Get organized, ensure safety, and keep your work tools in an optimum condition by learning about the different types of tool chests and cabinets for your tool collection.
People who have a large collection of tools that they use for their trade work, DIY projects, repairing machines or cars, may find the need to have a tool chest. A part of the reason is so that they can keep their tools safe and more organized.
Having a tool chest with enough storage capacity is better than storing your tools in a drawer or having them spread all around the house. This is primarily because not having a proper storage space for work tools may result in losing them altogether. It may also take twice as much time to search for them, making you wonder where you kept them in the first place. This holds true if your existent tool chest has become outdated or exceeded its storage space. In both situations, investing in a new tool chest may be the only way to go. Having a new tool chest or cabinet may also allow you to grow your collection, giving you an opportunity to get more innovative tools and make your chest an impressive one.
It will be unfair on our part to talk about tool chests and not talk about the classic Studley Tool Chest. This is a tool chest that is every woodworker’s dream chest. Invented by a mason, carpenter, and piano maker – H.O. Studley – the chest is a prime example of what an ideal tool chest must look like. Studley built a small-sized chest that could perfectly hold every kind of tool. That’s not it. The tool chest is packed with ivory and pearl details and is like no other tool chest out there.
Today, you can find various types of tool chests and cabinets on the market and the most popular ones are enlisted in this blog post.
Table of Contents
- Different Materials of Tool Chests and Cabinets
- Different Styles of Tool Chests and Cabinets
Different Materials of Tool Chests and Cabinets
Tool chests, used for storing tools (hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, ax, hammers, etc) come in a wide variety of materials. Depending on the type of material you consider best, you can invest in any of the following tool chest or cabinet for yourself.
1. Steel Tool Chest
The most widely used tool boxes, steel tool chests are resistant to breakage or fracture. Steel chests and cabinets possess a shiny, lustrous appearance, which makes them the most sought-after materials. Over time, steel may lose its original charm as it is susceptible to rust.
Regardless of the amount of pressure you put upon them, the substance can easily bear the stress. That being said, if the chest is compressed to an extreme extent, it can bear deformity which can affect the appearance of your tool chest.
In order to avoid any sort of apparent damage, people tend to cover the inner and outer portion of steel chests with a special powder coat. This form of powder coating makes the material resilient to decay. With a protective outer and inner wall, steel chests are super resilient and easy to look after.
2. Stainless Steel Tool Chest
Modern tool chests are often constructed from stainless steel as it is lighter in weight and corrosion resistant as opposed to standard steel. This form of material is also better than aluminum and simple steel as it offers more strength and durability. Owing to these reasons, stainless steel tool chests are pricier; However, the high price of these chests is justifiable, considering that it has a longer lifespan than any other texture.
As compared to other materials, you won’t have to worry about rusting or eroding of stainless steel as it does not rust. Stainless steel consists of iron, silicon, chromium, and manganese which, when combine together, become resistible to rust.
3. Aluminum Tool Chest
Another common material preferred for tool chests, besides steel is, aluminum. High-quality aluminum boasts a variety of qualities that make it irresistible to invest in it. One of the best qualities about aluminum tool chests is that they are super lightweight, given that it is a light, airy metal.
When exposed to corroding agents, many types of materials tend to erode right away. However, aluminum consists of thin oxide coating that prevents the metal from immediate rust. Plus, surface treatments like lacquering, painting, and anodizing, further improve the appearance of the tool chest.
While aluminum is not as thick as other materials, it is still a strong and durable material. Hence, all of these reasons make aluminum the number one choice as the most affordable and reliable tool chests.
4. Wooden Tool Chest
Wooden tool chests lean toward a more traditional side, mostly used by woodworkers or homeowners that own garages. Needless to say, wooden chests are strong and stiff; but if compared to steel, it is light and flexible as well.
It is most notable for its diversity as it can be available in many colors, from ebony to rosewood to mahogany to amboynas, and textures from fine wood to coarse to coarser one. While wood is a strong material, if not properly maintained, it may easily chip. Wood is vulnerable to water, fire, pests, and decay and hence, one should be careful when choosing wooden chests.
However, you can still find luxurious and more expensive types that are created from laminated wood and engineered wood. These toolboxes are not meant for casual uses and must be opted for more ornamental purposes.
5. Plastic Tool Chest
While plastics are less sturdy and durable than metals, they are still considered a great choice due to several important reasons. First of all, plastic is super light which makes it easier to carry. Owing to this reason, it is common to see people like truck drivers carry plastic tool chests with them as they are usually on the go and having these easy-to-carry chests doesn’t prove to be a burden.
This type of material also has the ability to resist high temperature so keeping it in your garage or any high-yielding work area won’t cause any trouble. Tool cabinets constructed from plastic are also transparent so it is easier to locate the tools at a single glance. It may be difficult to maintain and clean metallic tool chests, but with plastic ones all you may need is soap and water. Users that are looking for an economical alternative or a chest that is available in plenty of shapes and sizes can consider plastic chests.
Different Styles of Tool Chests and Cabinets
Once you have decided the type of material, the next step is to pick the style of your tool chest. Different tool chests and cabinets can serve different purposes and be used for different applications.
Here is a thorough list of all the common and not-so-common styles of tool chests and cabinets.
1. Small, Stationary Tool Chests
Anyone that has a small garage or workspace can consider small, stationary tool chests. These chests are also an ideal storage place for small work tools. This prevents smaller tools from getting lost among larger ones and easier to track all of the bigger tools.
There are some small work tools that are small but have quite weight on them. You may think of not placing these tools in small, stationary chests out of fear they may not hold up the weight of the object. These types of chests are designed with a sturdy material that can easily afford the heavy weight of your tools. It is best to go with these tool chests when you want something additional in your garage to hold up extra work tools.
Some of these small tool chests come without any wheels. With no ball-bearing slides, it is easier to have a chest in one single position. This is a good option when you don’t have the need of having a mobile or portable tool chest. However, no-wheel tool chests pose difficulty in cleaning behind or under the chest.
2. Drawer Tool Chest and Roller Cabinet
Professional drawer tool chests with roller cabinets are an ideal choice for professional workplaces such as big garages, DIY enthusiasts, and professional tool collectors. These tool chests are bigger and heavier than a simple toolbox; but they tend to come with wheels, making it convenient to move and fit wherever you may want.
As the name suggests, the most noticeable feature of drawer tool chests is their multiple drawers; the advantage of having plenty of drawers is that the owner can easily store their tools in compartments. In this way, it will be easier to locate them when in need.
These types of chests are strong and sturdy, especially if they are constructed from reliable material such as stainless steel. Even if they are made from a less durable material such as simple steel, it is crucial that they are coated with a special powder that keeps the item lustrous and durable for a long time.
Owing to its big size and various deep drawers, the unit can hold up to hundreds of KGs weight. In other words, you can store whatever tools you want and as many tools as you like.
3. Drawer Work Bench Tool Chest Cabinet
Similar to the rolling chest box, drawer workbench cabinets come with wheels. But what sets them apart from rolling tool chests is that they also have a workbench on top. This is ideal for professionals that have to work in their shops, garages, or workshops for most of the time. With this type of tool chest, all the tools that you may need are within your reach as they are in the drawers. You won’t have to specifically get up to get the tools as all of them will be in the drawers below the worktop. This will save you time and provide convenience also.
You can work on the bench whilst standing or grab a chair and work comfortably. Another interesting feature of this type of tool chest is that it comes with moving wheels. Hence, the portable workbench tool cabinet provides a great amount of mobility to the user. Please note that the workbench is composed of wood or composite material. However, most of the time, it is in the same material as the body.
Working with a variety of tools is a messy business, which often results in tools getting misplaced. However, this situation can be avoided by using drawers with a workbench. As this type of tool chest is attached to a workbench, you can easily work without creating a mess. Since the tools will be in your drawers, you will most likely to take out the ones that you really need, and then tuck them back from where you took them out. In this way, you will keep your workspace clutter-free.
Most of these tool chests come with a locking system that makes the storage super safe. They also come with a liner that protects and prevents the tools from slipping. The wheels tend to be constructed from large polypropylene caster swivels which are available with lock brakes. This feature helps your tool chest to be steady and stable when at work.
4. Rolling Tool Chests
Sometimes also known as rolling tool cabinets, rolling tool chests are best known for their convenience and portability. These chests come with wheels and a handle on the chest which help move the unit around with super ease and comfort.
Portable tool chests boast caster wheels as they are strong and durable. However, caster wheels come in several types and some of these are featured in contemporary tool chests.
As the name implies, locking caster prevents the unit from rotating or swiveling all the time. The wheels turn around only when the tool chest is moving. Owing to its central-locking feature, the unit can’t be budged once it is locked.
Also called the top plate, plate caster comes in several types of holes so that they can easily match up to different mounting requirements.
While most casters come with a bolt and nut kingpin, these casters feature without them. Their unique design offers durability, especially in abusive applications where kingpin casters may fail.
Available in plenty of stem styles, a typical stem caster contains a wheel or set of wheels with a stem attached to the bottom of the unit. A stem caster can be threaded, square, or rounded and can be either rigid or swivel in nature.
Several portable tool chests come with one toolbox stacked on top of another one. The bottom-most toolbox has wheels on it and is best used for keeping heavy tools or tools that you may have little use of. The top-most chest may contain additional drawers where you can keep your small work tools in an organized way. The body of these chests is made of a hard, molded plastic so that it can take abuse and still looks best. Mobile tradesmen including carpenters and plumbers benefit the most from rolling tool chests.
5. Stool-Sized Tool Chests
This is the type of tool chest that offers the user to actually sit on the chest and perform their work. Many tool boxes are far more common to transfer tools without any hassle. In the case of a portable tool chest, there is more space for people to switch tools as they work. The work done through a stool-sized tool chest is more organized and structured.
Along with a chest-seat, there are small drawers and slots that can accommodate small tools as you work. The drawers are literally underneath you, so all you have to do is reach down to get whatever tools you want. These portable chests also come with stable wheels that provide a steady base to glide around the garage or workplace. The padded top allows you to stay comfortable for long hours. You can have stool-sized tool chests in small, packed garages; its small size will easily fit anywhere and you can take it with you somewhere else later. It is made from light yet durable material that helps provide the said advantages.
6. Hand-Carry Tool Chests
This type of tool chest is mostly preferred by people that do small DIY jobs and repair machines around the house. These tool chests are also known as tool boxes because of their small size. The fact that they are easy to carry around by hand makes them equally convenient to be stored in any small spaces like your basement, closet, or under a workbench. Their compact size also allows them to carry them in cars or any other vehicle. Since they are handy and lightweight, users will not have any difficulty in using them.
Hand-carry tool chests can be seen in a number of sizes and shapes, some of them are as tiny as a box or as big as a briefcase. Although hand-carry tool chests are small in size, this doesn’t mean they do not have any compartments in them. Hand-carry tool chests have plenty of small portions where tiny work tools such as screwdrivers or nails can be stored.
You can find these tool chests in two forms of materials – metal and hard plastic. Both of them are strong and durable and prevent the tool chest to endure any wear or tear. They also do not require any special maintenance as they are easy to handle. Hence, they are the perfect option for low-maintenance people.
7. Wall-Mounted Tool Cabinet
Also known as hanging cabinets, wall-mounted tool cabinets are designed to be mounted onto the wall. Ideally, they are hung onto the wall of a garage or a workplace, serving both the functional and decorative purpose.
Having them installed on the wall will free up a lot of ground space which can be utilized for something else. Wall-mounted tool cabinets are perfect for workplaces that may not have enough floor space to accommodate a large tool cabinet. Instead of the floor, the wall can be utilized for hanging the cabinet.
You can easily find plenty of hanging tool cabinets on the markets; but for a personalized shape, size, or texture, you can get your very own wall-mounted cabinet made. This will allow you to be more experimental with your choices as you can have as many or as fewer compartments made as you want.
Sometimes, these tool cabinets are not only mounted on the wall of a workplace but they are fixed in many vehicles as well. Professionals like carpenters, plumbers, or mechanics that regularly travel to different job sites usually have these types of cabinets in their transportations.
Tool chests are a definite way to ensure the safety and security of your work tools. Needless to say, an organized tool chest helps make the task easier, quicker, and efficient. Having tools in a reliable chest protects the tools from any form of damage.
To keep your tools in an optimum condition, you will need to ensure that your tool chest has enough storage capacity to accommodate each one of them. When purchasing a tool chest, you will need to gauge its capacity and whether or not it will easily store all of your work tools. It is also important to consider the number of drawers the chest has and if they will be enough for you.
Durability is also an important consideration because tool chests are a slightly heavy investment. You want to make sure that the unit is made from excellent material with at least two years of warranty. Other features that you should consider are the locks and slides as they add a great deal of expediency for the user.