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Space saving layers to get the most from your storage

If there’s one thing many of us are guilty of it’s not maximising space. How many of us have boxes or containers that have all the contents heaped in the bottom? Then inevitably loads of spare, unused space in the top? A question we’re asked here all the time is, “how can I get the most out of the space in my boxes?”. There are lots of storage hacks and space saving ideas that both we and our customer’s have come up with over the years. So, here’s a few tips to help you on the way.

Now we’ll be referring to all sorts of tool boxes in the process of this. But essentially you can apply this to absolutely any box you want to store things in. Whether it’s for beauty, fishing, home storage, photography, travel, tech, gaming…. whatever you need to organise.

Using Shadow Foam as a removable tray

“But it’s just foam” we hear you say! OK bear with us on this. Our foam is actually pretty sturdy. Of course, it depends on the depth of it and what you’re storing in there. But often it will easily hold up to being removed and replaced in your box perfectly well.

But, if you’re storing heavier items and want to ease access, here’s a few hints and tips we’ve learned and heard over the years. This is how you can really get the most from your space.

  • Use different depths of foam. Lets say you’re storing tools some are bigger, some smaller. You could use a thinner layer of foam for the smaller hand tools for example. Then add maybe a thicker layer for the larger ones. Shadow Foam comes in 30mm, 50mm and 70mm depths to allow you to do this more easily. Of course, smaller layers means you can fit more layers in!
  • Positioning. If there are items you use more often then make sure they’re on the top or the higher layers. Less frequently used items can then be stored below, where you don’t want to access them as often.
  • Removal. Our custom made inserts for toolboxes are a pretty snug fit. So you may want to consider a means of getting them out more easily. Perhaps either add in finger pulls, or some form of handle to make taking them in and out of the box a little easier.
  • Weight. If you have heavier items in there and the foam starts to sag or bow when you go to remove it, you probably need think about using something on the reverse to keep it sturdy. We typically use correx as it’s light and cheap. But equally we’ve seen chipboard, aluminium and even carbon fibre used for this purpose!
You don’t have to go as far as Ben Lovell’s fancy use of carbon fibre for his removable insert storage hack, but it looks good!

What about handles?

It’s down to personal preference… sometimes we add them in, sometimes we don’t. When it comes to what to use for this, there are heaps of options, so see what suits you best.

  • Twisted cord handles – you’ve seen the type of thing on gift bags and the like. You could simply make small drill holes at the side of the insert then thread these through.

    Equally you could use knotted shoe laces in place of these. Just be aware that if too large, the knot might stop the insert sitting flat on the bottom.
  • Knitted cord handles – Take a look below at our own famous Whisky Drawer storage hack. We used a strong flat cord and ran it all the way along the back of the correx reverse to give this big and quite heavy insert maximum support. Several years on, it’s still going strong!
Visit our YouTube channel to see more space saving ideas like this one.

I have the plastic trays that came with my box already.

Great, and if they are holding up and letting you be organised with them that’s perfect, make full use of them. We hate waste so as long as it’s working for you that’s the main thing.

Often though, the trays that come as standard with boxes are designed with limited longevity. They’re typically just there for sales, display or transportation purposes only – packaging really. For that reason they aren’t built to last too long.

Equally they aren’t designed with you and what you need in mind. Generic, pre-formed trays that don’t 100% suit you can take a lot of usable space up.

What you can achieve replacing standard manufacturer trays

Take a look at the Bosch challenge we did a while ago where we managed to remove the standard trays and replace them with Shadow Foam. This made them more suitable for purpose, more durable and a lot more organised.

Similarly if it’s your power tools you’re looking to store while maximising space, check out this Dewalt TSTAK transformation. In it we show you how much additional kit you can organise, carry and protect for minimal time and expense. All we did was remove the flimsy polyurethane foam insert that comes with the case as standard. Polyurethane foam isn’t recyclable which is why it was removed from our own product line some time ago. By replacing it with two layers of Shadow Foam we were able to cram more kit in there and make it a lot more practical for use by it’s owner.

I don’t have room for Shadow Foam!

We’ve heard this before, but in practice usually the opposite is true. Fair to say there does seem to be some kudos attached to having an overflowing, disorganised tool bag. But in actual fact wouldn’t you rather have fewer lost or damaged tools? And bank the time wasted searching for things by being able to grab the right thing first time, every time? All this while knocking the socks off any colleague, boss or customer who happens upon your kit?

When you’re looking for space saving ideas then do consider the addition of an organisation tool like Shadow Foam. By organising and making access easier to everything quite often you’ll find that you can actually fit more items in there than before.

Our friends at RP Bike Tech frequently use removable layers to great effect to really maximise the amount of kit you can store

Think of “that” coffee jar analogy (beautifully illustrated here in this short film by Litmos Heroes). If you don’t know it, the big rocks go in a jar first, you think it’s full but then the smaller bits fit around it… and so on. This analogy is most often used to demonstrate efficiency of time, which is very fitting here too. But it also perfectly demonstrates how, when your larger or bulkier items are organised nicely, there will then be more room for the smaller bits to be positioned around them.

By planning and using an efficient process as to how and where things are stored scores on so many levels. Not only will you fit more in there, but you’ll be winning in terms of time too. Finding the right thing, first time is going to save you so many hours cumulatively in the long run, the ultimate in storage hacks! Then factor in never losing things because it’s now obvious if something is missing, and you’re onto a winner.

It’s no accident that industries like aviation, engineering and sports mechanics have mandatory tool control, it’s because it really does improve efficiency and accountability, so why shouldn’t we all be able to apply this to any area of our lives!? Storage hacks and space saving ideas and solutions are there to make life easier, better. So usually, yes you really do have room to add in Shadow Foam to help get your contents organised… and then some!

Matt Scott has used multiple layers here to make sure he can find everything quickly and easily and never lose a tool again!

Want to see if Shadow Foam can work for you?

Then give it a go… you can get a sample from us usually by the next working day. It’s also worth exploring some of the ideas and uses we demonstrate on our Youtube channel to help you get inspired. When you’re ready to give it a go, make sure you’re all kitted up with the right safety equipment. Then, refresh your cutting and peeling skills by watching our “how to” videos and away you go…! As always be sure to share your storage hacks, space saving ideas and creations with us on our social platforms too, we love to see them!

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