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Plastic Storage Drawers


Lightweight stable storage drawers were designed for use in compactor storage units to prevent overloading the floor in storage area.



Charles Pettitt
Manchester Museum
University of Manchester
M13 9PL UK
Tel (061) 275-2666
Fax (061) 275-2676

Photograph: Geoff Thompson

Publication: 1992


The 60cm x 60cm x 7.5cm drawers are made from high density polyethylene (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. High density polyethylene storage drawer.

The polyethylene was tested and determined to be chemically inert, fume-free, and stable for at least 20 years. The drawers are lightweight. However, they are sturdy enough to hold up to 4.2kg of specimens (including specimen containers).

Materials Tools Supplies

  • High density polyethylene drawers


The drawers are formed by folding the plastic over a rectangular lip-frame made of 8mm diameter, high-quality polished steel rod. The overlap is riveted at approximately 5cm intervals. Aluminum rivets are used for lightness and to avoid potential problems with corrosion.

A cutout, 10cm long by 4cm deep is made in the plastic along three sides to form handles. The cutouts are centered on the upper edge of the drawer and reinforced with an ‘U’ section of molding of thicker polyethylene.

The polished steel lip-frame provides a front-pull, and side carrying handles at these three points. A label holder of the same plastic is riveted to the front of the drawer.


These drawers have proved very successful in the two years since installation. There is some “bellying” of the plastic base of the drawer when heavily loaded, but this has not proved a problem, nor has it endangered the specimens. This type of construction can be used for shallow (3cm) or deep (10cm) drawers.

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