The right tool box keeps your most-used tools neatly organized and at hand when you need them. Our favorite tool box, the DEWALT TSTAK Deep Toolbox with Long Handle, is large enough to stow a lot of gear but not so large that it's difficult to tote with you to a worksite.
Glenn Wiseman, RASDT, RHDT, Sales Manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services, offers advice on choosing the right tool box: “Tool boxes are one of the most important DIY purchases you make. If you don't have room for your essential tools, you won't be able to get your projects done. There are many types of tool boxes available, but most are made from plastic or steel. Plastic tool boxes are great because they're lighter and come in many different size and configuration options, but they aren't as heavy-duty or durable as steel boxes. If you're just carrying around everyday tools for general home maintenance, a plastic tool box works great—or a couple of smaller plastic tool boxes, just to keep things organized by project type. Choose steel if you need something rugged.”
“When buying a tool box, be sure to consider what size will fit your needs best. If you have only a few hand tools but want to keep them organized and protected, then consider purchasing either a small or medium-sized tool box. However, if you need something larger to hold power tools like reciprocating saws or drills, consider buying a rolling chest on wheels instead of a stationary box. This way, you can easily move it around as needed.”
We searched for the best tool boxes to keep you organized and on task based on sturdiness, organizing options, size, weight, and overall versatility. Here are our favorite tool boxes for a wide range of purposes.
Best Overall: DEWALT TSTAK Deep Toolbox with Long Handle
Stacks with the entire TSTAK line
Handy storage tray for small items
Top tray isn't the full length of the box
Who else recommends it? Popular Science also picked the DEWALT TSTAK Deep Toolbox.
What do buyers say? 94% of 24,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Some tool boxes aren't large or deep enough to stash power tools like cordless sander or large collections of hand tools, but that won't be a problem with the DEWALT TSTAK Deep Toolbox with Long Handle. You'll have space for your indispensable rotary tool and all the necessary drill bits. This sturdy box is a little over a foot tall, over 17 inches long, and more than 13 inches deep, so you can load it up with all of your must-have tools before setting out to a worksite, your garage, or anywhere in your house where a repair awaits your skills. Plus, the strong top handle is just about as wide as the box, giving you an easy grip without squeezing your hand or putting strain on your fingers.
Made of very thick and sturdy plastic with rust-resistant metal latches, the tool box works with the entire DEWALT TSTAK line, which includes a variety of boxes, organizers, trolleys, carts, and foam inserts, letting you design a tool storage system that's as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Side latches allow this tool box to attach to others in the TSTAK line for easy storage or transport.
The tool box includes a removable tray with seven set-size compartments to store smaller items such as screws, nails, and sockets. Overall, it's a great box for holding the tool collection of a handy DIYer who wants a tool box that's big, but not too big.
Price at time of publish: $37
Best Budget: Plano Grab-N-Go 16-Inch Tool Box
Good size for basic collection of tools
Some complaints that the box arrived missing the clear plastic organizer
There's no need to spend a bundle if you just want a simple tool box to hold a small collection of basic tools, you need a lightweight box to carry fishing tackle or organize craft supplies, or you're looking for a box to hold an emergency tool kit for the car. The Plano Grab-N-Go 16-Inch Tool Box is bargain priced, but it still offers a good amount of storage space and options.
The box is made of impact-resistant plastic and includes a lift-out tray plus a clear plastic organizer with 12 compartments that also lifts out. It has a sturdy handle, hinges, and latches; this is no flimsy, cheap box that will crack or dent with regular use. The box measures 7.5 inches high, 9.5 inches deep, and 16 inches long, so this isn't a box that's going to hold a large collection of tools, but it's just right for a collection of household essentials, including your hammer, tape measure, screwdrivers, short level, wrench, and pliers.
Price at time of publish: $12
Best Multi-Drawer: Gearwrench 20-Inch 3-Drawer Tool Box
Perfect for a large collection of sockets or similar tools
If you prefer a tool box with drawers, but don't want to spring for a full-size tool chest, the Gearwrench 20-Inch Steel Tool Box is the solution. This sturdy steel tool chest is a great choice for storing extra tools, using as an emergency tool box in your truck, toting the essentials to a job site away from home, or just corralling your basic household tools. It won't hold the largest tool collections, but is reasonably sized for most basic home tool collections.
The three drawers have ball-bearing slides for smooth performance. Each drawer is 2 inches high. The top of the box lifts up, revealing another 2.5-inch high storage area. There’s a handle atop the box for easy portability, and a lock lets you secure your tools when not in use. The black powder-coat painted exterior wipes clean easily and resists corrosion, although the box is not waterproof.
Price at time of publish: $87
Best for Small Parts: RIDGID Pro System Gear 10-Compartment Small Parts Organizer
Lots of storage options for small parts
Works with the entire RIDGID Pro Tool Storage System
Somewhat heavy for a smaller tool box
Looking for a tool box to stash small or flat items, such as screws and nails, washers, sockets, or similar hand tools? Or maybe you need a box to stow fishing gear, crafts, or other small-but-hard-to-corral items? If so, the RIDGID Pro System Gear 10-Compartment Small Parts Organizer is perfect for your needs. This sturdy plastic box is only a little over 5 inches high, but it's a roomy 22 inches long and nearly 14 inches wide, so it could even serve as an under-the-bed or trunk-of-the-car storage box for emergency tools.
The box is heavy-duty resin plastic with strong metal latches and a water-resistant seal, so it can take a beating (not that we recommend giving it one). Best of all, it's easy to customize the interior of the box to your storage needs, as it includes 10 small storage bins, as well as four additional dividers, meaning that it has up to 14 available compartments. You can remove the storage bins if you'd like, opening up more space for larger items, or reconfigure the storage bins as desired. Plus, the box works with the entire RIDGID Pro Tool Storage System, so it will neatly stack with other products in that line.
Price at time of publish: $35
Best Large: Milwaukee Packout 22-Inch Rolling Tool Box
Works with all Packout components
Large, sturdy wheels
If you have a big collection of hand and power tools and are looking for a big box to tote them in, you’ve met your match with the Milwaukee Packout 22-Inch Rolling Tool Box. This bear of a box measures a whopping 22.1 inches wide by 18.6 inches deep by 25.6 inches high and has an impressive 250-pound weight capacity. The box itself weighs 23 pounds when empty.
The Packout is basically a big box; there are no included trays or organizers, so you can pack in even large or oddly shaped tools with ease. It’s made of heavy-duty red impact-resistant plastic with metal-reinforced corners, and is weather-sealed to keep your tools safe from the elements. Two 9-inch, all-terrain wheels and an industrial-strength extension handle make it a breeze to wheel the box wherever you want it, and the reinforced hinges keep the box from falling apart even under rigorous conditions.
Price at time of publish: $139
Best Stackable Set: DEWALT ToughSystem 2.0 Organizer Set
Works with all other ToughSystem components
Loads of storage capacity and options
Very sturdy construction
If you take DIY seriously, have a large tool collection, or do construction or repairs professionally, then you understand the benefits of a tool box system that allows you to stack boxes of various sizes, hook them together, and then cart them to wherever you need them to be. And that's just what you get with the DEWALT ToughSystem 2.0 Organizer Set, which offers numerous organizing options.
The set consists of a small top box, which measures 7 inches tall, 21 inches wide, and 14.6 inches deep. Inside, there are two large organizer cups. The middle extra-large box measures 16 inches tall, 21 inches wide, and 14.6 inches deep. There's a small removable tray inside, along with plenty of open space for your bulkier tools. The bottom box is attached to a frame with rolling wheels, allowing you to easily maneuver the entire stacked system. The large bottom box has a removable tray inside and measures 16.6 inches tall, 23.7 inches wide, and 19.8 inches deep. The fully extended handle is 38.3 inches tall.
Price at time of publish: $259
Best Steel: Trusco 14-Inch 2-Level Steel Tool Box
Opens up to allow for easy access to tools in both levels
Requires use of a separate padlock if locking is desired
It's admittedly not the cheapest steel tool box available, but the Trusco 14-Inch 2-Level Steel Tool Box is likely the most attractive, as well as the best designed. This Japanese-made blue steel tool box opens from the center, revealing a large inner compartment topped by a a split upper compartment that glides outwards smoothly without fiddly latches or clasps. Each half of the upper level has five compartments, but if desired, you can remove the dividers to create a larger space.
The entire tool box, including the dividers in the upper sections, are steel; no plastic parts at all. The handles are comfortable to grasp and make it easy to transport the box. Two small drilled holes at the upper edges of the closed box permit you to add a padlock if you need better security. While not an exceptionally large tool box, the design of this Trusco model makes it possible to store a lot of tools within a fairly compact box.
Price at time of publish: $59
Best for the Car: Big Red 19-Inch Metal Tool Box TB101
Perfect size for small tool collection or emergency tool kit
Handful of complaints that metal is thin
If you like the old-school look and feel of a metal tool box, then look no further than the Big Red 19-inch box that's made from heavy-duty gauge steel with a bright red powder coating that's resistant to corrosion. The box has a curved "roof" that gives more storage space inside for bulkier tools, such as power drills and drivers. It includes a plastic lift-out tray for organizing smaller tools and necessities. You can add a lock to the strong metal latch if desired, as well.
The box is 6.5 inches tall, 19 inches long, and 6.1 inches deep, making it a handy size for holding the essentials, or for using as your car or home emergency tool box. The plastic handle is shaped for a comfortable grip that won't hurt your hand if you need to tote the box to a worksite, and the bright color makes it easy to keep track of, even in less-than-ideal conditions.
Price at time of publish: $22
Best with Included Tools: CARTMAN Tool Set 160pcs
Perfect for a first tool set
Includes all the basics
Box only fits the included tools, no other storage options
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 160-piece 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, including a hammer, screwdrivers, wrench, pliers, and even a nice little set of screws and nails. And each tool has its own niche in the sturdy plastic box to keep everything corralled and organized.
All of the heat-treated, chrome-plated tools are strong enough to resist the usual abuse typical projects will throw out. For more experienced DIYers, 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. The box measures 14.7 inches long by 8.9 inches deep by 2.6 inches tall.
Price at time of publish: $27
Best Bag: Custom Leathercraft 1539 Multi-Compartment 50 Pocket Tool Bag
Loaded with storage options
Some people prefer tool storage with soft sides, as a tool bag can be easier to tote and store than rigid metal or plastic. If that describes you, then you'll love the Custom LeatherCraft 1539 Multi Compartment Carrier. This polyester tool bag can handle all of your tools without stretching, cracking, or breaking, and it's designed to make it very easy to spot what you need and grab it quickly. It's a great choice not only for DIYers or handy-people who like tackling projects and repairs around the house, but also professionals who need to tote numerous tools from worksite to worksite.
A spacious inner compartment has enough room for power and hand tools that can be awkward or bulky; many tool bags lack the space for power tools. The large exterior compartments unfold to reveal 50 pockets total for bits, handheld screwdrivers, and other small-size tricks of the trade that can get lost in the bottom of a cavernous bag. The zippered side panels give you extra storage space for a variety of tools, and you won't have to worry that something will fall out. Plus, the padded, adjustable shoulder strap will help prevent back and shoulder pain, especially if you tend to carry heavy power tools. It also has padded handles for extra comfort.
Price at time of publish: $90
If you want a sturdy tool box that’s big enough to hold the essentials plus some extras, but not so large that it’s difficult to lift or store, then you’ll appreciate the DEWALT TSTAK Deep Toolbox with Long Handle. But if you just need an inexpensive tool box for a basic home tool kit or to use as your emergency tool box, then the Plano Grab-N-Go 16-Inch Tool Box is the best choice.
What to Look for in a Tool Box
Size and storage capacity
The size of your tool collection, as well as the tools you use most frequently, will help you determine what kind of tool box to choose. If DIY home projects are your passion or your job requires using tools every day, a large box built with sturdy materials that includes plenty of storage options 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 tool boxes include small compartments to help organize hardware like nails, bolts, and screws, which is a very handy feature.
Tools can get expensive, so your tool box 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. Separate compartments for sharp or heavy tools help to prevent scratches and chips. The entire box should be sturdy enough to withstand your typical use. If that's daily travel to a worksite, you need the strongest box possible. If you have a tool box that rarely leaves the closet shelf, then a simple plastic box is sufficient.
Large metal boxes full of tools and hardware get heavy. If you typically need just a few tools for your various DIY projects, but have an extensive collection of tools, keep a small organizer box on hand that you can fill with just the tools required for that project; it will be much lighter so you can lift and move it easily. A polyester tool bag or tool apron are other options for short-term projects. 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.
Coleman Cosby, project manager and landscape design specialist at Yardzen, comments, “I prefer to have a number of smaller, dedicated tool boxes, instead of one or a few large boxes. That way, they’re easier to carry and organize. You'll be much more efficient if you can easily find the tool you need!”
How do you organize a tool box?
Place heavy tools like hammers and large wrenches in the bottom of the box. Look for a box with separate compartments to store sharp or pointed tools. These types of tools often come with their own pouch or padded covering for further protection.
As much as possible, keep tools of the same type together. It's much easier to find your wrench or screwdriver if you have a designated pocket or drawer for various types of tools. 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?
There are very lightweight plastic tool boxes, and very heavy metal options, but remember that once loaded with tools, any box becomes much heavier.
A very extensive tool collection is best housed in a large tool chest, but when you start a new project, use a portable or smaller tool box to carry just the items you'll need for that project to your worksite.
If you only have a small collection of tools, a plastic box or simple metal box might be enough to house them and you won't have to worry about excessive weight when toting your tool box to your project site.
How do you clean an aluminum tool box?
There are several methods for cleaning aluminum and other metals using DIY formulas, as well as 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 the manufacturer's instructions or use your home mix and apply it 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?
This article was written 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 around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of tool boxes, evaluating each for versatility, durability, portability, and storage options. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative. Glenn Wiseman, RASDT, RHDT, Sales Manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services and Coleman Cosby, project manager and landscape design specialist at Yardzen provided further input and advice.