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BEST PORTABLE TOOL BOX FOR THE MONEY

David McCarthy by David McCarthy

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 4.36 out of 5)
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Last Updated January 11, 2019

DEWALT-DWST17806-TSTAK-VI-Deep-Box
DEWALT DWST17806 TSTAK VI Deep Box

Pros

  • Comes with a four part locking mechanism
  • Can be expanded with additional cases
  • Exceptionally inexpensive for the size
  • Features a full sized tray and organizer bin

cons

Has a fairly low 44 lb. weight capacity

Plastic locks, hinges, and body are not that durable

WORKPRO-229-Piece-Mechanics-Tool-Kit
WORKPRO 229-Piece Mechanics Tool Kit

Pros

  • Comes with a full set of basic mechanic’s tools
  • Steel is an incredibly durable material
  • Durable piano hinge opening
  • Metal locking hatches
  • Provides two sliding drawers

cons

Far heavier than toolboxes twice its size

Cannot hold larger hand or power tools

Best Overall
Keter New Masterloader Plastic Portable Rolling Organizer
Keter New Masterloader Plastic Portable Rolling Organizer

Pros

  • Comes with two sets of organizers
  • Provides a decent amount of storage area
  • A relatively inexpensive chest toolbox
  • Features wheels for rolling transport
  • Opens on ball bearing sliders

cons

The handle sleeve is flimsy

Poor design in wet conditions

Wheels are a bit small and set too close together

Best Value
Stanley 020800R FatMax 4 in 1 Mobile Work Station
Stanley 020800R FatMax 4 in 1 Mobile Work Station

Pros

  • Features wheels for rolling transport
  • Lever opener is convenient
  • Features an organizer compartment
  • Top is a toolbox with a tray
  • Bottom compartment is large
  • Maximum weight capacity of 88 lbs.

cons

The wheels are not durable

The handle sleeve is flimsy

DEWALT DWST08204 Tough System Case
DEWALT DWST08204 Tough System Case

Pros

  • Features an impressive 110 lb. weight capacity
  • Provides a good amount of storage
  • Provides a IP65 water and debris resistance
  • Offers vertical and tray organization
  • Can be expanded modularly

cons

Plastic is not that durable

Does not come with wheels for transport

Latches and hinges are not that durable

Why you should
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11products
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10consumers
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Tool box Buyer’s Guide

  • BEST-PORTABLE-TOOL-BOX-Reviews-&-Buyer’s-GuideHand – This is the “basic” toolbox that most people think of when they hear that word. There are very few ways in which this kind of toolbox changes from one to the next. The most important part about this toolbox is that is has a large main compartment so it can carry a number of hand tools and maybe a power tool or two. Hand toolboxes are often smaller than most and can come in varying types of materials. Occasionally they will contain a tray that fits at the top inside. They can open in a couple different ways including hinge, piano hinge, and cantilever.
  • Chest – This is similar to a hand toolbox in many respects except that it is often significantly larger. While you may be able to carry a tool chest, carrying one that is fully laden with hand and power tools will likely be incredibly difficult. These types of toolboxes are rarely made out of metal, though a few may be made from aluminum. Because a fully loaded tool chest can weigh well over 100 pounds, they may come with wheels to make transporting them easier. They will almost always open with a hinge design and can have a wide array of internal compartments.
  • Workstation – A workstation begins to stretch the definition of a “toolbox” as many people imagine it. In fact, workstations are better understood as portable tool cabinets. Similar to a tool chest, this type of toolbox will generally be made out of plastic, especially considering that they can often carry even more than a tool chest. This type of toolbox will almost without fail have wheels to make transportation easier. They most commonly utilize a lever design for opening, with multiple main compartments as well as numerous smaller compartments.
  • Mechanic’s – A mechanic’s toolbox is much closer to the traditional, or hand, toolbox in size and design. The main difference between a mechanic’s and a hand toolbox are the materials and compartments. Hand toolboxes are generally made out of metal because they are far more likely to come into contact with grease and corrosive chemicals. A mechanic’s toolbox will also generally favor drawers over other types of compartments, though the drawers themselves may include built-in organizers.
  • Electrician’s – An electrician’s toolbox is pretty much a hand toolbox with a focus on organizing compartments over any other style. This is because electricians will use various types of fasteners more often than most other professionals who use toolboxes. In fact, electricians will use all of the different types of fasteners that general construction workers use as well as ones that they do not. Much like a hand toolbox, an electrician’s toolbox can come in a wide variety of materials and openers. Moreover, they can also include the internal tray common in hand toolboxes.

Materials

The materials a toolbox is made out of have a bit of a give and take relationship. Ultimately, you have to decide what is most important: portability or durability. The lighter materials, like plastic, are not nearly as durable as heavier materials. On the other hand, the most durable material commonly used in toolboxes, steel, is also the heaviest, making it the least portable. Sadly, there is no perfect material, and you will be forced to choose what you favor.

  • Steel – Steel used to be the go-to material when it came to toolboxes. It was durable enough to hold heavy and sharp tools without concern and could take a tumble from a couple stories without falling apart. Moreover, it was reasonably inexpensive all things considered. Unfortunately, it was also exceedingly heavy. These days, steel is often reserved for smaller hand toolboxes. It is also a bit more expensive than some of the other materials used.
  • Plastic – When plastic first came out, it was billed as a miracle material. It could maintain its structural integrity at a fraction of the weight and cost of other materials. That generally still holds true today, and plastic has become arguably the most popular material used for toolboxes of nearly every variety. While it may be durable from a molecularly comparative scale, plastic is easily the least durable material used for toolboxes – especially considering most hand tools are metal. However, plastic is the cheapest and the lightest material used for toolboxes, making it ideal for portability.
  • Aluminum – Most toolboxes that have aluminum use it sparingly. This is because aluminum is by far the most expensive material commonly used in toolboxes. Generally, hinges and points of structural reinforcement will be the only areas where it is used. This material is reasonably durable, though not as strong as steel. It is also relatively lightweight, though plastic has it beat in that department. Essentially, aluminum is a Goldilocks material that does everything right, but its cost makes it somewhat prohibitive for the consumer and professional market outside of commercial or industrial applications.

Compartments

For those unfamiliar with the demands of various construction and mechanical related industries, it may seem like the only important quality of a toolbox is how many tools it can hold. While carrying large tools, whether hand tools or power tools, in undoubtedly important, the various other smaller components these professionals use are also vital. However, these parts need to be kept isolated so that they can be easily retrieved when needed. That is where compartments come in. Still, different types of compartments are designed for different purposes, and each will generally be more important depending on the field in which the toolbox is used. The different types of compartments are drawers, organizers, and trays.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the best portable toolbox will be heavily dependent on what you need it to accomplish. Many of the toolboxes we reviewed are probably best left to professionals, as homeowners are unlikely to require that kind of storage space that is also portable.

That said, the Stanley 028001L is still an excellent choice for a DIYer. While large enough for a few power tools or the most commonly used hand tools, it is not enormous. It also doesn’t take a large bite out your wallet.

If you are a professional, you will likely want to look at one of the tool chests or a workstation. The Stanley FatMax 4-in-1 is a solid workstation but needs to be treated gently. For tool chests, the Keter Masterloader is incredibly convenient.

Reviews

01

DeWalt is a brand that was once known for its professional grade power tools, but whose reputation took a hit once they started to outsource their manufacturing to China.

In recent years, the brand has begun the slow ascent to reclaim its good name and once again be known as a manufacturer that professionals can trust to provide high quality construction equipment.

That journey has been a bit hit-or-miss with its selection of power tools. When it comes to construction accessories, DeWalt’s record is even rockier.

With regards to the DWST17806, DeWalt has produced a tool chest that is somewhat underwhelming in most respects but shows potential in others.

Primarily, this tool chest is meant to serve as the base of a three or four part modular tool storage system.

In that light, some of the faults of the DWST17806 should be understood within the context that it is not necessarily meant to be a standalone tool chest but work in conjunction with other tool storage components. On its own, it is easily one of the least expensive tool chests we ran across.

However, it also has some serious limitations. For one, regarding both space and weight, this is a somewhat small tool chest. The 44 lb. weight capacity was the lowest we reviewed, while its 2430 cu. in. storage was also the smallest.

Keep in mind you can purchase the entire kit for about the same price as the other tool chests on our list, but on its own, it is merely adequate.

Specifications
Item Weight
5.86 pounds
Product Dimensions
17.3 x 11.9 x 13 in
Material
Plastic
Compartments
1 Tray
Storage
2430 cu. in.
Load Capacity
66 LBS
Pros
  • Comes with a four part locking mechanism
  • Can be expanded with additional cases
  • Exceptionally inexpensive for the size
  • Features a full sized tray and organizer bin
Cons
  • Has a fairly low 44 lb. weight capacity
  • Plastic locks, hinges, and body are not that durable
DEWALT-DWST17806-TSTAK-VI-Deep-Box

DEWALT DWST17806 TSTAK VI Deep Box

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02

WORKPRO may not be one of the most well-known brands on our list and it is also not that old, but it is quietly becoming known for excellent mid-market hand tools.

Moreover, WORKPRO has positioned itself to provide tools for construction, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing fields. As such, it should not be surprising that the WORKPRO is our best mechanic’s portable toolbox.

For one, this is the only toolbox on our list that comes with a complete starter set of all your basic mechanic’s tools.

While they may not be as robust as a professional set, they are more than enough to either get you started or for the various mechanical jobs you may encounter around the house. That being said, these tools are only of average quality, but they are not cheap junk.

For the toolbox itself, it is arguably the best part of the entire package. With a sturdy steel design that features various points of aluminum reinforcement, this is likely the most durable toolbox we reviewed.

However, you will need to consider that the tool set but the toolbox is also far heavier than toolboxes more than twice its size.

Of course, being a toolbox designed for mechanics, this product is not at all intended for, nor truly capable of, housing power tools unless they are extremely small, and then only in the top compartment.

Unfortunately, WORKPRO does not sell the toolbox separately, and the entire kit is a bit pricey–especially considering you may prefer better quality tools.

Specifications
Item Weight
25.6 pounds
Product Dimensions
20 x 12 x 11 in
Material
Steel
Storage
1520 cu. in.
Pros
  • Comes with a full set of basic mechanic’s tools
  • Steel is an incredibly durable material
  • Durable piano hinge opening and metal locking hatches
  • Provides two sliding drawers
Cons
  • Far heavier than toolboxes twice its size
  • Cannot hold larger hand or power tools
WORKPRO-229-Piece-Mechanics-Tool-Kit

WORKPRO 229-Piece Mechanics Tool Kit

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03

Keter is the only brand on our list that does not specialize in tools of any sort. In fact, the company was actually founded to manufacture high grade plastic and then simply cut out the middleman and decided to manufacture their own products instead.

While this can lead to some decent prices, it also means that the brand may not always understand what different markets need.

That is why it is so surprising that the Keter tool chest is as well designed as it is. When compared to some of the other tool chests we reviewed, it seemed as though Keter might understand its potential consumers far better than some of the brands which have been manufacturing tool storage products for all markets for decades.

For one, the main storage area of this tool chest is surprisingly spacious at 2860 cu. in. To back that up, this tool chest features more additional compartments than any other tool box we reviewed–regardless of what type of tool box. The organizers can also be taken out and arranged as you see fit, while the hand tool organizer features a removable divider for even more customized organization.

The only bad quality about the Keter is that their plastic is likely not designed to deal with the rigors of construction work. For instance, while the total storage area is comparable to any of the other chests, the maximum weight capacity is significantly lower at only 66 lbs.

On top of that, the hinges and lock are not that durable–which is actually a far greater issue for the lock which could allow the top to simply open in transit if it fails.

Specifications
Item Weight
15 pounds
Product Dimensions
24.2 x 14.9 x 16.3 in
Material
Plastic
Storage
2860 cu. in.
Pros
  • Comes with two sets of organizers, large and small
  • Provides a decent amount of storage area
  • A relatively inexpensive chest toolbox
  • Features wheels for rolling transport
  • Opens on ball bearing sliders
Cons
  • The handle sleeve is flimsy
  • Poor design in wet conditions
  • Wheels are a bit small and set too close together
Keter New Masterloader Plastic Portable Rolling Organizer

Keter New Masterloader Plastic Portable Rolling Organizer

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04

Outside of DeWalt, Stanley is the other manufacturer on our list that has a solid reputation in the construction industry. Unlike DeWalt, Stanley has not suffered a decline in its reputation that it must now regain.

In fairness, that is likely in part due to the fact that Stanley focuses primarily on hand tools and only occasionally dips its toe in the power tool market.

Of course, hand tools still need to be stored and transported as well, and Stanley seeks to provide for that need with its FatMax 4-in-1 Mobile Workstation.

In terms of storage space, the workstation’s 3930 cu. in. is only matched by a single chest, making it the second largest toolbox we reviewed. Still, beyond sheer storage capacity, this workstation also offers a wide range of organization.

This toolbox is actually three toolboxes in one. The top portion is designed like a standard tool box and is intended to house all of your hand tools. Much like a standard toolbox, the top portion also features a tray. The middle portion is where the organizing compartment sits and it offers deep 4 ½” slots to house whatever components or ancillary tools you may need. Finally, the bottom portion provides deep 18” bucket style storage for larger power tools.

Sadly, Stanley’s innovative design and excellent storage and organizational developments did not translate to the actual engineering.

Specifically, the structural foam Stanley uses for their tool storage suffers more with this larger toolbox designed to carry up 88 lbs., which is good but not great. The hinges, handle sleeve, latches, and wheels are all liable to suffer failure, which makes this option a bit riskier than you would prefer.

Specifications
Material
Structural Foam
Compartments
Organizers, Tray, Bin
Storage
3930 cu. in.
Weight
23.63 lbs
Pros
  • Features wheels for rolling transport
  • Lever opener is convenient
  • Features an organizer compartment
  • Top is a toolbox with a tray
  • Bottom compartment is large
  • Maximum weight capacity of 88 lbs. is decent
Cons
  • The wheels are not durable
  • The handle sleeve is flimsy
  • The latches are liable to break off the box
Stanley 020800R FatMax 4 in 1 Mobile Work Station

Stanley 020800R FatMax 4 in 1 Mobile Work Station

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05

While other DeWalt tool chests may seek to appeal to the budget-minded consumer, this one is definitely aimed more at the professional.

In this way, DeWalt does seem to be making strides to return to their former glory as a reputable manufacturer of professional grade products. Still, this tool chest is not without its issues, many of which directly undermine its ultimate intent.

In terms of the professional quality it provides, this is another tool storage unit that is ultimately designed in a modular fashion. However, this lineup may arguably be geared more towards that direction than other DeWalt tool chests.

For instance, this lineup includes various storage units of varying sizes as well as a carrier which is both reasonably durable and easy to transport.

In this way, while the Tough System Case may not provide wheels for transportation, it does provide that option–albeit at an extremely high cost.

Still, the Tough System Case does provide a number of features which place it squarely in the professional realm. For instance, this is one of the few toolboxes we looked at which is water resistant.

Even better, that water resistance is rated on the international IP scale as providing protection from harmful deposits of dust and high pressure jets of water. This does not mean you can leave it unprotected for weeks on end, but it could easily ride in the back of a truck to the jobsite without a tarp on it.

One of the best qualities of this tool chest is its structural integrity, however you need to understand this as having some limitations as well. For instance, this tool chest offers the largest weight capacity of 110 lbs. Combined with 3040 cu. in. of storage, and you can carry pretty much anything.

Unfortunately, the side handles, latches, and hinges all feature plastic which has been known to break or fail.

Specifications
Item Weight
13.51 pounds
Product Dimensions
21.3 x 12.6 x 15.8 in
Storage
3040 cu. in.
Material
Plastic
Pros
  • Features an impressive 110 lb. weight capacity
  • Provides a good amount of storage
  • Provides a IP65 water and debris resistance
  • Offers vertical and tray organization
  • Can be expanded modularly
Cons
  • Plastic is not that durable
  • Does not come with wheels for transport
  • Latches and hinges are not that durable
DEWALT DWST08204 Tough System Case

DEWALT DWST08204 Tough System Case

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06

It might seem a bit odd to see a Cat product on a list of toolboxes considering that the parent company, Caterpillar, is far more well-known for making industrial equipment like bulldozers and cranes.

However, Caterpillar also makes numerous products geared towards professionals working in new construction, especially electricians and HVAC technicians. Keeping that in mind, it should come as no surprise that they make our list with the best electrician’s toolbox.

While Caterpillar may be known for producing industrial equipment capable of withstanding the abuse of decades of tough environments and heavy duty workloads, this Cat toolbox most definitely cannot.

The polypropylene resin material is not very durable and will actually bow if heavily laden. However, electricians generally do not require as many heavy tools as many other professions in the construction field.

Electricians need a toolbox that is far more portable than many of the others we have reviewed for this list. The Keter arguably provides just as much organizational space as this toolbox, but it is far too large for an electrician to carry out into the field.

As such, the dual organization compartments located in the top of this toolbox offer the perfect mix of portability and storage for the various fasteners an electrician is likely to need.

When you add the full sized tray that sits flush with the toolbox to prevent spillage, this is nearly an ideal toolbox -nearly.

Specifications
Item Weight
4.5 pounds
Product Dimensions
20 x 9.2 x 9 in
Material
Nylon
Storage
1,665 cu. in.
Pros
  • Provides a good number of organizers
  • Tray is full size and fits flush
  • Handle and latches are fairly durable
  • Is a rather inexpensive toolbox
  • One of the more portable toolboxes
Cons
  • The body plastic is not that durable
  • Body will flex when heavily laden
  • Does not provide a great amount of storage
Cat-Premium-Plastic-Portable-Tool-Box

Cat Premium Plastic Portable Tool Box

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07

The Stanley 037025H is a bit of an odd tool chest on our list. It most certainly is useful, but it lacks something notable that can narrow its overall utility. Specifically, this is one of the largest toolboxes that features the least amount of compartmental storage.

In all fairness, though, that feeling may have a bit to do with the fact that the Stanley 037025H features the largest amount of storage we saw.

In fact, even hand toolboxes generally offer more in the way of small compartment storage than this tool chest. Its single tray does at least fit nicely and will not spill over in transit, but it is still lacking.

The 11,400 cu. in. of total storage space easily blows every other toolbox we reviewed out of the water. Even better, the 100 lb. weight capacity is the second highest on our list and equally impressive.

When you consider the immense storage and weight capacities this toolbox provides, it may be better to consider this a gang box style chest rather than a standard tool chest.

Still, the Stanley structural foam presents the same problems with this tool chest that it does with all of its other tool storage options.

This is arguably a bigger concern with this particular model due to the fact that you will likely place even larger and heavier tools in this chest than you would others.

Finally, this chest does feature wheels, but their size makes pulling this beast over anything but smooth surfaces like plowing a field.

Specifications
Item Weight
30.2 pounds
Product Dimensions
23 x 37 x 23 in
Material
Structural Foam
Storage
11,400 cu. in.
Pros
  • Features an impressive 100 lb. weight capacity
  • Metal latches are durable
  • Provides a good amount of storage
  • Features wheels for easy transport
  • Includes locks and keys
  • Comes with an organizing tray
Cons
  • Does not offer much organization
  • The hinges are not that durable
  • Plastic body is not very durable
Stanley-037025H

Stanley 037025H

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08

If all you need is a simple, no-frills hand toolbox, then the Stanley 028001L is likely the product for you. While it can conceivably be used for professional applications, it is likely more at home with DIYers.

That being said, there are still a few features that might make professionals give this toolbox a second look.

For one, this toolbox is one of the less expensive we reviewed.

While it comes with an internal tray, the tray is not full size and does not sit flush against the top.

This means that the tray may spill over during transport. Still, transport is a bit easier with this hand toolbox than others of its type due to the fact that you can carry it with the handle or with the two indents underneath.

Of course, this is where professionals may check out on this toolbox. While it does not feature a great amount of storage space compared to tool chests and workstations, it still does offer a decent amount for a hand toolbox.

However, if a professional fills this toolbox up with heavy hand and power tools, the structural foam which Stanley uses for most of its tool storage products will bow significantly.

Specifications
Color
Yellow/Black
Product Dimensions
28 x 12.6 x 13 in
Material
Structural Foam
Storage
2125 cu. in.
Pros
  • Provides a watertight seal
  • Can be carried in different ways
  • Metal latches are reasonably durable
  • A fairly inexpensive toolbox
  • Comes with an internal tray
Cons
  • Body will flex when heavily laden
  • Hinges are not that durable

Stanley 028001L

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

  • 01
    How do I know my tool box can handle all my tools?

    It’s important that you read the manufacturer’s weight limits. This number will determine what the box, hinges, locks, and handles are capable of handling.

  • 02
    How do I decide what size tool box I need?

    Start by taking an inventory of the tools you want to transport. Lay them out and group them together. This will give you an idea of the size you need plus what types of compartments will work best for you. Be sure you purchase an option that also gives you a little room to grow in case you need to take additional tools with you.