spending quite a bit of money upgrading my storage (not just small parts either - I bought a few gorrila racks for shelving too) in my shop, and now I couldn’t be happier (ok, I wish I had a larger shop - see the problem?)…


I use compartmentalised carry cases, but mainly it’s a couple of shelving units strewn with parts.

Have 3 or 4 plastic divided containers for various LEDs, transistors and other stuff like that. Those are in plastic storage drawers and I have other stuff just piled up in the drawers.

For resistors, the first resistors set I bought came with 5 each of all the most common values, 12 - 1Mil all separated in their own plastic bag maybe 3 x 5 inches but they were not labeled. It took me hours to test each set and write the value on the bag. Then I had 100+ bags just lying around which I didn’t like. I had this ring, not sure what its called, but it’s about 6 inches in diameter and has a joint so you can open and close it and it locks shut by clicking together at the opening. (hope that makes sense) I punched holes near the top of each bag and put them on the ring in value order. It’s hanging on the wall by my work area. When I need a certain resistor value it makes it easy to find.

I’ll have to take a picture. My description doesn’t do it justice.

Sorry, it was bugging me. Its called a book ring.


Lastly, one word… Norelco.

That’s a great idea biocow

It took me hours to test each set and write the value on the bag.

sounds like you need one of these

I’ve done the pill bottle (and 35mm film can) methods, and didn’t like them. Among other things, you inevitably find that the container is labelled in an area you can’t see when you’re looking for it, and the parts inside are hard/possible to identify without opening it. These days, I use containers like those for temporary storage when I’m dismantling/repairing equipment or kitting parts for assembly.

I use a mix of those flat fishing-tackle boxes, and some undivided plastic boxes. Some of the boxes are the imitation Tupperware sandwich size, and many are the shoebox-sized. When I need to organize parts within them, I use ziploc bags. E.g., I keep 1/4W and 1/8W resistor in the sandwich boxes, one per power-of-ten, with a bag for each value.

I also have some of those cardboard boxes about the size of a ream of typing paper. For chips, I line them with antistatic foam to hold the loose ones, and often have antistatic bags tossed in the box when I have many of a particular type.

If you have a large dedicated workspace, with a fairly static inventory of parts, the rows of tiny drawers can work well. But I’ve mostly avoided them, because I’ve been through times of limited space, and times where I was working on more than one project, in different areas, simultaneously.

Thanks for the replies. I think I know where to go look for a combination of things. I want it to be easily movable and storable cause I do always tend to have more than one hobby, which is my downfall.

Did someone say film…35mm film… :slight_smile: Love film!

I’ve got my LEDs and other stuff in transparent plastic zipper bags so I can see whats in it and it does not need more space than it has to. I wrote the specs on postits and posted them on the bags, so I can remember the specs of the items in the bag.

Ps0ke, I’d invest in sharpies, seems like they’d work better than post-its