At the shop where I work we just toss loose screws, bolts, nails and other bits and pieces of hardware from the workbenches and the floor into a bucket and, every couple of years when the bucket gets too full, somebody has to dump the whole mess out and sort everything back to where it belongs. When that job fell to me this Spring, I decided there had
to be a better solution. So I designed a bin that would help to at least divide things by type to make the final sorting easier. Though built for an industrial situation, it would work equally well in the home craft room for jewellery findings, sewing notions, etc.
It's basically a wooden box with openings on top where you drop things in, drawers opening off the side that they fall into.
Items dropped into each of the six openings fall into separate drawers, which sounds like it would require an intricate series of ramps and tubes, but if when you see it with the front removed you can see the trick is just that each drawer just goes a little further back than the one above it.
Vertical dividers between the openings act as stops for the drawers and prevent items from bouncing into the wrong drawer. I wanted to make the openings as big a target as possible for those handfuls of hardware, so I made each wider at the top like a funnel. And I cut the shape of each as a visual reminder of what to put where.
(This actually works really well - no thinking on the job required!)
By making the drawers shallow and easily accessible from the side, it has the added advantage of making the collected hardware readily available any time. So if you happen to need a washer and don't want to go get one from the bin in the stock room, you can just pull open the appropriate drawer and see if one has been collected in the bin. Much easier than digging through a miscellaneous bucket, and the closed bin keeps out sawdust and debris.
This was built out of pine boards and 4mm plywood, but you could easily build exactly the same thing out of foamcore or even corrugated cardboard. The drawers are just shallow boxes with bases that are a little wider to slide in slots in the front and back walls. If you were making it out of cardboard, you'd probably want to make them rest on narrow strips glued to each side. Just make sure they're parallel and the two sides line up exactly.