The word ‘companion’ can sometimes mean a lot of things. And it doesn’t need always to be an animated object either. Your best companion could be a well-written book, an excellent mechanical keyboard, or a car.
In the same way, a well-organized toolbox can quickly wear the crown of a good friend, and yet still, it wouldn’t be an overstatement… not even a bit.
You’d want to develop muscle memory to some extent. Then, you can pick the right tool for the job without looking at the box.
To achieve this kind of efficiency, you need time. However, if you keep your toolbox perfectly organized, this could get a lot easier and the job more fun. After all, an arsenal of tools won’t do you good if it takes ages to find it.
Besides, scavenging through your array of tools is always frustrating. Many of us have suffered repeatedly from bruised knuckles going through the pile of wrenches, hammers, and pliers. Well, it’s time to put an end to it, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why you’re here.
An organized toolbox will improve your workflow, save a lot of time, and keep your knuckles bruise-free.
Also, it’ll show that you’re serious and respectful of your crafts. You know what they say, “A man is as good as his tools.” And if you can’t retrieve your tools from your toolbox like a chad… well, that won’t look too good, would it?
Don’t worry. I’m here to save you from a world of trouble. This article will show how you can properly organize your toolbox. No matter what job you’re in, you’d always want your tools beside you whenever you need them. Hence, without further ado, let’s get down to the business.
What kind of Toolbox are we talking about?
If you’re planning to step into the world of DIY, then you might want to read this bit with a little care. If you’re not, do skip this part by all means.
Different toolboxes range from the good-old classic metal box with a handle to massive workstations that can fit in an entire workshop… you get the idea. The most prominent types of toolbox are that you can carry, roll and even mount on your truck. Let’s go over these categories briefly.
Tool Boxes You Can Carry by Hand
These types of boxes are the most common ones. Hand-carry boxes have a heavy metal body and a flip-open lip. Almost everybody uses this one, from pros to DIYers. The only difference that comes into play is its shape and size. So, naturally, they will differ based on your job description.
Speaking of which, if you do carpentry, then you probably already own a box that’s quite long and tall.
After all, you’d want to fit your hand saws perfectly in it. On the other hand, plumber folks like to carry a box that is more compact to house pipe wrenches and pump pliers. If you’re an avid DIYer, go for something in the middle.
This will soothe your mind if you’re serious about your trade. However, since times have changed, so have the characteristics and dimensions of a rolling toolbox. They do not depict the classic red fire-engine metal boxy look anymore…what a bummer.
They sure come in different shapes and sizes now, though. For example, the large metal tool boxes are perfect for having them in the shop. You won’t have much fun moving them from one worksite to another. These are big, stoic boxes you can roll around easily in shops.
Then there are rolling cases, stackable boxes, rolling bags, and finally, rolling carts. Pick your poison that fits your job. Speaking of fitting in, everything goes in these boxes, from mechanical and electrical to office equipment.
Truck Mounted Box
As you can imagine, these boxes are monstrous compared with other toolboxes. They are used mainly for transporting tools. They offer security and keep the devices safe from any kind of weather.
These boxes are like tents; organizing your tools in them is very difficult. Usually, these are used for storing large power tools.
Basics of Organizing your Toolbox
Organizing your toolbox after a long-excruciating day at work may sound like a luxury, right? But if you do this once, the aftermath will be much more enjoyable. So, before getting on with the ways you can organize your tools, there are some basics we need to go over first.
For starters, it will depend on what type of storage system you use. For example, let’s say you have top chests or roller cabinets. These are standard solutions for using as a toolbox in garages, workshops, and industrial settings.
In these settings, the need for moving tools usually is minimal. On the positive side, one can store many devices in these setups. However, you’ll have to spend some time and give some effort organizing your tools in these scenarios.
Now, the basics are simple, no matter what kind of storage solutions you may have. First, you must separate or group the tools according to their functions. Differentiate between the tools you use most and the ones you use rarely. This will also give you a fair idea of the things that you own.
There are many ways that you can organize your toolbox. Although managing your tools falls under the category of personal preferences, there are still some methods that you should definitely try. Here we’ll try two ways.
The first one is a bit more generic and will apply to any kind of box you may have. The second one is a bit more detailed and will require much effort from you. I don’t want to spoil anything here. You’ll find out soon enough. For the time being, let’s delve into the first method.
Organizing your box with this method will give you faster access to all your tools without scouring through the entire toolbox. In the end, you’ll have a better map in your mind of where your tools are. And if you’re missing something, you’ll instantly know exactly which device you are missing.
Know what you have
This is very important, and you’d want to do it immediately. Lay out all the tools you own in front of you and see if you’re missing something. This will also give you a fair idea of what you own and whether you need to restock your tools.
After assembling all the tools, it’s time to arrange them in different groups. Separate the ones you use more often than the others and look for duplicate tools.
If any faulty ones are in the stock, remove them and replace them with new ones. The main objective here is to have a good visual idea of what you have in your arsenal and ensure which tools are the most important to you.
Don’t shrug off the idea of using different boxes
It’s not a bad idea to have different boxes for different purposes. I mean, finding the right tools in a large box is always more complicated than finding them in a smaller one.
For example, you can store your go-to tools in one box and other less used tools in another. In this way, there will be less chance of mixing them up.
One more thing is worth noting that separating the measuring, making, and layout tools might prove to be a good idea. And at some point, you may have considered this too. Not only will this keep your essential devices safe, but it will also be organized and easily accessible.
Keeping the most used tools close
You want to store the tools you regularly use in the readily accessible areas of the box. Then, keep them on top so you can reach them in a flash when you’re working.
Besides, if you know what tools you’ll need to complete a particular task, you can keep them in a lift-out tray or the pockets of a tool bag. This way, you can save space in your main toolbox and access them more easily.
Store the heavy tools in the lower parts of the box
Every toolbox has these big drawers at the bottom. Use these spaces to store your relatively heavier hand tools, power tools, and batteries. Why at the bottom, you may ask? Well, this strategy has a two-fold purpose.
The first one is that keeping the heavy tools at the bottom will add stability to your tool chest. And secondly, if you keep them on top, there’s a good chance that your devices might fall over.
The smaller tools stay at the top
To have a perfectly balanced toolbox, keep the light and the smaller tools on the top. Also, you don’t want to go all the way down to get a hold of your screwdriver, right? Making your way through the power tools just to reach your wrench doesn’t make any sense at all.
So, small tools at the top and heavier tools at the bottom. You can also develop a healthy habit of not throwing things into your toolbox each time you complete a task. It will create further inconvenience for you in the future.
Finally, add some labels
If it seems like a chore, then it might be worth doing after all. Not only labeling everything makes it super convenient, but it also helps you organize your tools better. If you grow a habit out of it, you will find working fun and easy. Moreover, you won’t lose your tools anymore.
You’ll know where a particular tool is and where it needs to go after you finish a task. At one point, this process will become passive to you, and you won’t have to use labels any more. In short, labeling makes organizing things easy.
As for the labels, you don’t want to use regular paper and glue. They will not last and wear off quickly. It will add annoyance rather than being helpful. If you want to take this thing seriously, you might want to check some good label makers.
You can use them on all sorts of things. For example, here’s a link with some decent embossing label makers that you can use to organize things better.
This method will be more detailed and thorough, and it involves foam. So yes, in this section, we’ll talk about how you can organize your tools with foam organizers.
You can use this if you’re a single tray user or have boxes with drawers. This method is highly customizable, and you can make it suit your needs easily. Like the Mandalorian, I’m almost tempted to say this is the way.
Creating a layout and making a shadow box first
Be a man with a plan and make a layout for your tools. Begin by spreading the tools that you want to keep in a drawer. Before cutting the foam, you may want to consider what arrangements will be the best.
Follow one simple rule: tools used more often should be placed side by side and on the top of the drawer. Then, after you’re satisfied with the layout, go ahead and trace the tools using a marker or pen.
As for the shadow box, this is one of the most widely used tips. It will make organizing your tools super convenient. To do this, you must choose a foam organizer in two colors. The first layer usually has a dark-colored foam, and the bottom layer has a bright color.
What this arrangement does is that it will help you notice immediately whether you’re missing a tool or not. It also keeps things safe from damage.
Pro tip: Before moving on to the next step, I want to clarify what type of foam you should use. I mean, there are many, right? So, what you can do is go for closed-cell foam. This type of foam is well known for its moisture resistance and durability.
Tools you Need to Cut
I just mentioned above that certain foams are very durable. However, if you have the right tools, cutting the foam following the layout you made earlier shouldn’t be a problem. Any kind of utility knife should do the job. You can also use styro cutters, hot wire cutters, and hot knives for more precise cuts.
Leave some finger holes or a horizontal strip
Trust me, this will help you a lot. How? You’ll have difficulty picking up your tools if your cuts are too fine. On the other hand, if you leave more spaces around the cuts, the tools will move around. Now, we don’t want that, do we?
So, cut according to the layout, and make a circle around each toolbar’s handle using a knife or hole punch. In that way, you can easily pick them up, and they won’t move around either.
You can also get similar results by cutting a straight line through the middle. But, again, this method will work fine if you have an arrangement of the same kind of tools.
A creative way to organize wrenches
If cutting curved shapes seems hard for you, don’t worry. There’s an easier way, and it doesn’t involve any cutting of that sort. This trick works better for rather small tools, such as wrenches. Now, the first thing you want to do is take some measurements.
Determine the width and the depth of your toolbox. For example, let’s say the depth of your box is 2 inches, and the width is 10 inches. So, you’d want to cut foam strips that are 2×10 inches in dimension. After that, you can proceed to cut the slits in it.
Make sure the slits are not too spacious but rather a bit tight. After putting the tools in and out of them, the slits will loosen up. So, make sure the tools fit nicely and perfectly. This will save you a lot of space and not to mention, time while organizing tools.
How to save space?
Organizing tools doesn’t mean you have to get fancy about it. You can still save space and store as many tools as you want. To do so, you can put the smaller tools together. Besides, you can get really creative here. Use your imagination and make an innovative yet compact pattern to store more tools.
Now, if you’re having a hard time figuring that out, you can use a simple trick of changing the direction of tools. Trust me, this will work like a charm for storing screwdrivers, cutters, and pliers. Just alternate between their directions, and you’ll find a lot of space to work with
However, you must remember that saving space doesn’t mean you have to make things crowded. Just make sure you’re comfortable with positioning your tools, and you can get them faster.
To organize large tools, you’ll need thicker foam
You must use thick foam to store your power tools and their cords. You could get away with using several thin foam layers together, though. But it’s better if you use one layer of thick foam. Also, you may want to store heavier and larger tools in the bottom drawers.
And for the cords, make sure the cutouts are big enough to easily store them in the hole. Do the same thing for your batteries too. In this way, you won’t lose them in the future, and they will also be safe in the box.
Dealing with thick foam could be a bit tricky. Since cutting them according to your tools’ layout with standard blades will be hard. You can use a retractable blade with sharp teeth in this particular case. Measure the depth of your tool and see whether the blade’s cut will be deep enough.
Cutting Different Shapes
This part sometimes can be a bit tricky. You’ll see that there are some shapes that you can cut in one try. But that might not be the case with tools with many curves and complex shapes.
In those scenarios, you can cut out shapes in different sections. It will make the whole ‘organizing your tools project’ a little less complicated.
Make small cutouts with the leftover foam
You don’t have to make cutouts for every single tool you own… tiny ones. Instead, you can store them in a group by cutting a square-shaped box.
You can also store duplicate objects in them. Moreover, you can create these small sections to divide the shapes using thinly cut foams.
Stack-ons are your friend
Get plastic stack-on to store small items like nuts, bolts, or screws. These are great for storing smaller items. They don’t cost that much and keep everything organized inside the box. The littluns create more problems, and stack-ons take care of that problem.
Socket organizers are great too!
This widget is criminally underrated. As I mentioned above, little tools like these are the hardest to find and get lost easily too. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’re a mechanic.
Also, cutting holes in the foams for them is not that convenient if you ask me. And if you think that, you can simply cut a small square box and store them in it…that could work. But you’ll have a hard time finding the right socket in time.
That’s why get a lovely socket organizer for your box and stop worrying about them slipping into the crevices of the box once and for all.
Label your Tools
After doing all the hard work, if you find the strength to do a little bit more, then label your tools. You can use small initials on the label if you work with your mates in a shared space.
The double-colored foam will help you notice if there’s a tool missing…no doubt about that. However, labeling your devices will help you find your tools if they are misplaced somewhere else. More importantly, your buddies will know to whom those tools belong. To wit, label your tools. It’s the smartest thing to do.
Discard the tools you don’t use often
There’s no point carrying your entire toolset with you always. Make a list of tools or the duplicate ones that don’t see the light of the day that often. Simply, store them in your garage cabinet. This will help you have some more space in the toolbox rather than carrying a cluttered one.
Keep your toolbox tidy
Take some time off to give your toolbox a thorough cleaning. Remove all the foam linings and any dust particle that may have found. Toolboxes also seem to accumulate a lot of grease over time. So, to properly clean the box, take refuge in industrial-grade cleaner.
Before putting everything in, make sure the box is totally dried up. Then, give it a nice wipe with a soft fabric, and you’re done.
Wrapping it all up
No matter which ways you follow to organize your toolbox, you have to feel comfortable about it. The main goal here is to know where everything is and how you can get a particular item in the shortest time possible.
Not to mention, tools can get easily disorganized. Whether you’re a mechanic, a carpenter, or a DIYer, it’ll happen to you. But if you’re careful and keep things organized, you can make your life much easier. You won’t lose your tools easily and save a lot of time rather than searching for them.
While throwing everything back in the box after a job may seem right, it will only create more frustrations the next day. So, find a little time, organize your tools and get on with your day.
In the end, a perfectly organized toolbox will show that you care about your craft and increase your productivity.