Get Organized: Best Tool Chests For Pros And Joes
If you’ve ever worked with tools, you know how vitally important it is to have the best tool storage. The best tool chests give you the strongest chance for success, whether you’re in the garage or on the job site.
There’s nothing worse than slopping your tools around all over the place, spreading them out on the floor or across random surfaces. Trust me — I’ve done this a lot of times. And each time I’ve done it, the same thing happens at least once: I pace around my disheveled work site, scanning the panoply for something like a wrench, that I need for the task of turning one screw.
You know the feeling. You start out puzzled, then the antipathy slowly takes over. At first, frustration seeps in. Then you start to get physically dizzy from rapid eye movement and circular prowling. Finally, rage takes over and you start hurling either objects or expletives. If you don’t find the thing, you’re not long for a derailed project, a cleanup effort, and a cool-down beer that it’s still way too early for.
Instead, find the best tool cabinet for you in our lineup. The right tool chest and tool chest organizer system can help you keep everything straight during the rigors of the job at hand. The top-rated tool chests are here, and so are some value entries and everything in between.
So, take stock of your tools, and take a deep, satisfying breath in the dawning realization that today, it’s not tantrum time — it’s tool time.
- Best Value Tool Chest: Craftsman 26” Rolling Tool Chest with Drawer Liner Roll
- Best Tool Chest for the Garage: WEN Garage Glider Tool Chest
- Cheapest Rolling Tool Chest: Keter Plastic Tool Chest
- Best Portable Tool Chest: TANKSTORM Tool Chest
- Most Dependable Basic Tool Chest: Craftsman 26” 5-Drawer Top Tool Chest
- Best Overall Large Tool Chest: Craftsman Heavy Duty 26” Rolling Tool Chest
The Best Tool Chest
1Craftsman 26” Rolling Tool Chest with Drawer Liner Roll
Craftsman’s 26” tool chest on wheels is a popular choice from a trusted brand at a good price point. What more could you want? How about a 500 lb. load capacity, full-extension ball-bearing drawer slides, and a roll of drawer liner.
The 73 lb. chest sits on 4”x2” casters so you can wheel it around your garage with ease. Well, relative ease — if you max out each drawer’s 50 lb. capacity and load it up with 500 lbs. of tools, you might break a sweat pushing it.
The drawers are secured with full-extension ball-bearing slides, so you can fully access every inch of space. Deep drawers at the bottom hold bigger tools like drills and circular saws, shallower ones up top hold hand tools. No worries if you take the Craftsman to the job site, either; the cabinet locks to keep your kit safe.
Now, what about the negatives? The steel is 20-24 gauge, which probably means thicker 20ga on the drawer bottoms and top shelf, and 24ga on the sidewalls and posts. For the best durability, you’d want closer to 16-20. And some users report light-duty hubs on the casters. But you can always beat it up for 3 years and see if it breaks; that’s how long Craftsman’s limited warranty lasts.
For the money, the Craftsman 26” looks like one of the best rolling tool cabinets. It’s got a layout that promises versatility, and a solid brand reputation behind it. Beware if you need something super heavy-duty or tend to abuse your tools.
1 shallow drawer, 3 deep drawers
500 lb. weight capacity
- Weight73 lbs.
- Dimensions26.5 x 18 x 32 inches
Priced well for the functionality
Solid weight capacity
Somewhat light-duty steel
Some users report fragile casters
2WEN Garage Glider Tool Chest
The WEN Garage Glider is a fun unit with magnetic fold-down wings to help you stay organized while you’ve got your head down in a job. A flap on the back with drop-throughs for hand tools is another nice touch and good use of the otherwise empty space. And the vinyl pad on the top can help make any job you feel like performing lazily (read: all of them) that much more comfortable.
With drawers just over a foot wide, space in the 27-lb. WEN is a little tight. Each drawer is also a scant 2.25” deep and 7.75” long. “Measure twice” before you decide on the WEN — in this case, you’ll want to measure your tools themselves.
But the drop-through storage on the back accommodates plenty of tools with 16 slots. And the magnetic trays will cut down on skittering, loose nuts and bolts. It promises to be fairly sturdy for its size, too, with a 350 lb. capacity.
With its tight size, easy portability, magnetic shelves, and comfortable seat, I would want the WEN for mechanic work. Wheeling it around the garage should be a breeze, and its features turn it into a compact portable workbench as well as a stool.
Fold-down magnetic shelves
16-slot organizer on the back
Vinyl seat cushion
- Weight27.2 pounds
- DimensionsDimensions: 16.5 x 27 x 16 inches
Magnetic shelves and organizer help secure tools and hardware
Easy to maneuver
Comfy sitting surface
A bit small
No variation in drawer size
3Keter Plastic Tool Chest
I didn’t know they made plastic tool chests — I’d never seen one before, and the only people I knew who even used plastic toolboxes were kids or people who never used tools.
But where there’s a product category, there’s plastic, and Keter obliges with its rolling plastic tool chest. A set of modular plastic bins on plastic wheels (metal hubs), supposedly meant to store heavy metal objects. I’m gonna come right out and say it: it seems like a bad idea. I just can’t see myself not destroying it.
Then again, not everybody’s as hard on their gear as me. With realistic expectations, a plastic tool chest could work. Overloading it seems like a death sentence; the product lists no load capacity, and the 2’ x 2’ object only weighs 23 lbs. Not only that, but the drawers don’t have slides. Without those, you’re essentially dragging the weight of the drawer against the cabinet.
It does come with a lot of organizers and subordinate storage bins. To me, it all adds up to look like a handy organizing system for lightweight odds and ends like electrical tools and hardware or PVC materials. But for anything beefier than that, we advise you call in the heavies.
Made from plastic
5 drawers, 16 removable trays
- ModelRolling Tool Chest with Storage
- Weight23.6 pounds
- Dimensions22.13 x 11.38 x 19.76 inches
Easy to move
No way it can handle much load weight
Probably easy to break. Then again, may be repairable with duct tape!
4TANKSTORM Tool Chest
Don’t laugh and skip this! The name made me snort, too. But reviews are highly positive, the price point is on the upper end of reasonable, and TANKSTORM looks to have delivered a solid product.
The portable chest has four (or three, in the smaller model) drawers and a flip-up lid mounted with a full-width piano hinge. The top tray under the lid is your storage for bigger tools like cordless drills and socket sets. And the cold-rolled steel shell is powder coated to resist rust and chemical intrusion.
The brand says it’s updated the chest to include ball-bearing slides, which would be key. They’re not the most high-capacity drawers, at 12 lbs. of load each. But they’re also not that big — the box itself is 20” long and under 9” deep.
That makes it a good candidate for a portable option. It would be a heavy carry at almost 25 lbs., but unless you’re moving it every day it would be manageable. And the three-drawer option adds a lock for job site security.
The only common QC issues seem to concern the handle. It can be a little hit and miss, but the majority of users are satisfied. And if you do the math, loading it to full capacity would make it hard to pick up with one hand anyway; four drawers at 12 lbs. each, 15 lbs. in the top compartment, and a 25-lb. empty unit equals 88 lbs. The handle is plastic; realistic expectations are almost always your friend.
63 lb. capacity
Ball bearing slides
Piano hinged top compartment
- Weight24.8 pounds
- Dimensions20.6 x 8.5 x 14.2 inches
Lots of space for a pretty small footprint
Powder coated steel for durability
A bit heavy for a plastic handle
No lock on 4-drawer size
5Craftsman 26” 5-Drawer Top Tool Chest
Craftsman’s 26” five-drawer tool chest is a straightforward choice that’s big enough to hold a lot of tools on its own but easy to add on to an existing setup. The unadorned box has five drawers including a deeper bottom drawer, plus a top tray with a hinged lid and incut handles on the sides.
The lockable cabinet is made with 20–24-gauge steel and it’s a robust 28” wide by 20” tall. The drawers’ interior dimensions are substantial: 10”x24”, with the shallow ones at 1.5” and the deep one at 3.5”. With ball-bearing slides, they each hold 50 lbs.
There’s not much to say about the Craftsman box, which is just how the brand likes it. 3,589 cubic inches of storage space will give most home DIY types plenty of room. Alternatively, it would be a good unit to place on top of a bigger rolling toolbox.
5 drawer setup
- Weight40.9 pounds
- Dimensions28.25 x 20 x 14 inches
Lots of interior space
Easy to add to a bigger unit
Some reviewers note not as robust as old Craftsman boxes
6Craftsman Heavy Duty 26” Rolling Tool Chest
Sometimes, you just can’t beat the original. And that’s the case with the Craftsman CMST82769RB, its signature rolling tool chest. It’s a similar rig to the cheaper, lighter-duty roller but it’s built beefier and has more capacity.
To start, it’s built with 18-20-gauge steel and I-frame construction. That gives it a lot of rigidity against bumps, tool drops, and any other common shop hazards. Each drawer can hold a bruising 100 lbs., but the soft-close slides make easy work of operating them. You’ve also got plenty of drawer options, with four different sizes including a deep bottom drawer for the biggest tools.
In all, the big rig can hold 1,500 lbs. of tools. It won’t buckle under the pressure, either: 5” x 2” locking metal casters with solid rubber tires keep it steady but still mobile.
Of course, this box locks for security. Craftsman gets that if you’re the type that needs it, you depend on your tools every day. Losing any piece of your kit is not an option. A rubber mat on the top keeps the tools you’re using handy and in place. And stacking another 26”-or-narrower chest on top of it is no problem.
What else do you need? How about a roll of drawer liner and a paper towel holder? Craftsman includes them, along with its 10-year limited warranty, because why not.
And for more top-quality storage options like this, check out our selection of the best tool bags.
1,500 lbs. load capacity
18–20-gauge steel construction
4 different sized drawers
- Weight117 pounds
- Dimensions26.5 x 18 x 37.5 inches
Plenty of storage options and capacity
Can get heavy!
Why Trust Us
Every DIYer needs a top tool chest, and we’re no different. To optimize our time in the field and at home, our team of gear experts and vagabonds needs the best tool storage. We know that sticky drawers or inadequate space can stop a project in its tracks, so we’ve done our diligence to find the tool chests that work for us.
Who This is For
Anyone can use a solid tool chest. Whether you keep it in your two-car garage or your hall closet, an organized tool kit is key to productivity. If you prefer a portable tool chest or a big, substantial tool cabinet, it’s here.
How We Picked
Finding the best tool chests meant scuttling a broad selection. Diversity in performance came first because the best tool for the job depends on the job at hand. We also understood a need to cater to different space requirements — notice how everybody’s garage always seems either more or less cluttered than yours? Tool chests need to fit into a broad spectrum of nooks and crannies.
Features To Look for In Tool Chests
Size — Really, the size of your tool kit should determine the size of your tool chest. You’d need either a very, very big, strong person or a solid vehicle to move the biggest tool chests. But smaller versions are easily portable.
Storage — Options are your friend when staying organized is key. Drawers should come in a variety of depths and sizes so you can keep everything in its place, no matter what you’ve got.
Security — It’s always good to be able to lock your tool chest. The best tool chest for the garage may not have a lock, because, well, you can always lock your house. But if you work out of a tool chest on the job site, you obviously want a lock.
Wheels — A rolling tool chest can work wonders, especially if you change configurations in your space a lot. Generally, the wheels lock for stability once you’ve got it in place.
Steel thickness — From experience, you’ll want pretty heavy gauge steel for your tool chest. It can help with security because obviously, it’s harder to get through thicker steel. But the bigger reason is for durability: you don’t want your rig to come apart from everyday events like slammed drawers or dropped tools.
Versatility — There’s a matrix of functions at work here. The obvious is that a bigger chest can hold more tools but is hard to move (opposite for a small chest). Wheels can help you move a bigger tool chest around.
Also look at the configuration, relative to your tool kit. If you have a bijillion tiny items like wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers, you might want a tool chest with a bijillion tiny drawers. Not so if you have power drills, circular saws, torque wrenches, etc.
Slide type — IMPORTANT! If you’re going to load down your drawers with a lot of weight, you’ll be far better off with ball-bearing drawer slides. It’s the difference between mechanical advantage and what amounts to dragging a weight across a flat surface.
Also, check to see if slides are full extension (no portion of drawer still inside the cabinet when open) or soft-close (good for peace of mind).
Locking — It’s a simple concept, and yet almost everyone I know who’s worked with tools has gotten burned by it: if you leave your tools on the job site outside work hours, protect them with a lock. I can’t stress it enough: loose tools attract sticky fingers like honey draws bears.
No matter how attached you are to your tools, it’s never a good feeling when they disappear. Get a solid toolbox with a substantial lock.
Additional features — Most tool chests are pretty straightforward; apart from size and capacity, the biggest variation is whether they roll or lock. But some do have folding trays, magnetic components, or come with accessories like removable trays or rubber drawer liners.
Tool Chest FAQ
Q: What is the difference between a tool chest and toolbox?
A: Generally, tool chests open from the front, with drawers and sometimes doors. They’re usually designed to stay in one spot. Toolboxes are more portable as a general rule, and open with a lid on top. Wooden tool chests are a good option for anyone with a nostalgic approach, or those who simply prefer natural fibers.
Q: How do I protect my tools from hitting each other in the drawers?
A: Throw down a grippy base, like a thin rubber mat or even the gridded rubber you put in cabinets. That’ll tamp down the clattering from tools with round handles. Sometimes, brands include removable bins or rubber drawer liners with their products.
And if you’re really serious about it, you can put in drawer dividers or a tray insert like this one from Husky.
Q: How can I save my tools from rust when stored in the tool chest?
A: 1) Never put your tools away dirty or wet.
2) For long-term storage, you can wrap them in a cloth sprayed with rust inhibitor, like WD-40.
3) Invest in a dehumidifier.
4) Use silica gel packs (I can only recommend this as a last resort — those things are environmentally toxic as hell).
Q: What is the maximum product weight?
A: The maximum weight capacity of a specific tool chest — at least one that’s worth buying — is available in the specifications.
Q: Do I need to purchase anything else with the tool chest?
A: Generally, no. If you get a big one, you should probably make sure you have a way to place it where you want it. Furniture dolly? Forklift? Professional powerlifter? Up to you.
- How to Organize Tools - How Stuff Works
- How to Organize a Toolbox - wikiHow
- Organize And Clean Your Toolbox - Almanac