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
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
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.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products 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 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 Milwaukee Electric Tool 48-22-8424 Pack out Tool Box 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 2020
- 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 durable construction, the Craftsman 1000 5-Drawer Lockable Ball-Bearing Steel Tool Box gets our vote for the top pick overall.
The price, stackability, and durability of the DeWalt DWST17814 TSTAK Deep Toolbox make it our top pick for the value.