The 10 Best Tool Chests
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Tools are expensive. They're also easy to lose, especially if you're not in the habit of putting them back when you're done. These chests make it simple to store and organize your equipment, so everything is always where you need it, when you need it. Many are rather generously-sized as well, which gives you the excuse you've been looking for to add to your gadget collection. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best tool chest on Amazon.
An Arsenal For Getting The Job Done
This remains true whether we talk about a profession or project requiring the use of physical tools, experience, knowledge, or a combination of all these things.
A tool chest can range in size from a small, portable box to a large, multi-drawer storage unit set on caster wheels for easy mobility.
Anybody who specializes in a particular profession maintains an arsenal of resources to get their job done. This remains true whether we talk about a profession or project requiring the use of physical tools, experience, knowledge, or a combination of all these things. Both professional and home cooks, for example, require a fully-stocked kitchen equipped with storage space for flatware, silverware, drawers for cutting tools, ovens, cooktops, and other appliances. The cook also needs to know where to find these items and how to use them.
While a cook doesn't always take these tools with them wherever they go, they remain a part of the cook's professional arsenal for crafting edible masterpieces. The same can be said for the machinist, plumber, mechanic, contractor, or any person who needs to keep various tools around and organized for quick access in a tool chest. While the concept of a tool chest is pretty simple (keeping tools organized and easy to find), there is more versatility into the application of this resource. A tool chest is more than just a metal box with a couple trays and a handle for transporting to job sites.
A tool chest (or toolbox) can refer to a compact storage unit designed for transporting specific tools (i.e. hammers, drills, screwdrivers) to various locations on the job. Depending on the type of work that needs to be done, the chest can be built with multiple internal shelves and compartments that are cut to specific sizes for accommodating both specialized and standard items. A tool chest can range in size from a small, portable box to a large, multi-drawer storage unit set on caster wheels for easy mobility. The smallest toolboxes have a single handle on their tops with a hinged lid. Some toolboxes feature removable tote trays or cantilever trays that are anchored at one end from inside the toolbox, which offer the user simultaneous access to small and large items on multiple levels.
Toolboxes are typically constructed from either plastic or metal (steel). While plastic toolboxes may not offer the same weight capacity for storing heavy-duty objects, metal also has a tendency to rust, particularly if a tool chest is constantly used outdoors. However, both materials offer their own advantages depending on the situation.
Not all tool chests have to be small and portable. For example, an automobile mechanic with an elaborate garage setup may leverage the use of a large tool chest on wheels so that he can move the chest easily while always knowing where his items are stored and from which pull-out drawers he can access them. Reliable tool chests offer significant drawer space and can also double as portable workbenches with flat surfaces. This comes in handy when needing to use tools in different locations from within a workshop. For professions that require the use of trucks and tool portability, these vehicles can be equipped with mounted toolboxes so that items can be easily accessed when parking at a job site.
A Brief History Of Tool Chests
The initial heyday for tool chests began in the 1900s with companies such as H. Gerstner & Sons, founded by Harry Gerstner in honor of his father Herman. Harry Gerstner made his first machinist tool chest while working as a pattern maker and woodworking apprentice. In 1906, Gerstner used a bonus of one hundred dollars to start his own tool chest company and began selling his invention door to door. Gerstner's tool chests were designed to accommodate the majority of precision tools required by the average industrial worker (or journeyman) of the time. The chests were also known for their superior durability and many are still in use today.
Other early tool chests were made primarily from heavy woods for the purpose of preventing the rusting of the tools stored inside. Their design intended for the safe and secure storage of various measuring instruments, drills and other objects. The majority of most machinist tool chests were made from combinations of oak, mahogany, and walnut. Some of these early chests also had shallow drawers lined with felt for cushioning more delicate items.
Although Gerstner's company was not the only one to manufacture tool chests in the early 1900s, it remained one of the most successful through decades of competition and still manufactures quality tool chests today.
Go With Your Instinct
There is no established definition of the best tool chest, as this differs from one professional to another. However, one must consider their needs and intended use. For the professional mechanic working out of a garage, a large and mobile tool chest with multiple drawers and a flat top will be beneficial. Caster wheels will allow for easy movement to different cars in the shop while a flat top will offer an additional working surface in one place.
There is no established definition of the best tool chest, as this differs from one professional to another.
A good tool chest should also have a variety of drawer sizes to accommodate differently-sized tools, regardless of whether you consider yourself a veteran mechanic or an inexperienced worker. Small drawers near the top of the chest can store wrenches, screwdrivers, and ratchets, while larger drawers below would store those heavy and bulky power tools.
Finding a tool chest with an exterior powder-coated finish can add to its durability if you work with a lot of chemicals, sparks, and other industrial equipment that could otherwise scratch or damage the chest. Additionally, if you're concerned about your tools getting damaged, some of the most reliable tool chests include shelf liners that prevent objects from sliding around. Other tool chests even have socket and wrench organizers to keep the tools from moving out of place, which proves useful if you work with several different sizes of the same tool.
Finally, one must ensure that the tool chest chosen has a reliable locking system for keeping tools secure and away from children.
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