The Macdweller Part Storage System

Proper storage of electronic parts is a pain in the neck, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Every serious hacker has to deal with this at some point, and the solutions are all over the map, ranging from a cardboard box to complex custom shelving units.  If you haven’t dealt with this, you probably don’t do much hardware hacking.

Since Hackaday published a request the other day for people to send in their methods, I thought I’d share mine.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

The Goal

When I put my system together months ago, I knew it would be a pain to maintain if it wasn’t done right.  In response, I came up with the following criteria that had to be met:

  1. It had to be compact.  I live and hack in an environment where I don’t have a lot of space to store stuff; the smaller and more compact, the better!
  2. It had to be easy to maintain.  I’m notoriously lazy, and if it isn’t easy, it’ll only last for a week or two at the most.  Nobody wants to spend hours sorting parts!
  3. It had to be presentable.  This is going to live in an area that visitors occasionally… visit, so I’d rather it not be an eyesore.
  4. It had to be easy to navigate.  I hate digging for parts; it’s annoying when I’ve got my head in something and a need a simple 100Ω resistor and have to go spelunking; parts should be easy to find.

Well, that sounds simple enough to accomplish, doesn’t it?

The Basic Solution

It all began with a box of #10 envelopes.  I don’t keep thousands of a given part; quantities are in the tens if I’m lucky (though for surface mount it doesn’t much matter since they’re microscopic anyway!).  Most parts fit nicely in #10 envelopes in small quantities, and those few that don’t can be accommodated in other ways.

Now add a set of stackable Really Useful Boxes, specifically designed to contain #10 envelopes.

These things are great!  They have a latching clear lid, and stack nicely right on top of each other, even if the lid is off.  Parts tend to be lightweight, so that’s not a concern; stack ’em six or ten high and you still won’t worry about the stack collapsing.

Both items are typically available at your local office supply store (I got mine at Staples, if memory serves, for only a few cents more than the manufacturer charges online).  And once you have them, all you have to do is find a good way to use it all properly.

About Steve

When it comes to the desktop, Steve is a former Amiga, Windows, and Linux user, and as of six years ago, a die-hard Mac head (who, for once, isn't thinking of changing platforms again any time soon). When it comes to the server, Linux is pretty much the only game he plays. He also enjoys hardware hacking, and shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard after the sun sets (or for that matter, after it rises. Don't say I didn't warn you).
This entry was posted in Hardware Hacking. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Macdweller Part Storage System

  1. Pingback: Parts storage for all your components - Hack a Day

  2. Pingback: Belgaum news | About Belgaum | Belgaum information | Belgaum district | Belgaum city | Belgaum Hotels | Belgaum People | Belgaum tourism | Belgaum entertainment | Belgaum students | Inside facebook | Hack | make use of | technical news | | Parts storage f

  3. Eric Ayars says:

    Awesome. Just what I need, too, since I’ll be teaching “Electronics for Scientists” at my local university next spring in addition to my usual bits of hardware hacking here and there.

    Before I re-create your templates, I should ask: Could you send me a copy of your iWork files? The Pages envelope template and the Numbers database would be very helpful. Thanks in advance!


  4. Pingback: Indagadores |Seguridad informatica |Seguridad en internet » Piezas de almacenamiento para todos los dispositivos

  5. Ian Lee says:

    Nice post! I use a very similar method but on a “smaller” scale. I think I’ll add one of your bigger boxes and envelopes to my inventory to handle the larger things which will not fit in my boxes.

    • Steve says:


      I can see a lot of advantages to your method – especially the color code on the envelope for the resistors. I thought about doing something similar, but couldn’t think of an easy way to implement it with iWork. I really really wish that Apple would bring Pages and Numbers up to par with Word & Excel!

      I’m not holding my breath on that, though…

  6. Rva says:

    I put them also for some time in envelopes and plastic small bags. But your mail merge idea is great. Am I right that the template need to be updated for the latest ML numbers app? If I want to import it, I got errors and it stops. Also the iPad iOS7 can’t read it.
    Maybe, do you have an updated version available? And if you got an updated version, is it posible to keep them both/all available.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *