Big-Time Boxes: Mahogany cabinet personalizes the box

May 8, 2014
Austin, TX municipal garage technician designs a cabinet for the top of his toolbox.

OWNER: Don Sutton

Municipal Garage

Austin, TX

When it comes to toolboxes, Don Sutton is particular. A lifelong technician, he long ago learned that a toolbox has to be strong to carry the large number of tools that he needs. Today, he is the lead technician at a municipal garage for the city of Austin, Texas, and the proud owner of a 72” by 30” by 48” Mountain toolbox on wheels with a custom-designed, mahogany cabinet. He estimates he has $65,000 worth of tools in the big blue box.

Sutton, 52, got his first toolbox when he was a 10-year-old working for his father’s shop in Oakland, CA. “I grew up doing it all my life,” he says.

Following military service, he returned to the family shop where he resumed his role as a full-time technician. He left the business when his parents retired in 1994. He went to work for a truck shop in Austin, TX. One day, he was overseeing a forklift repair at the city service center when the manager there offered him a job with the city. He gladly accepted the position and he has worked his way up to lead technician.

When he went to work for the city, Sutton was using what he describes as a “medium size” box. He placed some smaller boxes on the sides and on the top of the box to accommodate his growing tool arsenal. But after about seven years, that box was no longer large enough for all of his tools.

One day, Sutton noticed the Mountain toolbox on Bob Flynn’s truck. Flynn operates Lone Star Tools, an independent tool distribution business that serves the Austin area. “I liked it because it was real wide,” Sutton says of the Mountain toolbox.

After installing the Mountain toolbox in his work station, Sutton designed a cabinet to go on top of the toolbox to give additional storage space. He hired a friend who is a carpenter to build the cabinet from mahogany. His friend advised him that mahogany is one of the more expensive woods to use, but it is stronger than other types of wood.

The drawers in the toolbox house ¾” drive sets up to 3” wrenches. One drawer is for 3/8” sockets. “You don’t realize how much is in my toolbox,” he says.

He places taps, dies, calipers, dial indicators, diamond head drill bits and diamond heads in the wood cabinet drawers.

He built a pair of stereo speakers into the wood cabinet, which houses a radio.

On top of the main toolbox below the wood cabinet is an open area with a pegboard display. Sutton placed a mini Homak toolbox in the open space to add even more storage space. The Homak mini toolbox has same shade of blue as the main Mountain box.

Decorating the front of the cabinet is a black and white photo of Sutton’s 1965 Volkswagen, along with some iron-on character illustrations that he removed from t-shirts he had as a teenager that he enlarged with a printer and mounted on paper.

Sutton has learned that a toolbox doesn’t need to be extremely expensive to provide good quality and meet his need for storing a large number of tools.

(Editor's Note: Mountain has upgraded the toolbox model shown in this article. The part number for the new series is MTNTBR8120BA.)

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