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Changing Junk Boxes into Resource Boxes

Updated on December 13, 2014
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Neil got interested in amateur (ham) radio in high school. He currently holds a General Class license.

One of many junk boxes with larger parts
One of many junk boxes with larger parts
One drawer with a variety of smaller parts
One drawer with a variety of smaller parts

Hints for when you only have five minutes.

When time is short, take the least full box and pull one or two items that you know need to go elsewhere from the smallest junk box you have and put them in the place you’ve set aside for them. Then put them there! Don’t put it off till later! Next time you pass the box, pull another item or two. When there are only a few items left, combine this box with another box, or take the twenty minutes it will take to finish putting the contents of the box away. You’ll be amazed at how fast those boxes start disappearing.

Many ‘Do-It-Yourself’ers have at least one junk box. A box where parts that still have usable life are tossed when not used for a project. Some boxes have only a few items, while others are filled to overflowing. Searching for a part in one of these boxes can be a daunting task, but not if you choose to convert that ‘junk box’ into a ‘resource box’ Here are some hints to make the process easier.

First, find all of the junk boxes scattered around the shop, in closets, and under or above the workbench. Make sure to check the garage and other storage rooms as well. This is not as easy as it sounds, but search those cubby holes and corners to make sure you have all of the boxes and spare parts. This is not usually a quick afternoon project!

Find a place to spread all of the contents out, and make sure you can leave them there for several days while you organize. Then determine what kind of storage containers you might want to use. Baby food jars, pill boxes, and plastic ziplock bags, all work. Choose whatever container works for your situation.

Now comes the long and hard part, sorting the parts by component. One value per box is over kill even if this is a possibility. On the other hand, it is likely that the items in the various boxes can first be sorted into major groups (like cables, general components, cases, fasteners...) and then each major group can be divided into sub-groups (power cables, computer cables....). The categories for sorting come from personal preference since the same person sorting will likely be searching for a specific part later on. If there is any chance of confusion as to what a part is, this would be a good time to label the part, or at least the container the part will be placed in. This is one of the keys to converting a junk box to a resource box. Knowing color codes for the various components, or having the appropriate measuring equipment will help in this endeavor as well.

Finally make sure the containers (boxes) the resources are going to be stored in are durable. It’s counter-productive to go to all this work and have the box fall apart in your hands. Once everything is back in it’s box, put all of the resource boxes away in one place! Remember how long it took to find all of those resources and vow not to loose them again.

A junk-box and a resource box may look like the same thing to an outsider but as the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Discover all of those treasures hidden in the various junk boxes around the house and convert them into resource boxes.



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