The 5 Best Tool Boxes

Stay organized and prepared for that next project

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Have you ever had to launch a search and rescue mission for your measuring tape or your screwdriver? If so, the right kind of toolbox can put a lid on your frustration. We all need good tools to tackle projects around our homes and properties. Most basic hand tools like hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches, for example, will last a lifetime with the proper care. The best way to keep your tools clean, organized, and handy when you need them is to store them in a toolbox.

Toolboxes come in different sizes, weights, and materials. If you use heavy tools often, a large metal box for stationary storage may work best. A tool bag or even an apron are good options if you need your tools on the go. Lift out trays and extra compartments for hardware are handy features that may be included and if you are just starting out, some toolboxes even come as kits already equipped with the basics. We searched for the best toolboxes to keep you organized and on task. Here, all together, is a list of the best toolboxes for your gear.

Our Top Picks
Ideal size for storing tools or taking them on the go.
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Reach for your travel tools and head off.
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A simple design to carry and protect your tools in the garage or outside.
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Highly impact- and rust-resistant.
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Best Tool and Box Set:
CARTMAN Tool Set 160pcs at Amazon
All of the most common tools and accessories you need in a portable, durable box.
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Best Overall: RIDGID 22 in. Pro Organizer

22 in. Pro Organizer, Black

A large tool box doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy or hard to move. In fact, modern day tool boxes are larger and more durable than ever before. The Ridgid 22 in. Pro is an ideal size for storing tools around the garage or taking them on the go for projects away from home. 22 inches will be perfect for small hand tools and even some larger power tools.

The most important thing with tool boxes is durability. A box is useless if it doesn’t give you the necessary protection for your tools. This one comes with a high-impact resin exterior with an integrated seal to keep out water and dust. A metal handle keeps the lid locked tight yet is easy to open when you need quick access to your tools. Best of all, this box is compatible with Ridgid’s customizable line of carts and organizers, so you can expand and organize as you prefer.

Best Bag: Stanley 12-Inch Soft Sided Tool Bag

Stanley 12-Inch Soft Sided Tool Bag

Smaller tool boxes are great for keeping a set of tools around for yard work or offsite projects. Instead of having to lug around a larger box or pack your tools each time you go out of the garage, the Stanley STST70574 will let you reach for your travel tools and head off. As a bag, this option is also easy to store when not in use.

While a soft exterior may seem to leave your tools exposed, in truth, this tool bag has enough padding to prevent damage from scratches and minor impacts. A rubber foam bottom will also keep everything protected from hard falls on solid surfaces. Use the outer pockets for small tools and accessories for additional organization as well.

Best Budget: Husky 16 in. Plastic Tool Box

16 in. Tool Box with Metal Latch

Despite popular opinion, it’s more than possible to find a great tool box without spending upwards of a hundred dollars. The Husky 16 in. tool box offers a simple design to carry and protect your tools whether in the garage or outside. The heavy duty construction in the body uses hardened plastic that won’t rust or crack with age. A large pad lock will hold the lid together without worry of busting open.

The interior storage is large enough to hold a good supply of common hand and small power tools. The removable top tray also provides an extra surface to hold smaller accessories and parts that are easy to lose in the main compartment. Remove the lid to keep it nearby as you work around the project site.

Best Metal Tool Box: Stack-On 16-Inch Multi-Purpose Steel Tool Box

Stack-On 16-Inch Multi-Purpose Steel Tool Box

Some people assume that the only way to truly protect your tools is with a metal box. While hard plastics will often offer the same level of protection, a true metal exterior is highly impact and rust resistant when constructed properly. The Stack On-SHB-16 weighs in at 4.8 pounds so it's heavy duty enough to protect your tools. A lift out tray makes it easy to keep smart parts on top and bigger items on the bottom. 

At 16" x 7" x 7.5" it is not the biggest of boxes but it can also host various other items like makeup, sewing supplies and more. 

Best Tool and Box Set: CARTMAN Tool Set 160pcs

CARTMAN Tool Set 160pcs

Looking for your first tool box and don’t know where to begin? Perhaps you are starting to build your collection of tools as well? If so, the Cartman Tool Set 160pcs box will make things easier for you on both fronts. As a complete set, you will get all of the most common tools and accessories you need in a portable, durable box. This option keeps everything in its proper place without you having to take the time to organize it all.

All of the tools meet ANSI critical standards, meaning they will resist the usual abuse typical projects will throw out. For experienced professionals, this complete set may also be a good solution as a secondary or portable tool set to keep around the home or garage in case of emergency repairs or projects.

What to Look for in a Tool Box

Size and Storage Capacity

How many and what kinds of tools you use most often should help you determine what kind of toolbox to choose. If DIY is your passion or your job requires using tools every day, a large box built with sturdy materials along with plenty of storage for both tools and hardware is the one to choose. If you need just a few hand tools occasionally to hang a picture or tighten a screw, a smaller plastic box will do the job. Large or small, many include small compartments to help organize hardware like nails, bolts, and screws.

Durability

Tools can get expensive, so your toolbox needs to be tough enough to protect your investment. A steel or metal box with a tightly fitting lid that locks in a closed position provides the most insurance against loss and damage. Look for compartments for sharp or heavy tools that need to be stored separately. Many cloth tool bags include extra padding for safe storage and work equally well if you need to keep just a few tools handy for moving around.

Mobility

Large metal boxes full of tools and hardware get heavy. If you find you need a few tools for a DIY project, it's always a good idea to keep an organizer on hand that you can lift and move easily. A cloth bag or tool apron can accommodate a short term project need. You may even want to keep a few different kinds of toolboxes: one for the garage or workshop, one for the house, and one for your automobile.

FAQ
  • How do you organize a tool box?

    Place heavy tools like hammers and large wrenches in the bottom. Look for a box with separate compartments to store sharp or pointed tools. These types of tools often come with a pouch or padded covering. Some boxes include storage space for small pieces of hardware (nails, screws, and bolts). The type of toolbox you choose will help you get organized. If using tools is new to you, look for a box already organized with the basics. Most important is that your tools are easy to get to when you need them.

  • How much does a tool box weigh?

    A large metal toolbox with fold out trays will become heavy once you add your tools. This is the workhorse that you might want to keep in the garage or in the back of your truck to serve as a storage unit. A cloth bag, apron, or smaller box will weigh less and work best for the tools you need to carry with you on the go.

  • How do you clean an aluminum tool box?

    There are several home remedy recipes for cleaning aluminum and other metals, as well as some commercially manufactured products. Home remedies include different mixtures of vinegar, baking soda, salt, and water. Manufactured chemicals will be labeled specifically for cleaning aluminum. It's always a good idea to start with a small test spot when working with a new cleaning agent. Follow manufacturer's instructions or use your home mix and apply to a small portion of your toolbox. Wait 24 hours and if you see the desired result, continue cleaning and polishing your aluminum box.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Additional research for this article was done by Barbara Gillette, a Master Gardener, herbalist, and DIY enthusiast who almost always has a project going that requires one tool or another.

Updated by
Barbara Gillette
Barbara Gillette
Barbara Gillette is a master gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
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