With a craft studio move planned for over the summer, I was given some birthday money to spend on craft storage solutions. This coincided with a sale at Michael’s on storage items, and I was able to pick up some of the Recollections line of storage cubes. I was intrigued by their relative cheapness per unit and modularity, but I thought I should test out one or two before envisioning some long-term project to line my entire future studio with these modules.
Here is a brief review of the second cube that I have assembled:
The Recollections Combo Cube, or 2-shelf with 2 drawer cube
Cost: Regular price $39.99, ding & dent price $9.99
In the box: Various panels, assembly hardware (screws, dowels), a drawer pull, and some decorative screw/dowel hole covers.
Some assembly required: Let me preface this comment by saying that I enjoy assembling, following directions, I build with LEGO even as an adult, and I generally like putting things together. I found this overall FUN to assemble. The parts are all labeled, small hardware is in labeled bags, the instructions are very nice and clear, i.e., attach A to B using screws from bag #8. So easy. Everything was machined very precisely, I had no adjustments to make.
The main parts of the cube were easy to assemble, although unlike with the last cube, I did have trouble screwing in the drawer-pulls on this cube. It felt like those pilot holes were not large enough or something. I have read a lot of reviews where people were very intimidated by the assembly of this item, or had difficulty with the assembly. I can only say that I had no major problems with the ones I have worked on.
Quality of materials: I go on a bit about what MDF is, and how I feel about it in my first post on the Michael’s storage cube line. The short version is that I would have expected a little damage to the corners anyway due to the nature of MDF materials and the way these products are packaged. I was pleasantly surprised by the first cube’s relatively good condition, and entirely unsurprised that my “ding and dent” cube had some slightly crushed corners. I will also say that Recollections customer service was very kind and sent out replacement hardware for me with relatively little effort on my part, since my “ding and dent” cube was missing some screws and such. And to be clear, I don’t have a problem with some minor dings in my cubes, even if I had bought them at “regular” sale prices, because I expect that these cubes are not going to stay pristine in my working studio space.
The one hardware issue is worth mentioning again – I didn’t even try the strange domed hole covers this time. I went straight for the little white vinyl stickers as an alternate solution to covering the holes. This worked just fine, and isn’t terribly noticeable, but again, some people might be disappointed by the look.
Use: I haven’t put it through it’s paces over time yet, so I will update this later when I see how it holds up. My expectation with MDF is that if the unit is exposed to any flexion through rough use or moving while full (or disassembly, which I don’t intend), the screws would begin to strip the small particles within the screw holes. Over time, this would break down the units to a point of unusability, so I plan to be as careful as I reasonably can be when it comes to moving them around and ultimately moving them into the new space.
With a couple of horizontal shelves, this cube has at last provided me with a place to store some 12×12″ paper pads. [Update: this may not be ideal for the paper pads either! See my note at the bottom of the post.] Because paper pads are so dense and heavy, I discovered that the Hanging File cube from Recollections is really better for loose 12×12 papers. Now that I’ve got a couple of these 12×12″ shelves, I might go for the 4-shelf organizer as my next cube purchase to give myself more room for those paper pads. But I think I better wait until I’ve moved my studio at this point, since I still have a rolling shelf set to build and I’ve largely run out of floor space. The two drawers are quite spacious and kind of deep. I think they will work for large dies like the “Bigz” Sizzix dies, of which I have many. My only concern is that since the drawers are not on rails (they just float in there), I might pull too far for the weight of a heavily-loaded drawer and have an unpleasant experience when they all drop (on my feet, perhaps). I’ll try to be mindful of it, but I also have a small child “helper”, so who knows what might happen – I’m going to try to keep him away from it..
As part of a storage system: Now that I have two cubes, I can check out the stacking aspect. Each cube includes stacking dowels (or caps if you aren’t planning to stack), to make a sturdier tower of cubes. Don’t take that “tower” idea too far, I think they recommend going no more than 3 cubes high. was skeptical at first that the four little dowels would really make a sturdy tower, but it does feel really secure. It took a little maneuvering and patience to get the dowels all lined up just right, it’s a snug fit. In fact, I suspect that if I tried to unstack them, I’d need a helper and maybe a pair of pliers to get the dowels out. I don’t feel like it’s going to tip, the sides are all very flush and smooth, and it looks great as one 2-cube tall unit.
Verdict: I’m actually more excited about this versatile cube now that it’s finished than I was about the uni-tasking hanging file cube. Time will tell how well they hold up to the usual craft-room adventures, the rearrangement, and so forth. And time will also tell if those drawers end up causing a problem with heavy paper-cutting dies in them, if I find something lighter to store in their unusual dimensions, or what! Overall, I still appreciate the quality-for-price ratio of the Recollections storage cube line, I think the look is plain but not distracting, and I think their storage versatility means they deserve a place in my craft room. I plan to buy at least one more of them.
Update: A few weeks after assembly, I was working with the dies that were stored in the drawers of this combo-cube and I discovered a problem. The shelf just above the drawers, currently holding a couple of12x12″ paper pads, was so bowed by weight that after the drawer was removed, I couldn’t put the drawer back because the shelf above the drawers dipped down into the space required by the top edge of the drawer. Argh! Now, as soon as I removed the paper, I was able to get the drawer back in, so it’s not permanently warped – yet. I don’t think this bodes well for my idea of getting a 4-shelf cube for 12×12″ paper pads. I think the MDF might be too flexible to store such heavy things well. I’ll have to give it some thought.