Your ticket out of hardware hell has arrived: Introducing the Screwboard Mk. III
People like to say necessity is the mother of invention, but in my experience, mild annoyance has been a bigger driver of innovation than anything else. There are few things more annoying than getting home from a trip to the parts store only to realize you forgot to get some bit or another. You repeat the trip but mess something else up. It’s a waste of time, but worst of all, it’s a momentum-killer.
My 1951 Packard restoration project is in its downhill phase; most of the big mechanical stuff is done, so it’s a matter of reassembling everything from bumpers to windows to trim. It’s generally satisfying work — every piece I add makes it look more like the car I remember, but it means sorting through a mountain of hardware to figure out what I need to fasten piece A to fender B.
I had the foresight to bag and label many of the screws and bolts as I pulled them off the car years ago, but there are still hundreds of other pieces that got jumbled together after four stressful garage moves. It’s a PB Blaster-soaked mess:
The stuff of nightmares. It could have been worse.
Assuming any of this junk is usable, I can guarantee you that if I need 12 bolts, I’ll only be able to find 11. It’s easier to buy all-new parts, but the room for error here is high; forgetting one set of bolts or buying coarse thread when you need fine thread means running to the hardware store a dozen times — sometimes in one day. My local shops know me so well at this point that they’re as eager for me to get the car on the road as I am, which is genuinely touching.
To cut down on the number of trips, I’ve developed the Screwboard. It’s not just a hardware organizer: It’s a Multipurpose Corrugated DIY Lifestyle Solution. I’ve made these twice before for other projects (including a near-miraculous one-trip Honda CB750K quad-carburetor rebuild), so what you’re seeing is the product in its most refined iteration yet: The Screwboard Mk. III.
Why cardboard instead of, say, a chunk of Styrofoam? I had used that latter material for the proto-Screwboard, but cardboard is easier to work with: Make a series of X-shaped incisions with a box cutter and you can punch screws and bolts right through the material. It holds them securely, and unlike Styrofoam, cardboard won’t dissolve if it comes into contact with solvent-covered hardware. The result is a handy portable catalog of exactly what you need to buy.
100 percent post-consumer recycled content.
The best part about the Screwboard is that you don’t actually have to know anything about the hardware you’re trying to replace (bolt length, thread pattern and so on) to ensure an exact match. Since you have an example with you when you go to the store, you can compare it directly with whatever they’ve got, or — and this is a hugely underappreciated benefit — have an example of the original on hand to help dig up a substitute if the hardware in question is obsolete.
To further aid your hunt, the patented write-on-able surface of the Screwboard means you can jot down notes directly next to the hardware piece, so you can see immediately how many of ‘em you need and/or add annotations. Eagle-eyed readers will note that I wrote “shorter” next to one particular bolt — that’s my own special code for “get a bolt just like this, but shorter.” Once you’ve got everything you need, you just check off the part and move on to the next one. Simple and foolproof!
As much as I’d like to take credit for this thing, I’m sure I’ve seen it before somewhere; it seems exactly like the sort of time-saving DIY tip a magazine like Mechanix Illustrated would have run. If you haven’t seen something like this, though, I hope it can save you a few trips to the hardware store on your next project.
And if you don’t feel comfortable making a Screwboard organizer at home, just mail me a check for $30 and I’ll send you one. Hand-crafted to order, your choice of metric or imperial sizing. Heck, for $30, I’ll throw in an extra one for free.
Cardboard construction means you can punch hardware all the way through, which styrofoam doesn’t allow.