Whether you’re an occasional DIYer or a professional mechanic, chances are you have a few tools lying around. And since tools are the kind of things you need when you need them, you likely know the value of keeping them all neatly in one place. But with the number of tool boxes available, it can be easy to not know where to start. Here’s a look at how to choose a tool box that suits your space and project needs.
The number-one consideration when picking out a new tool box is capacity. Tool boxes come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from handheld to modest New York City apartment. If your tool collection consists entirely of Allen keys collected from Ikea purchases, you’ll be fine with something smaller, such as a sturdy bag or classic handheld tool box.
If you’re a professional working in a shop or out of your home, you’ll need something much larger. There are also plenty of in-between options for folks who have amassed a substantial tool collection in their home, or professionals who work out of their vehicle. A few questions to ask yourself are:
- Just how many tools are you looking to house?
- Do you need something to accommodate specialty items?
- Where will the tool box live?
The final question is often an afterthought, but you’ll have fewer headaches if you plan ahead. Size is an important factor when you’re deciding where to place your tool box. Take measurements to ensure it fits where you want it to go before making any final purchase decisions.
Think Outside the Box
Something else to think about is the build of the unit. How mobile is your job or most frequent project? Not all tool boxes have wheels, and some travel much better than others, based on distance and the amount of stress they’ll be subjected to.
Industrial-grade polymer boxes with extendable handles do well if you need to transport a decent amount of heavier tools on a plane, for instance. A large rolling tool chest might be more appropriate for someone with a lot of tools who only needs to move the box around a garage, or wants an additional work surface. If you already have one large stationary box, you might consider adding a lighter but versatile rolling tool cart to complement your work space.
Tool Legit Tool Quit
The last major consideration is quality. For small fixes around the house, a box made from light plastic will do just fine. But if you work in an industrial field with heavy tools, you’re going to need better materials and construction to support them.
What level of rigidity do you need? A strong cloth is fine for a light load, but very heavy tools may require even double-paneled steel siding. Check out the casters for rolling boxes, and make sure they’ll support the weight. There’s a variance in sliding drawer hardware, as well, with ball bearings on higher-end products for extended, regular use. There are also all kinds of bells and whistles that can be added to the heavy hitters: lights, power strips, Bluetooth and even remote-locking capabilities.
Ultimately, you want a tool-storage solution that fits your needs, but doesn’t overdo it. Luckily there’s a wide variety of bags, boxes, chests, carts and combos to suit pretty much any situation. Take stock of your needs, and go from there.
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Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.