Picture a time you couldn’t find the exact tool you needed for the task you were trying to complete. Maybe you started quickly opening and closing drawers, sifting through a mess of tools, re-checking the same drawer multiple times (because you were certain it had to be in that drawer – you just couldn’t see it), all while your annoyance levels were rising.
Wasting time looking for a tool can be a frustrating experience; we’ve all been there. Especially after a long day at work, no one wants to take the time to put away their tools properly, let alone organize their whole toolbox. We understand and are here to help solve your toolbox woes.
Below are some solutions to a disorganized toolbox and some tips for maintaining the organization.
Before we outline the basic principles for keeping an organized tool box, keep in mind the product you are using to store the tools. If you are just starting out and do not have any storage for your tools, the first step is to decide on the type of tool storage best suits your needs. Tool organization starts with the type of storage you use.
Roller cabinets and top chests are popular tool storage options for garages, workshops, and industrial settings, where the tools are more stationary and not needed to be moved off-site. With this setup, you will have many drawers to accommodate your entire tool collection. With more drawers, however, comes a greater need for organization.
Rolling cases, stackable cases, portable boxes, and canvas totes are primarily used by professionals who need to work remotely on location and carry their tools around. These are also great options for those who do not own enough tools to justify a large rolling cabinet, or do not have the space to host a rolling cabinet.
Tool Organization Solutions
- Drawer liners help prevent tools from rolling inside the box and are suitable for top chests and roller cabinets.
- Drawer liners are also a protective feature for your toolbox, preventing the tools from damaging or scratching the drawer. A good drawer liner is thick enough to act as a cushion for your tools, with some offering enhanced protection against corrosion.
- Drawer Liners are particularly suitable for long tools such as extensions and speeders that can be difficult to place in racks and organizers. That being said, other tools such as screwdrivers, pliers and wrenches can be securely held in place, by a good drawer liner that has just the right amount of tackiness.
- They also limit the amount of grime and grease reaching the bottom of the drawer and are easy to clean.
Small Parts Organizers
Organizers are stand-alone units that are used to organize and hold small tools and parts, such as washers, bolts and nuts, small sockets, and crowfoot wrenches. These organizers come in a range of sizes and shapes and are typically adjustable.
Made typically out of plastic, the organizer is light and won’t bog down your toolbox. They are easy to move around to the drawer that works, making it a useful organization accessory for your toolbox. It also includes a space to apply labels, increasing its organizational function.
Some organizers feature an interlocking mechanism to secure them in place.
Individual tool organizers
- Individual tool organizers are suitable for all type of tool storage and come in handy when having to organize tools that come in many sizes and styles such as pliers, wrenches, and sockets.
- Most popular organizers include holders, trays, racks, and rails (commonly used for sockets). Pick the organization system that is best for you and your tool collection.
- Some socket organizers won’t be able to accommodate all sockets, forcing you to store the leftover sockets elsewhere. Therefore, be aware of what tools you have and the system that will accommodate your needs.
- When deciding on your next tool set, pay specific attention to the packaging it comes in. For some products the packaging was designed to offer a workable organization and storage option that will keep the tools neat and organized, cancelling the need for extra organizers.
- For example, some socket sets come in blow mold cases with removable lids, purposefully designed to fit nicely in the toolbox, or some socket sets come with plastic or metal socket rails.
- Other items that may come with storage options include: wrenches (with plastic holders or rails), pliers (with storage racks), and screwdrivers (with storage racks).
- While tool organizers are great bonuses, they are specifically designed to hold the exact shapes and sizes included in that set. Product packaging is not a good option if you are looking for organizers that are universal, adjustable and can accommodate many shapes and sizes.
- Custom foam organizers are the latest trend in tool organization, and are offered in many premium sets.
- There are many benefits to foam cut-outs:
- Foam organizers are made using 3D design and multiple layers of high-density foam in contrasting colours. The bottom layer is a bright color such as light blue, red or orange, making it easy to identify missing tools. This is particularly important if you are working in an environment where it is mandatory to keep track of your tools, such as a 5S or FOD environment.
- Using CNC routers, the cut-outs are precisely cut to provide a tight fit for each tool, keeping them neatly organized. Long gone are the days of pulling all the drawers out to look through a mess of tools, this system allows you to grab the right tool fast, and return it in to the same spot when you finish the job.
- Instead of opening many drawers to gather tools, the foam organizers can hold similar types of tools in one drawer. Foam cut-outs can accommodate many different types of tools, which come in handy when you have a group of tools used for a particular job or tools that are used more often.
Five Principles to Follow:
- Group tools together by type and/or function for easy access. Usually top chests and roller cabinets are designed with narrow drawers that can be used to store tools from the same family, such as pliers, files, ratchets together.
- Label everything, particularly drawers and lids. Labelling provides a quick visual guide of where the tool you need is located before you have to open any drawer or lid. Many tool storage options have dedicated label holders so take advantage of this feature.
- While reorganizing your tool collection take the time to review the state of each tool and remove any tools with missing parts, tools that are worn out, or tools that simply do not perform the job it was designed to. Taking inventory of your tools is an important safety practice to maintain.
- Plan your storage according to the frequency of use and the shape and size of your tools. Group the tools you use frequently together and store them in drawers easily accessible to you. Bulkier and heavier tools should be placed in the bottom drawer of the roller cabinet, which is usually deeper.
- Keep spare tools, such as duplicates, in separate boxes and use the tool only when the original no longer functions or is lost.
Benefits of an Organized Tool Box
- Increased productivity. Time is money if you are a professional who uses tools to make a living. Having an organized toolbox means you do not spend unnecessary time looking for the tool or size you need, thus delaying project completion.
- Redundant tools- If the toolbox is very messy, you may not be able to find the specific tool and will improvise with another tool. You may then begin to believe that you need to buy a new tool and end up with duplicate tool styles and sizes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, backup tools are still useful. Store the duplicate tool in a separate toolbox, in case you need to replace the original if the original breaks or doesn’t perform properly.
- Keep track of your tool collection. Tools can be easily lost or stolen when the toolbox lacks an organizational system to make it easier to keep track of the tool collection. It can be a big dent in your budget to lose a tool and have to replace it, therefore it may be better to invest your time and money into creating a system for your toolbox that works better for your needs. Moreover, in many workplaces tool inventory and control is critical, which leaves no room for misplaced or lost tools.