I’ve been meaning to write this up for years, and a recent thread over at Model Railroad Hobbyist has encouraged me to finally post something on the topic.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably have a collection of long narrow packages of strip styrene, scale lumber, maybe some brass wire and tube and so on. If you do any serious building, you want to keep a stockpile of all the various dimensions, but how to organize them?
For those with a luxurious amount of space, the answer seems to be mailing tubes or PVC pipe stacked in a cupboard, and the strips arranged in the tubes. I have never had that much space!
Fairly soon after I started buying Evergreen styrene strips, I realized that I needed a way to organize them. At the time, I kept most things in binders. So, I stapled the packages to pieces of poster board, punched to fit in a binder. Then I stuck the binder on a shelf. The packages stuck out a little at the top, but at least I could always find them. The binder was also a very handy way to transport the whole stockpile to shows where I often used to demonstrate scratchbuilding.
I arranged the packages on the page by the first dimension on the strip, so all the .010″x strips are on a couple of pages. The pages were then sorted by first dimension. Here is one of those pages; as you can see, I discovered later that Plastruct made a .010x.010″ strip, and I added this to the page, obscuring the holes for the binder rings.
I have a few pages where I either no longer had the packaging when I made them up, or I never had packaging to begin with. For these, I made my own pages, which, to tell the truth work better than those with the packaging. The trouble with the packaging version is that short pieces of stock are difficult to retrieve from the bottom of the package (I wonder how the tube people do this?). The home-made stock page makes it trivial to get short pieces out.
I don’t seem to do those demos anymore, and since I started stockpiling other long thin things in the same way, I’ve outgrown the original binder. Now I have pages for styrene strip, tube, rod, square tube, quarter round as well as scale lumber and wire, tube, strip and square tube in a handful of different metals. The pages fit nicely into two wine boxes. They sit under my workbench and slide out when I need to find some stock. Sheet-stock also sits in here, arranged at the front of the pile.
One day I may replace these wine boxes with something that doesn’t look so temporary and perhaps rolls on wheels. But, to tell the truth, I kind of like them. The Famous Grouse one has been with me through about three or four house moves; it also brings back fond memories of a wedding in Scotland. The Cycles Gladiator one is newer, but it has a racy picture on the label that has caused the wine to be banned in half a dozen US states. Both boxes make me smile when I look at them, and not just because I can find what I want in seconds.