Reuse/Recycle: DIY Hanging Screw Holder

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Published on: 2013.03.30

Jar for screws
Hanging screw holder.
Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry.
Even before recycling was a craze or a common mantra in this country, my family has always reused old containers whenever possible. It’s just a smart, cost-saving measure. My grandmothers both used empty plastic “spread” containers to store leftover food, instead of buying expensive new leftover containers. (Neither of them had access to a recycling service anyway.)

In this blog entry, I detail how I reuse an empty plastic mayonnaise jar as a screw holder. Of course, you could just set the jar on a shelf and put screws in it. But then it’s taking up valuable shelf space. I like to use the space underneath a shelf, if possible, which is often just empty air.

I can’t remember now where I picked up this tip (I didn’t think of it myself). It was either in a magazine or book or television show. Don’t you hate getting old? I have to write everything down these days if I want to remember it. But that’s a different subject.

All you need is an empty jar (clean, of course) from the kitchen, two screws, and someplace to put it. I’d noticed that our mayonnaise was getting close to empty and told my wife I wanted the jar when it was finished.

Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry.
At this point, some people would just drive the screws through the plastic lid into the underside of a shelf. I prefer to pre-drill. It makes things easier all around, and requires less personal energy expenditure. It can also prevent the plastic lid from splitting/tearing, and make sure the holes are exactly where you want them.

Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry.
I use the pre-drilled lid as a template to mark two drill spots where I plan to hang it. Hold the lid in place, use a pencil to mark the wood through the lid’s holes, and then pre-drill those holes. Make sure these holes are smaller than the screws you’ll be using. You don’t need very large screws for this. I used 3/4″ sheet metal screws. The jar isn’t heavy, and the weight of the screws/nails you’ll put in later won’t be that much.

The next step is to use your two screws to attach the lid to the underside of the shelf. (The shelves in my example are 3/4″ thick MDF, so I actually attached the jar to the underside of a support beam, which is a 2″x4″ board. The wood will hold the jar on two screws much more easily than would the MDF, though I probably could have done that too.)

Attach lid
Attach lid.
Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry.
Now you’ll see that the jar screws easily in to the lid, and the lid stays put, screwed into the underside of the shelf.

Attach jar
Attach jar.
Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry.
Of course, you’ll want to plan your location before you start this. I planned to use this crossbeam because it’s just above eye level (easy to see and reach), and right in the middle of my garage shelves. The beam is about 21 inches from front to back, and the metal joist hangers at each end take up a few more inches. Still, I should have room to mount two or three more of these jars underneath it, as more become available.

In my example, I’m using it to hold the same sheet metal screws that I used to hold the lid in place. So a hundred of them don’t take up much room in the jar. Of course, you don’t have to use it hold nails or screws. A jar will hold anything that will fit inside. (Duh.)

It’s not a pretty solution, but it’s a free solution (or very close to free; the cost of those two screws is negligible). And it keeps one more plastic jar out of a landfill or from being recycled (recycling uses a lot of energy and chemicals that make it a less-than-perfect solution).

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