Cool Tools
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Cool Tool: Bits Box

After building a brand new kit, many new hobbyists wonder why there are so many ‘extra’ pieces left on the sprue. As you make more and more kits, these extras start to pile up. At some point, you need to start the almighty bits box.

Cool Tools Bits Box for Organizing Spart Bits

What might start out as a plastic bag of the remainders can quick add up over the years. In today’s post, I’m going discuss a few ways to organize all those parts, and how doing so can help with your conversion skills.

Options for Bits Boxes

The term bits box can mean anywhere you store all the extra weapon options, helmets, and even unbuilt kits.

Cardboard Box

Often, the very first bits box is the same box the kit came in. The full sprues can be slid right back into the box for later use.

Extra bits in large pile

A nice advantage of using the original box is that you know exactly what kit the part came from. Or if you are in need of the head from a particular set, you can quickly grab the box.

The downside is that as you get more boxes piled up, it can create a real mess in your closet. But even more aggravating when you get the box out, only to find the bit isn’t there anyway.

Plastic Bag

A quick way to cut down on the pile of boxes is to clip off all the extra parts into sealable bags. Each bag could be for that particular kit (same reasons as above). You could instead combine parts from the same faction.

Using a Plastic Bag to Store Spare Bits

By removing the parts from the sprue, you significantly reduce the space required. You can toss all the empty sprues and recycle the empty boxes. It also becomes quicker to see if you have any of the parts you were looking for by looking through the clear plastic.

The downside of the bags is that they don’t stack and can spill everywhere if you aren’t careful. You could put all the bags into a larger box to store away. It is back in a box, but a much smaller box.

Small Parts Box

I started using small parts boxes for my bits. Also called tackle boxes, craft boxes, and the like, these are plastic that is only an inch or so high and have movable walls inside to create different sized slots.

Space Marine Bits Stored in a Bits Box

I buy a box for each of my factions and split up each slot to store heads, right arms, left arms, weapons, etc. The one above is Space Marine bits for my Mentor Legion. The provides huge benefits when I’m building up new models for that faction as I can grab each piece I need and mix-and-match between kits.

The two big downsides with the small parts box are the cost, and the time it takes to sort. While each box is only a few bucks (this one is only $8 on Amazon), it is more than the free box or nearly free bag. Regarding sorting the bits, well yeah that is a work in progress.

Organizing Your Bits

If you go with the small parts box, I mentioned that the process of actually getting all those pieces into each slot could be a challenge. But once you do, it is easy to find the part you are looking for.

I found the easiest way to get started with the bits box is to build it as you go. If you are starting a new army, pick up a small parts box to go along with it. As you clip out the extra bits, add them to the empty box. If you go for the mix-and-match approach with kits, clip out all the parts into the bins first, and then build up the units.

To overcome the backlog of boxes and plastic bags, I recommend a good movie. Grab your pile of sprues, your flush cutters, and a bits bin or two. As you don’t need to focus too much on clipping out the pieces and sorting them out, it can be easy to accomplish during movie night.

A stack of bits boxes on the shelf

As your collection builds up, you may need to get additional bits boxes for vehicle or scenery kits (which may require deeper boxes like this one). Mine has become a collective mishmash of organizers over the years. The next step will be to add labels to the side of each bits box.

What Do You Use?

Do you have a different solution to organizing your extra bits? Or do you even hang out to the extra parts? (I’m not judging if you decided to toss them instead) Let me know in the comments and add a picture of your solution.

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  • I use one of the small parts organizers designed for hanging on a shop or garage wall. It’s got a bunch of different pull out plastic drawers, which can be taken out of the rack, sifted through, and then put back.

    • I’ve thought about those, especially since many come in different sizes. I haven’t picked any up yet because I’ve moved so many times over the years.

      • Yeah, they’re not ideal for moving around. I ended up just dumping all my bits into gallon zipper bags when moving house. Then I spent several days resorting them once we were settled.

    • I used to have a couple of those, but eventually got too frustrated with stuff falling out of the drawers if they got bumped or tipped too much. They’re a great concept if someone ever makes a really good one, tho.

  • I also use the plastic parts box. It’s awesome for infantry sized bits, but I do need an upgrade/alternative for my vehicle parts.

    • that’s why I like the deep ones I found, they not only deeper, but each slot is bigger. Though much of my backlog of scenery kits are in a 1Q tote waiting for some love.

  • I purchased a bits collection from a friend, which also came pre-organized in a Plano plastic ‘tackle box.’ So, it was the best of both worlds: cool bits, and a provided storage medium.
    Outside of that, I use ziploc bags organized in model/shoe boxes by faction.

    • nice! I guess buying a starter bits bin in a box is also an option 🙂

  • I also use small parts boxes, though I favor boxes where the dividers are fixed. I’ve had too many issues with a divider lifting up and little bitz getting underneath so i couldn’t get the divider to seat correctly when trying to close the box, never mind the co-mingling of things I wanted separate…that could just be user error on my part though. 🙂

    More recently, I’ve begun to leave more on sprue due to the crazy paring between various arms/weapons/hands/etc. these days. I don’t stand a chance pulling the correct left arm to match the right arm holding a weapon, for example. I spend too much time figuring our the right pairings. So I find myself using small Ziploc backs to group related parts and dropping those in a larger plastic box along with some sprues, etc…and then a bunch of loose stuff.

    So you can use a “bib box” approach, with small craft Ziploc bags to prevent things from getting lost in the sea of bitz…

    • My Sternguard and Vanguard sprues are in their boxes for this exact reason, arm compatibility.

      • I haven’t bought those kits, but looking back on the Deathwatch kit I see what you mean.

      • I’ve started cutting a lot of those pairs away from the main sprue, but leaving the part of the sprue that holds the matched bits together. Works better for some than others, depending on the sprue layout.

    • such a good point on the matching bits. They make for really cool models, but are hard to match up. That is a good use case for the plastic bags, a small sample size to hold just a couple of parts.
      Also a great point about the fixed walls. The adjustable ones can be a pain as you have to clean the connection point on each one. Some I have actually taken glue once I know how big each spot needs to be

    • I’ve been going through and reorganizing a few of mine recently, and I’m gluing some of the dividers in place for that exact reason. Just using white glue, so I should be able to pull them out if I need to later, but hopefully it will be enough to keep them from randomly lifting up when I’m going through them.

      • ah, white glue would have probably been better than the super glue I used!

  • I do the same with a small parts box, with sections for heads arms etc. Very useful for conversions, as you know where to look for any type of part you need, or rooting through for something that will look cool. I now have 4 bits boxes for my various factions (I did have 6, but condensed two of them, and was harsh with a few bits from my collection).

    • Yeah I completely forgot about the sudden inspiration of seeing a bit in the bin. Sometimes this has spurred a whole new model.

  • I don’t have near as much of a collection as most of your folks but I do need to work on sorting them properly.

    • Sorting them is task one, putting them to use is step two. 🙂

  • The sudden realization that I’ve spent over $100 just on storage boxes from Ace for my bitz is kind of sobering. I actually sort of still want one more. Got a bunch of stuff sitting around in ziploc bags, and what used to be my Vehicle box really needs to be divided into separate boxes for SM and IG Vehicles. These things pile up after 20 years in the hobby!

    • haha I am not sure how much I have spent on mine, nor do I think I will try 🙂
      I’ve got a few piles that I need to work on again. Usually after I do a new project I will end up with left over bits that I pulled out but didn’t use. Sometimes I hate cleanup…

      • I wasn’t planning on working it out, but I was looking the box up on their website, and they’re $10 each, and I have 11 of them. I actually went over and spent some time sorting some stuff after I posted that comment 🙂

        And yeah. Several of the bags of stuff I need to sort and put away are stuff I pulled out as possibilities for various projects and didn’t use, or didn’t use all of, and still haven’t put away properly 😛