Giving an old hardware organizer a makeover

When I was at the thrift store the other day, I happened upon this sad little blue metal hardware organizer for a couple dollars.

It was dirty and greasy, and the plastic drawers had issues of their own. There was glue dried onto the bottom of some of them and the backs of some of the others were misshapen, like the plastic had melted.

Plastic drawers from hardware organizer, before makeover

All the pieces were there, though, and the drawers opened and closed, so I decided I’d take it home and give it a makeover, similar to the one that Katie at Little House of Four had done. (Check out the link; she made hers look like a miniature card catalog. It’s soo stinkin’ cute.)

Metal hardware organizer spray painted black

My first step was to clean everything up, and then put a coat of black spray paint over both the metal cabinet and the plastic drawers.

Thin balsa wood for hardware organizer makeover

I wanted to make the drawer fronts look like wood, so I bought the thinnest piece of balsa wood that I could find, which was 1/32″. The wood was so thin, a kitchen shears could easily cut through it.

Balsa wood stained in Minwax Golden Oak for hardware organizer drawer fronts

I found a can of Minwax golden oak stain in my basement and used that to stain the wood.

Balsa wood stained and cut into smaller pieces for hardware organizer drawer fronts

Then I measured the drawer fronts and cut the balsa wood into pieces. I needed smaller strips for the tops of the drawers and larger strips for the bottoms.

Balsa wood drawer fronts on hardware organizer

Once I had all the pieces cut to size, I glued them onto the drawer fronts with Gorilla Glue. (Gorilla Glue dries really fast, which makes it perfect for impatient crafters like me.)

Jim Holtz idea-ology countdown brads for hardware organizer makeover

Then I headed to my local JoAnns craft store to see if they had any hardware that I could attach to the font that would make my drawers look card catalog-y or at least give them kind of a vintage industrial vibe.

I found these idea-ology brads on clearance for $4.49. The brads were numbered 1 through 31, and I had 15 drawers, so there were more than enough for my project.

Wire cutter cutting off the metal prongs on numbered brads for drawer fronts on hardware organizer

I wanted to attach the numbers with glue, which meant I had to cut the pokey parts off the backs, so they’d lay flat. A wire cutters did the trick.

Next I eyeballed where I wanted the numbers to go and glued them on.

Black hardware organizer drawers with beats, buttons and blocks stored inside them

At that point, I rounded up all the beads, buttons and baubles that I had laying around in various spots around the house and sorted them into the drawers that were going to be their new homes.

Black metal hardware organizer with drawers filled with blocks, beats and buttons

Then I slid the drawers back into the cabinet. There’s something very satisfying about organizing things and putting them all in one place.

Hardware organizer with numbered drawer fronts

Here’s a look at the new and improved hardware organizer. It’s so pretty I decided to leave it set out on a shelf with some of my other vintage finds instead of hiding it away in my crafts closet.

Black metal hardware organizer with wood drawer fronts

All told, it cost me under $10: $2 for the organizer itself, $1.99 for the balsa wood and $4.49 for the numbers. Everything else (paint, stain, glue) I already had on hand.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the numbers 16 through 31. If you’ve got any ideas, let me know in the comments below.

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