Best Tool Boxes
Whether you are a handyman or a journeyman you need a way to transport tools and peripherals to and from the job that is convenient and reliable. In other words you need a tool box. Finding just the right tool box to fit your particular needs is important, but with so many sizes and styles available today it can be a daunting task. That’s where we come in. We’ve selected the 6 best tool boxes around and present them here for your consideration; starting now.
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Tool Box Buyer’s Guide
How We Chose Our Selection of Tool Boxes
We chose the tool boxes for this list by examining the physical characteristics of each box, the materials it is made from and its feature set. We then combined our findings with information gathered from the people who actually use tool boxes. That information fell into 4 categories:
- Quality – How does the box hold up under duress? How comfortable is it to carry? Does it feel fragile? Do the latches hold fast or pop open? These are some of the questions we sought answers to in order to discern a general level of overall quality for each box.
- Brand – When tradespeople find a brand that works they tend to stick with it. This is both good and bad. It’s good in that it promotes the long term success of companies that produce quality products, but it’s not so great because it can prevent worthy new products from breaking through to widespread acceptance. So the brand of a particular tool box was a secondary concern to us.
- Price – Although there are exceptions to every rule you pretty much get what you pay for when it comes to tool boxes. That truism however, did not prevent us from considering any tool box at any price point that seemed as though it was/is a value winner.
- Reviews – We never give too much weight to customer reviews, simply because it’s impossible to know who is actually behind them. We’d rather draw our own conclusions. When we do sift through customer reviews we’re primarily looking for trends or things we might have missed rather than the number of stars or particularly scathing or glowing comments.
Features To Look For In Tool Boxes
- Size – Unless you have a compelling reason to believe you’re never going to carry much in the way of tools you’ll typically want to get a slightly larger tool box than you think is necessary. This way you’re prepared for any eventuality.
- Storage Capacity/Weight – The storage capacity you need is determined by how many tools you typically use in the normal performance of your duties. If you typically need lots of tools you’ll want to consider a rolling tool box because any portable box will likely be too heavy to carry around.
- Material – In the days of yore craftsmen had elaborately designed wooden tool boxes. In the 20th century those gave way to steel, which was easier and cheaper to mass produce. In the 21st century the majority of tool boxes sold are some form of plastic or plastic composite. Plastic has some distinct advantages over steel in that it’s lighter, lends itself to a wider variety of designs and colors and costs less to make.
- Construction – Manufacturers can try and buttress their plastic tool box with all the nifty interior support ribs they want but it’s still not going to be as tough as a steel box. That’s not to say today’s plastic tool boxes are pushovers. They’re not. But generally the larger the portable plastic box the more you’re going to come face to face with the material’s practical limits.
- Durability – To some people durable means the ability to withstand heavy shocks and resist break ins. Which would make steel the most durable. While to others durability is tied to potential longevity. In which case plastic would be the most durable because your plastic tool box will likely still be around at the dawn of the next ice age.
- Compartments – Because a tool box is not just used to transport tools you’re going to want yours to have as many compartments, drawers, trays and cubbies as possible. While there are some folks for whom “organization” is a kind of 4-letter word, for most of us the more options we have when it comes to arranging our materials the easier it is to do our job. And that’s true whether we’re talking about briefcases or tool boxes.
- Design – Tool boxes are a classic case of form following function. Portable tool boxes are going to be small(ish) by definition. Otherwise they won’t be very portable. Mobile workshops, however can get very large indeed. Many, especially the plastic ones, are also designed to be modular so that you can take only the components you need on a given day.
- Locking mechanism – Many portable tool boxes are made of plastic and even if this type of box accommodates a padlock breaking into it is a relative piece of cake. Security becomes an even bigger concern when you get into the realm of the rolling workstation. The sheer volume of tools you can store in such a box makes it both convenient and an obvious target for thieves. As such you’ll need to prioritize security features such as locking mechanisms.
- Waterproofness – Plastic tool boxes are never going to succumb to the elements but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily waterproof. Leave the average plastic tool box out in the rain and when you open those storage trays on the lid they’re going to be full of water. If you work outside a lot and water is an issue you should go with a tool box that is designed to be truly waterproof like the MILWAUKEE 26 inch Jobsite Work Box.
- Portability – If you need to take certain tools with you wherever you go your tool box should be big enough to store those essential tools but small enough to be carried easily. If you regularly take lots of tools with you you’ll need a rolling tool box like the Keter Masterloader.
- Features – Thanks to the digital and LED revolutions everything is being pimped out these days, including tool boxes. Some of the newest ones have built in lights inside while others have portable charging stations. The best tool boxes, whether portable or rolling workstations, have lots of interchangeable and removable drawers, trays and other storage features.
Types of Tool Boxes:
- Hand Carry – A hand carry tool box is what most people are referring to when they say “portable tool box”. This is the classic rectangular box with the handle on the lid that’s about a foot and a half long. Today, most hand carry tool boxes are made of plastic because it’s lighter and cheaper than metal or composites. Typically a hand carry tool box will have a shelf or tray inside that holds peripherals and can be removed to make way for a large power tool.
- Rolling – Today’s rolling tool boxes are available in an array of configurations and sizes. They may be largely horizontal 2 wheel boxes that resemble coolers or they may be enormous upright boxes – also with 2 wheels – that resemble trash bins. Then there are the more traditional rolling boxes that have 4 wheels and multiple shelves to hold all types of screws, washers, nut, bolts and other peripherals, as well as a large compartment to store multiple power tools and cords.
Tool Box FAQs
Q: Why Do You Need A Tool Box?
A: It doesn’t take long for novice tradespeople to discover the answer to this question. You need a tool box because you simply cannot do your job without one. Whether you are a carpenter, electrician, plumber, house painter or just a dedicated DIYer you need to be able to bring at least a minimal complement of tools with you to the jobsite and carrying them individually by hand is just not going to work. To a tradesman a tool box is every bit as essential as the briefcase is to the high powered attorney or investment banker. It’s how you transport the tools that allow you to do your job.
Q: Plastic or Metal Tool Box?
A: While tool boxes are available in a number of different materials the vast majority these days are either metal or plastic, with metal steadily losing market share even as you read this. The virtues of the metal tool box are almost entirely functional as there is no denying it’s going to be able to withstand the rigors of the jobsite to a greater degree than a plastic tool box. On the other hand, if you are willing to be a little more careful in how you handle your tool box, plastic has a lot to offer. Including the fact that it’s lighter, it’s not going to rust, it’s available in a wider variety of styles and colors and it’s more affordable.