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A Cheaper Alternative to Sortimo Sorting Bins.

A Cheaper Alternative to Sortimo Sorting Bins.

Removable storage bins allit sortimo styleAfter watching Adam Savage on show off his Sortimo sorting bins, I knew that is something I had to have for my own shop to organize my chaos. I started an internet search to find a distributor in my area with no luck. It appears that they are not readily available in the US, and the ones that I did fined where way over priced for plastic boxes, no matter how cool they are.

I didn’t let that stop me and started looking for similar alternatives, what I mainly found everybody recommending was the Stanley boxes. However those where not nearly as nice, or as versatile when it came to configuring the different size bins in each case.

After about a week of searching, I finally came across something that I thought would work well from Lee Valley tools, called Allit. They come in three different styles, Economy, Small professional and large Professional. After I consulted my pocket book, I decided to go with the economy version; they are about $20 each.

The economy version functions much like the Sortimo. The bins are completely removable, so you can take them to your work. When the bins are in the case, they register nicely in a grove in the lid, so they stay in place when carrying the case around even if you don’t have all the bins in place.
Clear lid alternative to sortimoThe lid is clear so you can see through it, eliminating the need to have to open and close the cases to see if you have the right one. The groves in the lid register tight enough that it keeps even the smallest screw from cross-pollinating to other bins.

The latch on the lids stay latched and are easy to use with out any fuss, like the ones I checked out at Harbor Freight.

Sortimo style modular storage binsThe bins come in four different sizes and are completely module, with in the case. You can configure the case with any combination and size of bins you want. You can even order additional bins in each of the sizes you need, and the bins sold individually are at a great price.

Label storage binsWhen it comes to labeling, the economy Allit boxes have one up over the Sortimo; they have a clear plastic cover to keep the labels clean and prevent them from wearing off. They also have a plastic ruler on each side, one in metric, and one with inches. When I first saw the plastic rulers, I thought they were cheesy, but I find myself constantly using them when sorting screws back into the bins or verifying that I have the right size.

Nesting storage binsThe only down side that I have with these is that they don’t make a rolling or wall hanging bookcase to store cases in. However, I plan to build my own out of plywood. Look for that in an upcoming blog post.  However they are nestable and stack nicely on top of each other.

When I ordered them a couple of the lids where cracked in shipping, but Lee valley immediately replaced them with no hassle. They provided the best customer service I have had from any company all year, which basically sealed the deal in buying more from them as I expand my shop.
Right now, I am incredibly happy with the economy style of box, and they are meeting my shop’s needs. In the future, I may buy one or two of the other boxes to see what I am missing, and write an updated blog post to include them.
You can find the sorting bins here on Lee Valley’s website.

Here is the video of the rack build I had talked about

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I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
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  1. Thank you for going the extra mile and “sorting” out the dilemma caused by Adam Savage showing us a system which is either unattainable or beyond the budget of mere mortals. I’m sure Adam would be pleased!

  2. Reading your article sounded like an exact version of my own experience. Sortimo – Shmortimo! Lee Valley has a great reputation in woodworking circles and I’ve bought a few expensive items on pure faith from them in the past without disappointment – so I bought the larger “briefcase style” bins on the basis of their earned faith. Again, I was not disappointed. At $50+ for the Small Professional Modular Storage Case and less than $5 more for the Large, I would say they are priced well for an item with this much engineering and built in quality – perhaps even a bargain considering they really don’t have any competition in the U.S. Choosing between Small and Large, since it’s only 5-bucks, comes down to what you plan to put in them. I use these initial purchases for my leather-working hardware – the Small case for rivets, eyelets, snaps, etc. The Large case is big enough for buckles, rings and even tools that I don’t use all that frequently. And the extra bins you can purchase separately are, as you point out, VERY inexpensive.

  3. Allit is actually the name of the (German) company that makes them. The “economy” model is called EuroPlus Flex 37. Prices seem to vary a lot, from about 9 euros in Germany to over 20 pounds in the UK.

  4. Or you could use fishing tackle organizers. They are configurable, see through and cheap as dirt. The company “Plano” make a line called the stowaway that comes in a lot of different sizes, widths and depths and they are all customizable inside.

  5. From the pictures on Newark and other sites, at least some of the boxes in the EuroPlus Flex line don’t have the compartment isolating lid.

    1. Just a quick follow up.I took Brian’s lead and ordered the Lee Valley Tools alternative and they’re great. They look almost identical to Allit and hold up well. I’m just about to order more, hopefully Lee Valley will continue to sell them indefinitely. Simply can’t be beat for the price compared to the European alternative!

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