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Sometimes you’re faced with a pile of flat pack furniture bits / a car engine that needs tuning / a kid’s bike to put together. Do you know where your tools are? If you had them all sorted and stored away in a tool chest, it would be a breeze to quickly find the right ones. If you’re an organized person then you’ll know exactly in which drawer the tool is; if you’re more disordered and just throw your tools into whatever drawer is open, you will still know that they’re somewhere there. The right tool chest can save you time, effort and irritability in keeping track of your tools. If you have a workshop or garage they are especially useful.
Our Best Tool Chests for Organising your Tools review presents the top tool chests we found. We cover metal tool chests and those made of strong durable plastic, modular ones and some that have wheels. We identify the pros and cons of each product, discuss the details of the tool chests and then give our recommendation of who the tool chest would benefit. Our Buyer’s Guide identifies the features to consider and look for when you’re deciding which tool chest to buy.
Our Best Pick is the Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Top chest Tool Box. Its combination of various sizes of drawers, top lid compartment and cabinet offer space for all sizes of tools. This is a stationary tool chest without wheels but it can be combined with a lower tool chest where it can sit on top or can be used on its on a shelf.
The Runner-up is the Dirty Pro Tools™ Large Tool Chest. This is larger than our Best Pick model and has castors so you can roll it around your garage. Between them, the two modules in this unit contain a top-lid compartment, six drawers and a cabinet and it offers excellent value for money for the DIY enthusiast.
Best Tool Chest reviews
1. Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Topchest Tool Box
The Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Topchest Tool Box is a medium-size tool chest that suits the DIYer or the portable mechanic. It’s not the largest tool chest in our review but it has quite a few storage spaces within it.
The Hardcastle 9 Drawer Topchest Tool Box is sturdy and durable through its construction in powder-coated steel. It’s also difficult to miss with its glossy bright red colour; you won’t accidentally run into this tool chest.
This tool chest has nine drawers to hold your stuff and a top-lid compartment for your frequently used or larger tools. The six smaller drawers are each 1/3 the width of the chest; the two middle size drawers are each ½ of the width of the unit and the large drawer stretches all the way across. These differently sized spaces suit a wide variety of tools. (See the Pros section below for the specific dimensions.)
The top-lid compartment has ample depth for your battery or corded hand tools. Each drawer has a non-slip lining so the tools in it don’t move around and jostle each other which is a nice little feature as most do come with foam inserts. The drawers run on ball-bearings (which all the professional tool chests have) to glide the drawers smoothly in and out even when fully loaded. The click when the drawers are pulled out or pushed in lets you know that they’re safely in place.
You lock this tool chest by sliding two bars into place over the front of the unit. This removes access to all the drawers at once. The locking method also prevents the drawers from falling open when you move the chest which is super handy if your always on the move and have one in the back of a van.
The Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Topchest Tool Box like all top chest designs doesn’t come with casters as they are designed to be placed onto top of a larger toolbox which would usually have wheels if you need more space. With this in mind, you have to pick it up to move it – and it’s heavy when it’s full of tools. This makes the stainless steel carry handles even more important. The handles fold down to be out of the way as you do your projects.
This tool chest is the least expensive one in our review.
- Powder-coated steel for durability and rust resistance.
- Glossy red so you won’t accidentally trip over it.
- The chest has nine storage drawers and a top-lid compartment to store a variety of tools.
- Six smaller drawers and three larger ones for all the different sizes and shapes of tools.
- Drawers also run on ball-bearings for a smooth and easy glide.
- Dimensions are:
- Chest: 60cm (width); 25.5cm (depth) and 39cm (height)
- Lid compartment: 58.5 (width)’ 25cm (depth); and 6cm (height)
- Small drawer: 15cm (width); 22cm (depth); and 3cm (height)
- Middle drawer: 51cm (width); 22cm (depth); and 3cm (height)
- Bottom drawer: 51cm (width); 22cm (depth); and 8cm (height)
- Locking is through two bars down the front of the chest to keep your tools safely away from kids and other people.
- Top drawers are a little shallow and narrow for some tools.
The Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Top chest has most of the features of a professional tool chest and sits well in your home garage or workshop and its also a good choice for the travelling mechanic. Its bright red colour is cheerful and a safety feature as no-one can miss it. The nine drawers ensure that your tools aren’t squashed together in one space. And you can put all one type or function of tool together into each space.
We’ve given the Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Topchest Tool Box our Best Pick rating of tool chests for organising your tools. We like it for its many storage spaces, its steel construction and bright red colour, and its budget price.
If you want a budget tool chest with lots of storage places and a sturdy construction, the Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Topchest Tool Box is a good choice. If you want a complete setup with a rollcab on wheels then this needs to be purchased separately but would offer more storage.
2. Dirty Pro Tools™ Large Tool Chest
The Dirty Pro Tools Large Tool Chest is larger than our Best Pick (Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Topchest Tool) and has more storage space. It’s advertised as “large” but check out its dimensions before you purchase it – it may be smaller than you might expect.
The Dirty Pro Tools Tool Chest is a vision of glossy grey powder-coated steel. While it doesn’t have the visual punch of a glossy red tool chest, the grey is bright. This tool chest comes in two parts or modules. A large rollcab with two drawers and a cupboard is at the bottom. The top module has six drawers in it. You can bolt these two modules together or have them in separate sites in your workshop but we think they work well bolted together as one tool chest.
The rollcab drawers are of a medium size and stretch all the way across the unit. The compartment beneath these has an up-and-over garage-style door. Three of the drawers in the top tool chest fit across its width. The other three drawers are full width, with one deeper than the other two. (See Pros section above for actual measurements.) All the drawers come with a non-slip lining to separate your tools. The compartment under the top lid has this feature as well.
This tool chest also comes with drawer dividers that add to your organizational options. You have the option of attaching a small tray to the side of the unit for your small pieces of hardware. Hooks are also there to hang up tools or rags. These are all small details, but very useful features.
The top tool chest is lockable with a central key so your tools don’t wander off. However, you can’t lock the lower rollcab drawers and cupboard. Moving the Dirty Pro Tools Large Tool Chest is easy as it rolls on heavy-duty castors. Ball-bearing sliders (a standard in good tool chests) enable the drawers to slide slowly without sticking.
- Rolling powder-coated steel tool chest with a glossy green finish that looks good in any workspace.
- The tool chest is in two parts: a large rollcab with two drawers and a compartment,
- Top cabinet box with six drawers.
- All drawers have an anti-slip mat to keep your tools separate from each other.
- Ball-bearing sliders on the drawers stop them from sticking when opening them with heavy tools inside.
- Small removable tray and hooks on one side to hold all your fiddly bits and rags.
- The top tool chest is lockable so your tools don’t wander off.
- Overall: 61cm (width); 33cm (depth); and 107cm (height).
- Rollcab drawers: 51.5cm (width); 27.5cm (depth); and 6.5cm (height).
- Top-chest medium drawer: 51cm (width); 22.5cm (depth); and 8.5 (height).
- Top-chest small drawer: 51cm (width); 22.5cm (depth); and 3.7cm (height).
- The lower cabinet is not lockable.
- Advertised as “large” but more of a medium-size tool chest.
The Dirty Pro Tools Large Tool Chest is a stand-alone tool chest in two modules. You can easily roll this chest around your worksite on its heavy-duty castors. The top part of this chest contains six drawers of various sizes and the lower rollcab part has two drawers and a compartment with a garage-style door. Storing all kinds of tools and accessories is simple with these drawers, the top-lid compartment, the cupboard, the small external side drawer and hanging hooks.
We recommend the Dirty Pro Tool Large Tool Chest as our Runner-up Pick. It’s larger than our best pick, with more storage space, and is moveable. However, it’s not all lockable and it’s more expensive but it does have more space which means it still offers excellent value for money and is an absolute bargain at its price.
If you want a sturdy tool chest with several storage options and more space than a small tool chest, take a close look at this Dirty Pro Tool Large Tool Chest. This is also one of the best Tool Chests for Vans.
3. Keter Tool Trolley 7 Drawers
The Keter Tool Trolley 7 Drawers is a modular tool chest that comes in three detachable sections. You can buy more modules to add to your storage space if you have extra tools or intend to buy more which is something you can really do with most other tools chests as they are usually designed with a rollcab on wheels and a top chest which are sometimes sold separately or together.
This tool chest is made of black polypropylene which is what Keter is know for. It’s durable and easily washed out if your tools leave marks inside or dirt gets on the outside. The three modules can be used separately which many be super handy. Maybe you want to use one as a carry tool chest for jobs outside your home. (See the Pros section above for the specific dimensions.)
The seven drawers are split between the three modules – two have two drawers each and the third has three drawers. The tool chest comes with dividers for the drawers and a set of small trays that fit inside one drawer for keeping your small pieces in order. The tray at the top of the unit lets you keep the tools you’re currently using in a convenient place. However, this tool chest doesn’t have a top compartment with a lid like most metal tools chests.
This Keter Tool Trolley is mobile for you to move around your workspace. The metal castors are anti-scratch rubber and swivel with the tool chest’s movement. They also have brakes so the chest won’t wheel away if you knock into it.
The carry handles on each section fold down out of the way when you don’t need them. Each module has its own lock so you can leave the sections you’re not currently using locked. This is a welcome security feature so that you don’t forget to lock all the modules when you finish work.
- Seven drawer tool cabinet made of black polypropylene for durability.
- Comes in three detachable blocks that are assembled easily.
- Each module has its own lock so you can unlock just the part that has the tools you need.
- Drawers come with dividers and small trays to organise your tools and your fittings.
- Castors swivel when you move the tool chest and come with brakes so it stays put.
- Carry handles on each module flap down to keep out of the way.
- Can buy more modules to add the storage space for your extra or new tools.
- Overall with wheels: 60cm (width); 38cm (depth); and 84cm (height).
- Weight capacity is 70kg which covers a large variety of tools.
- No top compartment.
The Keter Tool Trolley 7 Drawers tool chest is made of black polypropylene rather than from steel and is a great alternative to consider when comparing against the usual metal types. It’s built up of three modules with a total of seven drawers and a tray on the top. The manufacturer helps you further in your organizing efforts by supplying drawer dividers and small trays that completely fill one drawer, we like that the draws are also removable in this model too.
We recommend the Keter Tool Trolley 7 Drawers tool chest for its modular approach as you can use each lockable box independently. We also like its lightweight relative to steel tool chests making it perhaps a little more mobile.
If you need your tools both at home and elsewhere, the modular Keter Tool Trolley 7 Drawers tool chest meets your needs.
4. US PRO TOOLS Chest Box Roller Cabinet
The US PRO TOOLS Chest Box Roller Cabinet is a steel tool chest that comes in two parts. The top unit has five full-size drawers and a top-lid compartment; the lower unit, the rollcab, has one drawer above a cabinet with a door. The top unit is slightly narrower than the bottom one for stability if you stack them up.
This is a stylish tool chest for any workspace. The back, sides and top of the chest are a glossy black; the drawer fronts are a glossy bright red with stainless steel pull handles. The handles to grab when moving the tool chest are recessed into the sides of the top unit and are practically invisible. They don’t spoil the sophisticated lines of the tool chest.
All the five drawers have anti-slip linings that keep your tools in place. No more scratches on the tools from bumping into each other in the drawers. The drawers open and close on ball-bearing slides are super smooth. This lets you easily and smoothly access your tools. The small tray on the side of the unit lets you store small tools upright within easy reach. The cabinet has an internal shelf that gives you double the storage space there. (See the Pros section below for the specific dimensions.)
You have to lock both units at the same time. You place a metal bar vertically in the centre of both sections and use a padlock (not included) to secure it to the metal loop on the top compartment. This means that the units have to be stacked to be lockable. The one-year warranty comes with terms and conditions (but most warranties do). This tool chest is at the lower end of our price range.
- Steel rollcab tool chest that comes in two parts.
- Sides and back of the chest are glossy black paint and the front is glossy red.
- Five drawers, plus space under the lid compartment and a bottom compartment with a door to keep all your tools away out of sight.
- All five drawers have non-slip liners to protect the contents.
- Ball-bearing slides on the drawers open them smoothly and without sticking.
- The lock system of the tool chest is a vertical metal bar and a padlock for central locking.
- Top chest
- Overall: 34cm (height); 26cm (depth); and 60cm (width).
- Drawers (x3): 4cm (height); 22.5cm (depth); and 51cm (width).
- Overall: 65.8cm (height); 33cm (depth); and 61.6 (width).
- Drawer (x1): 8.4cm (height); 33cm (depth); and 61.6cm (width).
- Cabinet: 37.8cm (height); 30cm (depth); and 43.6cm (width).
- Locking padlock is not included.
- Shelf within the bottom compartment doesn’t fit well.
The US PRO TOOLS Chest Box Roller Cabinet has two parts – the top chest and the rollcab. The combination of glossy black paint and glossy red paint gives this tool chest a sophisticated appearance. There’s a variety of storage options with drawers in two different sizes and a lower cabinet which has one shelf. The tool chest stands 100cm on its castors so you don’t keep having to bend down to it.
We recommend the US PRO TOOLS Chest Box Roller Cabinet for its size and height, its classy appearance, its storage options and its relatively low price. This tool chest is our choice for Best Tool Chest for Garages.
If you have many tools that you want to store in a budget, durable and attractive cabinet, the US PRO TOOLS Chest Box Roller is worth a long look.
5. Mannesmann Tool Box/Assembled (155 Pieces)
The Mannesmann Tool Box/Assembled (155 Pieces) comes with a significant number of pieces – 155 to be accurate which is what separates this model from the rest. The “Assembled” in its name brings in all the basic tools that a start-up DIYer could need.
This Mannesmann tool chest is a handheld chest that’s much smaller than the others in this review. It’s designed to be carried around and not just used in your workshed or garage. It’s made of quality steel painted a traditional red. There are two drawers and a lid compartment, all lined with thick foam. You know where to put your tools back by the shaped spaces cut into the foam. The inside of the lid compartment is also lined and holds tools. The tools are well organised by type so you can easily retrieve the one you want.
The tools and fittings included with the Mannesmann Tool Box/Assembled tool chest include pliers, cutters, battery screwdrivers, universal tape and much more. However, there are no spanners so you do have to buy some tools for your stash. In addition, this tool chest doesn’t lock.
- Portable steel tool chest painted a glossy red.
- Top-lid compartment and two drawers which hold all the included tools.
- Comes with 155 pieces of tools and fittings so it’s great for someone starting out in DIY or mechanics.
- Tools include: pliers, cutters, a voltage tester, screwdrivers, sockets, universal tape and much more.
- Doesn’t lock.
- Tools not of top quality.
- No spanners.
The Mannesmann Tool Box/Assembled (155 Pieces) is a portable steel tool chest that hits the needs of the home mechanic or DIYer. The included tools range from battery screwdrivers to a voltage tester, it comes with pretty much all the tools you might need with the exception of some spanners.
We recommend the Mannesmann Tool Box/Assembled (155 Pieces) for its range of tools and its affordability taking into consideration the fact it comes with tools.
If you’re starting out in the DIY/mechanics world or have lost so many tools that you need a new set, the Mannesmann Tool Box/Assembled (155 Pieces) fits the bill and is well worth considering.
6. Sealey AP2200BB 6 Drawer Topchest & Rollcab Combination with Ball Bearing Slides
The Sealey AP2200BB 6 Drawer Topchest & Rollcab Combination is another two-part tool chest. You can use each part separately or stack them for a higher tool chest.
The top chest of this Sealey tool chest has three full-size drawers and one larger drawer, The top-lid compartment offers more storage space, perhaps for your favourite tools. The bottom module has two medium height drawers and a two-door cabinet. The drawers use ball bearing sliders to open and close the drawers smoothly and without any fuss. The drawers don’t come with anti-slip liners so you have to put these in yourself which is a shame as its fairly expensive. Rubber mats or anti-slip underlay for rugs would work well. All drawers are the full width of the unit for maximum storage. (See the Pros section below for the specific dimensions.)
This steel tool chest has another sophisticated colour palette. The sides, back and top are in a muted red colour and the drawer and cabinet fronts are a middle shade of grey. The top chest section is lockable with a central key. However, the bottom rollcab unit doesn’t lock so don’t keep your best tools there. This tool chest rolls on rubber castors which may be a bit difficult to fit.
- Comes in two parts and can be used separately.
- Steel tool chest has a sophisticated colour scheme of muted red and mid grey.
- The top chest has an under the lid compartment, three small drawers and one larger drawer.
- Bottom rollcab has two larger drawers and a cupboard with double doors.
- Drawers have 25mm ball bearing sliders to quietly and effortlessly retrieve your tools.
- The top module is lockable through a central key system.
- Top chest: 60cm (width); 26cm (depth); and 34cm (height).
- Rollcab: 61.5cm (width); 29.5cm (depth); and 70cm (height).
- Rollcab is not lockable.
- No drawer liners.
- Castors are fiddly to put on to tool chest.
The Sealey AP2200BB 6 Drawer Topchest & Rollcab Combination is a steel two-part tool chest and is probably one of the best models but it a little more expensive but Sealey does have an excellent reputation. The two modules work well if placed apart and create a high tool chest when stacked. This stylish chest has six drawers of various depths but they all run the width of the unit. This unit is a competitor for the US PRO TOOLS Chest Box Roller Cabinet, but it’s more expensive and doesn’t have a few of the features found in the US Pro chest.
We like the Sealey AP2200BB 6 Drawer Topchest & Rollcab Combination for its two-module system and the double doors on the cabinet. This is an attractive cabinet that looks good in any workspace and is maybe better quality than most making it better suited for a professional enviroment.
If you want a tool chest for domestic use that has the features of a professional chest, check out the Sealey AP2200BB 6 Drawer Topchest & Rollcab Combination.
A tool chest, as its name suggests, looks like a chest of drawers. Some tool chests also have a cupboard below the drawers which is usually referred to as the rollercab but both the rollercab and top chest can be used independently. They’re designed to be relatively stationary in your workspace, though those on castors (rolling tool chests) are easily wheeled to different places in your workspace.
Durability and storage space are the two most important features of a tool chest to organise your tools. A common complaint among tool chest owners is that the chest is smaller than expected. We discuss these here along with other features to look for.
Types of Tool Chest
Handheld Tool Chest
These tool chests are small and portable for carrying around. They’re the right size for a small assortment of the most needed tools. Some of the larger tool chests come in modules, and you can usually use the smallest module as a carry-around tool chest. Handheld tool chests generally have two or three drawers of the same size but not a top-lid compartment.
Stationary Tool Chest
Stationary tool chests are larger than handheld ones. They usually have drawers of assorted sizes and may have a closed cabinet at the bottom. They’re stationary as they don’t have castors to roll on.
Rollcab – Rolling Tool Chest
The main differences between stationary tool chests and rolling ones are castors and size. Moving around a chest full of tools takes some effort and is made possible by the castors and the handles on the side of the unit like in the picture above. Larger rollcab tool chests usually have a greater variety of storage spaces. These are the tool chests that may come in modules. If you have quite a few tools that, added together, are heavy, this is the type of tool chest you need.
Five reasons to buy a tool chest:
- All your tools are together and you know where they are.
- Your tools are safely and securely stored away.
- The tool chest protects the tools from damage and rubbing against other tools and workshop items.
- Keeping your tools in a tool chest means you’re not wasting time and effort, and your good mood, in running around trying to find them.
- A tool chest adds an air of professionalism to your workshop.
Tool chests made out of steel are both durable and hard-wearing. They may be heavier chests from the other materials in this section. Rolling chests are usually from steel to handle the weight of tools in them.
Plastic (including polypropylene)
Plastic tool chests are lighter than metal ones and are generally less expensive unless you by a premium model such as the Keter one we included in this review earlier. They may also be smaller and store fewer tools. Many handheld tool chests are made of this material.
These tool chests are both lightweight and strong. They’re mostly used by people in industrial sectors, such as aviation and car mechanics, who need a strong and durable, yet easily transported, tool chest. They are also lighter than steel alternatives and won’t rust
Finish and Colour
The finish and colour of tool chests vary. Steel chests are usually painted with glossy paint. While sometimes available in a few different colours (in either glossy or matte paint) , the traditional colour of tool chests is red. This is a safety feature as they’re so visible you won’t accidentally bump into them. Plastic tool chests are generally black.
All tool chests have drawers. These may run across the full width of the chest or maybe partial width. The best tool chest’s drawers run on steel ball bearings for smoothness and quietness in opening and closing the drawers. Some brands line their drawers with anti-slip lining to protect the tools from rubbing against each other.
If you want to be really organised, look for tool chests that come with drawer dividers or small containers which fit in the drawers. Some of the tool chests in our review have a small shelf on the side of the unit for those small items you don’t want to lose. Also, check whether you can pull the drawers out to their full extent to reach the tools right at the back.
Many rolling carts (those on castors) have both drawers and a cabinet for storage. The cabinet is at the bottom of the rollcab and usually has doors. Some models include a shelf to increase the available storage space there. In addition, the larger tool chests have an extra compartment under the lid for your most-used tools.
Loading capacity is important but the manufacturer of only one product in our review mentions it. This is the weight of contents that each drawer can handle. Added together this gives the total weight of tools that you should store in the tool chest.
A rolling tool chest (aka rollcab) lets you move the chest around your workspace. Look for large castors with non-scratch coating and preferably with a break. Handles on the side of the lower module guide the chest to its new position. Sometimes the handles are recessed or fold down to keep them out of the way.
Two common complaints by owners of tool chests are: the chest is smaller than they expected to fit all their tools and that it’s too large to fit in their workspace. Double-check both of these measurements to have the right size toolbox for your needs. We’ve included the tool chests’ dimensions in all but one of our individual reviews, in the Pros section.
You find a variety of locking systems on tool chests. The best ones let you lock the unit from a central point. If the chest is in modules, see if they lock individually. Many don’t and sometimes the lower unit is not lockable at all.
Questions to answer before your purchase
You’re now ready to answer the following questions to narrow down your options and to decide which tool chest is the best for you.
- How big is your workspace?
- Where are you going to put the tool chest?
- How many tools do you have to go into the tool chest?
- How big are they?
- What’s their shape?
- Will your largest tools fit into a standard tool chest drawer?
- If not, where are you going to store them; will you buy a separate tool chest for them?
- Do you want to move your tool chest around to different work sites?
- Do you need a tool chest with a module that you can carry with you?
- How high do you need your tool chest to be?
- Are you hard on your tools?
- How long do you want the tool chest to last?
- Is there any particular material that you want the chest to be made of?
If your tools are scattered around your garage, shed, home and garden, you probably don’t know where each particular one is. Think of all the time you’ve spent wandering around your garage or workshop looking for a specific tool to finally remember that you lent it to your neighbour.
Keeping all your tools in a tool chest lifts the burden of trying to remember the last time you saw them. Tools chests for domestic use are generally not as sturdy or durable as their professional counterparts. But they are less expensive. And the drawers and compartments keep everything together.
The Best Tool Chest in our review is the Hardcastle 9 Drawer Red Lockable Topchest Tool. This medium size steel tool chest has nine drawers and a top-lid compartment to keep your tools organised by type. The drawers are a variety of sizes to hold different types of tools and other DIY items. This is a stationary tool chest so make sure you place it where you want it before you fill it up.
The Dirty Pro Tool Large Tool Chest is larger and has more storage than our Best Pick. Its powder-coated steel is both durable and bright. This is a rolling tool chest that has a tool box on top of the rollcab with drawers and a cabinet. This chest comes with drawer dividers and small trays to really separate your tools.
If the idea of tool chest seems too much (or too organized) for you and your tools, check out our Best Tool Boxes review for a smaller option.
Last update on 2021-01-10 at 13:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API