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How To Organize a Tool Box so You Can Always Find What You Need

Spare yourself future headaches by finally organizing your tool box.

<p>MirageC/Getty Images</p>

MirageC/Getty Images

Whether you’re an occasional handy person or consistently reaching for your tool box, a cluttered and disorganized kit is a recipe for frustration. Not only does it ensure quick access to whatever you may need in a moment—even in an urgent situation—but it helps you keep track of what you own and what items you could add to your box.

“The best way to complete a ‘to do’ list is to have your ‘to do’ tools organized and easily accessible,” says Wendy Trunz, a lead organizing expert at Jane's Addiction Organization. “It can be so overwhelming when you just need a specific tool, nail, screw or hook to complete a project and you don’t even know where to look, or your tool area is just too messy to go through. Many times, it can even cause you to quit before you even start.”

Sound familiar? This is your sign to finally organize that tool box. Just follow these simple steps.

Related: The 10 Best Tool Kits of 2023

Step 1: Empty Out Your Tool Box

The first step in organizing a tool box is to get a better idea of everything you own. This means emptying out your current tool box and/or any extra bags or boxes of tools, Trunz says. Lay everything out on the ground so it’s easy to see.

Step 2: Get Rid of Items

With everything laid out in front of you, it’s time to make some edits. Trunz says to get rid of the following items:

  • Broken tools

  • Multiples of items

  • Excess of items (like screws or nails)

  • Rusted items that can’t be restored

  • Dull or worn out tools and accessories

  • Tools you don’t use or foresee yourself using within the next year

“You can donate any multiple items that you no longer need, or use all of your extras to make a second tool bag for another person in your family or second space,” Trunz suggests.

Step 3: Make Note of Missing Items

Now’s a good time to make note of any tools that are missing from your kit. This might include unusable tools you should replace, or items you don’t own but are considered essential in every tool kit checklist. Purchase these items when you’re able.

Items to Keep On-Hand

  • Hammer

  • Philips head screwdriver

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • Wrench

  • Level

  • Needle nose pliers

  • wire cutter

  • Scissors

  • tape

  • Duct tape

  • Utility knife with extra blades

  • Tape measure

  • Rubber Mallet

  • Organized box filled with nails, screws, hooks, hardware,

  • Zip ties

Step 4: Find a Tool Box or Bag You Love

Choose a tool bag, box, or chest that makes sense for your set of tools. Consider whether it needs extra room for a growing collection or extra storage compartments for a more complex collection. “Whichever you choose, make sure there is a place for each item needed as well as an easy way to grab it,” Trunz says.

Some good options include: 

  • Husky Large Mouth Tool Bag with Tool Wall (from $55, Home Depot)

  • Carhartt 18-Inch Molded Base Heavyweight Tool Bag (from $120, Carhartt)

  • Dewalt Tstak II Tool Box With Flexible Platforms for Stacking (from $23, Amazon)

  • Craftsman Portable Ball-Bearing 3-Drawer Red Steel Lockable Tool Box (from $66, Lowes)

  • Gearwrench 3-Drawer Tool Box (from $73, Amazon)

Step 5: Add Additional Organizational Elements

To help keep your tools and accessories sorted, you’ll want to purchase additional organizational elements that fit within your box or box. This includes enclosed compartmentalized boxes for storing nails, screws, and hardware, as well as trays and other inserts.

Trunz says, “Your goal is to have a streamlined, easy access toolbox where you can grab the perfect tool you need to complete the job at hand as quickly as possible.”

Step 6: Label Everything

Use a label to mark where each item goes in your bag or box. This simple step will keep your tool box organized for the long-term. “I also recommend putting your name on each tool so that it gets returned to your toolbox,” Trunz says. “Many people love borrowing our tools so it’s important to get them returned to their place so we are always equipped for the next job.”

Related: The 3 Best Ways to Organize Your Tools

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