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How to Organize Tools in a Tool Chest

It has happened to the best of us: you’re working on a repair job or a DIY, but you can’t seem to find that one tool in your tool chest needed for the job. While some people who work on projects regularly prefer to wall-mount their tools, others prefer to have everything arranged in a tool chest.


While there are a few ways you can do this, we prefer using the 5S methodology because it’s easy and fun once you get into the flow of it!


For the sake of everyone’s sanity, here’s how to organize tools in a tool chest. Let’s dive into it!

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Here’s What You’ll Need

Before you get your hands dirty, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Around 30 to 45 minutes of free time.
  • A white sheet of cloth.
  • Your tools and tool chest.
  • A cleaning cloth.
  • A bucket of hot water.
  • Commercial cleaner.
  • Wire brush.
  • Foam and a cutter.


Follow the 5S methodology

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned,it’s that the 5S methodology for management is underrated. This methodology comprises of the following steps:

  • Sort
  • Set in order.
  • Shine.
  • Standardize.
  • Sustain


While most of this guide will follow these steps, some specific ones might come in handy when you organize your tool chest.

CRAFTSMAN Tool Cabinet with Drawer Liner Roll & Magnetic Towel Holder, 41-Inch, Rolling, 10 Drawer, Red (CMST82772RB)

1. Sort – Empty the Tool Chest

Lay down the white cloth that you grabbed earlier to act as a surface to easily put your tools without losing the smaller ones. You also reduce the risk of scratching the ground by placing a sheet between it and the tools.


Some of the tools might have broken due to drops, poor storage, or during regular use. If you come across any broken tools in the tool chest, dispose of them since they can damage anything you’re working on and are also a safety risk.


2. Set in Order – Group the Tools

Once you have all the tools lying in front of you, it’s time to put them into groups. Identify what category each tool belongsto andarrange them according to their sub-categories.


For example, all screwdrivers belong to the same category, but Phillips Head and Torx are different sub-categories. Arrange power tools and heavy-duty equipment on one side while keeping smaller tools that you frequently use on the other.


You should label tools so that to make it easy to grab the right one while working. If you’re working with someone who isn’t as aware of the tools’ names, this can be handy when you ask them to give you the tools.


If you have any screws or bolts for specific jobs in your tool chest, ensure that you keep them in a different section.


3. Shine

Keeping your workplace and tools clean is an excellent way to improve workflow and productivity. Clean off grease and dirt from your tools, and if they’re really grimy, you can wash them off. Make sure that you do not do these steps on power tools as they’re only for regular ones:

  • Soak your tools in hot water for a minute.
  • Use a wire brush to scrub the dirt off.
  • Rinse and repeat until the tools are clean.


Preventative maintenance is exceptionally useful for power tools because you can prematurely diagnose problems that can cause potential injuries or property damage.


4. Standardize

Most tool chests have smaller compartments to organize your screws, while you should hang inside the chest by using pegs. Ensure that the pegs are positioned and installed properly to prevent tools from bumping around or falling.


If your tool chest doesn’t come with enough small containers, you might want to consider investing in some to organize different screws, washers, nails, and bolts. Containers are an excellent way of keeping things organized, especially when you label them.


Investing your time in cutting out foam with a cutter in the shape of your tools can greatly improve your organization skills in the long run. The foam also holds your tools in place so that they don’t slide around and bump into the chest walls when you’re relocating the chest for a project.


Here’s how you can prepare foam for your tool chest:

  • Get a large sheet of multi-layered foam and cut it according to the size of your tool chest.
  • Mark the outlines of your tools.
  • Cut along the outlines using a cutter blade or a hot knife.
  • Make sure to make finger holes around the tools’ handles to make it easy to pick them up.
  • Group smaller tools together and alternate handle directions to save space.


5. Sustain

Make a habit of decluttering and rearranging your tool chest as needed because it is important to know how to organize tools. In a tool chest, there are several compartments that you can use to keep everything in order.


By frequently arranging your tool chest, you will know your tools’ condition and which ones you need for future projects. Doing so helps to keep your productivity to a maximum and reduces frustration during work.


6. Additional Things to Consider

If you’re still not able to declutter your tool chest, then you might have too many tools to fit into it. There are two things that you can do to counter the clutter:

  • Get a larger tool chest.
  • Wall mount the larger tools.


While a larger tool chest might not be feasible for everyone to accommodate, you can arrange tools on your wall. Here are some ideas that you can use:

  • Build a tool cabinet and a shelf.
  • Mount baskets on your wall to hold tools, as well as cans of paint and grease.
  • Build a mount on the side of cabinets to hold small tools.
  • Make a shelf for tools that you need to charge after using.


You can get pretty creative with how you organize tools on a shelf, so don’t hold back!


Did You Nail it?

We hope that this blog helps you how to organize tools in a tool chestto get the most out of your workspace. While you can use multiple ways to organize your tool chest, the most cost-effective one is using the 5S methodology.


All you need is some patience and time, but it will be worth it when you see improvements in your productivity!


About Chris

When Chris first bought a house, he quickly realized that he was now going to need to be a weekend handyman. Every project that he worked on, he kept realizing that he needed more and more DIY tools. Chris is also someone who likes to do a lot of research before making large purchases. Since he had already done most of the research, Chris decided to put the info that he accumulated about his favorite daily tools onto