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A small, basic tool collection, or a set of emergency tools kept in the car or a closet, does best in an equally small portable tool box. But when it comes to a large collection of tools—and if you are a professional or hobbyist mechanic or carpenter, or simply love to have a major DIY project in the works at all times, chances are you've accumulated an impressive set of tools over the years—those tools need a home that provides enough space and organizational options to keep them clean, undamaged, and easy to find when you need them. And a tool chest is the best option to meet those needs.
Tool chests are typically similar to a cabinet, with multiple drawers and often a top that lifts up to reveal further storage for smaller items. Larger tool chests are often two pieces—a top chest with drawers atop a bottom cabinet that might also have drawers, or might have open space for storing larger tools. Most tool chests have wheels; this is especially important if you need to move your tools closer to your worksite while tackling a project, but then want to push the chest back out of the way when you are finished.
The vast majority of tool chests are made of metal, typically steel, but some smaller tool chests are all or partly heavy-duty plastic. You'll find options with just three or four drawers, and beasts with more than 10 drawers. The right one for you is the tool chest that is sized to comfortably handle your entire tool collection, and yet still fit in your garage or other work area.
We researched the top tool chests available now, and then whittled the options down to those we feel are the best in several categories that most interest the average DIYer.
Best Overall: Craftsman 2000 Series 41-Inch Tool Chest/Cabinet Combo
Separates into chest and cabinet
Lots of storage space
Doesn't include drawer liners
If you need serious tool storage, you need the Craftsman 2000 Series 41-Inch Tool Chest Combo. This steel-framed master of organization has a total of 16 drawers, each with heavy-duty soft-close drawer slides that can support up to 100 pounds.
The combo consists of two parts that can be stacked or separated: a lower cabinet with 10 drawers, and an upper chest with six drawers plus a lift-up lid that reveals a deep till for larger tool storage. Five-inch sturdy casters let you maneuver the tool chest right where you need it, and then lock the wheels to keep the chest from moving while you work.
You can lock all of the drawers to keep your tools safe, and there’s even a handy integrated power strip underneath the top lid of the chest with six outlets and two USB ports, so you’ll be able to power up your tool batteries as needed.
The lower cabinet is 41 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 37.5 inches tall. The upper chest is 41 inches wide, 16 inches deep, and 24.5 inches tall. The lower cabinet has a large handle on one side and the upper chest has handles on both sides.
Drawers: 16 | Width: 41 inches | Height: 62 inches | Depth: 18 inches | Power Strip: Yes
Best for Tight Spaces: Goplus 6-Drawer Rolling Tool Chest
No power strip
Most tool chests with reasonable storage capacities are quite wide, meaning you need a fairly large garage or worksite to hold them. But if space is an issue, you’ll appreciate the upright configuration of the Goplus 6-Drawer Rolling Tool Chest. Instead of the typical 41-or-more inches in width, this tool chest measures just 23.5 inches across, so it’ll slip into a fairly narrow spot with ease.
The sturdy, cold-rolled steel tool chest has a large cabinet with a door, providing the perfect spot to stash your larger tools and supplies. The top of the upper portion lifts up so you can access the inner tray. In between, there are six drawers, two of which are deeper for larger tools. Each lined drawer can hold up to 22 pounds. 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 23.5 inches wide, 52 inches tall, and 13 inches deep.
Drawers: 6 | Width: 23.5 inches | Height: 52 inches | Depth: 13 inches | Power Strip: No
Best Small: GEARWRENCH 20-Inch Tool Box 83151
Perfect for small hand tools
Can be tricky to lock drawers
While typically tool chests are large, bulky items intended for equally large tool collections, there are times you need something a little—or a lot—smaller. For those occasions, 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 jobsite away from home, or just corralling your basic household tools.
The three drawers have ball-bearing slides for smooth performance. Each drawer is 2 inches high. The top of the box lifts up, revealing a further 2.5-inch storage area. There’s a handle atop the box for easy portability. A lock lets you secure your tools when not in use.
The Gearwrench tool box measures 20 inches wide, 8 inches deep, and 12 inches tall.
Drawers: 3 | Width: 20 inches | Height: 12 inches | Depth: 8 inches | Power Strip: No
Best with Pegboard: Milwaukee 11-Drawer 61-Inch Mobile Workbench
Versatile storage options
Heavy and can be hard to move
When creating the ideal workshop, you can’t go wrong with peg board. And with the Milwaukee 61-Inch 11-Drawer Mobile Workbench, you get not only a large steel tool chest topped with a wooden workbench, you also get an attached metal peg board, just waiting for you to hang storage bins, tools, and oddly shaped items. That adds up to storage options galore.
There are a total of 11 lockable drawers in the tool chest, each with a 100-pound capacity. There’s also an open cabinet with a shelf for more large tools or other items, a power strip with six outlets on the side for recharging your power tools, and an exterior shelf for other small items.
The tool chest has six 5-inch, locking casters. The tool chest measures 37.8 inches tall, 61 inches wide, and 23.9 inches deep. The peg board is 61 inches wide, 22.1 inches tall, and 1.5 inches deep.
Drawers: 11 | Width: 61 inches | Height: 37.8 inches | Depth: 23.9 inches | Power Strip: Yes
Best with Workbench: Husky 46-Inch Tool Chest with Hardwood Top
Very durable construction
Heavy and can be hard to move
If you’d love to tackle bigger projects in your workshop or garage, but lack the space for a separate workbench and tool chest, the Husky 46-Inch Tool Chest with Hardwood Top is the answer to your prayers. This super-sturdy tool chest is all-steel construction, other than the hardwood top, which serves as a workbench.
There are nine lockable drawers total: one extra long, six regular, and two extra-deep. The bottom drawers each have a 200-pound weight capacity, while the other seven drawers each hold up to 100 pounds of tool weight. All drawers are lined to protect your tools and prevent scratches. There’s even an integrated charging bar on the side of the chest with four outlets and two USB ports so you can power up your tools’ batteries as needed.
The workbench measures 46 inches in width, 24.5 inches deep, and 37 inches in height, including the 5-inch casters.
Drawers: 9 | Width: 46 inches | Height: 37 inches | Depth: 24.5 inches | Power Strip: Yes
Best Value: Craftsman 26-Inch 4-Drawer Tool Cabinet
Perfect for small tool collection
Sturdy steel construction
Few complaints about the casters
Tool chests tend to be undeniably expensive. But you don’t need to spend a bundle to keep your tool collection organized and at hand with the Craftsman 26-Inch 4-Drawer Tool Cabinet. This US-built tool chest is just the right size to store a small-to-medium selection of tools, but best of all, it won't break your budget to do so.
This sturdy tool chest has four drawers, each of which has a weight capacity of 75 pounds. Four smooth-rolling casters let you move the tool chest to where you need it, and the side handle makes it easy to maneuver. There's a top mat to protect the tool chest from scratches, and the drawers lock to safeguard your tools.
With wheels, the tool chest measures 34 inches high, 26 inches wide, and 18 inches deep.
Drawers: 4 | Width: 26 inches | Height: 34 inches | Depth: 18 inches | Power Strip: No
“The best organization and storage system will depend on your space and the amount of tools in your collection. But the most important thing you can do for organization is to store your tools in one place and put them back after each use. There’s nothing worse than wanting to start a new project and not being able to find any of the tools you need.” Eamon Lynch, Director of Warranty Service at Power Home Remodeling.
Best for DIY Mechanics: Performance Tool 3-Drawer Roller Seat
Magnetic fold-down trays
Few complaints about casters not rolling smoothly
When doing work that requires crouching down low, which is often the case while working on your car, your legs and back can really get tired. That's when the Performance Tool 3-Drawer Roller Seat really comes in handy. This ingenious product basically shrinks a typical tool chest down to the size of a stool. In fact, with the comfortable top pad, you can actually sit on this chest.
The chest has three small drawers and 16 exterior storage slots to hold your tools as you work. There are also two fold-down, magnetic storage trays to hold nuts, bolts, or other small items. With the drawers directly underneath you as you sit, all you have to do is reach down to find and switch out tools. The four 2-inch ball-bearing casters provide a stable base to glide around hard surfaces like the garage floor, while the thick, vinyl-covered padded top will keep you comfortable for long periods.
The chest's overall dimensions are 27 inches wide, 14 inches deep, 18 inches high.
Drawers: 3 | Width: 27 inches | Height: 18 inches | Depth: 14 inches | Power Strip: No
If you’re looking for the all-around best tool chest, it’s hard to go wrong with the Craftsman 2000 Series 41-Inch Tool Chest Combo (view at Lowe’s). This chest/cabinet combo is the utmost in durability and has 16 drawers to keep your tools organized. But if budget is an issue, and you don’t need an exceptionally large tool chest, the Craftsman 26-Inch 4-Drawer Rolling Tool Chest (view at Lowe's) has four drawers providing quite a bit of storage capacity for a very reasonable price.
What to Look for in a Tool Chest
Tool chests, as a general rule, are large. You'll find options as big as five feet in width, although of course there are also smaller choices—there are tool chests under two feet in width, as well as three to four feet across. The size that's right for you depends on both the size of your tool collection and the amount of space you have in your garage or workshop. Measure carefully before buying; you don't want to get your tool chest home only to discover that it doesn't fit where you had planned on putting it. If horizontal space is in short supply, consider a tool chest that is tall but narrow. While these options generally don't hold quite as much as wider chests, many still hold a significant amount of tools.
Small tool chests might only have three or four drawers, while large chests could have as many as 16. There's no right or wrong number here, just what works best for you in terms of space and organization needs. Along with the number of drawers total, you should consider the drawer size; typically, there will be a couple of deep drawers towards the bottom for large power tools, and several shallower drawers for smaller hand tools.
Another important consideration is the drawer weight capacity. Large, sturdy tool chests can often support as much as 100 pounds per drawer, but smaller chests usually hold less weight. Finally, the best tool chests have ball-bearing, slow-close drawer slides for smooth operation without a slam.
Just about all large tool chests have casters so you can maneuver the chest to where you need it, and then easily push it back into its storage spot. Casters should be sturdy enough to support the weight of the chest plus your tools, which can add up to hundreds of pounds. You'll also want casters that lock to prevent the tool chest from drifting out of place or moving when you open a drawer. Commonly, tool chests also have a handle on the side so you can easily pull or push the chest into position.
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 tool chests, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback, as well as input from Eamon Lynch, Director of Warranty Service at Power Home Remodeling.
How do you organize a tool chest?
An organized tool chest will save you time and increase your efficiency by knowing how to quickly and easily access what you need. Start organizing your tool chest by emptying it out and laying out your tools on a flat surface. Group tools by type: heavy-duty tools such as drills; smaller tools such as screwdrivers and hammers; measuring tools such as levels and measuring tape; and supplies such as duct tape or sandpaper. Discard any broken tools, give away duplicates, and make note of anything you need. Clean your toolbox before adding back items. While there is no one method for achieving an organized tool chest, and you should do what works best for you, in general store heavier tools at the bottom, medium-sized tools in the middle, and smaller supplies at the top. It also makes sense to sort and label small supplies such as nails and screws so you won't waste time rooting around for the right size in the middle of a project or job.
How do you move a tool chest?
Moving a tool chest is a big issue for people whose work requires transporting a lot of tools, and it can be a challenge depending on how heavy your tool chest is and how far you need to move it. Most tool chests have wheels to help you move them between locations and around a workspace. You can make moving a heavy tool chest a little less painful by removing drawers before transporting. For a smaller tool chest, try removing heavy items to lighten the load. Keep in mind that if you are driving long distances, the contents are bound to shift, so secure it properly with furniture straps. An extra pair of hands always helps, but you may also need a car jack and a dolly to move the chest between your workspace and the transport vehicle and from there to the job site and back again, so plan accordingly.
How do you organize tool chest drawers?
Organizing tool chest drawers will ensure that you always know where to find things, saving time and headaches and increasing productivity. Luckily there are some handy products custom made for the job. Foam drawer organizers will cradle your tools securely into place, cushioning them for protection while making them easy to see. Wood or plastic socket holders built to fit in your tool chest drawers will allow you to sort sockets by size, allowing you to access what you need quickly and take a rapid inventory. If you want to freestyle it, cushioned non-slip drawer liners protect tools from bashing into one another and prevent scratches on tool chest drawers.