Small Bits Ceiling Storage System

Being a gearhead, I tend to accumulate a variety of small items wherever I go that may one day come in handy. Some day. Like a magnet, odd bolts, nuts, screws, trim, brackets, tools (even partially broken ones) and car accessories (some for cars I don’t even own) seem to have an irresistible attraction towards me. So what do you do when you run out of walls, shelves and cupboards to house your treasure trove of knick knacks, doodads and thingamajigs??

For Instructables user, DepotDevoid, the only place that wasn’t already filled up was the ceiling. Using the bare rafters in his workshop, he built a clever system of suspended bins on tracks to organize all his spare bits. Claiming this unused space allowed him to keep his workshop clutter free so that he could …well, work.

What You’ll Need

  • Ceiling with exposed rafters
  • Scrap wood – something you could cut or tear to the width you need for tracks
  • Nails, bolts, nuts and washers
  • Clear plastic tubs with lids or tupperware
  • Handles – you can buy these premade at a hardware store but using PVC allows you to customize the length of the handle according to the height of your ceiling.

1. Make the Handles

Each handle is made up of one long horizontal bar (the part you grab onto, sized for the width of your hand) and two vertical short legs. When cutting your horizontal bar remember to add in the diameter of the legs on either side. You may decide to make your legs longer than what you see here if you have a higher ceiling and don’t want to use a step-stool.

Making the Handles

With a dremel tool, carve a shallow groove across the diameter on one of the ends of each leg. This allows the handle bar to sit securely in the groove so it doesn’t shift around when you’re pulling down bins.

Drill a hole through each end of your handle bar where your bolt rod will slide through. Be sure to take into account the diameter of your legs so that your hole isn’t too close to the end. The bolt should go through the hole and sit in the center of the adjoining leg pipe.

2. Attach the Handles to the Tubs

Marking the location of the handles.

Center your handle bar across the bottom of the tub and use sharpies or markers inserted through each hole to mark your drill holes for the handle legs. Drill your holes large enough for your bolt rods to go through.

Attach the handle to the bin.

In the photos above, DepotDevoid happened to have some long threaded rods and nuts laying around so he used those instead of buying bolts. The excess length was then trimmed with a cut-off wheel.

If you’re using bolts, slide washers on them before inserting them through the bottom of the tub, into each vertical leg of the handle and then through the holes you made on the horizontal handle bar. Top it off with a nut. Don’t over-tighten your tub-handle assembly or the tub’s thin plastic will crack.

3. Build the Rafter Rails

The rafter rails are strips of wood nailed to the bottom of the rafter beams that stick out far enough for the lip of the storage tubs to rest on.

Build the rafter rails.

Measure your tubs at the widest point just below the lip. This is how much space you need to leave between each rafter beam. To determine how wide you need the lip to be on each side to hold the bin up, measure the width between a set of beams and subtract the width of the tub. Take this number and divide it by 2- that’s how wide each lip needs to be.

Once you’ve double checked your measurements, cut your wood strips and nail them to the rafter beams. Be sure to use enough of the right nails to accommodate the number of bins you’ll be storing.

Now load ’em up!

Check out DepotDevoid’s Instructable for more photos and notes.

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