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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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.
Craftsman 1000 5-Drawer Lockable Ball-Bearing Steel Tool Box
DeWalt DWST17814 TSTAK Deep Toolbox
Husky 26 in. 5-Drawer Tool Chest
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
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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
This five-drawer tool chest is all black and measures 26 inches wide and 17.25 inches tall. The top lid lifts open on hinges and has a brace to help it stay open. The bottom of the five drawers is deeper for holding larger tools. The entire chest is constructed from 20-24 gauge steel. The drawers have ball bearings to slide open and close.
This chest is very durable and can support up to 50 pounds of tools. The drawers glide easily and smoothly to make opening and closing them easy. You can also secure your tools by locking the chest with the included keys and internal locking system.
Unfortunately, the metal used to construct this tool chest feels very thin. The metal lid will flex and bend when you open and close it. The drawers won’t stay closed, even when the lid is closed. This can make it frustrating to use and store tools.
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.
This tool chest features five drawers: two small, two medium, and one large. It has a weight capacity of 500 pounds and has a textured powder-coated finish and rust-resistant properties. It's heavy-duty design features all-welded steel construction. A limited three-year warranty is included.
The drawers are fully extendable, which makes it easy to access the tools. The drawers also stay closed after use due to a secure latch retention system. The two recessed handles make it easy to move and store. The unit comes with two keys for security and is fully assembled.
The tool chest may not match the bottom tool chest that it's intended for even though it clearly states that it's designed to go with it. Also, it's really heavy and can be challenging to lift with tools inside it.
You’ll be able to organize all of your tools with this chest from Goplus. It has three drawers and a lift-up lid for the top compartment. There are two latches to secure the lid. On the top of the lid, there is a comfortable handle for carrying. The chest measures 20.5 x 8.5 x 12 inches.
What makes this chest stand out is its durable construction. It’s portable yet made of steel and powder-coated red. This gives it a smooth finish and protects it from corrosion. You’ll find this chest easy to use with the ball bearing slides that make the drawers glide in and out.
One downside to this tool chest is the lack of consistent construction. You may find that the lid doesn’t quite align perfectly with the box or the drawers may not perfectly glide out. The box itself could also arrive dented.
You have options when purchasing your Homak tool chest. First, choose from red or black, then choose two or three drawers. Both the red and black versions have black drawer fronts. The top is a hinged lid that has two latches and a lockable latch for added security. The overall dimensions of the chest measure 8.63 x 20.5 x 11.88 inches.
When the lid is closed, the drawers lock so that they won’t open while you’re moving your tool chest. Each drawer is also lined with a slip-proof mat to help keep your tools organized.
One downside of this tool chest is that the metal feels thin. This can make its durability questionable when storing larger or more heavy-duty tools. You may also find that the drawers glide out too easily, and without a catch, this can happen when you least expect it.
Your tool chest can double as a stool with this unit from WEN. It has a thick layer of padding encased in vinyl on the top. There are three main drawers and a plate with 16 storage slots for your most-used tools. Underneath the chest, there are four full-swivel caster wheels.
With this style of tool chest, what you need will always be at your fingertips. It will also cut down on the number of things you have in your garage. This 2-in-1 unit can serve two purposes and cut down on the need for multiple pieces of furniture. It even has two foldable magnetic trays on either side that serve as a safe surface for holding hardware while you work.
The downside of this unit is that it isn’t the most durably-made. This means the bolts could strip on you. The bearings in the drawers tend to get caught up, which makes the drawers challenging to open and close.
This heavy-duty tool chest from Milwaukee is meant to be portable. It measures 22.1 x 11.3 x 16.1 inches. This box is constructed out of impact-resistant polymers to give it increased durability. The extra-large handle is metal-reinforced. The top and bottom have modular connectivity to make it compatible with your other Milwaukee tool chest components.
What makes this tool chest stand out is that it has a 100-pound weight capacity. It’s also rated IP65 weather-sealed to keep your tools safe and dry. The inside has an organizer tray that makes storing your tools a breeze.
Unfortunately, It isn’t as large as some of the other tool chests on the market. If you want more storage, you’ll need to buy more organizer boxes. You’ll also want to check that yours has the organizer tray included.
Honorable MentionStanley Portable Toolbox Rolling Cabinet Storage Tool Chest MechanicCheck Latest Price
This tool chest from Stanley comes with a pair of wheels and a handle for portability. It has four storage solutions that combine into one chest. A toolbox is on the top. In the middle, there’s an organizer tray, and on the top, there is a small bin. Then on the bottom, there’s a large bin for holding bigger tools and parts. The entire unit is made out of structural foam.
The telescoping handle makes this tool chest stand out because it allows you to move it with ease. Moving is made even easier with the 7-inch rubber wheels. There are also extra-large, heavy-duty metal latches and a padlock latch that lets you secure the entire unit.
One downside to this unit is that it isn’t as durable as other tool chests on this list. The wheels are tough, but they can come off easily. The drawers have ball bearings, but they can get stuck. The telescoping handle isn’t rugged or heavy-duty and feels like it may snap.
- 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.
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