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Tool Box Buying Guide

Whether you're a tinkerer or a full-time handyman, there's one thing we all know: tools are expensive! Given the cash you're likely throwing down for quality tools, it only makes sense to give them a safe home when they're not in use. Thankfully, tool boxes are not a one-size-fits-all business. Whether you need a small portable tool box for tooling around town or a larger stationary or mobile chest, there's a storage system out there that perfectly addresses your needs. We'll help you figure out what's best for you and your tools.

Published October 9, 2014 | By | Share
Storage Needs

How many tools to you have? Too many, right? Not if they're properly organized! If you're looking to store a basic set of tools (hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, nails, etc.) and mostly planning to use them around the house, a traditional tool box will fit the bill just fine. But if you're dealing with larger-scale projects or professional use, you'll need to upgrade your storage, too.

Tradesman 24 in. Hand Held Tool Box
Tradesman 24 in. Hand Held Tool Box

Once you know how much you need to store, it's time to think about where you'll be storing it. If your tool box will be stationary, weight isn't an issue. You can store tons of tools at home in a larger, heavier tool box or tool chest without worrying about throwing your back out trying to lift it. (You can even opt for a tool chest on wheels to make moving as easy as pushing.) If, however, you need to take your tool box on the go, it's important to take that into account before purchasing. Make sure to get a tool box that's lightweight enough to be portable, but still sturdy. If you have a particularly extensive tool collection, you might consider dividing the weight into multiple tool boxes.

Tool Boxes

Let's face it. Tool boxes take a lot of abuse. You jam tools into them. You throw them around. Sometimes they get left outside. That's why it's so important to buy a tool box built to withstand some tough love. The amount of wear and tear your tool box will face should factor into the material you choose:

Aluminum Tool Boxes

Aluminum is a popular choice because it's both strong and durable, but also lightweight like plastic. The cost of aluminum tool boxes is slightly higher than plastic ones, but they do tend to last longer.

If you're looking for something extra heavy duty, a steel tool box is your best bet. These models are designed for exceptional durability, strength, and longevity. While steel can be a bit pricier, they're also easy-to-care-for and typically last much longer than the other options, making them a good alternative for professional and industrial use.

Plastic Tool Boxes

Fancy yourself a handyman or looking to do some home repairs? For at-home use, a plastic tool box is a quick, effective, and inexpensive way to keep your tools use is your end game, this is an easy way to keep your tools in line. Organization can be as important as durability - at least when it comes time to find a specific nail or screw. No matter which material you decide to go with, look for a tool box that provides some organizational extras. Many tool boxes come with drawers which let you lay out and organize your tools for easy access, as well as removable trays and organizers. You can also opt for a cantilever tool box, with trays or bins that spread outward when opened. If your tools will be left on a work site or out in the open, it's a good idea to look for a tool box with a lockable lid for security.

Kennedy Cantilever Tool Box
Kennedy Cantilever Tool Box
Tool Cabinets and Chests

Don't get discouraged if a standard tool box isn't cutting it. That's just means it's time to move up to the big leagues with a tool cabinet or chest, both of which offer increased storage for real tool enthusiasts. These steel storage solutions have drawers in different depths and configurations, allowing you to store and organize a variety of tools. Generally, it's a matter of storage space, workspace, or transporting tools that causes a need for a different type of storage system. If your problem with a traditional tool box is lack of space, consider some of these alternatives:

Tool Cabinets

Generally speaking, tool cabinets are the largest storage option available, ranging from footlockers on wheels to full-sized closets, so they're perfect if you're looking to go big or go home. Tool cabinets also come outfitted with all the bells and whistles, from different sized drawers and chests, a foldout or portable workbench or table, shelves that extend out or fold up, sound systems, fridges, power strips, and doors that open wide, complete with hooks for tools. Many models also offer heavy duty, lockable casters so you can roll your cabinet where you need it and secure them in place.

Tool Chests

Tool chests are significantly larger than your average tool box, with some models featuring as many as five drawers as well as additional storage space - typically a big compartment for larger tools and smaller drawers and compartments to hold small and medium tools.

Besides increasing your storage space, a tool chest can also offer additional workspace in the form of a sturdy top surface, which can double as a one-step-high stool or low worktable. These will need to be made of strong plastic or metal and not bend or flex under considerable weight. For ample storage space, flexibility, and mobility, roller tool chests are a good option. Not only do they provide enough space for all your tools, but they can easily be moved around as needed because they are equipped with wheels.

Excel 7 Drawer Roller Tool Cabinet with Flush Handle
Excel 7 Drawer Roller Tool Cabinet with Flush Handle