Storing tools the right way makes life easier when there's a job to be done. But the storage and organization possibilities are almost endless, from burly jobsite boxes with room for everything to simple belt sheathes that are just right for that one tool you want at your fingertips.
Regardless of whether you're dealing with a million sockets or a single screwdriver, the basic goals are the same. As you evaluate tool storage ideas, keep these principles in mind:
For organizing and storing tools in a shop or work area, look to tool storage cabinets, chests and lockers.
Rolling cabinets feature sliding drawers and caster wheels, providing tool storage that’s easy to organize and that can be rolled around a flat shop floor. Most rolling cabinets are waist-height, with a flat top that can be used as a workbench or a platform for stacking additional storage.
Tool utility carts are lighter and more mobile than cabinets, offering many of the same features in a more maneuverable package.
Side cabinets and lockers can be attached to the side of rolling tool cabinets, and they can also be used on their own as stationary storage. Side cabinets have sliding drawers, while lockers have a secure door and shelving inside.
Top chests, intermediate chests and hutches are designed to be placed atop rolling cabinets or on workbenches. Top chests and hutches have lids that swing open for easy access, while intermediate have fixed tops designed to support an additional chest.
Here are some features to pay attention to when choosing tool cabinets, chests and carts:
Don't let your tool chest become a black hole. There are many types of tool organizers that can help you keep even the smallest stuff in its place:
Foam inserts line the drawers of a tool cabinet to cushion tools and keep them from rolling around when moving the cabinet. When you open the drawer, everything will be right where you left it.
Socket rails and organizer trays allow you to arrange your sockets by size, making it easy to find the one you need.
Wrench racks, rolls and magnetic bars protect your wrenches, keeping everything visible and organized.
Bucket organizers are fabric sleeves that fit inside a plastic bucket, lining it inside and out with pockets to hold tools.
Triangular tool trays are designed to be mounted in the corner of a room or on the rail of a high lift.
Not every tool fits easily inside a case, and not every tool needs to travel. When portability isn't required, tool hangers and brackets allow you to stow larger power tools and long-handled tools that don't fit comfortably into your tools chests and boxes. Specialized tools that you use less frequently are also good candidates for this type of storage. Hangers and hooks are also useful for garage tool storage, helping make the best use of limited space.
When choosing hangers and brackets, make sure to look for hardware that's rugged enough for the tools in question. Heavy-duty steel hooks can hold 50 pounds or more, but for lightweight tools a plastic hanger may be enough.
When portability is the highest priority, look to tool boxes, bags and belts.
Hard toolboxes come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, from rolling steel boxes with drawers to the traditional hinged-top handyman’s box to lighter weight boxes made of plastic or structural foam. But the basic idea is the same—to pack some of the organizational and protective power of a tool chest into a size that can be easily carried.
Here are some things to pay attention to when choosing a toolbox:
Soft tool bags and totes are lightweight and easy to store. They can be simple, like collapsible fabric buckets and totes, or more versatile, like zippered backpacks that keeps your hands free for using hand tools or climbing ladders. Rolling tool bags can carry large kits, while flat zippered tool bags are designed to organize a small clutch of hand tools. Many bags and totes can also be hung on a peg or collapsed and stowed away when not in use.
Here are some things to pay attention to when choosing a soft tool bag:
For the tools you need access to at all times, wearable organizers are the way to go. Tool belts and aprons, tool suspenders and tool vests provide extreme convenience, keeping your most frequently used tools within easy reach while keeping your hands free. Add on tool pouches, holsters and sheaths for even more storage.
Here are some things to pay attention to when choosing wearable tool storage:
Modular tool storage systems take portability to the next level. The idea is to combine tool boxes, organizers, totes, bins and even jobsite radios and coolers into a standardized system that can be stacked and interlocked into a single unit that can be easily transported to and from the jobsite. And when you're back at the workshop, mounting can hold everything in place, keeping it all accessible.
Jobsite boxes are large, stationary containers that protect the equipment that you need to leave at the jobsite. They're weatherproof and lockable, designed to be a safe place to store tools overnight. Some jobsite boxes are simple hinge-topped chests, others have an integrated desktop for handling paperwork on site.
Here are some things to pay attention to when choosing a jobsite box:
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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