Tangle of tools
December 13, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

How do I organize my household tools in a very small apartment?

I have a 300 sq foot apartment. Currently, 3 cubic feet are occupied by my tools (basic household stuff - wrenches, power drill, screw drivers, screws, pliers etc) which are in disarray, and now that I look around another 5 cubic feet are occupied by turtle care supplies. Currently, they are all on the floor (in a tool box, and a milk crate) using up valuable real estate. I would love to hang them on the wall, but all our wall surfaces are taken, so I'm looking for a way to organize what is currently an ugly plastic box filled with disorganized tangle of tools, and a heap of turtle stuff into something pleasing to the eye, and maybe something stackable so that I can somehow consolidate stuff that is currently using 8 precious feet of floor space into a smaller footprint. Extra bonus points if the magic organization system looks good and helps me to actually organize my tools so that I don't have to stick my arm into a metal tangle to get a phillips head screwdriver.
posted by DaveZ to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
From Apartment Therapy, 10 Small Space Solutions from Ikea.

I like boxes from Ikea. They're cheap, attractive and I can hide my shit in them.

My tools are in different boxes and stored in my basement. You can sort them by function or type, label them, and then stack the boxes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:27 AM on December 13, 2012

I'd go with something like this cart, which reclaims the footprint as a new surface while compressing a lot of loose bits into manageable drawers.
posted by acm at 8:40 AM on December 13, 2012

Bucket Boss works great for my dad. It would still be on the floor, and it's not quite as pretty as the Ikea pics, but you can pack a lot of stuff into a small footprint.
posted by raisingsand at 8:41 AM on December 13, 2012

(also, you could line the drawers if you didn't want to have to look at the jumble of stuff inside, or put a sheet or something over it if access isn't that frequent -- could probably even be an end table.)
posted by acm at 8:42 AM on December 13, 2012

My solution to this is getting an actual toolchest which has a surface on top that can be used as a place to put things like coffee makers/toasters/etc. Here is a picture of how I have it set up.
posted by jessamyn at 8:42 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Oooh. I love that tool chest.
posted by DaveZ at 8:48 AM on December 13, 2012

A couple of solutions come to mind. The first is to flaunt it: organize and display as part of the decor.

1 - Tool organization
2 - Attractive tool storage

(Cheaper, mass-manufactured versions available at Sears and Harbor Freight and sometimes the Army/Navy surplus.)

The second is to mount some pegboard to the inside of a closet door (or one of the inside walls of the closet), and use pegboard hangers to organize your tools out of the way.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:50 AM on December 13, 2012

Craftsman tool chests are very nice, but check sources like Harbor Freight or JC Whitney as well, as even with freight they may be cheaper. Also, around here, about once a year there is a huge tool sale (here, usually at the Masonic Temple) where they bring in like a tractor-trailer full of tools and have a big event. The tools are mostly crap, but the tool boxes and chests they have for sale are actually pretty decent.

Also check if you have an estate sale company nearby which sells furniture, housewares, etc. The one in my town also sells tools (and tool boxes/chests); though you will probably have to be patient for just the right thing to come up. Still, there are deals to be had. I'd have never thought the place that appeared to deal in mostly antique furniture would carry tools, but they sure do. If not a tool chest, you might find a nice cabinet or something that would do the trick.
posted by xedrik at 9:28 AM on December 13, 2012

Before combining households and tools into DeWalt's ToughSystem toolboxes, I repurposed a makeup train case that could be rolled away as needed.
posted by evoque at 10:22 AM on December 13, 2012

I have a tool chest exactly like jessamyn's except it's Husky brand. I bought it and a smaller chest that sits on top on sale at Home Depot last year. <>
She likes how it keeps me more organized, however.
posted by InsanePenguin at 10:33 AM on December 13, 2012

My husband keeps his tools in a PAX wardrobe from IKEA that has a very small footprint. I have also found a lot of 'free' storage options using the removableadhesive hooks in random places like the inside of closets, sides of kitchen cabinets, etc.

Why does Jessamyn have 4 pairs of glasses hanging above her toolchest?
posted by bq at 4:12 PM on December 13, 2012

I also have a tiny apartment, as well as quite a few tools. I have this storage cart
in a closet with sliding doors, right next to the front door. Like acm points out, it also gives you the surface area back. I linked to these specific drawers because the have the two shallow drawers, and they are a great place to store the tools and gadgets you want quick and easy access to (possibly freeing up a junk drawer) and smaller items.

The two bottom drawers hold a lot of stuff, including big things like a couple of power tools, a vise, a large hacksaw...it's like a clown car for tools!

Storage can be a big challenge in tiny places, and those drawers are one of the few things that don't feel like a compromise.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:10 PM on December 13, 2012

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