The Ikea tinker storage system

Ever since I started tinkering with hardware I’ve been accumulating more and more “stuff”. Most often these are little things like connectors, sensors, mosfets, etc.. And more often then not I don’t buy 1 or 2 but buy them per 10 or even 20 at the same time.

After a while I was having trouble keeping it all sorted and easily accessible so I started to look around for a cost effective way of storing everything and I think I might have found it. Read on to see what I’m using.


After searching around and looking at professional storage systems I was really put up by the price and often even for something which I did not find flexible or expandable (without having to spend massive amount of mount again).

The Ikea plan

So because of that I started looking at DIY solutions. Most often someone else online has already gone through what you are trying to make and posted online how they did it. And while I found some stuff, nothing really suited me. I did like the Ikea Hack or Ikea Mod scene though. So I thought I’d start looking through the Ikea catalog to see what I could come up with. Although I’m not always a fan of Ikea products, they do make a very large variety which most often is of decent quality and always does well in the price/performance category.
And after puzzling a while I thought I had found what I was looking for. I just wasn’t sure which to use it with. I could use either a Besta bookcase or a Pax clothing closet. I opted for the last because it was cheapest and still looked decent. I’ve also been using one as my clothing closet for over 10 years now without any issue.
So I went to the store to discover that the Pax line had changed slightly. Luckily all the internal measurements where still the same! I decided to go ahead with the plan so me and my girlfriend bought 2 giant bags of  boxes. She declared me absolutely insane but in the off chance it will bring order to the mess she went along with it anyway. 😉

Finding the right box/container

DSC_2226.JPGThe bags filled with boxes
It doesn’t look as that much in this form but each of those colored boxes is actually 3 boxes you buy at the same time! They are called “GLIS” and come in packets of three at the same time. The packs either hold “white/lichtgreen/blue” or “pink/white/yellow”. I bought 20 packs of these boxes which gave me 60 boxes in total!
DSC_2243.JPGThe GLIS label for the small box
The boxes are 17cm x 10cm with a height of 8cm. They have a slight slant inward going downwards so don’t have any straight walls. In volume that equals to about 0.7 liters but because of the slant probably around 0.6 liters of total volume in reality. They weigh about 100 grams each. Also they have plastic “feet” molded into the bottom with corresponding slots in the lid to make them stack. 
If you wish to order them they are Ikea number 800.985.83 for white/lightgreen/blue and 200.474.50 for pink/white/yellow.
These boxes aren’t in the normal storage box line that Ikea has. These are called “SAMLA”. These are all open boxes with lids and separate clips to keep them shut. They come in lots of different sizes. Although nice, I found them not fit for my purpose and also they are A LOT more expensive. Even the cheapest box will cost you 1,00 euro and this is without a lid which costs another 50 cents. Then if you want something to keep the box shut you need to pay another 50 cents! Making the cheapest box 2,00 euro in total. Buying 60 of those (to keep small parts in, separated per box) would have costed me at least 120 euro’s.
The GLIS boxes are 2,49 euro per 3. This includes the box, a lid and a mechanism which keeps the lid shut. That comes to about 83 cents per box! So I ended up spending about 50 euro’s instead of the 120 euro’s! Also, expanding the “system” with more boxes is cheap. And I consider the different colors a bonus in separating components by category and being able to pick the right color boxes quickly.
GLIS is available in 2 sizes, I will mainly focus on the smaller variant (Which you buy 3 at the same time) but will show the bigger one’s below too. What does it look like when unpacked?
DSC_2234.JPGLots of little boxes! The different colors will come in handy later on
DSC_2239.JPGAnother photo of all the boxes unpacked
As I mentioned before, there is a different, bigger GLIS box available. This one costs 3,99 euro and is about the size of 4 GLIS boxes. I also bought some of those to store items that are a bit bigger. You can see some photo’s of it below.
DSC_2244.JPGI bought 10 of the larger size boxes

DSC_2249.JPGHere is a smaller size one in the bigger size version. The bigger size version has partitions which are bigger then the small size box
In total it’s exactly 4 times the exterior size


DSC_2253.JPGThe height is also exactly the same

DSC_2240.JPGThe label for the bigger size
I didn’t have a direct purpose for the bigger version at that time, but I figured getting some to store bigger items would come in handy at some point so that’s why I also got 10 of those. In the end, they fit nicely together as a “system”.

Filling the boxes

I’m going to talk about the second part of the “system” later on. After being satisfied this was the way to go forward I got a lot of my scattered items out started filling my boxes.
DSC01044.JPGTo  start off  some stuff in a big box. The small one is just there to show the size, the lid won’t close when it’s in the big one
Sorting everything and putting it into the boxes 

DSC_2256.JPGSome boxes filled and labelled

DSC_2261.JPGStacked together
DSC01033.JPGAll done, all boxes filled!
DSC01030.JPGThey they are labelled right now you can still read the labels even when stacked

As I mentioned before. I decided to sort based on the “type” of the component, separated by color.

So in the end they are easy, small but decent enough size boxes you can easily take along with you and they are dirt cheap to buy!

But what makes this a system?

The Besta bookcase or Pax clothing closet

So the boxes are only the first part. Next to having the boxes to put the items in, I also wanted a way to order them even further, make them easily accessible and to be able to store them out of sight when I don’t need them.
As I mentioned above I ended up checking and testing the Besta bookcase and the Pax clothing closet. Both turned out to be a good fit and it comes down to personal preference which you are going to like most.
First up, the Besta version. Please take a look at the following photos.

Besta Variant

DSC00964.JPGThe besta drawer filled with a single layer
(You can see one of the 500 meter rolls of CAT7 I have for the new house too)

DSC00979.JPGStill a single layer but a close up

DSC00981.JPGStarting to add a second layer

DSC00971.JPGThe second layer makes the first one invisible but it does fit

DSC00972.JPGGetting a box from the bottom layer involves having to remove several top layer boxes

DSC00968.JPG2 layers filled

DSC00974.JPGFrom the side, although it looks high it it does still fit and close. In this picture the lid overlaps but in reality it fits snugly without overlapping

DSC00985.JPGLooking from the inside, you can see the mechanism doesn’t touch the second layer
So, that worked ok. But I don’t really like the drawers of the Besta. They seal completly which makes them hard to open without a handle. Also, getting the boxes out always requires taking more out then you wanted and it’s also impossible to read the labels on the bottom layer.
Not bad, but I tried a different closet too! So, next up the Pax variant.

Pax variant

DSC00995.JPGThe front of the Pax closet drawers. These are the old variant, they have a slight opening in the front. The new version doesn’t have this anymore and you can get the front in either full wood or with glass. In my opinion the glass variant looks quite nice
complientglass.pngThis is what the new version looks like

DSC01002.JPGThe rails used is pretty simple but sturdy
DSC01012.JPGStacking 2 boxes on top of each other leaves enough room to function unobstructed
DSC01014.JPGEnough clearance
DSC00992.JPGAt first I thought it was sad I couldn’t fit a width of 4 boxes, but I continued trying layouts
DSC01020.JPGPretty quickly I came up with the following layout. The little extra room between the rows actually makes it very easy to pick the box you need!



DSC01011.JPGAll labels are readable without issue

DSC01019.JPGIt even works well when stacking two layers on top of each other

DSC01021.JPGBlue boxes arranged in the drawer

DSC01023.JPGAnd another drawer

DSC01005.JPGThree drawers filled without issue. They also seem to handle the weight just fine
DSC01034.JPGIt also works with 2 of the big boxes. This is the only layout that does though and getting them out involves removing the other top layer boxes in front of them. You also can’t get more then two big boxes in there otherwise the following happens
DSC01053.JPGYou can’t get the smaller (or bigger) box out without opening it up and unjamming it.

Future plans

In the new house I’m going to build a new Ikea Pax closet to hold all my stuff. Pax now has several different sizes of their drawer. The drawers in my old Pax clothing cabinet was 40cm in width. I just realized they aren’t selling those anymore. 🙁
They now have 50cm, 75cm and 100cm in width. All of them still have a depth of 58cm and a height of 16cm. Those measurements should still work. Although that means going through the best layout of the boxes in the drawer again, it doesn’t invalidate the whole plan (at least not to me). So everyone putting it all together now needs to figure out which drawers he wants to use and how they will fit.

Best would be if with the new size it still fits pretty snug but also leaves a little gap at some places where you can reach in with you finger. I’ll give it a try in the future or make a mock up of all the sizes and see how it fits.

For me personally I would be looking at something like this:

kast.pngThis combines 75cm drawers and 50cm drawers and would 100’s of boxes!

End notes and a Video

And well, that’s it. That makes the whole “storage system” into a system. Or well, at least for me. 😉
For my it combines the ability to easily store all my separate components and keep them tidy and out of the way with the ability to easily get them out and also take them with me if I’m going somewhere else to tinker.
I’m not yet satisfied with the labels I used so I’m looking to improve that part. These are functional, but quite a bother to make and don’t stick very well either. More on that in a different post.
Last thing is a little movie I made putting the boxes in the drawers and opening and closing them. I especially like the Pax system for closing and opening firm and not bouncing around the whole place other drawers often do. It’s not really a locking mechanism, but close enough for me!

Comments or questions are always welcome!

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