Years ago I was given a steel rack and installed it on the north porch of the studio. Arriving steel was carelessly shelved without any real organization other than being about ten foot long. This really wasn’t a problem as long as my inventory was small and I only had a few sticks of this and that but after there were ten or a hundred pieces it was a mess. Invariably, if I needed a stick of 1/4” by 2” it was three inches deep under other sizes of flat bar and was impossible to pull out.
One year in the hot season I took some time off and obtained PVC tube in two, three and four inch sizes and rearranged the same-size steel inside the tubes. Previously I had used some thin wall three and four inch steel tubing to segregate various sizes of stock and I was somewhat surprised to feel how much easier it was to pull out bars from the PVC tubes that the steel tubes. The friction is much less.
I worked at the project over a couple of months and I think the system can’t be improved much more. It’s very functional. I can quickly see which sizes of stock are in short supply and they are easy to count for inventory. It is pretty easy for me to “eyeball” size the stock but since my wife does most of this counting job I often use a Presto pen marker to write the stock size on the top piece in the tube or on the tube itself.
The only hidden bummer I’ve found so far is that the outdoor tubes provide attractive space for mice and mud dauber wasps to build their nests. One summer I discovered an old but still fragrant mouse nest in a tube in the tumbler room. Soon after, I discovered a blacksnake nearby, apparently attracted by the scent. There is never a dull moment.