How do you handle your 'household' toolkit?
February 13, 2020 5:43 AM   Subscribe

I currently have what is essentially a dopp kit sort of bag that I leave inside my house, as opposed to the short walk to my storage/tool/woodworking shed, for honey-do type projects. It inherently devolves into a mess and I don't like it, nor does my spouse when I leave it laying about in between projects. How do you handle this? Bonus points for addressing limited storage space/small home while maximizing functionality.
posted by RolandOfEld to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
We have something similar to this compact tool kit. The plastic case has a slot for everything so it stays organized. It is compact and packs away easily and cleanly. The tools are good for 95% of what needs to be done around the house. For anything else I run down to the basement.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:51 AM on February 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I went to college, my aunt got me a basic tool kit, similar to this one.

It's small, fits in the closet, and I've been using it for well over a decade in multiple apartments and now a house. In mine, everything has a labeled spot that with velcro/elastic to keep it organized, and it goes back as soon as I'm done. I would look for something like that with similar contents to what your everyday kit already has in it, then move your kit back to the shed.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:02 AM on February 13, 2020

Response by poster: Valid opinions and I have a chest style kit like that for sockets (yay Craftsman tools from a decade or so ago) and it's great for that purpose but it just feels somehow not right for indoor. I'm not arguing with the logic though, because it's a perfect solution except for the fact that it doesn't allow for ancillary items like small screws, roll of tape or two [electrician/duct usually], small nails, or wire nuts and such... which, I know I know, feature creep and all but still a lot of projects involve those things and all of a sudden I'm heading to the shed.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:11 AM on February 13, 2020

it doesn't allow for ancillary items like small screws, roll of tape or two [electrician/duct usually], small nails, or wire nuts and such...

Keep things separated. Have a basic hand tool kit, plus little boxes for specific kinds of projects- electrical tape and wire nuts in one box, an organizer with a small selection of fasteners, etc. The project kits can be whatever size makes sense for your home. When you're working on something, you grab the tool kit and the appropriate project kit. If you need more than that, it's time to head out to the shed.
posted by zamboni at 6:32 AM on February 13, 2020

We're in a small townhouse so everything lives in the garage anyway, but we address this by having one of the briefcase-style kits linked above and a shoe-box sized tote with hanging hardware in it. Ours has various picture-framing bits, nails, screws, stick on hooks but you could easily throw in some tape and other things you need semi-regularly. It's small enough to not be in the way and fits nicely on a shelf so I can store it away when we're not using it. It lives in our living room credenza so it's easy to access.
posted by brilliantine at 6:56 AM on February 13, 2020

Best answer: I suspect the real issue is not the bag or its organization.

It's the "laying about".

Give it a dedicated space and put it away in a closet as soon as you are done with it (This also helps insure you finish what you start all in one go).
posted by srboisvert at 7:03 AM on February 13, 2020 [6 favorites]

I keep only the most minimal assortment in the house (hammer, screwdriver, large and small pliers, etc). That fits in a small soft-sided toolbag and takes up very little space on a shelf. Anything else I need is a short walk away; I mostly use 5-gallon buckets for carrying tools and stuff back and forth to the shed, but I am sure there are really nice specialized tool carriers one could buy.

So I'd say: keep you indoor tools as limited as possible and have them in a bag/chest that closes and doesn't look terrible; return additional stuff back to the shed/workshop as soon as you are done with it; and put the indoor toolbag away to keep things tidy.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:09 AM on February 13, 2020

Response by poster: srboisvert: Fair. But they are related those two things. But fair.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:09 AM on February 13, 2020

Use the furniture that's already in the room. A kitchen drawer, a drawer of that inherited chest in the living room (the one that's filled with electronics cords now), a bin under the bed, a shelf or two in the hall closet. Ziplocs for small bits & like items (tape, box cutters/blades).
posted by headnsouth at 7:23 AM on February 13, 2020

I use 3 main organising devices and 1 onsite containment unit trick - a larger tool box filled with the bits and pieces that you always end up with at end of a project & that you inevitably need at some point in an old house (I found bits of a door mechanism most recently in there), a regular sized tool box only for tools I use infrequently (different sizes of wrenches, bolt cutters, specialised hammers...) and a Rough Enough pencil case which contains the absolute minimal amount of tools I need to do most jobs (multi tools, duct tape, poking screwdriver, small flashlight among other things that've come to need most frequently from experience). All three are in the basement out of the way but the small pencil case is the most accessible. When I do a small job with the tools in the pencil case I always put the tools back into it and place near the basement stairs to bring it back down. For larger jobs I tend to use a medium container/tub (my partner formerly used it for hand washing clothing but it sprung a leak) that I place all of my tools and the bits & pieces you end up with in order to contain the job. I find this effective, especially for jobs that take longer then you expect, to keep things out of the way of the other members of your family and make clean up easier.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:28 AM on February 13, 2020

I have varying sizes of the Clip Boxes mid-way down on this page, organized by type of repair when possible (fuses, wire caps, electrical tape, small screwdriver for outlet plates in one box, picture hanging materials in another, etc.) and organized by 'loose thing' if not possible (nails, screws, wooden joining pegs, loose Ikea hardware, for example, then another for blades and handles (x-acto, utility, scraping blade), then another for small adhesives: crazy glue, double sided tape, a few bars of glue-gun glue, sticky putty for posters). Then a whole 'nother box for those 3M hanging solutions....

Anyway, then I use painters tape to label them from the front and top, and stack them on a shelf.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:35 AM on February 13, 2020

Oh, and because I don't like the idea of having to go to the garage for basic tools (snow shoveling! freezing rain! no thanks!) I do keep a tool box like this one in the house for hammer, plumbing wrench, loose or long-handled screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, set of shorty wrenches, WD-40, graphite lube, mallet, etc. Right now it's in a lower kitchen cupboard.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:40 AM on February 13, 2020

I use a basic plastic bin and keep the most-used tools in there. Over years of doing this, I've excepted that a periodic clean-out of the bin will be necessary, as there's almost always something extra I need from somewhere else (basement, shed, whatever). That extra thing ends up staying in the bin. Once the bin bugs me with its fullness, I go through and clean the extra stuff that isn't typically useful out.

And yes, the bin has a place in a closet so I don't have to look at its messiness.
posted by nosila at 7:54 AM on February 13, 2020

I’m surely an outlier, but all of my tools that don’t involve gasoline are kept in the basement rather than the garage. I splurged on a secondhand, medium-sized, professional automotive rolling tool chest that has space to store plenty of hand tools, small power tools and miscellaneous hardware. The heavy-duty ball bearing drawers are a delight, and the top serves as a tinkering workbench. I also have a shelf’s worth of handheld power tools plus small dedicated toolboxes for plumbing and electrical projects, but if I were really short on space then most of that could go in the garage instead. Having the frequent-use things easily accessible in the chest is great.
posted by jon1270 at 8:26 AM on February 13, 2020

Best answer: I live in a tiny, not-quite-1-bedroom apartment but my tool box is this. It's not small, but I keep it out of the way under a desk & that works for me. I like that the vertical orientation makes it super easy to keep organized and that there's plenty of room for other basic supplies I'd use for a project (e.g. sandpaper, glue, screws, etc.) in addition to my hand tools. I'm wondering whether something like that - with a place that you keep it - would be easier than something smaller but less organized.
posted by mosst at 8:37 AM on February 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been using a tackle box like this one for about 20 years. I found a vintage one so it blends better indoors. It fits hand tools in the bottom, along with sockets and hex wrenches, other larger items. All the trays are great for screws, nails, adhesives, etc. And when when it's open everything is easy to find.
posted by homesickness at 8:54 AM on February 13, 2020

Best answer: My tool kit sits permanently out in my kitchen, on a rolling cart with the mixer I rarely use. This kit is just inside the back door, with the gloves on top I use to take out the rolling garbage can, the channel locks I use for everything, the drill with a phillips driver I use for everything. I also have a junk drawer for tape, containers of screws, whatever. However, this tool bag with shoulder strap from Home Depot, could be on the bottom shelf of the rolling kitchen cart, and I could put measuring bowls up and so forth, maybe I will do that. Keeping the toolkit handy also encourages other people in your house to do some of the "things" instead of just you. I live in a petty dictatorship, run by me, for me, no other minions, or opinions.
posted by Oyéah at 9:18 AM on February 13, 2020

Best answer: A metal flower pot on a bookshelf. It's deep enough that only the hammer sticks out properly and fits with the rest of my shelf clutter and books. Gets a laugh when people notice it's a bouquet of hardware.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Loose bits in small containers, stored with everything else in a divided bucket caddy, like this, this, or one of these? Some bags are designed to slot into 5-gallon plastic buckets; smaller versions easily tuck onto shelves or in closets, or hang, from carrying loops, on hooks wherever.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:36 PM on February 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

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