Best Tool Boxes – Buyer’s Guide
Best Tool Boxes of 2018
|Product||Size, WxDxH||Weight, lbs||Material|
|RIDGID Professional Tool Storage Cart & Organizer Stack (Editor's Choice)||22.2"x12.2"x18.3"||36||High impact resin|
|STANLEY 020800R FatMax 4-in-1 Mobile Workstation||16.2"x8.1"x24.8"||24||Durable structural foam|
|CAT Tool Storage Premium Plastic Portable Tool Box||26"x10.5"x10"||8.5||Plastic|
|EXCEL TB2040BBSA 26-Inch Steel Chest||26"x12.7"x15"||51||Steel|
|ECLIPSE/PRO’S KIT SB-2918 Small Multi-Function Tool Box||11.42"x6.89"x6.89"||1.5||High impact resistant polypropylene|
1. RIDGID Professional Tool Storage Cart & Organizer Stack – Best Stackable Tool Box For Professionals
There is something extraordinary about stackable box setups: they look very professional and flexible. And that is one of the main advantages of this Ridgid set. You get three separate compartments, each of which can be detached and used on its own. The boxes are quite durable, made from heavy-duty resin with sturdy metal latches.
And they come in three different sizes, with the smallest on top and the biggest at the base. All three can be locked individually, or together as a stacked set. A great feature on these boxes is the gasket seal, which keeps their contents water and dust proof.
The stack comes on a trolley with a pair of wheels that are very sturdy. So if you have to move your entire toolset at once, this storage enables that with ease. Ridgid is a top brand, and you do get the build quality that you would expect from them here.
You will have to buy locks yourself, as the package does not include locks. The full stacked set can be locked with a padlock using a steel bar that runs through all three cases. Or you can use smaller locks on individual cases as well.
Ease of access is the main flaw with the stackable system. If you want something from the bottom box, you will have to remove the ones from the top to get access. Other than that minor flaw this is a great product.
The Ridgid stackable storage organizer comes very close to perfection. It has no significant flaws, and is extremely rugged, mobile, and has excellent storage space. If you want a pro-grade storage and transport solution for all your tools, including power tools, this comes highly recommended.
- Outstanding build quality
- Rugged design
- Very portable with wheels
- Can store tools, hardware, and even power tools
- Waterproof and dustproof
- Does not provide easy access to bottom compartment
- Locking mechanism is slightly flimsy
2. STANLEY 020800R FatMax 4-in-1 Mobile Workstation – Best Rolling Tool Box For Garage
Stanley is a big name in the business, and this is one of the most versatile products on this list. The main advantage of the FatMax is its cantilevered design. It has multiple storage compartments with different capacities. The lowest compartment is a bin that can accommodate more extensive tools and parts.
There are four storage areas, with ready access to each available from the get-go. This makes the FatMax one of the most convenient toolboxes we have ever seen. In fact, many people use this mobile workstation to hold anything from camping supplies, to gun equipment, and magic supplies! The heavy duty wheels make this very mobile, and exceedingly stable as well.
The whole contraption is around 28 inches tall. Some of the compartments feature expandable sections. Though very durable, the design is not completely waterproof. You also get a removable tray in the top compartment.
The latch and opening and closing mechanism could do with some improvements. Closing the whole thing at times can be hard. The organization options are also somewhat rudimentary and limited. The build quality also leaves a lot to be desired, to be honest, with flimsy plastics used.
The FatMax is a bit of a jack of all trades. It has shown its worth as a useful mobile storage unit for many things beyond tools. And therein lies the real value of this product. You can use it to store and transport all kinds of supplies. There are some quirks, and it is not a true heavy duty product. The overall utility does make this one a good buy in the end.
- Convenient cantilever design
- Deep storage bin
- Very portable
- Extremely versatile
- Somewhat flimsy plastics
- The latch mechanism is often faulty
3. CAT Tool Storage Premium Plastic Portable Tool Box – Best Portable Toolbox
Right from the first sight, the CAT toolbox oozes with quality and purpose. The black and yellow color scheme gives it a very pro-grade look. We really liked the sturdiness and build quality of this box. Though it uses a combination of polypropylene instead of structural foam, the box has very thick walls which give it excellent durability.
The overall design also deserves special mention due to the many tiny details. The organizer lid has plastic boxes with transparent lids for convenient storage, and metric and imperial scales for quick measurements. It comes with a removable tote inside, which is an excellent feature that can hold a lot of odds and ends. Below the tote are a handful of storage compartments which offer just the right amount space and organization.
And this box does manage to balance portability with storage capacity very well indeed. The handle is very sturdy, and if it does get too heavy, there are handy recesses on the edges for you to hold the box from either side. And the box also scores well in the safety and security department. It has padlock eyes on the lid, which can be used to secure your tools effectively.
This box comes in two variants, one with a plain lid and another with organizer features on the lid. As the cost difference between the two is minimal, we strongly suggest that you go for the one with the organizer lid. Do note that this box can only hold smaller tools and hardware, not power tools.
This can be considered a light-medium duty box, so don’t expect it to hold very heavy tools. The plastic is not heavy duty structural foam, so it scores lower on the durability scale as well, when compared to some more expensive models.
So, is the CAT tool box worth it? It has premium looks and a host of nifty storage and organizer features. But it is not a very heavy duty box. As long as you understand its carrying capacity and limitations, this box will not disappoint you. It is very affordable and offers good value for money in our opinion. This is a good option for beginners and DIY enthusiasts looking for the portable toolbox to carry their lighter tools.
- Very portable design
- Decent storage space
- Premium looks, fit and finish
- Not heavy duty
- Some durability issues
4. EXCEL TB2040BBSA 26-Inch Steel Chest – Best Metal Tool Box For Mechanics
When you want something a little bit more durable than plastic, something like this Excel steel chest is probably what you have in mind. The heavy-duty steel construction is the best thing about this large toolbox. And it also offers a lot of storage and organizing options, with half a dozen sliding aluminum drawers inside.
The powder coat paint job on the exterior is very functional and industrial. The six drawers and top tray storage compartment make this chest an ideal option for your garage. Though it forsakes portability for durability and storage capacity, it does have two recessed handles on the side. If you want to move it around, these will come in handy.
For security, the chest has a built-in lock with two keys. The sliding lock design ensures that all the drawers are kept securely locked.
The drawers have a variable depth, with the top three sporting under 2 inches, and the bottom three deeper at around 3 inches. The box in available in two color options, black and red. The black variant looks better in our opinion.
Though very durable, the finish and build quality of this chest could have been better. The pain job lacks polish, and some of the drawers have less than smooth sliding mechanisms. In some units, the body is warped and does not sit flush on the surface.
All things taken into consideration, the Excel is an affordable metal tool chest for your garage. At a budget price, it offers many features that you would find on a premium chest, As long as you can forgive some mostly superficial fit and finish flaws, this is a very value for money toolbox.
- Durable steel construction
- Lots of storage space
- Ideal for mechanics and garages
- Fit and finish is lacking
- Less than perfect sliding mechanism on drawers
5. ECLIPSE/PRO’S KIT SB-2918 Multi-Function Tool Box – Best Small Mobile Cheap Tool Box For Home
Toolboxes cannot get any cheaper than the Eclipse/Pro’s kit SB-2918. And that is an excellent thing if you have just bought your first set of tools. This is an accessible option for a beginner, with a basic storage capacity at dirt-cheap rates.
There are no advanced features to speak of as this is a straightforward toolbox. But you do get a removable tote tray inside. This can be used to store small parts and hardware and is a transparent box with a lid for safe storage of things. And it does have a sturdy handle to carry it around.
This box cannot be locked, so if you want to store valuable tools, this is not a good option. The removable tray is around two inches tall, while the storage area inside the box is approximately 4 inches deep.
The main problem with this box is its petite dimensions. It cannot fit many regular sized tools, like a hammer for instance. It can only be used for smaller tools and hardware. As a result, it may not be worth the hassle for many users.
The Eclipse toolbox has insufficient functionality as far as regular sized tools are concerned. If your tool set includes smaller precision gear, this might be a great option at a meager price. It can also be used to store your smaller hardware bits. But otherwise, it has very limited value.
- Very cheap
- Extremely portable
- Has removable box inside
- Too small to hold many regular sized tools
- Limited value
There is a lot of choice in the toolbox niche. The sheer array of toolbox models, sizes, and specifications can be overwhelming for a first-time buyer. Let’s try to make things simpler with answers to a few pertinent questions.
Who needs toolboxes?
Many people think of toolboxes as an optional extra, only necessary for professional handymen. This is plain wrong. You don’t have to be a pro, or even just a DIY enthusiast to need a toolbox. If you have a set of tools at your home, you need a toolbox, period. Even a basic homeowner’s toolkit will have at least ten tools. And it is best to keep them safe and secure all in one place. And a small toolbox is the best option for that.
Why use toolboxes?
Consider this scenario: you have a collection of tools in your garage. You don’t have a well-designed toolbox or any other more sophisticated tool storage options. Where would you keep your stuff?
You can either keep them all together in a heap in a corner/large tub or container. And every time you need a tool, you can spend minutes rummaging through the pile. And let’s not forget that tools left in this condition, exposed to the elements, can get degraded faster. This arrangement is also not at all secure. Anybody can come and take the tools away.
So, having a toolbox has the following advantages:
- It provides a single convenient location for all your tools
- Tool boxes have locks and can securely store your tools
- With quick access to tools, you can save a lot of time
- A toolbox also reduces the chance of damage to tools
What things do I need to take into consideration when shopping for a toolbox?
This is the primary consideration. If you are a homeowner who likes to make the occasional DIY home improvement, you can get away with just a small plastic toolbox. But if you are a hobbyist carpenter or mechanic, you will need a larger, heavier box to house all your tools. And the largest boxes are usually aimed at DIY experts and professionals who have an extensive collection of tools and hardware.
So always make it a point to create an inventory of your tools before you look for a box. If you plan to buy more tools shortly, don’t forget to factor those into your calculations. The toolbox specifications should give you a rough idea about their storage capacity.
What kind of role do you expect the toolbox to perform? Larger boxes can carry a lot of tools, but tend to be heavier as well. They are ideal for largely stationary storage locations in your garage or workshop. If that is the case, don’t forget to measure the available space to match it to a toolbox model. You want to avoid buying a box that is too big to fit into the available space!
If you move around a lot with your tools, look for a storage box that is optimized for travel. Smaller versions will have sturdy handles for easy pick up and carry. For larger tool-sets, consider a bigger box with caster wheels that you can roll around the place. Most pro-level boxes have these features. Don’t forget to check the weight rating of the wheels though!
3. Tool Box Organizer Designs and Features
Boxes with Tote Trays: Smaller boxes are less complicated and often come with a removable tote tray on top. This is a beneficial feature, as it can store a lot of smaller components, parts and hardware bits. If you are looking for a smaller box, we would highly recommend one with a tote inside.
Chests with Drawers: Larger chests often come with multiple drawers. They are great for organizing your different types of tools. But don’t get too caught up in the number of drawers in a chest. Always remember that tools can get very heavy when you stack them together. Check the build quality and sturdiness of the drawers. The drawer sliders usually come with a weight rating as well.
Cantilevered Boxes: Cantilevered boxes are a feature found instead of drawers on some of the larger boxes or chests. They typically offer more storage depth than drawers. It is not uncommon to see multiple storage compartments within each box. The boxes are also of varying height or depth, which is very useful for storing tools of different size. Such chests can be found with optional wheels for mobility.
Stackable Boxes: Stackable boxes or compartments are a step up from cantilevered boxes. These consist of multiple independent boxes that can be stacked on top of each other on a portable rack/trolley like mechanism with caster wheels. If you have a large number of tools that you want to carry around from job site to job site, this is one of the better options.
What are the different materials used in making tool boxes?
Metal: Steel and aluminum are the most popular options. The apparent advantages of metal boxes are their ruggedness and durability. These toolboxes can last several lifetimes with the right kind of care. And they can also survive a lot of punishment and rough use. But on the downside, they can be incredibly heavy. They work best as large, stationary chests and cabinets.
Plastic: A more modern option, durable plastic offers one clear advantage over metal: portability. Often, you will find that a plastic toolbox filled with tools weighing less than an empty steel box of the same size. Despite inferior durability when compared to metal, plastic boxes are very versatile and easy to manufacture. So they also tend to be more affordable. You can find plastic options among smaller boxes as well as stackable and cantilevered designs.
Wood: this was the original choice for toolboxes before the arrival of modern plastics and factory manufacturing. But these days, this is a very leftfield choice when it comes to toolbox materials. Hardwoods are the most common material used. They usually belong to the enthusiast niche, as they can be easily manufactured and customized in a workshop. You can also find various antique models on sale, with exquisite craftsmanship.
How does a toolbox compare versus some other popular alternatives?
Vs. Tool Cabinets
This one is strictly for the experts and pros, who tend to have an extensive collection of tools and hardware in their workshops. Cabinets offer the maximum storage space with a lot of bells and whistles. But they also take up a lot of space and provide limited portability (with caster wheels). They are not a good option for beginners, who can consider them as future upgrade options.
Vs. Tool Workbenches
Now, these are a great option for people who don’t have much space in their garage or basement work area. With a workbench on top of many sliding drawers, they offer excellent versatility. They can be a viable alternative to toolboxes for some individuals. But like cabinets, they also tend to be larger and can be considered as an upgrade to your first toolbox.
Toolsets are plastic cases that contain different tools in their designated storage spot. You usually get them as a set, with the tools already inside. But you don’t get the chance to customize your collection. And the case does not contain additional space for future tool purchases either. So these are very limited options, best suited for homeowners.
Vs. Bucket Organizers
These are massive buckets with fabric or polyester organizer bags draped around them. They have a lot of storage capacity, with numerous pockets for better organization of tools. They are best suited for large job sites as a common repository for tools and hardware. But they are not a good option for individual users, as they cannot be locked. A chest or box is more secure, and also offers better protection against the elements.
Toolboxes come in various designs, shapes, sizes, and budgets. You can get a fair reflection of that diversity on our shortlist of the best toolbox products online. When looking for tool boxes, the main concerns are storage capacity and portability. Steel and durable plastics are the two main choices as far as materials are concerned. Depending on your needs, you can opt for smaller boxes, larger chests with drawers, or more advanced designs like cantilevered or stackable compartments.