Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best tool boxes

Whether you work as a handyperson, are employed as a professional who uses tools regularly, or are a DIYer, you always want to make sure that the tools you invest in are organized and well protected. That’s why finding the right tool box is so important.

Tool boxes range from straightforward containers to large, multi-compartment chests. They’re designed to protect the contents from damage, but they’re also helpful for separating and organizing your tools. A tool box also makes it easier to carry or travel with your tools, which is especially important if you work in a field that requires you to bring tools every day.

If you only repair items around the house from time to time, a tool box is still useful for keeping your tools organized and in one place. That way, you always know where to find a screwdriver or wrench when something in your home needs work.

Looking for a high-quality tool box? You have to consider which type, size, material, and compartment layout best suit your needs and identify other convenient features to find the right one for your favorite tools.

tool box
Plastic tool boxes are easier to clean than metal boxes, so they usually require less maintenance.

How to buy the best tool box

Tool box types

These containers are available in several types. Your choice will depend on how you plan to use it and the extent of your tool collection.

Hand-carried boxes: These are small, lightweight, and highly portable. They work well for most DIYers and are also handy for professionals who only need to carry a small number of tools. Hand-carried tool boxes are made of durable materials, feature compartments for organization, and come in several sizes that are all fairly easy to store.

Rolling chests and carts: These tool boxes are larger than hand-carried models, but they have wheels that make them easy to move around. They have many compartments and/or drawers to make organizing your tools much easier. They’re ideal for home use and professional jobs that require you to carry heavier tools to a work site.

Chests and cabinets: These tool boxes mainly serve as stationary storage. They’re designed to hold heavy tools and are typically used in garages, workshops, and other professional settings. These chests and cabinets have multiple drawers and compartments for organizing your tools. While most aren’t mobile, some have wheels and a specially designed lid that can be used as a workbench.

Truck-mounted boxes: These boxes are installed in the bed of a truck. If you regularly have to travel with heavy tools, one of these can work extremely well. You can find them in multiple sizes, so there’s an option for any truck bed.

What size tool box do I need?

To determine the best size tool box for your needs, it’s essential to consider how you plan to use it. If you’re just using it to carry your tools around, it should be large enough to hold those you use most often. If you want to use it to store tools, it should be large enough to hold all of your tools. It’s also important to think about the size and shape of your tools. For example, carpenters often require longer tool boxes because the tools they use regularly tend to be rather long.

Expert Tip
Do not overload your box. Understand the max weight and adhere to it. Handles are the first part to fail if the tool box is overloaded.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

Materials

Most tool boxes are made of plastic or metal.

Plastic tool boxes are typically made of high-impact resin, so they resist shattering, dents, and rust. They’re lightweight and usually fairly affordable. Unfortunately, plastic boxes usually can’t hold as much weight as metal boxes.

Metal tool boxes can carry a great deal of weight, so they’re ideal if you have many heavy tools. They’re typically made of aluminum or steel, which are both rust resistant. Aluminum tool boxes are generally more affordable and lighter than steel and pretty impact resistant. However, steeltool boxes are the most durable. They’re typically larger than other tool boxes and ideal for storing heavy or sharp tools.

Compartments

Most tool boxes include compartments that allow you to organize your tools. Some have removable or adjustable dividers so you can customize the layout to fit your specific tools.

Make sure that any box you choose has room for both large and small tools. You don’t want to have to pull all your larger tools out of the box to find a smaller tool at the bottom.

Expert Tip
White vinegar is great for cleaning the box itself. It is safe for metal or plastic, cuts through sticky grime, and is cheap and easy to use.
BestReviews Home Improvement  and DIY Expert

Features to look for in a tool box

Handle

If you opt for a hand-carried tool box, the handle is a particularly important feature to consider. It should have a comfortable grip that fits the handle well. Some models have a rubberized grip with grooves for your fingers to provide a secure hold on the box as you carry it.

Wheels

If you’re shopping for a large tool box or chest, a model with wheels can make it much easier to move the box around your workspace. Some tool boxes have simple plastic wheels, while others have ball-bearing casters that allow them to slide around. Casters are usually a better option if you have many heavy tools.

Lock

If you need to leave your tool box unattended, a model with a lock is essential. A lock helps ensure that your expensive tools are secure even when you aren’t carrying your box with you every moment. Most boxes have a loop that you can secure with a padlock, but some models have a built-in lock with a key.

Water resistance

If you use your tools outdoors, it’s a good idea to choose a water-resistant or waterproof tool box. That prevents the box from getting damaged if it’s exposed to rain or other moisture. Check that the box also has a strong closure and seal to prevent water from getting inside and possibly damaging your tools.

tool box
DID YOU KNOW?
Wood used to be a common material for tool boxes, but it’s rarely used now because it isn’t as durable as plastic or metal.
STAFF
BestReviews

How do I accessorize a tool box?

Tool bags

If you don’t want to carry your tool box with you for smaller jobs or projects, a tool bag can be an ideal alternative. Some are even wearable, so your tools are always within easy reach.

Power tool set

You want to use the best tools possible, so it’s a good idea to invest in a good power tool set. These sets contain a range of tools like a drill, impact driver, and/or grinder that come in handy for many projects, including professional and DIY tasks.

Expert Tip
If your box gets dusty inside, place a piece of cheesecloth over the end of the vacuum hose. It will suck up dust and dirt while not sucking up small parts.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

How much do tool boxes cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable tool boxes are usually the hand-carried variety. You can find models made of plastic and metal, but they aren’t intended to hold extremely heavy tools. They’re ideal for home use, though they can also work well for professionals who need an everyday tool box. These generally cost between $20 and $100.

Mid-range

These tool boxes are typically the rolling type with wheels. They can carry heavier tools and make it easier to move them around your home or work site. These tools boxes generally cost between $100 and $350.

Expensive

The most expensive tool boxes are large stationary chests or carts. They can hold heavy tools, but they aren’t very portable. These generally cost between $350 and $1,000.

Many people use foam to secure tools inside the tool box so they don’t slide around and suffer damage.

STAFF
BestReviews

Tips

  • Sort your tools before placing them in the tool box. Sorting makes it easier to organize them so you can quickly find what you need when you’re working.
  • Don’t overload your tool box. Even boxes designed for heavy tools can be damaged if you load them with more weight than they can handle. Placing too many tools in your box also makes it harder to find the tool you’re looking for.
  • Keep the tools you use often at the front or top of the box. If you use a screwdriver a lot, you don’t want it at the back or bottom of your box where it’s difficult to reach. Save those spots for the tools you don’t use very often.
tool box
Many tool boxes are red so they stand out easily on a busy construction or work site.

FAQ

Q. What should I keep in my tool box?

A. If you’re a plumber, carpenter, electrician, or other professional, you know exactly what tools you need daily. But if you want to make sure that you have the proper tools for basic DIY projects around the house, invest in a flathead screwdriver, Phillips-head screwdriver, claw hammer, pliers, utility knife, adjustable wrench, measuring tape, level, clamps, and flashlight. You might need additional tools for specific tasks, but these are a good start.

Q. How should I clean my tool box?

A. Empty it first to protect your tools. To remove any dust, dirt, or residue from the box, wipe down the surface with a general household cleaner. If your box has oil or grease stains, a rag dampened with paint thinner can usually remove them.

Q. Are tool boxes that come with tools a good value?

A. If you don’t have any tools, buying a tool box that comes with a few tools can be a good investment. They usually have all the basic tools a homeowner or apartment dweller would need to take care of small projects around the house. If you already have tools, you’ll probably find that the tools included with a box are lower quality and don’t offer the best value.

 

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