The Bucket System

Tubs2Over the last year or so, we’ve been putting a lot of effort into sorting what we have, rather than acquiring more stuff. A large part of this has been sorting out all our various resources using free buckets from a local coffee pub.  The system has been successful enough that I feel compelled to share it.

The buckets we get are roughly 10 litre square plastic buckets. They come from Williams Coffee Pub here in Guelph. Williams gets muffin mix in them, and generate 2 or 3 a day. We just wonder in on a semi-random basis, ask if they have any muffin buckets, and usually waltz out with six to ten of them. They often need a good wash, and the handles and lids removed, then they are good to go.

We have seven or eight areas in the workshop where buckets go.  They are roughly sorted into different themes, like ‘basic electronic components’,  ‘electronics tools’, ‘hardware (bolts, nails, etc)’, ‘project storage’, ‘general supplies (paint brushes, pens, tape)’, and ‘odd stuff’.

Each bucket storage area is designated  by a specific colour. To mark the buckets, we got coloured duct tape, and did a half width wrap around the top of each bucket.

We are currently are in the process of marking each position with a letter/number combo, so that not only do the buckets go back to the same area, they also go back to the same spot.


Shelves for the buckets are made out of scrap wood, usually 3/4″ plywood scraps. The horizontal slats are glued and air-nailed on. They are really quick to make, and can be attached almost anywhere.


We found that the colour coding system makes a great difference to the rate at which the buckets get put back where they came from. I think people instinctively follow order, if you make it dead easy for them.

The biggest cost associated with this project was the duct tape, and even that, we got during a 65% off sale, so it was about $2.50 a roll. All-in-all, a fantastic success, as far as organizing the shop goes.

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