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Findings organizers

Hello all!

Our store has just nearly completed a complete remodel. Time to
remodel the shop now. One of the improvements we plan to make is a
better system for organizing our findings. A couple of the shops I
worked in the seventies had old watchmakers cabinets. The nice thing
about those drawers is when you opened one, an entire portion of the
inventory was there before your eyes. Great for seeing what your low
on at a glance. The boss will build or order anything we want within
reason. A cabinet maker was in yesterday, and shouldn’t be put to the
task (expensive) and tedium of building drawers with 2" cubicles. Not
all that difficult really but something suitable is probably
available. What has been used up to now, is those plastic drawer
organizers. There are six separate units on a shelf. Now that is
tedious! You only see the inventory one little box at a time. White
and yellow findings share common drawers. Often times we are too low
or out and don’t notice it.

Putting the shop inventory with minimums, on computer has been
suggested also. We will see. With a store recently acquiring, a
Colorimeter, Gemvision, and a Megascope, such improvements should
happen. Dan and I have our fingers crossed. It would be so nice to
know we would never fall below the minimums we set! What a concept!

Anyone out there who has purchased a drawer system for findings etc.?
We thought about just putting all the plastic drawers (5’ X 2") into
the new bank of drawers (24" X 36"). That seems a little boring. What
is available?


Hi Tim,

What worked very well for us are antique optical cabinents, usually
available at auctions and antique shops. Somewhat pricey, but just
one eight or ten drawer cabinent should hold most all findings
necessary. A label gun will note on the outside what each drawer
holds, and we use square adhesive stickers inside each compartment to
list sizes and costs of each item.

Very classy way to organize, and they last forever. JMF

You might try an industrial supply house. Tool cribs in mfg. plants
have to stock lots of small tools (drill bits, lathe tools etc.).
There are metal cabinets available with 10 to 20 drawers with both
fixed & movable partitions. The drawers are generally about 2" to 5"
deep. The cabinets run about 30" wide & deep & depending on the number
of drawers may be up 5 ft high. Each drawer may have from 16 - 80
compartments. The drawers usually open all the way, so the contents
of the last row of compartments can be easily seen.

Check the MSC (, 800-645-7270) catalog. Pages 3050-3057
in the '99 catalog list a few of the styles & sizes available.


Tim…I really like the way we organize our findings. We built cases
to fit our safe that allows us to slide the jewelers trays that have
the "bracelet"display sectioning…then we use individual glass vials
for our findings which I labeled with metal, size and stuller ordering
number.(our most used finding supplier) Out side edges of the trays
are labeled “14KY Heads” or “PLAT jr’s” etc…We too are going to
reduce to minimum inventory which we think will be a major dollar
saver…and most finding houses deliver overnight as a matter of
course now anyway.

I’m really interested in what you end up deciding on. Please write
and let us know. Also what are your favorite features of your re-do.
It’s always useful to hear about tricks of organizing…

Good luck, Gianna in Ventura where there’s always a 3 to 4 foot surf

Tim, I have been doing the same thing in my shop and I finally ordered
those light blue boxes with the clear plastic sliding lids that
Stuller sells.The compartments aren’t too big and the findings slide
out easily.One side of the compartment has a curved side.It isn’t the
ideal setup but it is the best I have found in my quest.I had a slew
of white plastic organizer type boxes with flip lids.I carry my
findings to my studio from work and if you tip one of those findings
boxes the compartments get all mixed up and you have a mess.Then I
went to a tube system that was great when I wanted to carry things but
tedious and time consuming to open each tube to find what I needed and
then put it back in the designated tube.I ain’t anal enough. blue
boxes with the slide lids have to have rubber bands to keep them from
opening on their own.My ideal box would have a clear lid that flipped
up and when it snapped closed each compartment would seal so findings
would not party in the middle of the night and end up in each others
compartments.I have to share my horrifying findings experience.When
leaving my shop one night I had my arms full as I usually do and put
one of my findings boxes on the roof of my jeep to open the door, as I
was driving out on the street I heard this faint sound as if someone
was throwing findings down the street.Well yea they were only they was
me.Naturally the sun was just setting and the traffic was heavy .I
backed up my car put on my emergency flashers and spent two hours
picking up findings some flat some not.I went back to the scene of the
accident for a week and found something every time.I’m sure there is
still gold in them thar hills.If you run across any Humvee type
findings boxes let me know.Good luck on your quest.J Morley Coyote
Ridge Studio.Where the coyotes are sleepin and I’m just dreamin

Great question Tim -

I am in a current search and major organizing effort as well. I
picked up some small wooden drawer units at Costco last year. The
only problem is they go out of stock never to be found again. Perhaps
I could inquire at Costco as to the source. They were not too bad -
the drawers open and close really well. They may be smaller than what
you would like - the interior of the drawers is 6 1/2" x 7 3/4" x 1
7/8" tall - and there are 8 drawers in each unit. What I may do - but
haven’t gotten to it yet - is make a low grid divider out of wood - to
fit into those existing drawers. I still haven’t found the plastic
boxes to hold the findings - so, am waiting for that step - to
customize the dividers.

Perhaps the carpenter you approached could make just the divider
section to fit whatever drawer set up you can find - and keep cost
down. (Something like the old wooden soda bottle crate dividers.) My
mentor has a wonderful drawer set up - in one of his bench drawers -
that has separations to hold single small clear square boxes with
findings. I’m sure that he designed and built his benches. He also
has a larger metal one used by machinists probably - with relatively
small separations - for all the castings of findings and other
findings. What is good about that one is there are slots for labeling
the front of the drawers and nice drawer pulls - very well built.
Reminds me of the old card catalog files at the library. Not sure if
those storage units are still available - haven’t found a source yet.

I have been looking at antique options - like the flat drawers to
hold metal type set letters etc. I love the wooden drawers that were
created to hold parts in workshops in the olden days - even for
medical and herbal purposes.

Perhaps we could approach a woodworker/cabinet maker to design
something that could be multiplied for jewelers and keep cost down?
But that would take time. We are a big network of resources here -
maybe it exists already! What do watchmakers use? I also haven’t found
a solution yet - at least not in a hardware store. The plastic ones
don’t do it for me either.

Does anyone know of a supplier for small clear square plastic boxes -
about 1" square - that could be used to hold and identify the
findings? The ones I’m trying to locate are sometimes used in
production situations for distribution of tie tacs etc. I was getting
a larger version - recycled from a hospital - from my sister-in-law
who is a surgical nurse. (I remember the previous string on Orchid a
few year ago!)

I’m with you Tim, very interested in any other ideas out there on
storing the findings? Now that I’m diversifying to more gold (and
perhaps platinum down the line) - it is essential to have a good
system. Thanks again for the question. Aloha, Cynthia

Rubin in NYC sells small plastic boxes. Keep an eye on local
libraries. Most are computerizing their catalogs and selling the
catalog card files. I got one and they are beautifully made.

I’ve found boxes that do this in the automotive section of Walgreen’s
Drug Store. Not perfectly clear boxes, more translucent, but at
least the contents of each section stay put.

The system I’m currently using works fairly well. For most things, I
have a stack of 6 drawers, each with two of the (aforementioned) lil
blue slider boxes from Stuller. I toss the lids, label the
compartments by size and put all white in one box, all yellow in the
other. It’s very easy to see what I’ve got with a glance. You can get
accustomed enough to pull out a certain finding blind. This suits
great for things like catches, jump rings, earring studs and earring
parts. For most of my tiffany style heads, I use one of those hardware
store multi-drawer units. Going by one size per drawer, I divide the
drawers into 3 sections… the rounds go in front, the pears in the
middle and marquise in the back. Again pretty easy to check and see
that I’ve got 3 or 4 of each style in stock even when I’m mixing
standards and pegs. I have to keep a huge stock of findings on hand
because overnight usually doesn’t cut it at my store. They want it in
an hour. Still, all this takes up very little space on a reachable
shelf just behind the bench. Now if I could only get the salespeople
to put the findings they take out as samples BACK into their

Jane Armstrong
Bernie Robbins Jewelers

Hi Cynthia, I use antique (old typeset) Drawers…the kind printers
put the letters in…I think you could also use the flat files that
artists use to file their drawings, they are also used to store
Vellums in Engineering departments…Susan Chastain

It’s nice to know I’m not the only one fighting this problem. I
would like to take it a step farther though - I would also like
something secure that is portable. I take supplies to shows with me
and sometimes custom string or repair on the spot. Those white
plastic boxes are in a constant state of chaos, and I frequently
can’t find what I was sure I had.

How do all of you organize findings?? Thanks,
Cass in Detroit where the weather has been perfect the last two days

The best source I’ve seen for organizing materials is Grainger. They
have a 4000 page catalog with everything from oxygen and gas
regulators, vacuum pumps and guages, shelving, storage, elevator
moters, cleaning supplies. They are extreemly huge and cover
everything you could ever want in industrial and commercial supplies.
Pages 2038-2054 cover systems of little organizing drawers.
Imagine, 16 pages of various configurations of cabinets with little
tiny drawers. The problem for some is, they only sell to licensed
business, so you have to have a tax number. They are strictly
wholesale to the non-public. The web address is If you’ve got a business, you should log on
and find one near you and get your hands on thier catalog. It’s

David L. Huffman

A possibility: the individual plastic Perky boxes sized for
"thumbnail" mineral specimens. They are formed in two pieces and
snap together at the hinge to make about a 1 1/4" cube, the lid being
about 1/4" high. The “lid” is used as the base to mount thumbnails
and the remainder of the box is its protective display cover. For
findings however, the box could certainly be inverted and the lid
labeled. The bases (“lids”) of mine are black but I’m almost certain
I’ve seen all clear boxes as well.

I don’t know how durable the snap together hinges and closure would
be in daily use but I’ve recycled many plastic boxes with such
construction and the greater majority hold up well. (I’m an old
surgical nurse. :slight_smile: ) I don’t go for those sliding lid or
multi-compartment fold-over lid boxes. The consequences of that
co-mingling in the middle of the night thing is beyond my tolerance.

Though I’ve never ordered from them, here are two suppliers listed in
the Lapidary Journal’s Buyer’s Directory (May 2000): -Althor
Products, Bethel, CT. (203) 830-6060 or to order: 1-800-688-BOXES.
-Denver Box, Denver, CO. (303) 428-8771 or order desk:
1-800-762-5639. The latter specifically states wholesale only to
trade so they might have a minimum quantity beyond your needs. I
think the boxes sell for about $10/100.

Hope this helps.

Pam Chott

I use a wall-mounted “parts” box from the hardware store for my
findings, but I don’t like the looks of it.

I like my system for inexpensive cabs, though. I organize by them by
color and keep them in 18 compartment, 7"x10" plastic boxes --the
semi-opaque, white kind where the partitions go all the way up (no
space for the 6mm to visit the 8mm). Big label on the end of the box
makes it easy to see right where the amethyst are. It’s obvious
right away when something’s getting low. They’re big enough that
they’re difficult to accidentally knock on the floor. So many
companies make them, you can always find ones to match. Stacked,
they look very tidy. And if they need to be transported, they can be
packed snuggly in a box. Martha Stewart would approve.

Dana Carlson

Would you have the contact info for Rubin in NYC - perhaps a website
address? Tried a search on the internet and the Thomas Register -
couldn’t find it. Thanks ahead. Cynthia

I have been using the transparent “Bead Caddy” trays with individual
snap-on lids - turn them over and see what’s out, label the lids. I
have one tray for each type of finding (peg crowns, low base crowns,
etc.) Only 13 compartments per tray max though, or 7 in the larger
compartments. They are in Rio Grande’s 2000/2001 Findings catalogue,
page 280.

Allan Beck

I’ve started using those small stone boxes, and am finding more and
more uses for them. They’re made out of clear plastic, 1" round and
square, and 1" x 2" rectangle. They have a friction fit lid, and come
with foam inserts in either white or black. The inserts can be snipped
in half laterally through the diameter for things which are too bulky
for the entire insert. You can buy them separate, or you can buy them
with a standard or half-size jewelry tray which has another foam piece
which has holes to accept the containers. If you’re traveling with
small parts, there is also a covered jewelry tray which has a snap-on
top cover. Just exchange the foam insert which holds the stone boxes
with the jewelry pad in the covered tray. Add 1/4" thick foam to the
top and snap it closed. Now, if they could just make shallow tip-out
drawers in an organizer to attach to a wall or bench which the boxes
would fit into…K.P. in WY

Maintaining a comprehensive supply of findings is no longer cost
effective except for keeping the most often used items. Most
suppliers nowadays afford us with overnight delivery so why tie up
your cash ? The only category of findings that I regularly keep on
hand are six prong 14 K white gold heads and an array of chain
clasps. I have others, but they are usually the result of leftovers
from odd orders and opportunity buys. I keep my stone heads on a
narrow shelf just above my bench. They are contained in clear plastic
vials with white plastic caps. They are laid on their side with the
cap facing me and the size is marked in carat designations. When I am
out of stock I turn the vial upward as a reminder to reorder with the
next order. Whenever feasible I prefer to replace entire heads rather
than re-tip and this affords me with a ready supply so the the
distraught customer can climb back into her precious wedding ring
without delay…sometimes I even do this service while the customer
watches…it allays the usual paranoia. Ron at Mills Gem, Los
Osos, CA.