Tool chests are something we probably take for granted. And not like granted, granted.
More like we don’t really much thought into the contents since they usually tend to have everything we need. Until that time they don’t. That’s annoying when that happens, isn’t it? And you know why that happened? Because you didn’t get the best tool chest ever!
On a more serious note, having a good tool chest could definitely give you advantages that you won’t normally think about. In fact, you only understand the value of having one of these when you run into trouble so you’d rather not have that happen I hope!
Best Tool Chest for the Money: Reviewed
1. Stanley 037025H 50 Gallon Mobile Chest
With a rather hefty volume label of 50 gallons, the Stanley 037025H is going to easily carry the majority of your tools in this big, plastic container.
While we’re on the topic of transportation, arguably the biggest plus here is that this container also has a pull-up handle that lets you basically roll this tool chest around like you would with a luggage.
Along with this handle, there is a pair of wheels underneath, which will let you roll it around with ease. Imagine moving 50 gallons worth of tools with a simple push or a stroller! Best rolling tool chest around perhaps!
It comes included with a lock system with keys so you do not have to use external locks for this tool chest.
There are a few compartments and sections in between to make distinctions between groups of items. The internal tray can be used, for example, to keep smaller items in.
The wheels, made of plastic, are not the sturdiest. A lot of users complained about the wheels being wobbly when they first received them and some even reported that the wheels came off after a short duration of use.
- Large capacity of 50 gallons.
- Roll up handle with wheels for ease of movement.
- Lock and keys included with it for better security.
- Several compartments for clustering tools.
- Body’s build quality is solid and durable
- Wheels are not among the best.
2. Craftsman 6 Drawer Heavy Duty Top Tool Chest
A tray-based tool chest, the Craftsman 6 is a drawer with quite a lot of versatility in transportation and accommodation of tools of different sizes. The top of the box opens up two smaller compartments, each with its own set of drawers to store all your tools into.
With a total of a possible 6 different compartments or drawers to keep your items in, this is one toolbox that can let you do some serious organizing with all your tools.
The drawers all slide open and with little friction to obstruct movement so you can easily access the drawers and whatever is inside. The empty tool chest is also quite easy to push inside the smaller compartments located above the main body.
Due to the design of the drawers, it is possible to bring them out of the drawer and replace them suitable aftermarket drawers if you feel like it. Do note that the slide mechanism is accommodated for by ball bearings and you’ll need similar drawers.
It has two locks to lock in the two different compartments entirely.
The build is not perfectly stable and users complained about the drawers wobbling. At least it is steel so it should hold up okay.
The locks are a bit flimsy and not convenient to use at all!
- Lots of drawers and compartments.
- Keys and locks included with the tool chest.
- Ability to keep compartments locked separately.
- Supports aftermarket drawers if something happens to the native ones.
- Sliding drawers work better than compartments
- Gimmicky and not very usable locks.
- Drawers are not very stable.
3. Roller Cart Tool Cabinet Storage Chest Box
In a slightly smaller form factor, the Roller Cart Tool Cabinet has four drawers of equal size to stow away your tools.
Each of the drawers in this chest box can carry up to 70 lbs. each, giving the user up to a combined total of 280 lbs. which, for the purpose of carrying tools is quite a hefty amount.
This particular tool cabinet has a separate storage space for your screwdrivers that are built in inside the interiors of the frame so you don’t have to stow it away with the rest of your more heavy-duty tools.
The drawers and parts come packaged disassembled but because it is quite easy to put together, you shouldn’t really have many issues with assembling them together. This also means that when you don’t have anything in the tool cabinet, disassembly will be easy.
The cabinet also stands on four wheels, so it is quite mobile at its expanded position. This mobility is only available while it has tools inside.
The build quality is not very solid, unfortunately. You have to be cautious with it or risk getting dents and bends in the tool chest. Don’t hit it too hard with big objects!
- Small and quite portable, so useful to carry essential tools around.
- Size and use case make it a good fit for profession-based work.
- Easy to put together the different drawers into the chest and disassemble them.
- Four different wheels allow for great mobility.
- Quick access to essential tools like screwdrivers.
- Poor build quality leads to a lack of durability.
4. Excel TB2502X-Blue 26-Inch Steel Intermediate Chest, Blue
If you have ever seen any excel tool chest review, you’ll know that one of their common features is the ability to stack chests on top of one another. Basically, you build an infinite tool cabinet vertically upwards.
It offsets the lack of size and drawer expandability by making each unit quite strong and sturdy, with the exteriors made with double wall steel. The drawers have full-length aluminum running along the sides of the interiors, making it another drawer sliding mechanism that is quite easy and intuitive to use.
The body is coated with a powder-coat paint finish, which has benefits in comparison to regular paint.
It even lets you add a top box with a lot more height than the conventional drawers, letting you fit in much bigger tools than you could in those rather short drawers.
The holds of the lock are not the sturdiest and some people needed to do some tinkering around with the locks before it worked.
You’ll end up spending a decent amount of money before it gets enough drawers to be able to contain a really substantial amount of tools.
- Infinitely expand storage as per necessity.
- Exteriors are very strong and robust.
- Powder-coat paint means no scratches and blemishes on the body.
- Locking capabilities of the group of drawers together.
- Addition of a box on top of the drawers.
- Lots of money need to be spent to build up capacity.
- Locks are not very well built.
Best Tool Chest Under $1000
You obviously don’t want to spend away all your life’s savings on a tool chest, understandably! Therefore, if you have budget constraints, you’ll want to know what’s good in the hood within that budget. Here are a few tool chests under a grand.
5. Viper Tool Storage V4109BLC 41-Inch 9-Drawer 18G Steel Tool Chest
A rather robust tool cabinet made out of tough 18G steel, the Viper Tool Storage Chest is one of the more durable cabinets on this list.
It has a variety of drawers of different sizes are inside to meet the needs of different sizes of tools. I’ve already explained the benefits that more drawers allow for in terms of organization and compartmentalization.
For added measure, in addition to all the drawers, there is a bigger drawer with more height that lets you fit in the bigger tools than you can in conventional drawers, making sure that you have some coverage for even the bigger tools you have around.
There is a lid on the top that lets you access certain tools right from the top so you don’t have to bother fiddling around with sliding drawers if they have tools that you need immediately.
The manufacturer even provides limited warranty for a lifetime so you can get certain repairs and service for the entirety of the lifetime of this tool chest cabinet. Perhaps this makes it the best homeowner tool chest in the list.
The drawers tend to come open with the slightest of movements. It would have been helpful to have a mechanism to hold the drawer in place.
- Great build and durability for tough environments.
- Good variation in drawer sizes for customizability and clustering.
- Lifetime warranty for repairs to a degree.
- Fits in really big and heavy tools.
- Top lid is a good mode of quick-access.
- Flimsy drawers that are not well built
6. Pelican 0450-015-110 0450 MOBILE TOOL CHEST
Coming in at a very small size and the ability to pack it straight into one firm box, the Pelican mobile tool chest is the first really portable mobile tool chest on this list.
Despite the really compact design, this particular toolbox has quite a good number of different drawer-like compartments where you can keep different tools.
In addition to all the vertical components, you can fit in very small tools such as test batteries in the three side pockets of the box. Holding cartridges and really small screws is what you’ll do here.
It is actually quite a durable and sturdy toolbox for something that comes in a really small package. The build material is tough and the hinges that keep the box shut in tight is very strong and tight to make sure you can pack in all those tools in such a small and tight space.
It even has the option to include some foam cushions inside the drawers that you can buy for a bit more money.
Without the safety cushions inside, tools are not necessarily properly secured.
- Great mobility and versatility of the toolbox.
- Good toolbox for smaller tools.
- Well-built and durable despite the size.
- Let’s you add a cushion for safety.
- Drawers in the toolbox slide well.
- Tools do need the cushion or risk damage.
Best Tool Chest Under $500
Now, what if you were the kind of guy who was on a tighter budget? Let’s be real, most of you reading this probably don’t want to dish out a whole grand on a toolbox I imagine! What about half that budget? That’s more doable right? Let’s look at a few boxes then!
7. Viper Tool Storage V218MCBL 18-Inch 2-Drawer 18G Steel Mini Storage Chest
The second compact toolbox design on this list that is also going to be suitable to carry around with you. The compact design, efficient drawers and handles would probably make the usability and portability factor suited for professionals and make it the perfect tool chest for mechanics.
Two drawers, both with a rated load capacity up to 50 lbs can support a decent amount of tools at a rather small size and do it better than the really small toolboxes.
The drawers slide inside and out fairly smoothly due, using polished aluminum holders and a ball bearing mechanism to move the sliding drawer.
A cam lock mechanism that lets you lock the drawers separately and comes included with matching keys with labels so you know which key goes into which drawer.
The side handles are perhaps not as easy to carry a stroller with wheels but it is still a pretty good way to carry around what is a small box. The handles have pretty comfortable grips too.
The drawer lock is a bit gimmicky and a lot of users would rather have a more manual lock. Not all users faced issues with this though so it could be a quality control issue more than the actual product.
- Small, compact design good for storage and portability.
- Well-functioning drawers that slide well.
- Sturdy side handles for easy carrying.
- Decent capacity for a small box, up to 100lbs.
- A variety of different colors to choose from.
- Lock mechanism is a bit fidgety and not the most durable.
8. Rolling Tool Chest 6-Drawer Removable Tool Storage Cabinet
Very expansive tool storing cabinet with a commendable 6 drawers, letting you compartmentalize and organize your different types of tools in a coherent way. The fact that there are different-sized drawers further ads to this point.
In addition to the drawers, there is a large cabinet at the bottom of the chest where you can stuff in the really big tools and machines.
The box containing four drawers on top of the bigger container is also detachable. It comes with a handle and is quite portable as a mobile toolbox so you get a lot of flexibility.
The drawers located in the box are also lockable, albeit locking all of them together. Seeing as you’ll only really move the box around, this should more than suffice in terms of security.
The box is made of steel and will take some beating before it even cracks.
The big container has wheels at the bottom to push the whole thing around. Mobile in the house and even when you’re taking tools somewhere. If you want to buy a tool chest for home use then this is the wise choice.
While it is portable and mobile to a degree, it isn’t quite as big to be a good storage option at home for all your tools.
- Great flexibility and tool separation with many drawers.
- Many compartments to make tools into clusters or groups.
- All drawers can be locked independently and with different keys.
- Wheels and handles make for easy movement.
- Great build quality and durability.
- Size is unsuitable to carry even slightly bigger tools.
9. Trinity Wood Tool Chest
Another super portable tool chest on this list, it is the first wooden toolbox on this list and it has a host of build features that make this quite the useful piece of lumber craftsmanship!
A total of eight drawers of three different sizes will definitely let you adjust and organize to quite a good degree.
In addition to the drawers, there is a slightly bigger cabinet of sorts in between the drawers and a tray on the top to let you keep all your immediate need tools. Again, for the price, this is a lot of functionality! The best small tool chest? On a budget, certainly!
There are side handles for easier transportation and they are plated with nickel metal so they should be quite sturdy and stick to the box.
Given that it is polished wood, even though you will probably want to get this for its portability, it is going to blend in well with all your wooden furniture.
Build quality was always an issue when it came to wood and it is no exception here. It is going to give away without being able to take too much damage sadly.
- As compact as toolboxes get.
- Made of wood and is biodegradable.
- Has a good number of storage options for organizing tools.
- Sturdy side handles will last quite a while.
- Nice aesthetics, especially going well with wooden interiors
- Questionable build quality due to the use of wood.
- Too small to carry even slightly heavy tools.
Best Tool Chest Under $200
In the worst case scenario, your wallet is on the brink and you don’t have much money to spend on a tool chest. Or maybe you’re just frugal. Anyway, if you need something even cheaper, here are some tool boxes in the sub $200 range for you frugal ones out there.
10. Goplus Tool Chest 20-Inch Portable Tool Box
Compact tool chest that is wider than it is in length and a decent number of drawers to allow for a little organizing. Given the price you’re shopping at, you can only get so much!
The drawers are all of different sizes and come out up to different lengths so they are quite intuitive, despite being quite limited in number. It is meant to be a small and portable chest.
Handles on the sides are quite comfortable to hold and the weight is okay enough for you to pick it up and stow it in the trunk of your car or back of your pickup truck
The top consists of a tray which allows you to keep a selection of quick access tools there that you tend to need more often than the others. It is quite shallow so find fitting tools!
The locking mechanism is basically a latch system and even though it isn’t as secure, it is a decent option.
Some of the drawers come open when you try to open the one on top of it. It isn’t a big issue but it is definitely annoying!
- Many drawers and compartments for organizing tools.
- Small and compact size allows for easy storage and portability.
- Quick-access top tray for the vital tools.
- Good handles on the side that are comfortable to grip on.
- Latches fit tight to prevent box from unravelling.
- Latches aren’t as safe as locks!
Overview of The Best Tool Chest for The Money
That was a whole lot of tool boxes that we covered and in quite a variety of budgets, build materials and features. I know, these are things that never occurred to me as well! But I hope now, you have some idea of what things one might need in a toolbox and ways to make your toolbox more efficient and user-friendly. But you might have a question; do you even need one to begin with?
Why You Need A Tool Chest
Everyone needs tools! : Well, for one, if you’re someone who almost never uses tools and always dials in help whenever you need anything done, only then perhaps you don’t. But the average person definitely needs a bunch of tools every now and then go about fixing things at home and it is just impractical to keep calling professionals and pay them big money to fix what really small problems are.
Storage in one place: Now, you could just have them lying around somewhere like in a shoe box under your bed or your garage but they’re going to be unprotected, susceptible to being stolen or simply outright difficult to find. If you don’t care enough to keep your tools somewhere secure, would you really remember where you keep all of them?! Most tools, in isolation, are not going to be easy to find. This is true even if you have stuffed a box full of all your tools. The small ones are always going to fade away in all the mess and ruckus of so many tools. And wait till they get dirty down there!
Benefits Of Using A Tool Chest
Transporting tools: Having a toolbox for all your different tools and spare parts are going to be extremely useful in a lot of ways. The ability to transport is definitely the most useful one. Normally, you can carry a few tools around with relative ease. But say, now you are going to have to carry a whole bunch of them and they are all of different sizes and weights. A heavy box itself is going to be a challenge carrying it up to your vehicle but with a toolbox, you get enough features to be able to walk around with them to your destination!
Carrying big and heavy tools: Something as simple as a few wheels at the bottom and a handle to carry it around will enable you to walk for as long as your feet can take you without adding any pressure to your body. It’s just like pulling a luggage really! You’ll never have it easier when it comes to taking a whole bunch of tools to wherever you need them. And portability is definitely something you’ll need a lot of if you’re a mechanic or a professional who frequently uses tools to do work.
How to Organize Tools in a Chest
Something you’ll definitely like is the ability to organize your toolbox efficiently. Typically, the more different types of tools you have, the more flexibility you’re going to prefer and therefore, the more drawers you will most likely need. Now, I should preface this by saying that how you decide to cluster your different tools is very subjective. If you are very picky about how you group them, this is particularly going to apply for you.
Cluster by Size: First of all, as a general rule, drawers, and cabinets get bigger the lower you go down in a tool chest. This is because you would be better off keeping the heavier and bigger tools at the bottom, lest you shift the balance of the weight to the top and risk having your tool chest tilt forward and fall. This is particularly true for the bigger tool chests that are mainly used as stationary tool chests for homes and garages.
Cluster by Purpose: The second way you can make distinctions in your organizing is in terms of what the tools do. You can do this in tandem with the previous point quite easily. For example, your hammers are no doubt going to be bigger and used for a different purpose than your screwdriver. So of course, you keep all your hammers in one compartment towards the lower parts of the chest and keep the screwdrivers on another drawer on the upper end. Dividing in terms of both weight and function is a good way to approach any tool organizing work.
Features To Consider Purchase
Profession: In a way, the most important consideration for your purchase is your profession; more specifically, whether you are going to use your toolbox as a part of your occupation. People like mechanics, electricians, and plumbers, for example, need to carry these tools around in order to do their work and fix the plumbing at their client’s home. In that case, one thing that you’ll definitely need to prioritize is portability. Experts need very compact cases with a lot of compartments and need to selectively choose the tools that they have on them.
Type of chest: There are a lot of different chests with different ways to carry them around and how many drawers they can accommodate, depending on the design of the tool chest. There are the really compact and mobile tool boxes that really squeeze in all the tools in one place to make it easier to carry the tools on you but at the same token, it sacrifices the ability to carry bigger tools.
Carrying on from that, a slightly wider tool chest with fewer drawers can let a user store up to some bigger tools in them but with a toolbox like this, you probably have to carry them by handles located on the sides of the boxes. Some door-based tool chests can be closed and carried like luggage. These toolboxes tend to lack compartmentalization in the interiors and you’re probably carrying really big and heavy tools in them anyway.
Material: Built material is going to be an important variable for people who use their tool boxes a lot. There are boxes made of plastic, wood and different types of metal. Needless to say, anyone who carries toolboxes around will be best off using toolboxes made of durable and sturdy metals or like metal alloys. They will be heavier and that could be a bit of a bother for people who carry them by hand but as a general rule, you’ll have more compact boxes if you use it in your work so it isn’t as big of an issue.
Most non-regular users should probably opt for a plastic or wooden box. In this department, it’s more likely to be about preferences and neither is really good in terms of durability but plastic provides better durability and is likely to be more portable at the same size. However, wooden ones are going to fit better with your interiors.
Size and space: Depending on the tools you have on you, you are going to need a box that has enough space inside to be able to accommodate all of them. So this is quite straightforward; if you have a lot of tools get a bigger chest. If not, just stick to a small one. Simple really!
Storage capacity and strength: Coming on from the previous point, you’ll need more storage if you intend to buy more tools or just have more tools that you end up needing to use. However, do note that bigger chests are not necessarily stronger or more durable as things such as the build material are likely to be important. For durability, you’ll want it if you travel with your toolbox. If it stays at home, you can probably sacrifice on this.
Drawers: Most drawers that come with tool chests have rolling sphere mechanism and are likely to be smooth. However, where they will tend to differ is in number and size. Having more drawers and of different sizes will let you store different tools and tool types in a very organized manner and if you have a host of tools on you that you use, definitely consider the drawers in a tool chest.
Durable frame: A chest that is very sturdy and durable is going to last you for a long time and it will be something you really like having, particularly if your box is going to get pushed around or banged around a lot. Even if you don’t need it, you will most likely be better off with one that is durable.
Slides: You’ll want your drawers to be slide capable. Any other drawer is really, a no-go! Sliding drawers are going to be a lot more convenient and smooth and better than most other mechanisms of locking.
Locks and Security of the Tool Chest: For reasons of security, you’ll want to keep your important tools locked in and secured so that you do not risk losing them. You’ll want them on both your portable and home tool chests but if you are on a budget, this is something that may need to be foregone.
Aesthetics: Probably something that you will prioritize the least is aesthetics. We all want our stuff to look pretty and all but when it comes to tool boxes, even the average eddy is going to prefer function over form. There are ones with decent aesthetics but is it really worth paying the extra money for it?
Brand: For toolboxes, I would argue that brand name is probably not as big of a consideration. If anything, you’ll want to focus on user reviews and build quality and other features along those lines. A simple name tag shouldn’t really cut it!
Price: Of course, price is the age old factor that pretty much influences all buying decisions and will continue to do so throughout the course of time. Everything that you want in a box is immaterial is you don’t have the budget for one with all the features and you have to make do with the best one for your budget.
Also Read: Best Tool Bag for HVAC – Expert Buying Guide
Cleaning and Maintenance
As much as we all like our hygiene, you arguably want to keep your tools well-greased to prevent them from rusting. However, you can do some cleaning. Without needing to run water or liquids through it, you can rub it out with a cloth to get rid of dust and other impurities but ideally, you will want to keep liquids and alcohol away from it. If anything, grease the box when you grease the tools and you should be fine. Don’t go overboard with cleaning!
1: Can you remove drawers from a tool chest with ball bearings?
Answer: Even though it can be removed, the exact design is also likely to affect the removability. You might have to remove the top drawers first before the bottom ones will come off in some of them.
2: What are the rollers made of?
Answer: Roller wheels are almost always made of plastic, even in the metallic bodies. Do note that all the wheels have specific stress limits and you will need to keep an eye on that before you put on too much weight and break them!
3: Does the tool chest come in one piece or do I need to do assembly?
Answer: The really compact and portable ones are ready to go out of the box but the bigger ones that you use in your garage and at your home will need some assembly. You will need to put together different components but the main frame of the cabinet is going to be premade.
4: What lock do tool chests use?
Answer: They use a built-in locking mechanism in cases with pre-included keys and even in the worse ones, they have a latch mechanism that can keep things in hold but is removable. Tubular locks are also there whereby they have a type of different key specific to that type of lock and is made of nonmetals.
5: What do I do if I lose the key?
Answer: You can get a locksmith to help you out if it’s like a conventional lock and key mechanism. However, for the more unique locking mechanisms, you need to contact the manufacturer to get them to send a replacement. Otherwise, you’ll need to break through it to access the contents inside.
So that is a lot of information to swallow, I know! Do not worry though, take your time to read up on all of this slowly and use the information to make a more informed decision on your next purchase of a toolbox. Happy hunting my friend!