The first ever DP I did, I went one bag at a time (it was a tiny DP) and did the entire color because I had no place to store my drills (and they didn’t come in numbered, resealable baggies at that time). I ended up with piles of tiny bags taped shut for the colors I’d already done just in case I missed one (which I always did. Even with a light pad, this is inevitable, and I didn’t get a light pad until a few months after I started). It was a scattered mess and it took me forever to find what I needed.
I learned very quickly that a drill organizing system is essential to productive, neat and organized diamond painting. I’ve tried almost every system out there, and I have learned what works about each one and what doesn’t. Everyone has their preferred method, and there are great things about each one. There isn’t a wrong way to do it – except maybe the way I started, which was with no system at all LOL but there sure are a lot of different ways. I haven’t found my perfect system – they all have something I really don’t like about them – but I’ve found a few great ones.
Here’s a rundown of the many I have tried with details about what works and what doesn’t (for me). Hopefully you’ll find it helpful!
Harbor Freight Storehouse Storage System
- It’s very compact. I do not like bulky containers. While I have a large drafting table to do my DPs, I also often do large DPs, so when my drill organizer is large and covers my workspace, it drives me crazy. These are very lightweight and not bulky at all.
3. They’re really inexpensive. These boxes are only $5 each! These are the cheapest drill organizer I have ever come across that packs the most punch.
4. It should be a con that they only hold 24 drills, but they’re so inexpensive that it’s easy to buy 2 and have a 48-color organizing system. They’re also compact enough to stack them and have two sets on my desk without overwhelming the space.
5. The boxes are nice and large so I can just dip a pen in to grab a few drills at a time instead of pouring into a tray.
3. The boxes don’t always close properly, even if you think it did, and then the drills will spill out into the box. Another time-consuming cleanup.
My top choice is the HF Storehouse boxes (best value by a landslide), but it also has lots of drawbacks that keep it from being a perfect fit. It is, however, the only system I will recommend to anyone, regardless of the size of DP you’re working with. They’re so inexpensive that you can buy multiples of them to accommodate whatever size DP you’re doing and you can easily tuck away whichever box(es) you don’t need at a given moment to keep your workspace relatively clear. The containers themselves have some flaws, but they aren’t enough to deter me from using this as my go-to system.
28-day Pill Organizers
- These are very compact. The most compact drill organizing system I’ve ever tried.
- They’re really inexpensive. I think I got mine for about $7 on Amazon.
4. Easy in and out, just one quick snap.
Bead Organizers, 24-Jar System
- Again, a compact system, so I like that.
- Snug fit. Unlike the Harbor Freight boxes, these fit snugly while still being individuals jars.
4. Fairly inexpensive. I got mine for $9 on Amazon, which isn’t bad. It doesn’t hold as much as the Harbor Freight system but it does hold more than the 28-day pill organizers.
5. The jars are very wide so it’s really easy to dip a pen in and grab a drill instead of pouring into a tray every time.
- The jars are not particularly easy to get into. I like the ease of snapping open and closed, and these take much longer. The jars are also pretty cheap plastic, so it’s not even easy to twist them closed properly.
- The plastic is really cheap and brittle. I barely started a project with these, but I don’t anticipate the plastic lasting particularly long. One set that I got arrived broken but was packaged fine, so I’m sure the replacement set will break somewhere fairly easily and quickly.
4. They only hold 24 colors. I haven’t done a DP that only had 24 colors maybe ever, so I will obviously need two at once. While inexpensive, it becomes expensive knowing you’ll need 2 of them to complete pretty much any project.
NOTE: If you are like me and tend to open multiple containers at once, be sure to double label each one – a label on the bottom of the jar and one on the cover. I leave the jars open while I’m placing the drills inside it (these things are really a pain to twist closed) and if I mix up the covers, then I’m lost for which jar is holding what. A label at the bottom of the jar can make sure I always know which drills are in it 🙂
- I love that every color already is “ready to go” in a tray. I hate when I put away a color only to realize two minutes later that I missed one. This makes it extra quick to grab the tray and pop a drill down
- Surprisingly, these don’t take up much space at all and are pretty secure. With regular use, the drills won’t fall out. My toddler can’t reach where I keep them, but if you have a cat or a dog or can’t easily keep it out of reach of tiny hands, I do NOT recommend this system at all.
- It’s pretty. I got to choose the colors for mine (without having to spray paint) so it is appealing to look at.
- They are really, really, really expensive. To get 9 towers (4 trays per tower, 36 slots), it’s $50. And if I have a project with over 36 colors (which is often), I will need a separate organizer for the remaining numbers.
- Trays can only functionally hold so many drills. So it’s really impossible to kit up an entire project in the trays at one time. For colors with a larger amount of drills, you need to keep them organized elsewhere until the tray empties enough to pour more into.
- It is very possible for the tower to get knocked over and your entire project is basically done-zo. In a pet-free and child-free home, it would be completely fine, barring no natural disasters like an earthquake or tornado, but if you have the other types of hurricanes (kids, pets, a clumsy husband), steer clear.
Elizabeth Ward Bead Organizers
- There is not a single project that I could imagine that you can’t kit up in one of these babies. They will hold all the drills imaginable!
- There is an option to get one with varying sizes of containers, or you can even just buy the containers in all the various sizes. This makes it so easy to match your container to the amount of drills in a particular color. I LOVE THIS.
- If you don’t use up the entire box (I personally never have, but if you’re doing 100cm projects, you probably will), you can use the spare space to hold your pens, wax, trays, whatever you like. I don’t “transport” my projects, but seeing how big these things are, I will do that when using this system.
- It’s pretty expensive. I happened to get mine on sale for $21, but it can sell for as high as $50. To do the really large projects, it’s a must, but for the average project, it’s not.
- It’s super bulky. This thing is enormous. Considering that I’d only use it for a huge project, it’s a total drawback that the organizer also takes up half the desk space on its own.
- I constantly chip my nail polish when opening the containers. Laugh if you want, but this drives me crazy LOL It’s a very firm close with a nice hard plastic, so opening them up can take a bit of effort and can damage your nail.
- These come in various sizes, so depending on the size of projects you do, you can purchase one that will accommodate however many vials you might need.
- They have pockets so you can store tools with your drills (if that floats your boat).
- Back when I didn’t have a designated spot to do my DPs (which is the last time I ever used one of these), it was nice that it had a handle and I could really tuck everything together to tote it from one spot to the next.
- The vials are TINY. These hold the absolute least of any organizer I have every used. They’re just totally useless for any project over 30cm.
- The styrofoam that the jars sit in within the briefcase will tear. As you take the jars out and put them back in, the styrofoam will get stretched repeatedly, hundreds of times, and it just can’t sustain its shape.
- The jars are cheap plastic – easy to break and tough to open and close.
- They’re really expensive. I’ve seen some selling for $60!
- Since the vials are ridiculously small, it’s impossible to actually put your drills into them without either a teeny tiny funnel or making a mess or taking forever to do it.
31-Day Pill Organizers
- These can hold a minimum of 32 drill colors but up to 64 colors. Other than using the Elizabeth Ward tiny boxes or buying a huge expensive briefcase, this is the most compartments of any inexpensive organizer I’ve tried.
- While not as compact as the 28-day organizers, it’s still very compact. For having so many compartments, it really doesn’t take up any space at all.
- Like the 28-day organizers, these are a quick snap open or closed.
- The snap closure is very tight. I don’t worry about spills of any kind.
- While it’s usable up to 64 colors, it’s not particularly easy to see the second side (whichever side you place down into the stand) to know what color/symbol/number is there.
- I would consider these to be on the more expensive side ($18).
- The cap of the containers, including the divider between AM and PM, is one piece and it can (and does) pop entirely off of the container, which will mix the AM and PM compartments into one if you don’t open it carefully.
5. When you take out anything from the second or third rows (aside from the outside boxes), it will skew the boxes around it. You have to wiggle your fingers in to get those boxes out in the first place. Then, when you put it back, you have to adjust all the boxes around it. It seems like a small thing, but it really drives me crazy.
I was so excited for this because I really loved the 28-day organizers until I outgrew them, but it just didn’t work for me at all. I used it once and will not be using it again. Except maybe as an actual pill organizer someday LOL
There are a LOT of organization systems out there, and there are many I haven’t tried, but I have gotten some great information from my fellow DPers so I wanted to include them here.
I personally LOVE the process of kitting up a new project and ditching the bags, but I can see the appeal of this. Not every single DP comes in numbered resealable bags, so for those that come in the sealed ones, this will be a lot of work, but for those that do, this makes it instant to go from box to working on your DP. The boxes are small and come in all manner of adorable prints, so that is a huge plus. Michael’s constantly has boxes like this one sale for a few dollars and I’ve seen them at dollar store places, too, so it’s a really inexpensive (and pretty) way to store your drills.
I have not tried it because I imagine it’s not as quick as I’d like to return the drills from the tray into the bag. Even with the funnel trays, I think it might get a bit messy if you’re not careful. I’ve also had some issues with the plastic bags melting or getting stuck to itself in hot weather. I live in the desert and DP on the second floor of the house, so this would be a big issue for me. I also don’t like having to “riffle” through the box to find the number I need or to replace a bag after I’m done.
This system is not for me, but those that do use it really love it.
A fellow DP friend of mine sent me this photo and I was floored. How clever is this?!? It’s a spin on the baggie box that’s really so inventive! She keeps her bags stacked in the trays for the utensils and then uses the side and top compartments to hold tools. It doesn’t have a cover and it’s a bit on the large side, but for some people, this is so genius and will probably work wonderfully, so I just had to share.
Test Tubes and Racks
These. Are. So. Cool! I just love the unique aesthetic these provide. They are not particularly easy to fill because you need the teeny, tiny funnels to do so neatly (about $3.50 on Amazon for a set of 5), but I actually really enjoyed the process of kitting up a project in these. I have not actively used it yet, but I can tell you that I really love the idea of it and the look of it.
The unique style of this is definitely a wow factor for me. The look of it isn’t for everyone, but I really dig it. I also like that I can use a couple of glue dots to attach the thumbnail of my DP right to it so I know exactly what project those drills go with.
It’s compact and easily portable. The tubes are plastic so you don’t have to worry about broken glass. It’s also really inexpensive – only $14 for the entire set – considering you have 60 tubes to work with. The tubes do come in larger sizes, but the cost goes up. For my purposes, these work just fine.
Drawbacks would include that it is not easy to see the numbers on the tubes behind the first row. I can do the math quickly to figure out where the tube I need is, but that will be a deal breaker for a lot of people. And the caps are not flat so I can’t put a number on the top of the tubes, but I’m going to try to figure out a way that I can do that so it will eliminate this issue.
Also, you will probably need the funnel to refill the tubes as you go from color to color. I’m sure you can do it with just the spout of the white trays, but this might be messy and slower than just using the funnels. I store mine in one of the empty tube slots for easy access.
Lastly, you will need quite a few tubes to accommodate colors with a large amount of drills. I specifically used a DP that had a large white background to gauge the capacity of the tubes. One tube can comfortably hold about 5 of the small bags of drills. It took me 9 tubes to hold all of my white drills. However, there were only 33 colors in the project so I had plenty of room to hold all of them with more than an entire row of slots empty. It won’t work perfectly for every project, but it will work nicely for a large majority (excluding the giant ones, of course!).
This is super inexpensive and the cups come in so many different sizes that there’s really no DP project it can’t accommodate. I also like that they’re clear so I can see the colors I’m working with. My main concern would be that over time, with the opening and closing of the lids, the plastic will crack or break. But they’re so inexpensive that it wouldn’t really matter. You can toss them after every project if you wanted to. I am told that the seal is really tight (which would make sense since it’s meant to hold liquids) and you don’t have to worry about spills at all. My main gripe is that there isn’t a “container” to put them in and they’d just be kinda stacked around your workstation. I suppose I could buy a cute box from Michaels or somewhere and just kinda cram them in there LOL and then this might just be the perfect drill organizing system. It’s on my list to try out soon. For the enormous DPs (100cm and up), it’s really the only economical storage system available.
CraftMates Lockable Storage Binder
Okay, so I was THISCLOSE to ordering this just cuz it was purple LOL But decided against it. It’s really bulky, which is the antithesis of what I’m looking for. It does seem to hold a LOT of drills per compartment, and there are so many variations you can order these in so that you’ll have an adequate number of compartments for your average project, so that is a huge plus. It being in a binder form, it’s easy to tote around (something I don’t do, but would be very handy if you go from place to place to DP). I’m told that the slide lock may be difficult for someone with arthritis or carpal tunnel or the like, but that it’s also a nice bonus in terms of securing the containers.
So what do you think? Did I miss one? Do you disagree with my thoughts here? Let me know! Shoot me a message on IG at mommy.in.the.middle or drop a comment below. I’m always looking for new stuff and love to hear thoughts and feedback! Until next time…