When it comes to toolboxes and tool carts, techs seem to be saying the same thing: They want quality, usable space and durability. As far as colors and graphic schemes, they aren’t terribly interested. Except for those who are already brand-centric in all their tool buying, few care about a toolbox’s brand if it is well-built and sturdy.
A lot of techs said the cost of many toolboxes has gotten to the point that they are more interested in keeping a good relationship with their wives than buying an over-the-top setup.
“I look for decent quality,” said tech Michael Gould. “The largest cubic inches available and a range of different drawer depths, and widths.
“And the cost must be less than the cost of the last truck I purchased. Anything more and my wife would require it to have a bed and a bath. I don’t require or like special paint jobs, or limited-run specials.”
Other techs agree with Gould’s no-nonsense approach to storing tools.
“I look for features, a decent size, with access to high-use tools,” said Chris Hanrahan. “Paint should be durable, and able to be cleaned easily. Some of today’s boxes have great features, but lack some needed increases in hutch height, accessory availability, etc. … Limited-run specials and custom paint is okay, if you’re into that.
“Cost is a major factor … if a second mortgage is required, I’ll be living in the box, not at home.”
Tech Conrad Stutzman likes a range of options, but also does not want to pay too much.
“Good quality craftsmanship [is important], with strong casters for moveable boxes. A range of drawer heights would enable one to arrange tools in a professional [manner] with ease-of-sight inventory.
“While I don’t mind paying for quality,
I should not have to take out a second loan on my house.”
Shop owner Mike Steptoe thinks that quality is leveling out among the major toolbox manufacturers, and is looking at price with his next purchase.
“They’ve all stepped up in quality. I’m looking for the best deal on the amount of space I need. Graphics are not a big deal for me, all it’s got to do is hold my tools.
“I see a toolbox as a poor investment.” Steptoe sees the toolbox like a car — it’s a consumable that does not go up in value, so it’s best to get the best deal you can on one you can best use every day.
Tech Jeffrey Zack adds that he doesn’t want to think about his toolbox.
“After 35 years, I don’t go for special colors, or any of those cheesy stick-on graphics. For me it is more important to never have to think about my boxes, or worry about putting a scratch in them. I look for build quality, drawer and bin layout, ease of maintenance, and last but not least, trade-in value.”
Tech Steve Linsky looks at service as well.
“I want quality and future service if a problem arises; price is also a consideration.
“Do you really need a $10,000 box with a racecar on it? Do I want my wife to talk to me after I buy it?”
“I look for quality … roller-bearing slides and durable paint that can be easily cleaned are important,” said tech David Daresi.
Tech Robert Sherwood agreed on the durability being key, and also wants “prompt attention” after he’s bought his box if an issue arises.
Dan Luttrell has a few tips for distributors servicing heavy equipment shops.
“I usually have more in a drawer than I should have … our tools are bigger. [I need] heavy-duty construction in a toolbox to carry more than it is designed to. So build them tough for max capacity.
“It doesn’t have to have many different colors and offer stereos or TVs for a working technician. Just build them big enough with strong drawers and strong security locks.”
Tech Mark Sumrell is looking for lots of space and quality features, right down to the construction.
“The box needs to be at least 24” or deeper, and 54” or wider. It needs to roll well and have a very good locking system. It should have a lot of square inches — and still have most drawers over 2’ deep. The wider the drawers the better, and they must stay closed without locking. … It needs a locker for diagnostic equipment and computer.”
Most importantly, he seeks a rigid frame that will not flex.
Tech Todd Osborne seems to sum it up for most techs:
“Quality should be the first priority. Ball-bearing drawer slides are a must, and a variance of drawer heights makes it easy to maximize space and keep things organized.
“Each compartment should have a finger lock or detent so unopened drawers stay that way. It should have a nice locking system that doesn’t need to be twisted or rattled to work.
“Quality casters with locks are nice, especially if you’re working in a large shop with other people and need to be mobile.”
So when you’re in the shop and talking toolboxes, most techs say they want to hear about quality foremost. Follow that up with a discussion on maxxed usable space and easy maintenance and you should be better than halfway to your next toolbox sale.