There are numerous "review" sites on the web that claim to review the different hardware or craft bins on the market. These sites are nothing but automated pages that have gathered listings from Amazon, copied their content, and then published the star reviews. None of these review sites actually claim to have used them. We have used hundreds of storage bins over the years, from many different manufactures, for different storage types, and across thousands of small and large parts alike. Currently, most of our hardware cabinets store all of our electronic components (resistors, capacitors, integrated circuits, ...) and mechanical hardware (nuts, bolts, screws, standoffs). So, if you are in a different industry your experience may vary but we want to hear about it. These reviews are only focused on current manufacturers that you can currently buy on the market.
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Akro-Mils is the largest manufacturer of craft hardware cabinets in the United States by a significant margin. According to Amazon sales, they outsell all other manufacturers combined by a factor of 10 or more. Is it because they are better quality, not necessarily in our opinion. Rather, it seems Akro-Mils is the big dog simply because of a long history in the market, name recognition, and a far greater number of reviews on most e-commerce sites. Lets let's look at the specifics:
Akro-Mils offers five primary cabinet options: a 64 small drawer unit (10164), a 24 large drawer unit (10124), a 12 large drawer plus 32 small drawer unit (10144) , a 6 large drawer plus 20 small drawer unit (10126), and then a small unit with 16 small drawers (10116).
They offer two different bin sizes between their different cabinets. The small sized bins have inside dimensions of 1.95" wide and 5.25" long. The large bins measure 4.15" wide and 5.15" long on the inside. Both bin types offer one slot for dividers, the small one can be split width wise, the large bins split length wise. Both bin sizes come with small holes in the bottom of the bins that may need to be taped over to keep the smallest parts from falling out. The front grabs on the bins are well sized so as to easily pull the drawers out. One negative about bins is that they have a stepped size right in the middle height of the bins. This makes putting a label across the front harder, not impossible, but just harder and will have a ripple in it.
The biggest complaint about the Akro-Mils bins is the quality. Akro-Bin cabinet housings used to be made of metal and the bins of a much harder plastic. Now, the frames are made of a less than sturdy plastic and the bins of a soft plastic. Overall this isn't a big deal, but there are lots of complaints of people trying to load the bins with heavy items. The bins then sag and pull the frame down, making it hard to remove the bins. This typically isn't a problem we have seen with much smaller and lighter components.
The second biggest complain with the Akro bins is the lack of dividers. The bins come with slots to support them but Akro-Mils only provides a few with each unit. They also have to be cut out of the plastic in the back and this can further reduce the frame strength of your cabinet. They do offer additional packs of dividers but the price to purchase enough to fill the cabinet is also the same as the price of the cabinet itself. That is why Bin Better started manufacturing our own dividers. Ours are not only much cheaper, when purchased in full unit quantities, they also offer far more flexibility in how the bins can be divided.
The last thing to discuss are the costs. Akro-Mils bins are one of the more expensive brands out there. In our opinion, they may not be worth the cost. While most of our personal bin cabinets are from Akro-Mils, there were almost no alternatives available when we purchased them. If we were to buy more today, we would be looking at other brands as well.
- Market Leader - You can find them at many e-commerce sites and retail stores.
- Easy to Mount - Key-holed slots in the back make it easy to wall mount.
- Supports Dividers - Bins have slots that allow use of dividers.
- Made in the USA - Good to support made in America products if you can.
- High Cost - One of the most expensive units available today.
- Lack of Dividers - Only come with a few dividers that must be cut out.
- Holes In Bins - Must be taped over for very small components.
- No Mounting Hardware - Doesn't come with any mounting hardware.
- Light Weight Plastic Frame - Can sag and cause drawers to get stuck when loaded with heavy items.
Akro-Mils Final Opinion:
Most of what we use are Akro-Mils bins. They are perfectly fine for most users looking to store small items. If you are looking to store heavy items you might want to look at alternatives. Pricewise, they aren't the cheapest, so given newer options I would also consider looking at other manufacturers.