Mobile tool storage ideas
March 12, 2014 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I often work on my family's cars, however I don't have a garage and have to work in the driveway or in a rented (by the hour) garage with lift. In my workshop I have the tools organized on pegboards and in drawers. That's all fine and dandy, but I've come to realize that 90% of the time I use my tools I have to chuck them in tool bags and boxes and either bring them outside or to the aforementioned garage. I want a mobile storage system where everything has its place and I can see at a glance if something's missing. Like the pegboards, I guess, only portable.

If I had my own garage I would probably invest in a nice rolling tool cabinet with drawers. However the rolling kind is useless in my gravelled driveway, and filled with tools it would be impossible for me to lift into and out of cars.

The best solution I've come up with on my own is a few shallow "Euro container" boxes (like this), where I will screw socket organizers, wrench holders etc to the bottom (like this, but probably not as shiny...)

One single box like this won't be to heavy to lift, and the boxes stack securely and can be tied down as a unit in the back of the car. They can also be spread out around the work area where I can easily see what's where.

Are there any better solutions out there? Suggestions for improving my proposed solution are also welcome.
posted by Harald74 to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Lifehacker just featured this "portable" pegboard storage system -- perhaps it can be adapted to fit your needs?
posted by brainmouse at 2:22 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have always thought the Montezuma flip-up style toolboxes were cool. At 53lbs. for the smallest aluminum box it could get heavy fast once tools were added. Maybe you could build a small cart with pneumatic tires so you were only lifting the toolbox out of the car.
posted by ohjonboy at 2:37 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I tend to use those hanging things you put on a rolling bucket (plus buying multiples of a lot of tools and having a travel set that lives in my car) but something like this might work for you. A pro version would be a little spendy but Bucket Boss has some reasonably priced options specifically the tool roll or maybe a parachute bag.
posted by jessamyn at 2:56 PM on March 12, 2014

If you want shallow drawers you can add organizers and holders to, how about a classic metal toolbox with drawers?

If you get two of them it will give you a good bit of space, and it's far easier to carry two toolboxes at once than just one of that type.

True, you can't spread everything out at once... but if you keep things organized you quickly learn which drawer most things are in, and the drawers slide open quickly and easily. Things spread out around the work area can quickly take up most of your workspace, so it can be an advantage to not have to spread out all the tools at once.
posted by yohko at 3:03 PM on March 12, 2014

When I had no garage and had to work in the street I would put my tools in plastic 5 gallon buckets. (The bucket boss-style organizers help but aren't essential.) You usually know ahead of time more or less which tools you will need, and even a full bucket isn't too heavy to carry for a few feet. It's not a perfect solution, but it's cheap and easy -- buckets are a couple of dollars (or free if you know a business that has extras) and the organizers aren't terribly expensive.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:12 PM on March 12, 2014

Tradespeople have this problem all the time and the solution is generally some combination of tool boxes/bags. My setup for automotive stuff was a three drawer metal tool box (for wrenches, pliers, screw drivers, hammers, punches, wierd sockets, etc.); a blow molded ~100 piece socket and ratchet set, a 26" plastic tool box for my impact wrench and sockets and a few other misc air tools; and a rubber maid tote for other specialty tools for that job plus stuff like oil, rags, silicone, WD-40 etc.

Really the limitation on any one container is how much you can lift. My three drawer weighs about 70lbs.

The only strong recommendation I have are for the blow molded socket holder case and the drawer style tool box. I hate looking for a socket or wrench in a big pile of tools in the bottom of a conventional deep well toolbox.

Also I hate open top tool storage. It seems I invariably end up spilling a bowl of soup or tub of wheel bearing grease into an open top tool box. Or a sudden rain storm blows in. YMMV, my brother-in-law swears by bucket organizers.

Finally I have a old folding wash tub stand to hold all the tool boxes up off the ground.
posted by Mitheral at 8:35 PM on March 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the input so far! My main problem with organizing in buckets or the like are the difficulty in keeping bits and sockets in order. For tools with handles it's probably a fine system though. And the suggestion for smaller (three drawer) tool chests makes sense, but I'm still not convinced that it will be light enough once full. It just dawned on me that it should be easy to check, though; I just have to chuck all my tools in a box and weigh them.
posted by Harald74 at 11:45 PM on March 12, 2014

Do you know about the canvas (or soft leather) roll-up organizers that are favored by folks who use very sharp chisles? These organizers roll out flat when in use and back into a handy cylinder when you're done.

Perhaps they or something similar will work for many of your tools. And you may be lucky enough to have a sewing enthusiast around who's willing to barter making a custom set in exchange for your talented services.
posted by mightshould at 6:42 AM on March 13, 2014

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