Whether you are a professional or a DIYer, you need somewhere safe to place your tools when you are done. Of course, your tools are unlikely to be used only in a single location, which is why many people turn to toolboxes.
Once a simple box with hinges and a handle, toolboxes have progressed to become far more diverse in design and intent. This only makes things far more difficult when trying to figure out which toolbox is the right one for you.
That is why we have put together a list of the top 8 best portable tool box reviews, each with its own specialty or unique feature. Then we provide a thorough buyer’s guide, so you can figure out which is the best tool box for you.
|DEWALT DWST17806 TSTAK VI Deep Box||Plastic||1 Tray||2430 cu. in.|
|WORKPRO 229-Piece Mechanics Tool Kit||Steel||2 Drawers||1520 cu. in.|
|Polypropylene Resin||8 Organizers||2860 cu. in.|
|Stanley 020800R FatMax 4-in1 Mobile Work Station|
Best For Professionals
|Structural Foam||2 Organizers, 1 Tray, 1 Bin||3930 cu. in.|
|DEWALT DWST08204 Tough System Case||Plastic||1 Organizer, 1 Tray||3040 cu. in.|
|Cat Premium Plastic Portable Tool Box||Polypropylene Resin||2 Organizers, 1 Tray||1,665 cu. in.|
|Stanley 037025H||Structural Foam||1 Tray||11,400 cu. in.|
|Stanley 028001L Best For DIYer’s||Structural Foam||1 Tray||2125 cu. in.|
DEWALT DWST17806 TSTAK VI Deep Box – Best Budget Chest Toolbox
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.
WORKPRO 229-Piece Mechanics Tool Kit – Best Mechanic’s Toolbox
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.
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.
Keter New Masterloader Plastic Portable Rolling Organizer – Best Chest Tool Box
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.
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.
Stanley 020800R FatMax 4 in 1 Mobile Work Station – Best Workstation Toolbox
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.
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.
DEWALT DWST08204 Tough System Case – Largest Weight Capacity Chest Toolbox
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.
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.
Cat Premium Plastic Portable Tool Box – Best Electrician’s Toolbox
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.
Stanley 037025H – Biggest Chest Toolbox
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.
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.
Stanley 028001L – Best Hand Toolbox
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.
Tool box Buyer’s Guide
Hand – 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.
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.
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.
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.