In my never-ending quest to organize my shop, I started to look for better way of sorting all my small parts and supplies. My research led me to Auer Packaging and their Assortment Boxes, which are actually reasonably priced.
Auer is a German company that provides a factory-direct business that skips the middleman. They have a very large catalog of products, including a range of organizer boxes in five different sizes, priced from ~$7.27 to ~$17.28.
Here are the 5 Auer Assortment Box sizes:
- 30 x 20 cm (11-13/16″ x 7-7/8″)
- 35 x 29.5 cm (13-3/4″ x 11-5/8″)
- 40 x 20 cm (15-3/4″ x 11-13/16″)
- 44 x 35.5 cm (17-5/16″ x 14″)
- 60 x 40 cm (23-5/8″ x 15-3/4″)
What I’ve Been Using
My current solution is a large supply of Dewalt 10-compartment Organizers stored on wire shelving (I use Elfa). There’s nothing inherently wrong with these boxes, but I’m constantly frustrated trying to find the right box, and they often get caught on the shelving.
My long-term goal is to build another one of my modular cabinets, and I wanted to find a storage system with more flexibility.
Of course this lead me to Sortimo and Adam Savage’s (of Mythbusters fame) very appealing setup. However, after estimating my needs I was approaching an $800 purchase.
Doing more research, I discovered Auer Packaging Assortment Boxes on Pinterest.
The inside of each of the Assortment Boxes can be filled with their removable bins. A standard 1×1 insertable bin is 5.2 x 5.2 x 6.3 cm, (2-1/16″ x 2-1/16″ x 2-8/16″), which forms the basis of their grid system.
There are 9 bin sizes available – 1×1, 1×2, 1×3, 1×4, 1×5, 2×2, 2×3, 2×5, 2×6. (Auer’s page has their full dimensions.)
Plus, they come in 6 different colors – yellow, red, sky blue, grey, anthracite (Black), and yellow green, with the latter being the exact same RAL color as Festool’s green!
Auer Assortment Boxes are available in several configurations with each containing different assortments of their insertable boxes:
Alternatively, you can also buy the boxes empty and pick and choose your own insertable bins. If you want a specific color for all bins, this is the option you’ll pick.
It’s actually cheaper to pick empty boxes and pick the bins. However, they won’t fill the boxes with the bins for you, so this will bulk out the shipping.
Sortimo T-Boxx Comparison
These boxes stack up very favorably against Sortimo’s T-Boxx. A T-boxx will set you back $63.65, but the Auer equivalent is a very reasonable $22.85.
I needed 12 boxes minimum, which makes them almost $500 cheaper for an almost identical solution. In fact, whilst they don’t appear to be trying to compete with Sortimo, it’s interesting the marketing pages features a box equipped with a nearly identical internal box layout.
Stuart’s Note: Sortimo seems to be placing more emphasis on their “T-Boxx G”, with the black inset boxes as shown above. You can still find T-Boxxes with multi-colored inserts, but the lowest price isn’t much better, at ~$52 plus shipping.
Ordering a Couple to Try Out
What was a little concerning was the distinct lack of reviews of Auer’s solution. Whilst I did get some feedback from both the Festool Owners Group and the ToolGuyd forum, I had already decided to place an order for a few boxes. Fortunately the feedback on the products was generally very positive. However, the feedback on ordering the product was not as great, as I soon learned myself.
I placed an order for 4 of their smallest boxes, and filled them with a mixture of different bins. I figured I could make use of these boxes even if they didn’t work out.
To cut a long story short, whilst they do offer a reasonable 15.00 euro flat rate in EU, they don’t provide a shipping option to the US. After failing three times to work with DHL through their German website I ended up having them shipped to my brother in the UK. He runs an eBay business so it’s easy for him to slap a new label on the box and forward it on to me.
Auer really didn’t help me through this. In fact, I had to call them twice at midnight to get an update.
When the products finally did arrive, Auer’s packaging was pretty awful. The cardboard box was completely split on one side and the items inside didn’t have anywhere near enough bubble wrap to stop them from rattling around. There’s really no excuse in today’s e-commerce world for this kind of packaging.
That said, I was expecting to find some damage when I opened the box, but everything surprisingly arrived in excellent condition.
Auer’s boxes are solid and very nicely built. I was immediately impressed, and my frustration in getting my hands on these boxes was soon forgotten.
To open the box, there’s a latch on both sides that has to be pressed at the same time to open the lid. The box definitely won’t come open in a hurry.
The bins are well made and securely held in pace. There’s a 3/4″ perimeter on all four sides of the box. This seams like a bit of a wasted of space, but it does mean the items in the bins will be very well protected.
As I expected, the smallest 1×1 bins (~2″ x ~2″) are too deep to easily use, so the 1×2 boxes are probably the most useful smallest size.
When the lid is not locked into place a little spring holds it open, which makes it hard to miss that it’s not locked.
The bins are held in place by a grid in the base of the box.
There’s a matching grid in the lid, and the combination of the two grids holds the bins really well.
On the front there’s a handle which folds down. I found this a little unusual because all my Dewalt box handles folds up, but I’ll get used to it.
The top and bottom of the boxes are completely flat, so they do not lock together. I do find this a little surprising, but I had expected this from what I’d read. I don’t plan to stack them, so this doesn’t bother me.
- Assortment Box 30 x 20 cm – $11.63 to $13.81
- Assortment Box 35 x 29.5 cm – $11.94 to $20.30
- Assortment Box 40 x 30 cm – $17.12 to $22.65
- Assortment Box 44 x 35.5 cm – $19.76 to $28.33
- Assortment Box 60 x 40 cm – $29.84 to $42.31
I think the key question is whether I’m going to buy more, and the answer to that is a resounding yes.
These are very solid, well built, and a functional system. They are a significant upgrade from my large collection of 10-compartment Dewalt organizers.
I am, by nature, a very positive person, so I’ve forgotten about the frustration I had with the delivery. I’m placing an order for 20 small boxes, 8 large boxes plus a good mixture of variety of insertable bins.
Would I recommend them for others? If you live in the EU, yes. If you live outside the EU, then shipping them is not straight forward, so it’s hard to recommend them.
Stuart’s Note: Would you be interested if these small parts organizer boxes were available from a USA-based source? Let us know in comments. Maybe with enough interest we can convince a tool retailer or two to start carrying them.