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Using bins to organize your modeling

Different sized and colored bins could be just the thing for speeding up your modeling projects
If you’re like me, you have multiple kits underway at any given time (read “numerous”), and you have a potential challenge keeping parts and subassemblies organized. In my case, I also have a disheartening tendency to lose parts — I blame organization, although age may play a role here, too.

Over time, I have developed a series of organizational habits built around bins in an attempt to fend off lost or missing parts — or the time-consuming and frustrating search for the next piece, or subassembly, in line.

Each build begins by cutting parts from the sprues —I call this “harvesting” the kit. Since I am primarily an aircraft modeler, I start with the major airframe components, stopping along the way for fit checks (and the obligatory “flight” around the basement accompanied by suitable engine noise). These tend to go in larger bins or, possibly, back in the kit box. All other components are removed from the sprue and placed in compartments, roughly grouped by subassembly. If parts are small or fragile, I try to cut off the number tab with it. Another option for large, similar-looking parts is to scribe the part number on a non-visible surface. Harvesting the kit parts lets me dispose of the large, space-consuming kit sprues and free up valuable workbench space.

After all the parts are sorted and binned, I pick a subassembly to work on — not necessarily the first one in the instructions (Shhhh! Don’t tell!) — and clean up the parts. Faced with many parts, I will often place the cleaned-up items in a bin separate from the unprepared ones. This phase lasts until all components are prepared. Once the prep steps are complete and subassemblies are under construction, I’ll reuse bins to organize things by paint color. This helps me remember that one part or assembly needs to be sprayed the same color as all the other freshly painted parts.

As the build morphs from a collection of parts into a model, the bin organization morphs from assembly to painting. I’m not particular about color-coding the bins or anything like that, but it is certainly possible if that helps you track part status.

Reasonably priced bins in various sizes and shapes can be found at most discount stores. Plastic baby-food containers are a perfect source for small bins — these applesauce containers are perfect for holding smaller parts and assemblies. And the applesauce isn’t half bad, either.

Next time you talk about binning a kit, hopefully you’re referring to adding organization and not throwing the project away. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer — only the one that works to keep you organized and efficient.
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