What About Big Tool Boxes?
The time comes to us all when the little plastic tool box we got when we got our first apartment – or when we realized we’d have to own tools to live in our first apartment – just isn’t enough. We need more, and now that we have a little money in our pocket (let me dream), it’s time to invest in a really big tool box.
But where do you start? You can’t just run out and buy the first big tool box you see in a Black Friday ad. Some of those things are really expensive, and you’d feel foolish if you bought the wrong one. So, let’s explore big tool boxes generally, and how to make a good purchasing decision.
Spoiler – we’re going to advise you to buy one of ours.
What are big tool boxes called?
This is probably the first important question. You can’t just walk into the hardware store and say ‘show me your big tool boxes’. You have to at least know the lingo! And if you just Google “big tool boxes,” well, you end up reading this. There are several different kinds of big tool boxes, and we’ll explore the most common types.
If you were to ask the hardware store employee “What are those big tool boxes on wheels?” or “I’m looking for big mechanic tool boxes,” for example, they would tell you all about combination tool chests and tool cabinets. You’d get to the same place asking for “big roll around tool boxes” as well, but you might risk an eye roll or a condescending smile. Now you don’t have to take that chance.
Combination Tool Chests
These are what 9 out of 10 people think of as “big tool boxes.” They are indeed the tool boxes you see your mechanic using, and they are the standard for professionals of all kinds who occasionally need to move their tools around the shop floor. You can also use them to wheel your tools from the garage into the driveway if the car can’t make the last 15 feet or so. You might also see these being called “combo boxes” or “combo units.”
These big tool boxes are called combination tool chests because they come in 2-3 pieces.
- The bottom piece is called a roller cabinet or a bottom box. It has several drawers for organizing your heavier tools, and typically 4 caster-style wheels on the bottom. It has a hard, flat top which does not open.
- The top part is generally referred to as a top box. It also sports several drawers, but has a hinged lid on top. It sits on the roller cabinet or on a middle box and can be rolled into place that way or lifted off to be used separately. Top boxes often have a handle at the top for this purpose.
- In between the top box and the bottom box you will sometimes find one or more middle boxes, or intermediate cabinets. This is really just a bottom box without wheels.
- Sometimes, you’ll find side cabinets as well. These attach to one or both sides of the bottom and top boxes, giving you extra capacity without extra height.
Big tool boxes on wheels
“No,” I hear a few of you saying. “Not the ones on casters. I mean the NASCAR ones.”
The big tool boxes on 2 wheels which you maneuver into place like wheeled luggage are properly called pit boxes. They are indeed often used by NASCAR and other pit crews, and are a good way to get a heavy set of tools into position fast. However, most non-pit-crew tool use situations can usually wait an extra 30 seconds for you to get a roller cabinet into place.
The real attraction of the pit box variety of big tool boxes is that it isn’t strictly limited to very flat, very even surfaces like a combo box is. Because its wheels are larger and more rugged, they can handle a bumpy drive easily. They generally perform well even on gravel or grass, if the lawn is smooth enough. Because there are only 2 wheels, you can park a pit box in place with a hard surface on the ground. That means you won’t be chasing it down a gently sloped driveway. As an extra advantage, the wheels only work in one plane. That means even if it does go sliding, it will do so more predictably.
A pit box style big tool box is a good choice if you have a fair number of heavy tools, gear or equipment that you expect to need to move around manually on a regular basis, but not on a smooth shop floor. If you need even more mobility, you’re probably looking for a truck-mounted tool box. We’ll talk about them later.
Can tool boxes be too big?
Definitely. A big tool box should have room for all the tools you’re likely to need at once, plus a little extra. Arguably, even a half-full tool box isn’t necessarily “too big,” especially if you plan on building up your tool collection over time. Better to buy a big tool box once than to buy one that you outgrow quickly and then buy a big one.
Another thing that might make a big tool box feel too big is a lack of internal divisions. If it is just one big hollow space inside, your tools or equipment could easily just rattle around. That won’t do them any good, and it could even damage the tool box. A larger space can be tamed with movable divisions, drawers, or even smaller tool boxes that fit inside the big tool box.
This keeps smaller sets of tools protected and organized, and lets you use the leftover space for bulkier cargo.
Are cheap big tool boxes any good?
Well… they can be. But the less you spend, the more you have to be careful that the big tool box you choose is actually suited to the use you intend for it. If all you really need is a wheeled suitcase, then just about any pit box will do. In fact, if you need a large, unobstructed internal space, you might be better off with a cheap model.
However, if you plan on trying to organize a lot of tiny parts, if you need to store heavy and/or delicate tools, or if you need to move it around in difficult conditions, you will probably be disappointed with a cheap big tool box.
Most importantly, don’t trust a cheap big tool box to stop a determined thief from stealing your tools.
Are plastic big tool boxes any good?
Generally, yes. “Plastic” doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap trash” anymore. While you can still buy some very cheap plastic tool boxes, most plastic big tool boxes of quality are made of high-impact resin, which can really take a beating.
Better still, because high-impact resin can be cast into virtually any shape, it is easy to make a completely watertight big tool box out of it.
DECKED makes some very nice big plastic tool boxes. In fact, the DECKED Tool Box is mostly high-density resin with galvanized steel and aluminum reinforcement. It is strong enough to last a lifetime under reasonable conditions, and incredibly secure. It should be, though. We didn’t just re-enforce the locking mechanism. We armored it.
Big tool boxes for trucks
Now, DECKED knows truck big tool boxes. This is literally our specialty. What you see here is the DECKED Drawer System as it would be installed in a relatively small-bed pickup truck or SUV. The DECKED Full-Bed Length Drawer System is much bigger.
This system really is “the best of the best” when it comes to mobile big tool box technology. It offers some very important advantages over just about anything else you can buy today. Just for starters:
- The DECKED Drawer System is made of the strongest high-impact resin plastics, containing a sizable percentage of recycled material. It is also reinforced with steel and aluminum where they will do the most good.
- Both the drawers and the “ammo can” hatches are heavily weather resistant. They aren’t suitable for use underwater or anything, but neither are most trucks.
- The total capacity of the system is a whopping 2,000 pounds. Better still, the drawers open smoothly and safely even when fully loaded.
- All DECKED tool boxes are made in the USA. In fact, our factory is in Ohio.
- Each DECKED Tool Box and DECKED Drawer System is made specifically to fit in a different set of trucks. We have a DECKED system for just about every popular pick-up truck or SUV driven in the US today, so check our website to make sure we have exactly what you need.
Besides, with all that extra cargo capacity, you’ll be able to do a lot more with your truck.
Big DECKED Tool Boxes
Even if you don’t need something quite as large as the DECKED Drawer System or the truck-bed mounted DECKED Tool Box, we have you covered.
The DECKED Crossbox and DECKED D-Box both offer a great deal of space, as well as sturdy high-impact resin construction and a weatherproof seal. They are perfect for use as big tool boxes, of course, but they are also popular for moving and storing camping gear, fishing tackle, arts and crafts supplies, medical gear and even make-up and cosmetology accessories.
Both the DECKED Crossbox and the DECKED D-Box fit snugly and securely in the DECKED Toolbox and the DECKED Drawer System, but as you can see, they are just as useful as stand-alone tool boxes.
But surely, there are other brands of big tool boxes…
Yes, indeed there are. Some of them are actually very solid choices, too. We honestly believe that DECKED’s big toolboxes are the best of the best at what they do – otherwise we would have made them differently – but no one big tool box can be perfect for every owner or for every kind of use.
- Harbor Freight big tool boxes are very good for what they are
- Sears big tool boxes are generally inexpensive, and have a reputation for being good value for money
- Some people swear by Waterloo big tool boxes, and not without reason
- We’ve also heard very good things about Napa Big Dawg tool boxes, despite the name
- Big Snap On tool boxes… or should that be “big Snap-On tool boxes”… have also gotten good reviews in specific areas.
So now you know what to say when shopping for a big tool box, and you should at least have some idea what you might need. Whether you do become part of DECKED’s growing customer base or not, we hope you had a good time reading this article. If you do have any further questions, please contact us via our website. We are really enthusiastic about our products – big tool boxes and otherwise. We’d love to talk to you about them.