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The right mechanic tool box is large enough to hold your tool collection in the best configuration for your needs. We spent hours researching models from the top tool brands, evaluating storage capacity, durability, versatility, and overall usefulness.
Our favorite is the Milwaukee 46-Inch 16-Drawer Rolling Cabinet, which has a reinforced frame, a 1,800-pound weight capacity, and swivel casters for maneuverability.
Here are the top mechanic tool boxes.
Best Overall: Milwaukee 46-Inch 16-Drawer Rolling Cabinet 48-22-8500
Might be too large for some
Who else recommends it? CNET also picked the Milwaukee 46-Inch 16-Drawer Rolling Cabinet.
What do buyers say? 1,200+ Home Depot reviewers rated it 4 stars or above.
The Milwaukee 46-Inch 16-Drawer Rolling Cabinet Set combines a lot of storage space, options, and mobility in a chest that’s just the right size for the average garage or workspace. This all-steel roller cabinet is the best choice if you have an extensive tool collection that you use in a single space—not a collection that you tote from job site to job site.
With 16 drawers—each can hold up to 100 pounds—that glide in and out on ball-bearing slides and a lift-up lid, you have numerous options to organize your tools just the way you like them. There’s even a special storage section to hold your laptop while you work. Four casters on the bottom make it easy to push around hard surfaces such as concrete floors.
The red powder-coat finish will protect the box against the usual assortment of scratches and chemical damage. The casters are built to stand up to abuse and feature locks for stability. The overall size of the chest, not counting the casters, is 46 inches wide by 62.5 inches high by 18.2 inches deep. The weight capacity of the chest is a whopping 1,800 pounds.
Best Midsize: Craftsman 2000 Series 5-Drawer 26-Inch Rolling Tool Chest
Good size for most DIYers
Sturdy steel construction
Few complaints about casters
While bigger mechanic’s tool boxes make great long term storage solutions, they are typically meant for larger or uncluttered workspaces, and are heavy and bulky. If you’re looking for a more manageable box that still has a good amount of storage, the Craftsman 2000 Series 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Chest fits the bill. This rugged steel tool chest has five drawers—the two bottom drawers are deep enough to hold power tools such as drills or impact drivers—and the three upper drawers organize your smaller tools, such as wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers.
Thanks to the four casters, you can easily move the tool chest right where you need it. A sturdy side handle makes it easy to maneuver. The overall size of the tool chest is 34 inches high by 26.5 inches wide by 18 inches deep. It’s an excellent solution for any DIYer who has a medium-size tool collection that needs organization.
Best for Tight Spaces: Viper Tool Storage V1804BLR 16-Inch 4-Drawer 18G Steel Rolling Tool/Salon Cart
Side handle can be mounted on either side
Strong, durable construction
Many mechanic tool boxes are much wider than they are tall, and take up more room than the average DIYer has to spare in their garage. The Viper Tool Storage V1804SSR, however, solves that problem with a compact design that holds a lot without taking up too much space. The chest is only 16 inches in width, but 36.4 inches high and 18.1 inches deep. Three drawers and two upper/lower storage bays keep tools organized.
For extra safety and protection, the Viper Tool Storage is constructed out of stainless steel to resist chemical damage and common scratches. An internal locking system will secure each drawer in case you are worried about tool theft, and the drawers slide smoothly and quietly on ball bearings. The chest is even available in various colors, including purple, lime, and teal.
Best with Included Tools: WORKPRO 408-Piece Mechanic Tool Set with 3-Drawer Heavy Duty Metal Box
Includes large set of basic mechanics tools
Convenient size for home use
Some complaints about tool quality
If you're just getting started in the world of DIY auto repair, home repair, or a tool-intensive hobby, you might need a set of basic tools to get started. The WORKPRO W009044A not only comes with great organization options, it also provides a complete set of tools to get you started. For a beginner’s tool box, this option will give you everything you need in three sturdy drawers plus a top compartment.
Each compartment comes fully stocked with common, everyday tools such as a hammer, hex keys, sockets, bits, and screwdrivers. The tools are made of durable components such as fiberglass, steel, or nickel plating. In total, you get over 400 tools that can handle just about any typical DIY project around the house or in the garage. The box itself measures 19.7 inches wide by 10.6 inches deep by 13.8 inches tall.
Best Cart: Performance Tool W54032 2-Shelf Compact Mechanic's Shop Cart
Perfect for keeping tools handy while working
Two deep trays
Somewhat difficult to assemble
Working around the garage, worksite, or even a basement can get cluttered as you progress through a project. Things may start organized, but can quickly fall apart as you try to keep track of the tools you need at any given moment. The Performance Tool W54032 cart will provide you a mobile and steady way to keep frequently used tools and parts within arm's reach without cluttering the rest of the space up.
The cart comes with two shelves and a single drawer. To keep it light, the cart uses a combination of molded plastic and metal to form a sturdy frame. While it won’t give you much long term storage, the durability and mobility from the casters is perfect when you need a temporary spot for a random object. The cart's overall dimensions are 39.75 inches long by 17 inches wide by 33.25 inches high.
Best for Portability: Homak 24-Inch Industrial Steel Toolbox
Not for a large collection of tools
Mechanic tool chests are typically quite large, but there are times you want something that's grab-and-go. Maybe you have a few tools or a basic set you frequently use and want to keep separate from the rest of your collection, or you often need to travel with a set of basic tools, or you want to be able to tackle repairs while out and about. If so, the Homak BW00200240 will give you the most simple setup you could ask for: a single storage compartment with over 2,000 cubic inches of usable space. This is the type of tool box you will want if you just need to reach in and find a hammer or screwdriver while on the job.
A solid construction and hinged handle make the box portable enough for long or multiple projects. Inside, a steel tool tray fits above the main storage compartment, so you have a spot to place smaller tools and parts. The box's total dimensions are 8.63 deep by 24.13 wide by 9.75 inches tall.
Best for DIY Mechanics: Performance Tool 3-Drawer Roller Seat
Two folding magnetic trays
Vinyl cushioned seat
Few complaints about caster quality
It's not going to hold an enormous tool collection, but the Performance Tool 3-Drawer Roller Seat is just the right size to keep your most-used tools within reach while you work. And best of all, no more crouching down on a hard concrete floor while you work on your car; this tool chest doubles as a comfortable seat. It's topped with a thick vinyl cushion, so you can work comfortably without uncomfortable bending and stretching. The casters make it easy to glide to the best position for your task.
This tool box comes with three drawers, plus extra side holders for tools you are using on the fly. Organizing screws, bolts, and nails is easy with two fold-up/fold-down magnetic storage trays. Its total weight capacity is 350 pounds. The chest's overall dimensions are 26.38 inches long by 14.13 inches wide by 16 inches high.
Best Budget: Goplus 6-Drawer Rolling Tool Chest
Drawers are somewhat shallow
Mechanic tool chests tend to be undeniably expensive. That puts the top-of-the-line models out of the reach of many DIYers who want to store a fairly large tool collection, but don't have a lot of money to spare. Luckily, the Goplus 6-Drawer Rolling Tool Chest is a reliable, reasonably priced option.
This sturdy, cold-rolled steel tool chest has a large open cabinet at the base, providing the perfect spot to stash your larger tools and supplies. The top lifts up so you can access the inner tray. In between, there are six drawers, two of which are deeper for larger tools. Each drawer is lined. Four hooks on the exterior are perfect for holding wrenches or other small tools.
The tool chest has a lock to keep your tools safe. Four casters, two with brakes, let you maneuver the chest to wherever you need it. If desired, you can separate the upper chest from the lower cabinet. The tool chest measures 24.5 inches wide, 43.5 inches tall, and 13 inches deep.
The Milwaukee 46-Inch 16-Drawer Rolling Cabinet Set (view at Home Depot) wins our top spot thanks to its rugged construction and superior storage design and capability. This is the best choice if you have a large collection of tools that you take seriously. But if budget is a concern, you'll get plenty of storage space at a reasonable price with the Goplus 6-Drawer Rolling Tool Chest (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Mechanic Tool Box
Obviously, the larger your collection of tools, the bigger the box needed to contain them all. You’ll find mechanic tool boxes that are small enough to fit in the car all the way up to behemoths that are a full floor-standing cabinet. The right choice for you depends on the size of your tool collection, the amount of space you have to hold your tool box, and whether or not you plan on toting the box with you to worksites outside your home or garage.
Also, consider the weight of the tool box. Not just the initial starting weight provided by the manufacturers, but also the final weight after you have filled it with tools. If the tool box is too big, then it will rapidly become too heavy for you to carry or move without relying on a set of wheels on the bottom of the tool box. If portability is important, consider small, compact options or look for a product with reliable casters.
Just as there’s a wide range in size, there’s also a lot of choices when it comes to the various organizing drawers, slots, and compartments in different models of mechanic tool boxes. The simplest options have little beyond a tray with a few compartments for smaller items, while the largest tool boxes are equipped with multiple drawers, dividers to further organize the drawers, pullout bins, lift-out trays, and even spots on top to hold your laptop, beverage, or notebook.
Another consideration when it comes to organizing options is whether the doors, drawers, and trays are lockable. For homes with small kids, it's advised to invest in a locking tool box to help prevent accidents. Again, the right choice depends on your own preferences and tool collection.
The material used to construct mechanic tool boxes is usually some type of metal, like aluminum or stainless steel, though there are some products that are made of impact-resistant plastic. Heavy-duty tool boxes that you can rely on to safely store your tools are typically made of steel. These boxes weigh a lot but stand up to rigorous conditions in busy garages or worksites.
Aluminum mechanic tool boxes are less expensive than stainless steel, but these products are also more vulnerable to scratches and dents. Heavy plastic is fine for a mechanic tool box that isn’t going to be subjected to daily use, but this material doesn't have the same durability as metal and it could crack or warp in the most severe circumstances.
What is a mechanic tool box?
There is no hard-and-fast definition of a mechanic tool box, nor do you have to be a mechanic to own one. But as a general rule, these tool boxes are large enough to require caster wheels for relatively easy transportation around the workshop. They also have a wide variety of drawers to organize tools, parts, and other accessories that may be necessary when you are working on a project. Most mechanic tool boxes are made with red- or black-painted metal and allow you to organize an extensive collection of tools, many quite small, in a convenient manner to help streamline your work, whether that’s as a professional mechanic, a hobbyist who enjoys working on your own cars, or just a DIYer with a large tool collection.
How do you organize a mechanic tool box?
The short answer is that you organize your tool box in the manner that works best for you. But you’ll find the following tips helpful in achieving that goal:
- Adding drawer liners helps keep tools in place, and reduces scratches and wear to your expensive tools.
- Small-parts organizers are very useful for corralling screws, nails, bolts, and other small items.
- Separate your tools by function or type.
- Keep the tools you use the most up front where they are easiest to grab. Less frequently used tools should go towards the back of the drawers.
- Label all the drawers of the tool box so you can tell what’s inside at a glance.
- Periodically go through your entire tool collection, and get rid of broken or nonfunctional tools. It’s easier to organize when you only have usable tools to deal with.
- If you have duplicates of some basic tools, or tools that you rarely use, store them in a separate box. Your mechanic tool box should only hold those tools you use on a regular basis.
What are the must-have tools in a mechanic tool box?
There’s no one answer as to what tools you must have in your mechanic tool box, as it really depends on the type of projects you typically tackle, but as a general rule, these are the tools most often used by mechanics and others who do a lot of work on motors or electrical systems:
- Socket sets
- Screwdriver sets
- Various types of pliers
- Hammers, including ball-peen hammer
- SAE and metric wrenches
- Impact wrench set
- Drill/driver set
- Pry bar
- Flashlight/work light
- Wire stripper
- Automotive stethoscope
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs. For this roundup, she considered dozens of mechanic tool boxes, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback. Additional research is provided by Timothy Dale, a home improvement expert with more than 10 years of experience who specializes in plumbing, construction, and product recommendations, among other topics, and Eamon Lynch, Director of Warranty Service at Power Home Remodeling.