June 28, 2011
Using a pick-up stick can make the sorting process easier
Photo by Jim Ruen
I use a pick-up stick to sort the tiniest of hardware bits.

I hate to throw out good nails, nuts, screws and other bits of hardware. Living in the country, if I need a 1/2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-diameter screw, I’m not going to drive 20 miles or more to the nearest hardware store. At least that’s the excuse I give for the box of assorted bits that have collected in recent years.

The problem with the box is that it keeps getting more and more full. Every time I paw through it, finding what I need is harder. I know I need to sort it all out as I have in the past, but I don’t have time to do the things I want to do, much less spend hours sorting tiny screws. 

Actually, I know I’m going to get to it soon, simply because my already sorted supply is running out. As in the past, the first round of sorting will be dividing up nails, screws, nuts, washers and assorted hardware. Then I’ll sort each category by type and size. At some point with the screws, I will get out my “pick-up stick” when I’m sorting screws or brads that are so small they are hard to grab with my fingers.

The pick-up stick is simply a piece of dowel with a 1/4-inch-diameter magnet on one end. I am sure I saw it as a shop tip somewhere. It’s too good an idea to be original. With it, I can pull half a dozen small items out of the tangle and get at them easily. I keep one in each of my “sorted” items storage trays. They are the best kind of shop tool, simple to make, easy to use and low-cost.

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