Job Site Toolbox Ideas

Installers tell how they transport and organize their tools on the job. December 9, 2007

What size toolboxes do you use when you go to the job site? I'm finding that I have way too many toolboxes... Jigsaw box, drill box, belt sander box, router box, impact box, screw box, hand tools box. It just seems to be getting away from me. I'm thinking of buying a few Stanley Pro Mobile Tool Chests. What do you think?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor X:
Speaking of tool box for the job site, when I was installing at high rises, I made up a 3' x 3' x 6' wooden box with lid and locks to store my tools so at the end of the day, I'd just throw the tools in it and eliminate the loading and unloading every day onto the truck. After being broken into and finally stolen completely, I had a metal one made for the job site. It worked great since I added cement blocks to the inside, making it harder to lift and take away. Even had it where it was chained down.

From contributor S:
Yes, the never-ending quest for the perfect toolbox. Sorry, there is no perfect toolbox. I tried a few store bought versions with no satisfaction. I built a few that were just a little better.

I now start from the bottom up with a shop-made solid bottom furniture dolly with some good red Colson (SP) casters (these babies roll sweet). The next layer is a shop-made chest of drawers wrapped in FRP, three drawers a little over 4" deep each (I think the footprint of the unit is 32"x24"). The bottom drawer is for tools that go into a drill and tools for layout. Drill bits, hole saws, assorted tips and specialty bits and an assortment of layout tools, squares, rulers, compass, chalk lines (I have to rave about black chalk - get some and try it!), plumb-bob, etc. The middle drawer is for tools that are used for or with fasteners. Wrenches, sockets, screw drivers, rivet gun, staple gun, and so on. The top drawer is for tools that cut. Knives, files, rasps, chisels, small saws, etc. On top of this chest I put a plastic trunk for tools that are too big to fit in the drawers and a catch all for anything else. Then I pile any job specific tools and cords and hoses on top of that and roll into the job.

A thousand pounds of tools rolled in and I still have to make special trips back out for the DA sander or the biscuit joiner or whatever it is. You just can't win!

From contributor L:

We bought one of the commercially available job boxes. Steel, about 4' long x 2' x 30" deep, on big casters, built in hoods to protect the padlocks, a chain and a cable to secure it to the building. It's small enough to get in an old building elevator, heavy enough to not be liftable. We built a couple of sliding trays for the inside. Still not enough room! We have ramps that allow us to move it off a dock into a pickup or to use a winch to pull it up the ramps from ground level. I think the name on it is Knapp?

From contributor D:
Knaack. Anyway, be careful. Thieves target these locking gangboxes and just cut 'em open. A house under construction down the street from my current jobsite burned down after they set it on fire with their cutting torch.

From contributor B:
I've got one of those Stanley rolling type toolboxes and it's nice, but it eventually just gets cluttered and heavy too. Ditto - there's no such thing as a perfect toolbox. Just don't put too much time or money in a toolbox - it's one of those things that sucks no matter what you do.

From contributor E:
We built four plywood boxes 16" wide, 9" high, and 48" long with lids 16 x 48. The interior of each box is divided up for each of our power tools (without those aggravating plastic boxes and totes) and other sundry hand tools, etc. A large trunk handle on each end allows two to carry, but by placing a couple of 2x2s on one end for feet, one person can use a hand truck (our favorite way) to move them easily. We set them up (upright or on their back) in one room near our work area. We don't close the lids until all tools are in their place before packing up. Never left a tool on the job that had a place in a box.

From contributor K:
Only a handful of times have I gotten everything into a site without still needing something. Now, two Baltic birch trunks on removable furniture dollies, plus two steel, 3 dro. tool boxes, a compressor, 10'' compound slider and 10'' TS, 4 folding sawhorses, and offcuts from the shop or another job is what we take in and out every night! Have had many good chuckles when I see the same guys bragging about how little they take to a site, only to come talking and looking at my stuff when they're really in need of it. I get lots of free stuff (pizza, beer, coffee, etc.), not to mention the help at the end of the day with loading my tools. Being prepared has also landed me some nice spin-off work as well.