Whatever it is that you do with them, one thing is for sure: you can ill-afford to lose your tools. Apart from costing you precious work hours, the misplacing of tools is a costly affair. Especially if you plan to replace them with their brand new counterparts.
That is why you need the best tool chest. Apart from ensuring the safety of your tools, it will help you organize them in multiple drawers and cabinets. That will make it easy for you to access the item when you need it and safely tuck it away once its utility is over.
Agreeing with us thus far? But not sure what to look for when shopping for a new tool chest? There is no need to panic. Apart from providing you with detailed tool chest reviews, we have listed down the features that separate the best models from the also-rans.
Best Tool Chests Comparison Chart
Homak H2PRO Series 36-Inch 8-Drawer Top Chest
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Festool 200119 SYS 4 Sortainer
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Keter Modular Locking and Rolling Tool Chest
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Craftsman 3-Drawer Metal Portable Chest Toolbox
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GEARWRENCH 20″ 3 Drawer Black Steel Tool Box
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Keter Masterloader Resin Rolling Tool Box
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Best Tool Chest Reviews – Editors’ Choice
1. Homak H2PRO Series 36-Inch 8-Drawer Top Chest
One of the unique selling points of the Homak H2PRO is its sturdiness. It boasts a double-wall steel construction that can withstand decades of abuse. Most users will find that its ultra-secure tubular locking system is more than enough to deter potential miscreants.
A Similar utility is on offer as far as this model’s storage options are concerned. All four drawers at the bottom are deeper than the rest, allowing you to store heavy and robust stuff. The upper drawers run the entire length of this tool chest, making them the perfect spots for long-handled tools.
All the eight drawers are equipped with an EVA lining that protects their base and inner walls from scratches. The ball-bearing slides which help in opening and closing of the drawers also prevent the rattling noise as you pull/push the drawers. This model is backed by a 5-year warranty too.
2. Festool 200119 SYS 4 Sortainer
Not many brands command as much respect among the users as Festool. Units like this one give you a clue why. It is the epitome of organization as each of its three drawers is further equipped with multiple, small-sized storage areas. That means you’d never run out of space.
The huge frame strength of this model makes it less likely for vertical loads to affect the operation of drawers. Its removable dividers give you the option to organize your items. You can use dividers and place small-sized tools, or simply remove them to make enough space for bigger items.
At the same time, this model is nowhere near bulky. That is a godsend given the fact that it doesn’t come with any wheels. As long as you don’t fill it to capacity – or if you regularly lift weights in the gym, you should have no problem carrying this model around.
3. Keter Modular Locking and Rolling Tool Chest
If you’re looking for an ultra-portable model that is affordably priced, here is the one that meets all your requirements. Its polypropylene construction guards this tool chest in the face of moisture and impacts. Hence why you won’t have to worry about it catching rust, rot, or dents.
The central locking system of this tool chest is an example of ingenuity. There is a slide on the left side of the model pulling which you can open one (or more) drawers. All the remaining drawers will remain closed before, during, and after use. So you won’t have to worry about their security.
You won’t face any problems organizing little things inside this product. Its top drawer features 16 removable bins and dividers which you can organize to complement your needs. The large storage area on offer in the bottom drawer not only stores bigger items but also adds stability to the tool chest.
4. Craftsman 3-Drawer Metal Portable Chest Toolbox
Here is another ultra-portable model that can be easily lifted by a single person. This product targets DIY enthusiasts who require limited storage capacity for their tools. It may not be the biggest model on the market but does an excellent job of protecting its contents with its lid-activated locking mechanism.
There are two more areas where the lid leaves its mark. It is equipped with a cover hinge which keeps the lid open for effortless tool access. Once you close the lid, the drawers will follow suit, leaving no doubt in your mind about the protection they’ll provide to your tools.
Their hinge-operated opening/closing mechanism is far from being the only feature of the drawers that gives them extra security. They boast a hasp and staple for padlocks to give an additional layer of protection to your items. Also, since the unit weighs a meager 2.2 pounds, it is a cinch to carry.
5. GEARWRENCH 20″ 3 Drawer Black Steel Tool Box
How do we know that this model is capable of lasting years of abuse? We are sure about that because we have seen its steel frame in action. Sturdy yet lightweight, the frame shuns the tendency of wilting under extra pressure and has been given a corrosion-resistant coating to last decades.
A keyed center lock protects all the drawers of this model. It helps keep your tools secure by locking/unlocking all drawers at once. The black powder coat which lines the bottom of the drawers and the entire body of the tool chest provides the entire model with a pleasing shine.
The extension to which all the drawers open is different. The one at the bottom comes out by covering the longest distance whereas the extension of the top-most drawer is the smallest. Consequently, even with all the drawers open at the same time, you would not face any problem accessing your tools.
6. Keter Masterloader Resin Rolling Tool Box
Looking for an aesthetically pleasing yet practical tool chest? Your search ends with this product. Its shape resembles the box carrying the toys of your little ones, but the inside of this tool chest has enough storage space to house all the tools of a professional worker.
Its propylene resin plastic construction helps this model resist rust, rot and dents. The central locking mechanism of this model guarantees security as well as stability during travel. Also on offer are two rubber wheels that let you navigate this product over polished surfaces.
In case the surface you’re going to use it on is anything but paved, you can use its extendable handle to lift this product. Its lid features 2 size removable bins for organization, whereas the inner storage area has a bottom divider to help you make space for larger tools.
What is a Tool Chest?
A tool chest is a cabinet that lets you store, organize, and carry your tools. It can be as small as a portable box that can’t carry more than a few tools or might be as big as a rolling cabinet that boasts multiple and dedicated storage drawers.
Most tool chests can be categorized into portable or non-portable models. The portable ones usually have a handle on top, wheels beneath them, and a lid that opens on a hinge. Non-portable models, meanwhile, have their weight ranging in the hundreds of pounds. That’s why they are capable of storing an (almost) innumerable amount of tools.
Tool Chest Buying Guide
What is it that you need to consider when shopping for a tool chest? Are there any features that you simply cannot afford to miss? This section answers both these questions.
3 Vital Considerations When Buying a Tool Chest
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing a tool chest:
Style of Tool Chest
Here is a list of the common styles of tool chests:
Small and Stationary Tool Chests:
If you have a small garage or workshop and don’t have too many tools in your toolkit, then you can consider these tool chests. They are ideal for smaller tools but aren’t the easiest to carry.
Drawer and Roller Cabinet Tool Chests:
These tool chests are a must-have for professional tool collectors, DIY enthusiasts, and bigger workplaces. Sure, they are heavier than a simple tool chest, but most of them come with built-in wheels.
Rolling Tool Chests:
Famous for their portability and convenience, rolling tool chests come with a handle and wheels which make moving them around a cinch. Some of them come with a wheel-locking mechanism to make sure the unit remains stationary once it is locked.
Hand-Carry Tool Chests:
They are preferred by people who remain busy in performing small DIY jobs in and around the home. Due to their small size, they are easy to carry around and you can store them in small spaces like under your worktable.
Type of Slide
Two types of drawer slides are popular among tool chest users. To help you decide which of the two might suit you better, let’s have a brief look at both.
Also known as non-bearing slides, they are inexpensive and work on the principle of kinetic energy. They are more robust, largely unsophisticated, and require infrequent lubrication to keep going strong.
Since they are easy to remove and re-install, you won’t have to worry about misalignment during their assembly. As long as you respect their weight limit, they won’t be immune to failure.
Roller bearing Slides
These slides have rollers that quickly and quietly open and close. Some of them offer full extendibility, which means you can pack in more items than what their weight limit stipulates in the case of an emergency.
Roller bearing slides are available in two types: those with shallow drawers and those with deep ones. The former offers more organization options (pockets) whereas the latter offers bigger storage space.
Type of Lock
One of the primary reasons why most people turn to tool chests is because they trust them to keep their implements safe. But can you trust a tool chest with your items if its locking mechanism isn’t reliable? Of course not. That’s why you must pay attention to the type of lock the chest may have.
Barrel or Tubular Lock
Do you have expensive items in your tool kit? Then we recommend you entrust their security to a tool chest with a barrel lock. These locks are placed into a housing and cannot be removed until the thief removes ball bearings located on both sides of the device.
Since this process would take a lot of time, it deters the potential thief due to the fear of being caught in the act. These locks are also more resistant to picking because they allow the barrel to turn freely inside the housing.
While barrel locks are heavy and bulky, padlocks are so lightweight that you can carry them in your pocket when they are not in use. Their minimalistic design draws less attention and therefore provides an added layer of protection.
While they cannot compete with barrel locks when it comes to security that both these locks provide, you can use multiple padlocks in series to enhance the safety level that they offer.
5 Important Features and Specs of the Best Tool Chest
To make a sound tool chest purchase, you need to keep in mind these key features and specs of them:
How much room can you spare for your tool chest? If your kit contains lightweight items like the best trickle charger, invest in a tabletop model. A standalone product, meanwhile, comes handy for those people who have a designated work area and want a broad tool chest.
Three features of a tool chest influence its capacity: its overall size, the size of its drawers, and the number of its drawers. It goes without saying that you should invest in a model that can fit all your tools, with room to spare.
As you can see by going through our cordless impact wrench buying guide, powered tools are heavy. If you have them in your kit, you’d need a tool chest with at least an 18- to 19-gauge stainless steel frame.
Once your chest is filled to capacity, it will be cumbersome. That’s why we are always in favor of tool chests that come with wheels and handle. They are a cinch to move around and won’t burden your back with their weight.
Whether you’re searching for a top-rated tool chest, choosing a brake pad, or reading dent puller reviews to get the best model for your needs, always remember this universal rule: the bigger the warranty period, the more reliable the product will be.
Why You Need a Tool Chest?
Still unsure why you need a dedicated tool chest? Let’s end this uncertainty once and forever.
6 Benefits of Owning a Tool Chest
Following are the reasons why you could do with tool chests:
Organize your tools:
People who don’t have a tool chest spend quite some time searching for the right tool for the task they’re about to perform. Tool chests save your time by providing bins and dividers in which you can neatly organize your items.
Secure your tools:
When carrying a large number of tools from one place to the other, there’s always a danger that you can misplace something if you aren’t careful. Tool chests remove this worry by letting you securely tuck away all your items.
Apart from their external lock, most tool chests have internal latches covering each storage pouch. This minimizes the chance of any tool hitting the ground and getting damaged in the process.
Makes you efficient:
An organized tool chest holding all the tools where you last placed them makes you more efficient and your tasks quicker. So you can get more work done in less time.
While lightweight tool chests come with a heavy-duty handle, those which are bulky have wheels underneath them. That means that regardless of the weight of items you’re going to store in them, they’ll remain easy to move around.
Provided you decide to choose a hand-carry tool chest, you can quickly put it away in tight spaces such as the footrest in your car, under your stairs, and beneath your worktable.
How to Organize a Tool Chest?
At the cost of sounding rude, if you aren’t going to organize your tool chest, you may as well stop yourself from making the purchase. The unique selling point of these products is the way they let you store your items in compartments so that you can easily access them when the need arises.
If you aren’t going to take advantage of their multiple drawers, pouches, and pockets – and just intend to throw all your tools in the biggest drawer, you’re going to miss out on one of the biggest benefits (organization) that a tool chest has to offer.
The incentives of why you should organize your tool chest are huge. Apart from letting you find all your tools in a jiffy, organization is a ‘’do-it and forget-it’’ process. Once you’ve organized your tool kit, all you have to do for years to come is to just put the tools in the spot you’ve designated for them.
Organizing Your Tool Chest Like a Pro Step by Step:
Sort out the tool types:
You can sort your tools based on the following criteria:
- On the basis of unit:
If you’re a professional, you’d likely be using tools of Metric and SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) units. To avoid the confusion between both, we recommend that you store them in different boxes or drawers.
- On the basis of usage:
Depending on your passion or profession, you might be using some tools more frequently than others. Keep the tools you regularly use in the upper drawer so you can access them quickly when needed.
- On the basis of similarity:
Since a hammer and a mallet serves the same purpose, you might want to store them in the same drawer or at least in the same corner of a drawer if you don’t have enough space to store them in separate boxes.
- On the basis of unit:
Delegate the drawers :
Decide the type of tools you’re going to store in each drawer.
- Bottom drawer for heavy tools:
Store heavy tools like a power drill, monkey wrench, and hammers in the bottom drawer. Apart from reducing the chance of them falling on your feet, storing such tools at the bottom will also add stability to the tool chest.
- Middle drawer for expensive tools:
Screwdrivers, chisel, pliers, and other expensive tools should be placed in the middle drawer. This drawer is generally the most protected, and you can further enhance its protection level by covering the tools with foam.
- Upper drawer for tiny instruments:
Upper drawers are comparatively narrow and small and are therefore suitable for storing tiny instruments like screws, nut-bolts, and sockets which, if placed alongside larger instruments, can be challenging to find.
- Bottom drawer for heavy tools:
Here are some more tips to help you organize your tool chest.
- Label the drawer:
Write the name/category of tools you have stored in the drawer on blank paper and then stick the paper on the drawer. You can also use a thick colored marker or plastic to label the drawer.
- Use a pegboard:
If you use a few tools more frequently than others, save yourself the time of opening/closing the drawers by hanging them from a pegboard. Though this tip will not work if you use a mobile tool chest.
- Label the drawer:
5 Tips for Tool Chest Cleaning and Maintenance
Follow these tips to clean and maintain your tool chest for continued use:
- Lubricate the casters and slides:
If your tool chest has wheels, regularly lubricate them with grease or high-grade bearing oil. Also, use a light-duty oil to lubricate the underside of the drawers at least once a year.
- Dust the shelves/drawers frequently:
Especially if your tool chest has wooden parts, dust the shelves at least once every week. This will keep wood-devouring insects like termites away.
- Avoid placing metal chests in the sun:
Since metal is a great conductor of heat, placing it under sunlight will wear out the tool chest faster.
- Wipe off liquid spills immediately:
Apart from leaving permanent stains on the chest, liquid spills, if left unattended, might damage its surface. Wipe them off promptly with a dry microfiber cloth.
- Clean all the tools once in a while:
At least once every six months, take out all the tools from the tool chest. Wipe off their oil and grime with a rag. Then wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth. Make sure they’re dry before returning them to their position in the tool chest.
Feel free to use our homepage as a checklist!
FAQs and Answers
- Question: Is a steel or a stainless steel tool chest better?
Answer: Stainless steel tool chests resist corrosion better than their plain steel counterparts. Also, since their surface doesn’t have a powder coating, you can polish stainless steel chests to get an elegant finish. That’s why they are much better.
- Question: How do you prevent corrosion in tool chest?
Answer: Toss silica pack gels inside the drawers to keep the rust away. They are great at inhibiting the build-up of moisture, and placing them inside the drawers will keep corrosion away. You can also use anti-rust liners as well as rust inhibitors for this purpose.
- Question: What are some of the top-rated tool chest brands?
Answer: Craftsman, Festool, Momak, Kobalt, Milwaukee, and Keter are some of the most trustworthy tool chest brands on the market.
- What are the essential garage tools?
There are many reasons why tool chests have become the go-to choice for DIY enthusiasts and professional workers alike. Apart from the promise of keeping your tools secure, tool chests are marvels of organization, last decades and keep rust, corrosion and dents at bay.
Since you’ve gone through this article by now, we’d assume that you already know about the features that separate the top tool chests from the also-rans. You can put this knowledge into practice and select the best tool chest for yourself.
That is one way you can go about things. However, if you aren’t too fond of doing the shopping on your own, there’s a better way. Go through our tool chest reviews and select the model which you think best fits your requirements.