Here at Task & Purpose, we’re all about quality gear. If something can upgrade your quality of work and make life easier, that’s even better. One way to do both is to ditch whatever haphazard tool storage situation you have going on and get your hands on a quality tool box that’s up to the task.
It doesn’t matter if you have a few hand tools or blew your life savings at the Snap-On truck, there’s a tool box out there for you. We put together this gear guide so you can give your tools the home they deserve, whether you’re tricking out your garage or jumping in your truck and driving to a remote job site. These tool boxes span the size and price spectrums to give you a choice without sacrificing quality. Only good stuff earned a place here.
You spent good money on your tools, so give them the protection they deserve with this DeWalt Tough System 2.0 tool box. The size is designed for basics like screwdrivers and a measuring tape, but there’s also enough room for a full-size cordless drill and battery. A small, removable tray provides a place for small items like pencils and pieces of hardware so they don’t get lost. A waterproof seal keeps your tools dry during nasty weather, and two heavy-duty latches keep the lid shut tight while you’re on the go. We wouldn’t want to carry 110 pounds in this tool box, but it’s nice to know that it’s strong enough to support that much weight if we did.
If high-end tool boxes cost more than you want to spend, you can still get a great product with this 16.5-inch tool box from GearWrench. Heavy-duty plastic keeps things strong but light. It’s not what we’d choose for rough-and-tumble use on a construction site, but it’s more than capable of handling bumps and scrapes around the house. You’ll get a long main compartment, full-length tray, and segmented compartments with clear lids built into the lid. The metal clasp is strong, but don’t abuse it like you might with some alternatives. For casual DIYers, there’s no reason not to consider this tool box.
Brace yourself, because it’s time to get serious about this Husky workbench. What are you going to do when your tool collection outgrows your current tool box? Are you still going to work at a table like some kind of amateur? Roll one of these into your garage to get nine drawers combining for more than eight cubic feet of storage. Smooth rollers allow each drawer to support up to 100 pounds. Tackle projects on the butcher block top that stands 36 inches off the ground. Five-inch locking casters make rolling this tool box easy, even at its maximum capacity of 1,200 pounds. If you don’t have that many tools now, don’t worry. There’s always time.
For more storage in a portable package, check out this multi-level tool box from Craftsman. We’ve long been fans of the company’s tools, and this tool box lives up to expectations with durability and top-shelf features. Large wheels let it roll like carry-on luggage. A clever opening mechanism reveals three levels of storage: a midsized open container for things like your hammer and wrenches, a segmented tray to keep different sizes of screws and nails separated, and a large bin for power tools, batteries, and charging stations. It’s nice to see an option that splits the difference between handheld tool boxes and tool chests, and the price makes it that much better.
When it’s time to hit the road, keep your tools safe and accessible with a Weather Guard truck tool box. This aluminum box mounts to the beds of full-size trucks from the inside for a tamper-proof fit that requires no drilling. Powder-coated aluminum and a weather seal protect the box and everything inside it from rain and snow. Secure locks let you leave tools in your vehicle without worrying about theft. Two D-rings create mounting points for tie-down straps so you still have plenty of options for carrying cargo. This style of tool box is semi-permanent and takes up a fair amount of space, but we think the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.
Why should you trust us
If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to blow money on tools. Triple-square sockets? I wouldn’t own a Volkswagen without them. Torque wrench? I’ve got two of those. Impact driver with 1,200 pound-feet of torque? Absolutely; I’m not playing around. The thing is, tools have a way of accumulating and they can make a mess of your garage in a hurry. Staying organized makes a huge difference, and I do my best by using appropriate tool boxes.
The most common types of tool boxes
There’s a tool for every job, and it’s important to pick the right kind of tool box to keep your collection in. Whether you have a few essentials for small fixes around the house or a full suite of professional tools and one of those air compressor lines that unrolls from the ceiling (which some of us desperately want, by the way), you need an appropriate place to store them.
Small, portable tool boxes have been around as long as there have been job sites. Handheld tool boxes are intended to carry the essentials; not every tool you might need or a bunch of hardware. Traditionally, these were made from stamped metal and used a drop-in tray to separate large and small items.
We found plenty of options that use composite materials that are tough enough to endure life on a construction site without weighing you down. Some also have clever features like clear panels so you can see through the lid before rummaging around for something you need. If you only have a few tools, this is the way to go. It’s also what we’d recommend for transporting part of your collection to an off-site project.
Do you have more tools than your handheld tool box can store? Congratulations, it’s time for an upgrade to a workbench. This is a joyous time, so relish the opportunity to turn your garage or basement into a genuine workspace. You’ll enjoy a more tidy place to work and have plenty of drawers for all your tools and accessories.
We recommend looking for a workbench with locking casters that are stable when stationary, but easy to roll when you need them to. A fully-loaded workbench is heavier than you want to move without wheels. We also appreciate a practical work surface. Yes, wood is easy to scratch and dent, but it’s forgiving and — in the worst-case scenario — easier and less expensive to replace than steel. These tool boxes are expensive, but they last long enough that you’ll want to get the best you can afford the first time around.
Truck tool boxes
Trucks are great for getting work done. They’ve got plenty of cargo room, four-wheel drive, and lots of ground clearance. Unfortunately, they’re also great for getting your tools jacked the second you look away. Sooner or later, all truck owners realize that “finders keepers” is a very real thing.
Truck tool boxes mount to the bed from the inside, so only you can remove them. Locking lids let you secure your tools and keep them protected from the elements. Inside, there’s a huge amount of space for large power tools, multiple handheld tool boxes, and even your lunch. They also leave several inches of space between the bottom of the box and the bed of your truck so you can still fit things like plywood underneath.
What to look for when buying tool boxes
The first things you need to consider when shopping for a tool box are size and price. Small tool boxes, even high-quality ones, are inexpensive and can store things like screwdrivers, a measuring tape, and a few choice fasteners to get you through most quick jobs around the house. You can also throw one with a small socket set in your vehicle for minor roadside repairs.
As price and size increase, you’ll get access to more features and purpose-built designs. Do you need a way to safely store tools in your vehicle? Is your garage in need of a makeover? There are specialized tool boxes for both of these jobs. This kind of high-end option doesn’t come cheaply, but it can transform your garage or vehicle into a true workspace and provide enough storage for expensive power tools and specialty equipment.
The advantages of owning a tool box
Having a good tool box is key to homeownership, not to mention a great way to make yourself more independent and financially responsible. We know tools add up, but being able to perform most home and vehicle repairs yourself can save huge amounts of money in the long run.
Once you build out your tool collection, it gets easy to misplace things and let your garage turn into a messy pile of hand tools, battery chargers, and yard equipment. Investing in a legitimate storage system will keep your tools organized so you can spend more time getting things done and less time tripping over that damn rake that falls over every time the garage door opens.
If you keep tools in your truck bed, you might as well put a “free tools” sign on the bumper unless you have a locking tool box. These metal boxes mount to the bed and lock securely so your tools don’t wander off.
- Stay organized
- Keep the tools you use frequently ready to go
- Upgrade your garage
- Secure tools in your vehicle
- Extra space is an excuse to buy more tools
Pricing ranges for tool boxes
- Less than $100: Small tool boxes can hold the most common hand tools and a small power tool or two. This is what you’ll want to keep around the house.
- Between $100 and $700: Most rolling tool boxes and some truck tool boxes fall in this price range. Enjoy more storage space and extra features to make life easier.
- More than $700: Premium tool boxes come in the form of workbenches that provide ample space, organization, and work surfaces to tackle larger projects like a pro.
How we chose our top picks
We’ve used enough tools and tool boxes to know the good stuff when we see it. A handy person can spot weak components and poor build quality in a split second. We combined that knowledge with hundreds of reviews and thousands of ratings on dozens of products to find this year’s best tool boxes for your hand, home, and vehicle. It would be great to personally test every piece of gear, but this way is a close second.
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