Best Tool Chests: Find the Right Chest to Organize Your Tool Collection
Take care of all those tools cluttering your garage with a tool chest
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PUBLISHED ON May 10, 2019
If you are a mechanic, contractor, handyman, or DIYer, then you know the importance of having a metal tool chest. A tool chest can save you lots of time searching for the right socket or Phillips head to complete a project, making it a great storage solution. With that in mind, here are what we consider to be the top-rated tool chests.
- Best OverallCraftsman Six Drawer Heavy Duty Top Tool ChestSummarySummaryA 3,200 cubic-inch tool chest constructed of stainless steel that combines with two other Craftsman chests for a professional-sized storage unit.ProsProsHas ball-bearing rollers that help drawers to open and close easily. Locking system to protect your belongings. Constructed to handle heavy-duty use.ConsConsThe top box will sometimes not sit on a lower unit squarely. The roller bearings in the drawer slider can break, causing the drawer to not work.
- Best ValueDeWalt DWST17814 TSTAK Deep ToolboxSummarySummaryA large tool chest made of durable plastic that is also stackable. Great for creating lots of tool storage in a small area.ProsProsTSAK tool chests are stackable and use metal latches to keep them locked in place. The storage drawers are customizable to fit your needs. The handle is designed for both grip and stability.ConsConsPlastic is more prone to cuts and holes from sharp tools. The hardware holding the latches can strip over time. A handcart is required to transport three or more stacked tool chests.
- Honorable MentionViper V4109BLC Tool ChestSummarySummaryThis tool chest is made from 18-gauge steel and has nine drawers for storage. It has a classic look and is great for residential or professional use.ProsProsMeasures 42 by 20.5 by 17.6 inches, so storage space isn’t a problem. Ball bearing slides for the drawers can hold 100 pounds each. Gas struts control opening and closing of the lid. Locks for protection.ConsConsThis tool chest is expensive and might not be an option, depending on your budget. It is also quite heavy and will be difficult to move when full. Regular maintenance problems include the hardware stripping loose and strut malfunction.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of a Tool Chest
- Organization. One benefit of owning a tool chest is that you can organize all the tools you have laying around your garage. Nothing is more frustrating than working on your car or a project and not being able to find the tool you need.
- Reduce damage. Leaving your tools lying around can cause them to become damaged, which means either repairing or replacing them. The cost of this can add up quickly and be much more expensive than investing in a stand-up tool chest.
- Free up space. A cluttered workspace means a lot of wasted space that could otherwise be put to good use. Keeping your tools neatly in one location will free up valuable workspace.
- Safety. Tools left lying around are the workspace are hazardous. You could trip, cut or stab yourself, or otherwise get injured on one of the sharp, pointed, or serrated tools not stowed away in a tool chest.
Types of Tool Chest
Handheld Tool Chest
Handheld tool chests are the most commonly bought design and are the perfect size for carrying around a small assortment of tools. There are models with multiple drawers for storing hardware and different compartments to separate tools. Besides carrying tools, handheld tool chests are also used by hobbyists and others to carry various supplies.
Stationary Tool Chest
These are the big brother to smaller handheld tool chests. There are drawers of different breadth and depth to accommodate tools of all sizes as well as a top storage compartment with a lid. Stationary tool chests are usually made of stainless steel and can stack on top of larger rolling tool chests.
Rolling Tool Chest
The two differences between stationary and tool chests on wheels are that the latter is much larger and also sits on wheels. The wheels allow these tool chests to be easily handled while hauling around hundreds of pounds of tools. Rolling tool chests are a favorite of professional mechanics and in large factories where the need arises to move large tools from one spot to another.
Combination Workbench and Tool Chest
These are great for woodworkers, hobbyists, machinists, and anyone else who needs extra space to work on a project. The workstation is made of wood, metal, or composite material and rests on top of the drawers. Some models have a pegboard with ledges for extra storage.
Truck-Mounted Tool Chest
Designed to fit into the bed of a pickup truck, these tool chests are ideal for taking your tools on the road to a remote job site. These tool chests are a favorite among contractors, construction workers, and everybody else who needs to travel with their tools.
Founded in 1924, the Maryland-based tool company builds some of the best-quality tool chests, hand and power tools, and accessories in the industry. The company is popular among the construction, woodworking, and manufacturing industries as well as by private homeowners because of products like the DWST08204 Tough System Case.
As one of the oldest and most recognized names in the industry, Craftsman has some of the best rolling tool boxes, screwdriver sets, and lawn tractors. The name was originally trademarked in 1927 by Sears as a catch-all brand for the numerous tool makers they bought products from. It offers top-of-the-line products like the 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set.
Founded in 1924, Milwaukee produces hand and power tools, mechanics’ tool chests, and diagnostic equipment. The brand is popular on construction sites, automotive shops, and in residential settings. The 48-22-8560 ELEC TOOL Mobile Workbench is one of Milwaukee’s top-rated products.
Tool Chest Pricing
- $50-$100: This is the price range where the majority of handheld tool chests can be found as well as some smaller rolling tool chests. Chest sizes vary, but generally, they will run up to about 20 cubic inches.
- $100-$200: This price range has stationary and roller tool chests with multiple drawers, closable lids, and locks. Most of these chests are stainless steel but there are some plastic models available.
- $200 and up: At the upper price range, you’ll find professional-grade tool chests like the ones in mechanic shops. These models have tons of space, are extremely durable, and can have workspaces installed on them.
A key feature of any tool chest is the drawers, which provide an excellent way to organize your tools. They sit on a sliding mechanism that lets them open and closes easily, regardless of how much weight is in them. The best tool storage chests have soft-close drawers that will close themselves once you release the handle.
Regardless if your tool chest is made of stainless steel, plastic, or some other material, you need to have a drawer liner to protect them from scuffs, scrapes, and other damage. Liners can be made from rubber, vinyl, foam, neoprene, and many other materials.
Having a lockable tool chest is a great way to add a level of security to your tools. Locks come in all shapes and styles including holes for padlocks, key locks, combination locks, and electronic locks on higher-end models.
If your tool chest has a lid, then it needs to have a pair of struts to keep it open. Not only will struts keep the lid open freeing up both hands to grab what you need, but also will shut the lid slowly to avoid damage.
- Outlets: Some tool chests come with electrical outlets so you can charge a battery pack or plug in an extra lamp while working. There are also USB outlets for your smartphone and other tech devices.
- Smart Technology: Wireless communication has become an important facet in pretty much every aspect of our lives and this extends to tool chests as well. Bluetooth technology allows you to keep your device and tool chest connected in order to lock or unlock it from a distance.
Best Tool Chest Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Craftsman Six Drawer Heavy Duty Top Tool Chest
When paired with the Craftsman Four Drawer Rolling Cabinet and Three Drawer Middle Tool Chest, this stationary tool chest becomes part of one of the best tool chest combos available on the market. The top chest will stack perfectly onto the middle chest or rolling cabinet and add more than 3,200 cubic inches of storage space for your tools. It has a sturdy design with steel construction that is intended for heavy-duty use.
There are a few features that really show why this tool chest earns our top pick. The aluminum drawers use ball-bearing slides that make opening and closing them easy regardless of how full they are. The key locking system keeps all the drawers secure in addition to the flip-top lid. At 26 inches wide by 12 inches deep by 15.25 inches tall, this Craftsman tool chest is large enough to accommodate a large number of tools independent of the bottom roller chest.
On the negative side, there have been some problems with the top box sitting squarely on the rolling cabinet, which seems to be a manufacturer defect from the factory. Also, the ball bearings in the drawer slides can sometimes seize, causing the drawer to get stuck. This is especially annoying to fix if the drawer is full of tools.
Best Value: DeWalt DWST17814 TSTAK Deep Toolbox
The innovative tool chests made by DeWalt offer excellent storage capabilities, are made from durable plastic and have multiple storage areas. They are one of the best value tool chests if you want plenty of room that is easily expandable. The low price point means it’s easy to purchase more as your tool collection grows.
The TSTAK series of tool chests are stackable and interconnect with specially-designed side latches that make carrying and storing them easy. The latches are made from rust-proof metal and designed to handle heavy loads. A long handle lets you get a firm grip while maintaining stability. There are multiple compartments that are customizable and work well for both hand tools and power tools.
Even though this tool chest is made from heavy-duty plastic that is designed to be durable, it is still more at risk of damage from sharp or pointed tools than a stainless steel chest. Also, the hardware that holds the latches in place can become stripped from heavy stress. The lack of wheels means you will need to have a handcart on hand to move them if stacked more than two high.
Honorable Mention: Viper V4109BLC Tool Chest
This high-quality tool chest is a great addition for any home, automotive shop, or factory. The Viper tool storage product is constructed from high-grade, 18-gauge steel and has nine drawers to accommodate tools of all sizes. The chest has a powder coat black finish that, along with matte aluminum drawer handles, give this tool chest a classic, professional look.
The V4109BLC measures in at 42 by 20.5 by 17.6 inches, making it one of the larger stationary tool chests on the market. It has tons of storage capacity—more than enough for most home tool collections. The ball bearing drawers slide in and out easily and the locking mechanism will protect your valuables. The gas struts on the lid let it raise and lower slowly, or keep it propped open if desired. The bearings are designed to handle 100 pounds each, so you don’t have to worry about overloading the drawers with heavy tools.
This is an expensive tool chest, and while it is well-built with great features, it might be a bit too extravagant for most budgets. The L4109BLC is also quite heavy and is hard to move without an extra person grabbing the side handles. You can buy a roller chest to put it on top of but that is costly and you might not need that much storage space. Other than that, be wary of hardware stripping and the struts malfunctioning.
- Keep your tool chest clean and dry to keep it in good working shape. Using a cloth rag and water is fine, but if it’s really grimy, try using an all-purpose cleaner or grease remover.
- Lubricate rollers, sliders, and bearings with WD-40 from time to time to prevent them from drying out. Leaving these parts without lubricating oil will cause them to freeze up and break.
- If you have a wooden workbench on your tool chest, keep it dry and particle-free when not in use. Also, spray occasionally with bug spray to avoid possible termite infestations.
- Metal workbenches need to be occasionally oiled to remain rust-free. Do so after a thorough cleaning for best results.
Q: How big of a tool chest do I need?
A: Obviously, this will depend on how many tools you have, but in most cases, a two-piece roller chest should be more than adequate for most home collections. If you are purchasing a tool chest for a professional setting, then you will probably need something larger.
Q: How do outlets in a tool chest work?
A: Powerstrips, USB chargers, and electrical outlets all operate on the same principle. There is a plug that comes out of the bottom of the tool chest that plugs into a wall outlet. In effect, outlets on tool chests are just mounted extension cords.
Q: Are metal tool chests better than plastic?
A: It depends on what you’re looking for. The steel used on tool chests is stronger than plastic and will stand up to punctures and cuts better. However, is quite strong in its own right and also is much lighter than steel, making it easier to carry.
For its size, features, and rolling tool chest counterpart, the Craftsman Six Drawer Heavy Duty Top Tool Chest gets our vote for top pick overall.
The price, stackability, and durability of the DeWalt DWST17814 TSTAK Deep Toolbox make it our top pick for the value.