Sortimo and Sortimo-like products

During the day, I listen to ‘Tested‘ which has some podcasts involving Adam Savage, the enthusiastic personality from Mythbusters. One of the things I enjoy about these podcasts is that buried in all the geek-chic of movie fandom, prop making, and television stories, are insights into the practical side of Savage’s manufacturing skills and talents. He has some useful stuff from time to time, and I suspect that he’s a closet survivalist of some fashion, even if he wouldn’t use that term to describe himself.

As you can imagine, given his interest in building all sortsa things, Mr. Savage has a tremendous amount of small parts and tools to keep track of…much like those of us who maintain our firearms. In one of his podcasts he mentioned a line of small-parts organizers, Sortimo, that he was rather fond of..and the demonstrations of it were pretty impressive.

It’s an expensive system, and a bit difficult to find, but it appears to be the ultimate way to keep all those annoying springs, detents, and pins that make up an AR15 from getting lost.

Amazon, my usual source for this sort of stuff, let me down. I found one genuine(?) Sortimo product on there, and a lot of lookalikes. Fortunately, it appears you can order them off the US distributors website. Interestingly, it appears that Bosch is either a licensed partner or is just outright cloning the darn things.

I bring it up because I’ve been keeping most of my spare parts in the older-style Plano organizers, and while they are handy there is room for improvement. What I want is a parts bin that, as Mr Savage demonstrates, can be carried around like a briefcase and all those small parts stay in their compartment.

Anyway, it’s an interesting product, and the video is fun to watch as well. It’s an expensive system, to be sure, but I do believe that often you get what you pay for..especially when it comes to tools and tool-related stuff.

10 thoughts on “Sortimo and Sortimo-like products

  1. Take a look at: Stanley 014725 25-Removable Compartment Professional Organizer, $11.25 each at Amazon. Couple years back Amazon and Stanley did a “$10 off $50 or greater purchase” deal; can’t remember the exact details, but I wound up buying a bunch of them at a final cost of about $10 each. They’re still a deal at $11.25.

    The bins are: 12 each 1.5″x2″, 8 each 3″x2″, 5 each 4.25″x3-1/8″. Stanley has individual bins available separately, but they’re exorbitantly priced – $1.50 each for the smallest one, more for the bigger ones – and Stanley isn’t smart enough to offer an “organizer-full of bins deal for $8-10” so it’s cheaper to just buy a couple extra organizers and rearrange to suit. I’ve made long stuff fit (BCGs and charging handles, for example) by cutting the ends out of two bins. So far I’ve not had “cross contamination” of small parts caused by the lid bulging when carrying it like a briefcase, but I have had to “shake and resettle” one now and then when several of the bins were filled to capacity with heavy stuff like 3/8″ bolts.

    What’s missing from the Stanley system that Sortimo does have is the shelf system Savage uses. The Stanley boxes interlock – lid of one to the bottom of the one above it making a secure stack possible – and one can build a shelf unit similar to Sortimo from plywood, but it won’t be as spiffy (or as space efficient) as the Sortimo shelves. The big advantage of a portable-drawer storage system is the ability to easily extract a drawer or two and take it to the bench. Why Stanley hasn’t figured that out, I dunno, seems a natural item to me.

    Stanley also makes Vidmar storage drawer cabinets, in a variety of sizes, and a number of companies have copied them. Vidmars are much ‘spensive, although I’ve seen some on Cragislist for decent prices. Vidmars aren’t portable, and I’ve substituted on-sale tool chests with ball bearing drawers for smaller versions of them that can also be rolled around the shop, and also provide a small worksurface (or tool tray) on the top. . A couple of outfits make tool box drawer dividers, but I’ve had better luck with Rubbermaid, Plano and Sterilite plastic containers in the drawers. Unfortunately, no one seems to make caster-equipped tool chests with all 2″ – 2 1/2″ deep drawers that would be better suited to small parts containers – they all have a few deep drawers for power tools, etc. that forces one to stack containers inside the drawer.

    • I have a couple of those Stanley boxes. They are pretty awesome. About the only thing that’d make them better would be a shelf system like that.

      And dang, I might have to go order some just to stash…..

  2. UPDATE: Got to thinking about it, decided to order 5 more (Stanley 014725 25-Removable Compartment Professional Organizer) at $11.25 each. At checkout I noticed a $10 “Stanley Tool Promo Discount” making 5 = $46.25, or $9.25 each. That’s a steal.

  3. When the local hardware store closed a friend of mine bought their entire inventory of nuts and bolts, etc in the organizer racks and put it in his shop.

    At work a lot of older guys will have a gun cleaning and spare parts tackle box. At 1 box per major gun type you could have a portable answer. Got to figure if things are bad enough you need those parts the world is pretty crazy so you might not be peacefully at home.

  4. @TOR – Spare parts is good. Lots of spare parts is much many more betterer. Forgetteth not auto parts (hoses, belts, oil, spare lug nuts, etc.), blades for circular saws, miscellaneous home repair items, etc. but as for gun parts, I build “$100 wish lists” of parts at Brownells, structured by priority (EX: AR bolt parts (extractor, pins, springs, cam pins, gas key bolts, firing pin, one complete list). When I get a few bucks ahead I order one or two of the complete lists or double up on one list. The Stanley cases, especially if one buys a couple extra to get more of the small bins, are nearly perfect for this. Don’t forget parts are also future trade fodder – you might not have a spare fan belt for someone’s 2002 Ford pickup, but an AR “extractor kit” (extractor, pin, spring, o-ring) might be worth 5-10 gallons of gasoline for your truck someday.
    Pro tip: Small clear plastic bags (you want 4-6 mil thick) sized to barely hold the particular “parts kit” are the way to go, and for your own kits include spares for the spares – an extra extractor o-ring, pin and spring, for example, in case you drop one in the grass during reassembly.

  5. Something like what Savage displays would be epic, but I surely don’t enough small parts of differing kinds that I’d need a huge shelving system like that 🙂 If I were compile *all small parts* in my garage? Mmm, maybe 1 half of that rack system.
    One or two of those briefcase units though, sure!
    I’ve got them added to my wish list in case my wife feels extra sweet 🙂

  6. I use the Bosch system. Works great. I can’t speak to any intellectual property/patent issues with other systems but for me it is a good solution. A circular saw, drill and all the fasteners, bolts, marking & measuring tools, etc that I need for tasks around the farm all click together and can be carried easily.

    I don’t think you have to go the Bosch Professional route, either. Check out:

  7. I like the small cheap Plano cases — the clear plastic “Stowaway” ones that cost a dollar or two — for stowing small parts. They have enough compartments to hold the parts for a particular sub-assembly — an AR bolt for example: extractor, spring, extractor pin, gas rings, ejector, spring, pin — all in one small package. Multiple small latching containers have the advantage of being less likely to be bumped or dropped, mixing ALL of your small parts together in the sand/grass/carpet…

    They can be stacked in a GI ammo can, and combined with some basic tools to make a “field-proof” portable armorer’s kit. One of these days I will get around to printing a “cheat sheet” of torque specifications, parts numbers and such, extracted from the M4/M16 Technical Manual, and laminate that for inclusion in the kit.

    I shall have to do some thinking and experimenting towards a “field-proof” kit that would allow for barrel replacement on an AR. Not necessary for keeping a couple of ARs running, but if you’re the armorer for a group it could be handy. A bumper-mounted vise — as seen on some work trucks — would simplify this considerably.

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