As a technician, you likely own thousands of dollars worth of tools and equipment, and require tool storage capacity to hold them all, along with carts and accessories to help move those tools around your work area. Here are a few items to consider before making your next tool storage purchase.
If you’re shopping for a new tool cabinet or chest, it should be large enough to hold not only the tools you own now, but also any additional tools you may acquire in the years ahead. A technician who is just starting out will probably double or triple his tool collection within five years. Look at the storage space you think you need now, then add 25-50% to come up with a realistic estimate of how much storage space you will actually need a few years from now.
Also consider the size of your space and if it will accommodate the cabinet you’re looking at. You may need to choose a configuration that will give you the most utilization for the space available. For many technicians, that means a moderate-sized combination roller cabinet with a separate tool chest on top, and maybe a small portable service cart to hold tools temporarily while working on vehicles.
You also can accessorize a tool cabinet with various types of top chests, side cabinets, risers, vertical storage cabinets, lighting, trim, power outlets and even built-in audio systems. Having the right tools at your fingertips just got a whole lot easier. Accessory options include power tool holders, screwdriver/extension holders, extension cord wrap, an aerosol can holder — even a trash can holder.
Before buying any accessories, make sure each addition will save you time, improve the organization of your tools or help you earn more money. Additional storage can be added on with end cabinets, peg boards, hooks, or tool chests or additional compartments mounted on top.
Utility carts make it easy to transport all of your tools to any worksite, while still providing a useful work surface. Having quick access to scan tools and a computer is critical in diagnosing vehicle problems.
Beyond the drawer space, look for heavy-duty construction that will hold your tools without buckling from their weight. The heavier the load rating of the drawers, the better. Quality toolboxes typically have drawer ratings that range from 80 up to 200 pounds.
Also note if drawers can be added or removed, or if shelves can be adjusted and reconfigured to suit your needs.
Drawer dividers, trays and organizers that hold sockets and wrenches in size order mean no more rummaging through a whole drawer full of loose wrenches or sockets to find the one you want.
Look for a magnetic socket holder, which keeps sockets in place. Most are designed with magnetic bases, making it easy to secure your tools to any metal surface, including the sides of a toolbox, cart or creeper. One important consideration, if they are going into a drawer, is to make sure the holders will actually fit in the drawers you want them to. Check the height of your drawer. In some cases you won’t be able to store deep sockets in a holder in your most shallow drawers. Also be sure you can easily read the size label, and look for accessories that are oil and fuel resistant.
Wrench organizers accommodate a wide variety of wrenches and allow for immediate recognition of a missing wrench. Look for those that are made from soft, flexible material that won’t mar the surface of your wrenches. Watch for wrench organizers that display the sizes no matter which way they are turned in the box. This allows you to place more wrenches in the drawer and still be able to easily spot the one you need.
Much like the dividers and organizers used in kitchens, you can finds some great ways to organize your drawer contents. These can range from simple dividers, to wire racks and also adjustable dividers. The type of divider you choose is up to you, but again, the quicker and easier you can find that certain tool means the sooner you get that car out of your bay!
There used to be a time when most toolboxes and storage cabinets came in standard basic colors, but nowadays you can get tool storage cabinets and chests in almost any color.
The quality of the finish on the cabinet is important so it holds up over time. Nothing diminishes the resale value of a toolbox more than rust. Nobody wants to own, let alone buy, an old rusty toolbox. So make sure the manufacturer offers a quality paint job or powder coating. Stainless steel edging on the drawers can help prevent unsightly nicks and dings. You want a cabinet that can be easily cleaned and maintains a like-new appearance.
Custom graphics on toolboxes is also a popular trend. You obviously pay extra for graphics or a custom paint job, but it’s your toolbox and you should be able to have it any way you want it. One word of caution, though. If you ding or scratch the fancy graphics or paint job on your tool cabinet, what will it take to fix it? A toolbox also has to be practical for a working technician. It can’t just be a work of art.