Screwing the Man, or, How to Make Your Own Dividers for the Akro-Mils Parts Storage Cabinet

I recently purchased a Akro-Mils cabinet model 10164

and a model 10144:

These are for the electronics workbench I’ve been working on all summer. I started moving in a few weeks ago and so started moving parts from all my little storage boxes scattered through the house.

Even though I purchased enough cabinets for over 140 little bins I’m seeing that I need to put dividers in the bins. I have way more parts than I thought.

The cabinets include a few dividers on their backs. I think maybe 8 total. Pretty slim pickings for a cabinet with as many as 64 bins in it.

I checked out amazon and sure enough you can buy dividers, but they are $11.35 for 16 dividers. Maybe I’m cheap (OK I know I’m cheap), but that’s just ridiculous. To get enough dividers for 64 bins, I’ll pay twice as much as the cabinet.

After Some quick research,  I found someone has posted the 3D model for a divider on thingiverse:

Cool idea, but in reality, to print 32+ dividers will take a long time and isn’t really going to be all that cheap.

I started thinking about finding some plastic to cut down. I went through my piles of scrap material looking for a sign that I purchased last summer for material. Rats, I must have tossed the scrap! I was about to make a task in DejaOffice to buy a plastic sign from the local DIY store when I noticed an old electric gate warning sign sitting at the back of the work bench that I haven’t installed in 9 years. Perfect!

The sign I used looks like this:

It measured about 10×12″ and is 1/16″ thick made of a stiff plastic.

I laid out a grid of 1×1-7/8″ rectangles on the box. If you want the divider to go to the very top of the bin, measure out 1.5″x1-7/8″. I don’t them that big, but I wanted a lot of them.

Once the grid is laid out, I scored each line 5 times with a utility knife. I was then able to snap each divider off perfect.

I ended up with roughly 50 dividers for free. Had I had to buy a sign I guess I would have paid around $5.


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2 Responses to Screwing the Man, or, How to Make Your Own Dividers for the Akro-Mils Parts Storage Cabinet

  1. Sean Straw says:

    Keep an eye out for plastic packaging – you know, the containers out of rigid clear plastic that you have to take a box cutter to to open up to get the toy or hard disk out of. I cut the large flat sections out to use for various things – gaskets, windows for solid project boxes (drill a hole, hotmelt the “window” in), and even templates for other things. So long as it’s not vinyl based (PVC for instance), you can generally cut it with a laser cutter as well – which would make churning dividers dead simple.

    I have several of these A-M bins on the back wall of my garage. Several years ago, I started a project of taking pictures of representative items and printing them as fronts for the bins, but as awesome as it looked, it was too time consuming to set up, so I quit.

    Instead, the solution is the venerable SPREADSHEET. Uniquely number all of the drawers (per organizer unit, or universally number them), and/or note row+column positions. 01-A-4 could be bin #1, top row, fourth drawer. If you decide you need to shuffle drawers when you add more of one type of item, or buy another unit and shift some odd bits over, updating the spreadsheet is pretty easy.

    Other things to track in the spreadsheet are sources (weblink or local store name), brand, cost, quantity (both order size, and a rough “100s”, “<50, etc for what you have on hand if you care, bin identifier, broad category (screw, wood / screw, metric / etc), and size or other descriptive (2" / M10x5 / etc), then you can sort by category and descriptive, so even if certain items aren't in the same organizer, you can find them easily, since more often than not, you're looking for a screw, not what's in drawer 3. Include some misc note fields – be it some reference to some misc item and where it came from if not a store, or handy uses you've found for some item.

    I do this very thing (and then some) with my garden seed inventory, including date of acquisition, where/who from, germination successes (useful as seed gets older).

    You can either print out a subset of the full spreadsheet (category, description, bin number), sorted by the category, as well as publishing the list on google docs, such that you can search it with a smartphone or tablet, and update the spreadsheet as necessary. Just burned through a bunch of 2.5" general purpose screws, or there's a whole new type of hardware you need and should acquire next time your're at the store or ordering online, it's noted right there in the list, and you can check it when you happen to be in the hardware store for something else.

    As for small electronic bits, I've found that some parts work well in ziplock type bags placed into medium sized bins. For example, I don't need all my through-hole resistors in individual compartments – I find it sufficient to bunch them by multiplier band, and also to have common 1K, 10K, 100K, and 1M values in separate containers.

    For electronics bits (moreso than general hardware), it may help to think of a spreadsheet as a makeshift BOM (Bill of Materials) system, where you can store links to datasheets (whether local on your network, or out to the manufacturer websites) and sources, or average out your materials cost. Then, the content of 02-C-4 isn't just so many ATTiny84A SOT-14 ICs, but actually has a link to information pertinent to its use.

    The same spreadsheet can be extended to the inventory of other containers, not just the drawer organizers.

    "I bought a binload of X, where on earth are they?"

  2. Dan TheMan says:

    Hmmm, I like that spreadsheet idea. I could apply it not only to these bins, but many of the others spread through the house. The danger for me is that I might spend more time managing the data than the stuff!

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