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I built this parts organizer rack a couple of years ago. I rarely talk about it, and don’t think I’ve ever shared a photo of it either.
This is built with older-style Sortimo T-Boxx organizers, Sortimo van racking shelf rails, ball bearing T-Boxx and L-Boxx drawers, and 80/20 aluminum t-slot framing.
I have a couple more organizers like these, and also Allit metal ones that I sometimes swap out depending on what I’m working on.
I still have to add plywood sides and – more importantly – I need to figure out what’s going on in the center space. Eventually. The center isn’t usually empty. I also need to add covers to the t-slots, as they are prone to gathering dust.
The top drawers are on ball bearing slides and allow for quick access to the contents. I can just slide out the drawers, open the lids, and get what I need.
My original plan was for the entire cabinet to be mobile, but I scrapped that plan and liked this idea better. I still have a few blue rails and 2 more drawers for a workshop cabinet build. The drawers work well, but impact storage density. They were also much pricier.
This is by far the best parts organizational setup for my needs that I’ve ever found, and my favorite. I can grab the organizers and take them to my workbench or a different space, or swap them for others depending on what I’m working on.
It works better for me than drawers with bins. The clear lids are awesome. Some of the T-Boxxes have a removable tray for two levels of bins, which provide huge storage density for very small parts.
I’d love for an organizer rack the size of Adam Savage’s, but the price of Sortimo T-Boxxes made that difficult it justify. I purchased mine in smaller batches over the years, leveraging different discounts and offers.
Despite this being about the most efficient parts storage method for my needs, it’s extremely difficult to recommend to others.
I could never justify this for personal use – it’s too cost-prohibitive compared to slightly less efficient but far more affordable options.
But for business purposes, that’s different.
Sometime after starting ToolGuyd 15 years ago, I realized something important.
When buying something for personal use, I’m spending after-tax dollars. If I’m buying something for business use, I’m spending pre-tax dollars.
I ordered the 80/20 parts cut to size and with counterbores for the anchor fasteners, saving myself many hours of work. Hours of labor are not tax-deductible.
I’m not sure I would build the same storage rack today, simply because it would hurt my wallet a lot more at current pricing, but I have zero regrets with what I built here.
Should YOU build something similar?
I would say NO, unless it’s for business use or something you’ll use daily. I use Stanley and IKEA systems for personal use (such as Legos).
I think there are ways to get maybe 80 to 90% of the storage efficiency and functionality at less than 50% the cost. You can increase the storage efficiency and lower the cost further if you’re willing to throw a lot more time into it.
It gets really weird at times, using very different thought processes to make purchasing decisions.
For personal use items, I look for ways to save money, even if it means spending time and effort. For business use, I look for ways to save time and effort, even if it means spending money.
I could not justify an organizer setup like this for personal use. It was difficult to justify for business use, but I amassed the organizers over time and then justified the 80/20-framed rack for them.
So that’s why I didn’t talk about it before. I figured this was a setup that very few readers would be interested in. It’s difficult to justify price-wise, and the personal vs. business use mentality can be difficult to explain.
I spent 2 hours last week prepping supplies for upcoming veggie garden seed-starting activities, and have maybe another hour of cleaning work.
Would I spend 2 hours cutting 50 too-long screws down to size for a ToolGuyd project? Nope – I’d order the size of screws I need.
I recently ordered steel weights for a painfully-expensive camera stand, so that there’s less risk of toppling.
Each block shown here is supposed to weigh around 22 lbs (I didn’t check them). I priced out how much it would have cost in plain steel that I could cut, drill, tap, and finish myself, and the difference wasn’t significant enough for me to bother with the DIY route.
For personal use, I might have just bought or made saddle sandbags filled with play sand.
The Sortimo organizers provide a greatly improved user experience compared to the Stanley and other organizers I primarily used before (and continue to use).
But I would not recommend my setup for personal use.
How do I say “this was a major game-changer for me, and I’d build more of the same if Sortimo hadn’t ‘upgraded’ their organizers” followed by “but I’d never do this for personal use and am highly reluctant to recommend it to anyone here”?
So that’s why I never talk about my Sortimo organizers. It’s too difficult to discuss anything where I hold what would normally be mutually exclusive standpoints – i) this is what I bought/built and use, and I love it, and ii) I can’t recommend this to others without significant reservations.
It’s that time of year where I reevaluate what needs to be in my different workspaces for the next few months of work and projects, and that’ll likely mean cycling out some of these organizers. I probably won’t share much about that process either, for the same reasons.
Similar things happen in other tool categories, but in different ways. For review and explorative purposes, I tend to be highly reluctant to ask for test samples, especially these days when every “influencer” is begging tool and product brands for freebies.
But I need well-rounded exposure, especially when exploring new product categories. That means that if I’m trying out several brands and styles of flashlights, I need to venture above and below my personal comfort zone. The same is true for folding knives, hammers, screwdrivers, ratchets, and so forth.
I keep thinking that the disconnect and contradiction between personal and business purchases will resolve itself, but that hasn’t happened yet.
So, if you guys are interested, we can talk more about tools and gear I’d never justify for personal use, but justified either for business use or ToolGuyd exploration, maybe starting with the Sortimo rack shown above.