How to Organize Your Toolbox for Efficiency
Is it almost impossible for you to find a tool at the moment you need it from your own toolbox? Are you wondering how to easily organize a functional, easy-to-use toolbox? Then this article on how to organize your toolbox to get an arrangement that works for you is just what you need.
You may ask, “why do I have to do this?” Well, the truth of the matter is that even if you are used to finding your way around a messy toolbox in absolute disarray, it is not effective for time management.
There are so many benefits of tool boxes, especially organized ones. Frankly speaking, you shouldn’t have to waste time by dealing with a cluttered toolbox, not when toolbox organization will allow you to easily grab the type of tool you need.
Benefits of Organizing Your Toolbox
The main benefit of having an organized toolbox is finding a specific tool when you need it without having to dig through the entire box.
Having all of your tools in specific, designated places can also help you see, at a glance, if any are missing or lost, which almost completely eliminates the possibility of overlooking a tool or accidentally leaving it at a project site.
Also, having a neatly organized toolbox reduces the likelihood of you buying duplicates you don’t need. You don’t want to end up buying something you think you lost only to find it again a while later at the bottom of your toolbox.
An added benefit is that you won’t have to improvise with the wrong tool when you can’t find the one that you need. With a properly organized toolbox, each tool has its own specific space so you can quickly identify and choose the correct one for the job.
An organized toolbox also helps to curb tool theft. If you know where everything is supposed to be, you can see what’s missing before you leave the job site.
How to Organize Your Toolbox
A messy toolbox will not only make your job harder, it will also waste time that you could be using to relax or do other projects. Arranging and keeping your toolbox organized will not only make your work less frustrating, but you’ll also complete your tasks faster.
See What You’re Working With
The first and most important step of organizing your toolbox, whether it is a large storage drawer or a portable toolbox, is to bring out all the tools that you will be arranging and put them in one place.
Yes, bring the ones in the kitchen and the ones you kept in the garage and bring up the ones in the basement. You need to be able to keep track of all your tools and organizing your toolbox will help you do just that.
Considering how greasy and messy tools can get, it is best to put them all on a tarp or a piece of cardboard to get the best view of them and to keep the mess to a minimum.
Sort, Sort, Sort!
Now that you have all your tools where you can see them, it’s time to start cleaning and sorting them into groups. You can use some paint thinner or acetone to clean your tools, especially if they are very greasy or grimey with oil.
You should be doing this in a well-ventilated area away from open flames, especially if you’re cleaning your tools with paint thinner or acetone. Also take breaks between use so you don’t get lightheaded from inhaling the fumes.
Once all your tools are clean, you should begin to sort them into similar groups. All the hammers, wrenches, power tools, and various nails, screws, nuts, and bolts should be neatly sorted in their own piles.
Throw Out Anything You Are Not Using
If you’re a tool fan with a disorganized tool space, you’ll find that you may have quite a few duplicate tools.
For this step, what you want to do is assess each tool individually and discard any of them that are broken or rusted beyond repair.
Also, check to see if you have duplicates of the same tool so you can give them away or discard them. You should also be on the lookout for multipurpose tools that do more than one job, that way you can save space in your toolbox by having one tool that performs the same functions as several others.
Get rid of anything that is just taking up space. If you are not using that fancy looking screwdriver at all, then get rid of it. You can sell duplicate
tools in very good condition online.
You can also declutter your tool space by throwing out fasteners, screws and nails you aren’t using or which have rusted beyond repair due to lack of use or poor storage.
Hang on only to the things you can identify; if you aren’t sure if it’s a screwdriver or a metal chopstick, it’s better to just throw it away.
Keep Only the Most Important Tools
It is easy to want to fit every single tool you have into one toolbox, but it’s not the best way to start keeping an organized toolbox.
What you need to do is assess your tool box needs. What projects will you be working on? How complex are your tool needs?
For most people, the most basic tools are enough to cater to the projects that they will be working on.
For instance, if the main projects you will be working on are minor repairs around the house, you definitely do not need heavy-duty power tools to complete your work.
In fact, the basics, like screwdrivers, hammers, nails, wood glue and a carpenter’s level, may be enough for your toolbox.
If, however, you work with servicing or tuning bigger pieces of machinery, then the spectrum of your tool needs will obviously broaden.
Decide on a Storage Location
After determining the kind of tools you’ll be keeping and the needs they will be helping you meet, it is important to choose a location to store these tools.
At this juncture, it is time to choose what kind of toolbox you will be needing. Keeping a centralized location for your tool storage will save you a lot of hassle.
There will be no need to constantly keep tabs in the different places you store tools because they will all be accessible in the same place.
Now for most people, who only do minor repairs and such around the house, a small, portable toolbox would be great.
It is easy to store in an apartment or take with you on the go. However, if you work with larger tools, it is definitely not the best choice.
If you have a large vehicle that could move a heavier toolbox around, you can definitely get a larger sized toolbox that can fit even more tools to cater to your specific needs.
In addition, if you work on special projects, you can invest in a tool chest or cabinet that will fit all your tools and keep them out of the way while you work.
If you are buying a new toolbox, you should take into consideration the material of the toolbox and your type of storage needs.
For instance, a wooden toolbox can get the job done, but if you work with a lot of projects that could take you near water, a wooden toolbox will get damaged quickly and you would have to eventually replace it.
Instead, go for something sturdier that can handle the weight of your tools and also fare well in the environment you will be working in.
A good rule of thumb is that you should always buy a toolbox that is a little bigger than your storage needs. Before you know it, that extra space will be filled up.
The extra space will come in handy if you find that you need more tools than you had originally planned or as your needs grow. It is always better to have more space than you need than to have less.
Sorting Out Your Toolbox
After deciding on what sort of tools you are keeping and what toolbox is best to store them in, it’s time to carefully arrange your selection in your new storage location. Here are a few sorting methods you can try out. There is no singular best one, the key is to find the method or mix of methods that work best for you.
Arrange Like with Like
Just like when you were sorting through the tools to keep and throw away, when arranging your toolbox, you should keep similar tools in the same place.
If your toolbox has tool drawers, then you are in luck. You can sort your tools by using the upper drawers as a socket organizer (since they are small enough to get lost in the pile), then use the middle drawers for wrenches, screwdrivers, chisels and other specialty tools.
The lower drawers should hold your heavier tools because their weight, placed lower rather than up higher, makes the toolbox more stable.
Some of the benefits of this approach to organization are that it makes it much easier when looking for a particular tool and it also lessens the probability of a tool being damaged by a different heavier one. That means, if you keep them in separate drawers, your hammers, for example, won’t break a screwdriver handle by accident.
Sort by Function
While there is no one way to organize a toolbox, you can’t go wrong by putting tools that have the same function in the same place. For example, in one demarcated area, you can keep fasteners like screws, nails, bolts, glues and anything related to binding.
Then, go ahead and keep your hammers in one drawer and your wrenches in another. You can store the tools according to the function they perform.
The main benefit of sorting your tools like this is that once you know what function you want a tool to perform, you know exactly where to look to get that tool.
Sort by Frequency
You can also sort your toolbox by the frequency of a given tool’s use. This means that when you organize your toolbox, you should put that hammer you use the most right in front where you can easily reach it. Likewise, the tools that get the least usage can go toward the back.
This sorting type is beneficial in the sense that it is harder for the tools to get mixed up or lost and so you won’t need to improvise a tool for a use when you can just pick out the correct tool, especially if it is a tool that you use more frequently than others.
Sort by Project
Another great way to organize your toolbox is to sort your tools by the project. This means that you group tools together depending on the project that you’re working with at that time. If you specialize in common projects often enough that require a set of tools to be used together, then you can simply store those tools together.
For instance, if for a particular project you always use your screwdrivers and your power drills, then store them in the same cabinet or drawers. In this way, the next time you embark on that project, your tools are organized in a way that lets you start off as soon as you need to.
The main benefit of this sorting style is that the sorting groups are highly specific and tailored to their own specific projects, which make for easier tool retrieval and faster work completion.
Sort by Standard or Metric Measurements
Depending on the manufacturer of your tools, they can come to you with different standards of measurement, like the standard and metric measurements. This can quickly cause confusion and mistakes if they are mixed together.
Thus, you should separate them according to their standards of measurements and store them accordingly. You benefit from this arrangement style by making sure that your tools are accurate across the board and there is little chance of using the wrong tool for a particular function.
A sure-fire way for you to organize your toolbox is to label every drawer or compartment with the name of the tools being kept there. You can use words or images for your labelling. The benefit of this method is that you are sure of the content of each compartment or drawer and tool retrieval is fast and easy.
- Hang Up The Duplicates: If you are the type of person who likes to have spare tools in case you lose or damage one, or if you like to have extras so you can share with others, then you may not have to sell, donate or give away your duplicate tools.
However, you still need to properly organize them so as to maintain the order you have created with your organized toolbox. One thing you can do is to attach pegs to your walls and hang up the duplicate tools, this way they are always in your sight and you can easily see which ones you need.
- Use drawer organizers: in any hardware store or home interior decoration shop, you can buy drawer organizers for cheap. These useful little tools can be used to organize your miscellaneous tools.
These are mostly for knick knacks like tiny screws or other small items. If you cannot find an organizer at a store, you can repurpose an old milk jug or any jar or lidded container and use them as storage for these small items.
Maintaining an Organized Toolbox
Arrange Your Loose Tools with Rails
When it comes to wrenches, if you leave them lying around unorganized in your toolbox they will not only jumble themselves in a confusing mix of sizes, they will also rattle loudly every single time you move your toolbox around.
To avoid this jumble, you can purchase wrench rails from a hardware store near you. They do not have to be overly expensive, so long as they do the job of keeping your wrenches in order.
You may use the wrench rails to arrange your wrenches from largest to smallest. This way you can see all your wrenches at a glance and select the ones you want to use quickly.
If you cannot get your hands on a wrench rail, you can use a strip of old cloth or a rag to tie your wrenches together. You could also put them in a small sack for your portable toolbox. That way they will not mix with other tools and they will also not rattle while on the go.
If you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own DIY wrench organizers as well as socket organizers at home out of foam. All you need to do is:
- Get a layer of dense foam from any hardware or craft store
- Cut the foam into a size that will fit into the toolbox or drawer of your choice
- Then you sketch the outline of the wrenches you wish to store onto a piece of paper
- Then cut those shapes out of the foam with a craft knife or blade
- Voila! Perfectly-shaped spaces for your wrenches to lay flat and organized
Keep It Clean!
It is very difficult to keep a messy or dirty toolbox organized and arranged. It is very important to make sure that the toolbox is kept clean and orderly at all times. So how do you keep a toolbox clean? Here are a few tips:
1. Have Some Acetone on Hand
When it is time to clean the toolbox itself, acetone is a great way to cut through any thick grease and oils that may have settled in the box. Just soak a rag with some acetone (wear gloves!) and wipe down the box until it is satisfactorily cleaned.
2. Clean Your Tools!
Your tools work for you and you should also work to take care of them to extend their lifespan. After a couple of uses, take your tools out and clean them. Wipe off any oils or water to avoid rust buildup, which could damage your tools completely. Cleaning your tools regularly also has the added benefit of keeping your toolbox clean longer. Clean tools won’t drip oil or other dirty things into your toolbox.
3. Soak Up the Grease.
Instead of waiting for oil, grease, and other dirty components to build up in your toolbox, you can prevent that from happening. If your tools are the type to be perpetually dirty with oil and grease, just line the bottom of your portable toolbox with cardboard paper.
The cardboard will absorb the oil and grease. Using this method will also make sure that the dirty liquids do not leak out of your box while you carry it around.
Now that you have all the tips on how to organize a toolbox, the only thing left to do is to mix them all together and find the best combination of methods that works for you.
Remember that there is no wrong way to organize a toolbox as long as the arrangement optimizes your work and allows you to access your tools easily.
The tips you need to remember are: first get all your tools out, sort them into the ones you want to keep using and the ones you want to give away or get rid of.
Then you need to decide which of the tools are the most essential to your needs and choose a storage location most appropriate for them. You also need to pick the right toolbox for your work; the material the toolbox is made from matters!
Also, a toolbox with more space than you need is better than a toolbox with less space. Don’t try to fit 10 pounds of tools into an eight-pound bag.
When you’ve chosen the perfect toolbox for you, think of how you want to organize your tools in it. You can arrange them by type, function, size, frequency of use, project, or standard of measurement. You can also use drawer organizers or repurpose small jars and jugs to store any miscellaneous items
Tools that are well taken care of will last longer and maintain their sturdiness, so clean your tools and toolboxes regularly. Doing this will also make sure that your toolbox is easy to maintain in its organized state.
Once you take the tips above and apply them, not only will you be able to organize a toolbox that meets all of your project needs, you will also be able to maintain it making your work easier and faster.