How To Choose The Perfect Toolbox For Your DIY Needs

How To Choose The Perfect Toolbox For Your DIY Needs

So you know what tools should be in your first tool kit, but where do you store them all? Here’s a range of toolbox options to store all of your tools.

The process of choosing a tool box is almost as fun as buying the tools themselves. Tool storage is available in a variety of forms to fit anyone’s needs — from an at-home DIYer to a professional contractor. Whether you go with a large rolling steel chest to a compact plastic tote, there is no excuse for not keeping your tools safe, secure and ready for use.

Hand Carry Tool Boxes

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

Plastic or steel portable tool boxes are the standard in tool storage. Even if you have a large tool chest, you’ll still keep a portable tool box handy for jobs outside of your workshop.

Most portable tool boxes are hand carry and have a fold down handle on top for easy transport. Look for boxes that have an inner removable tray that will help separate smaller items such as pencils, levels, and safety glasses. Without the tray, those small tools can get lost in the clutter of the tool box. The less you have to rumble through a tool box to find what you need, the better.

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

Some tool boxes have even smaller trays and containers built-in that help store hardware like screws and wire nuts. These are useful if you don’t have separate storage for small hardware.

At the lower end of plastic tool boxes, look for one with a metal latch as it will be more durable and perform better.

Metal tool boxes are classic and never go out of style. However, they’re also heavy, and you’ll tire quickly if you need a portable box. You can find these tool boxes for great prices at garage sales, often filled with tools as rusty as the box. Here’s how to restore an old metal tool box to its former glory.

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

Tool bags are a lightweight and portable alternative that many contractors use. They are made of durable canvas and have pouches to hold tools vertically for easy identification and access. These won’t hold large tools like saws, but it’s tough to beat the tool bag as a go-to option for any DIYer or homeowner.

Rolling Tool Boxes

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

A rolling tool box is ideal when you need to transport heavier hand tools and power tools. They work on the same principle as rolling luggage: You have two polyurethane wheels and a handle so you can easily roll it to your next destination.

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

This class of tool boxes is probably overkill for a DIYer or someone who works from a workshop. Unless you are travelling or commuting distances with your tools, you are better off with a hand carry tool box.

Tool Chest And Cabinet Storage

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

When your tool collection has outgrown a small tool box, it’s time to step up to a tool chest. Mechanics often pair these with a rolling tool cabinet. They usually feature large lockable drawers that are easily opened and can accommodate tools of all sizes.

Tool chests often have a large top that flips up to reveal more tool storage or work space. They can be used alone and placed on a work table or perched atop a matching tool cabinet that provides even more drawers for storage.

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

Think of these units as furniture for your garage or work space. Take measurements of your available space, like you would with a sofa, when shopping for a large tool chest and cabinet. Allow for plenty of space to work around your tool chest and for the drawers to fully extend.

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

Higher quality tool chests will include heavier load ratings on drawers, better drawer sliding hardware and bearings, thicker gauge steel, and better paint and exterior finish. You can also find tool chests that include built-in power strips and lighting.

Tool Workbenches

How to Choose the Perfect Toolbox for Your DIY Needs

Closely related to the tool chests and cabinets are tool workbenches. The best are steel and they provide a sturdy work area with tool storage below.

The tops are often made of butcher block, and like tool cabinets they sit on casters so they can be easily moved into position.

Accessories For Your Toolbox

If you use a toolbox, tool rolls are a great way to protect your tools and prevent them from damaging each other as they jostle around. It also makes them easier to access when you need them.

Drawer liners are a must with any tool chest to prevent your tools from sliding around when you open and close the drawers, and you can take it a step further by making custom foam insets for your tools.

Lifehacker’s Workshop column covers DIY tips, techniques and projects.


  • Personally i find semi custom is the best answer, it means you can get a decent base and make it fit as much as possible. Personally we don’t have a ute but do move around a lot so we choose to use a rolling box + matching top box. I used the old version of this

    1 base has
    All cordless – circ saw, recep saw, drill, impact driver, rotary drill, multi tool, angle grinder, torch, batteries, charger, handles, and a few accessories. I had to make a thin ply shelf in the middle to fit it so it isn’t just thrown in but it works well.
    1 top has drill bits, recep saw blades, the main bits for a tool belt (hammer, chisel, tape, pencil).
    Second base has a divider to lie flat small sledge hammer, hack saw, shifters, multi grips, etc… then the other side has a space for safety gear (2 ear muffs, 3 glasses, 2 glove sets), and PVC pipe cut up to make a small upright compartment one for each (screw drivers, other chisels, punches, etc…). The tray has a few bits and pieces like multimeter, soldering iron.

    A big sturdy box and it stacks securely the second small box on top, we strap either the bag with air tools or toolbox with consumables over the second base. My only gripe is that you have to use the shelf in the base as the lid won’t clip with out it, and it is longways rolling so it JUTS fits through doors. But for $85 (i think we paid $50 on clearance of the old brand but identical product) amazingly flexible base for any weekend warriors.

  • my friend just recently bought a kingkrome blue trolley, goes for roughly $450 from Bunnings.
    Very nice! It is really well built and holds heaps of stuff.

    Then he built a work bench using pine and red gum legs the using a solid core door as bench top so 900 depth and 2m length. He built it to 1050mm in height.

    works out really well, the bench as a built in shelf and under shelf storage on the floor.

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