Cool Tools: Portable Tool Storage

By Jeff Griffin | Jan 15, 2018
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Storing supplies and tools on job sites has always been a challenge. Large, portable storage boxes and cabinets are one solution, as are lockable portable cabinets and sturdy boxes. However, these are not a practical solution for individual workers. Over the last few years, there have been significant advances in portable tool carriers that also can serve as job-site storage for personal tools.

Portable storage boxes and cabinets

Greenlee manufactures a wide variety of mobile storage boxes designed to provide durable tool and material storage, said Wayne King, product manager. Greenlee storage boxes are manufactured in Louisville, Ky.

“Piano and chest boxes are good for general items that may require large open storage space,” King said. “Cabinets allow for more organized storage of smaller items. Mobile workbenches are great when a sturdy job-site work surface is required, and the field offices serve foremen well for a work space and blueprint station. Most Greenlee storage boxes have a lock designed to maximize security against cutting or drilling of  padlocks.”

Chests are the most popular style of storage box with electricians because of their wide-open space for storing any type of tool or item, and the size makes these units easier to transport around a job site. Chest boxes have a flat surface when the lid is closed that could be used as a work surface. Greenlee field offices have a slightly slanted work area that can hold a keyboard, laptop or blue prints.

“Greenlee makes different size boxes for each category to fit the needs of customers,” King said. “Traditional job-site storage boxes have been fairly standard. Our current compact field offices are smaller than the old field office to accommodate fitting through standard doorways and allowing easier mobility.”

Greenlee 88060DLX field office storage box


DeWalt’s ToughSystem mobile modular storage system enables users to quickly and easily change the combination of tools he or she takes to work, said Esti Carmeli, DeWalt vice president of hand tools and storage.

“The ToughSystem storage family can be configured to meet individual needs with a variety of options taking workers from the workshop to the job site and includes tool boxes, tote and a job-site radio,” Carmeli said. “When carrying the tool boxes by hand, they can be fastened together utilizing side latches, allowing them to be carried as a stack. The system’s mobile toolbox is compatible with all existing modules of the ToughSystem storage family. The stackable base box has durable 7-inch wheels and a top handle for carrying for portability and mobility. The patented design of the lid opens with a pull-back handle and a non-detachable lid enables full accessibility and maximum storage volume. A metal-plastic telescopic handle and strong handle grip provides great durability for all job sites. It has an IP65-rated dust and water seal, rust-resistant metal latches, and facilitates internal organization of toolbox’s content.”

The system’s workshop racking solution is a modular self-assembly solution compatible with all system modules, allowing workers to store and pull out products quickly and easily. The racking system is fully customizable for a wide array of arrangements and allows the user to add a self-made shelf on top of brackets for additional storing.

“Each racking system can carry up to 440 pounds,” Carmeli said. “It also is available as a combination set including a clear lid organizer so content is visible. Each racking system pack includes: 6-foot metal bars, two horizontal beams, and five pairs of brackets for toolbox and/or shelf.”

DeWalt ToughSystem mobile modular storage system


Modular storage containers are popular for their versatility, said Matt Vargo, product manager, Milwaukee Tool, Brookfield, Wis.

“Not only is modular storage customizable—allowing users to build their own storage system unique to their needs—but it’s also portable,” Vargo said.
Milwaukee recently introduced its Packout modular storage system.

“It is an intuitive and quick attachment mechanism that gives users the freedom to stack and lock tool boxes, organizers and totes of different sizes in numerous configurations that best suit their needs,” he said.

The initial Packout system includes three tool boxes, two organizers and three storage bags.

“Packout is a multi-footprint system that allows boxes, organizers and totes of multiple sizes and configurations to easily stack and lock together,” Vargo said.

Durability is essential for any type of job-site storage.

“Every product needs to be thoughtfully designed to ensure it can withstand harsh job-site environments,” he said. “Milwaukee maximizes durability with premium materials such as 1680D ballistic material, high-impact resistant polymer, and molded bottoms and corners for impact resistance. For example, the base of the Packout system has 9-inch all-terrain wheels with metal through-axles and industrial-grade extension handles. All tool boxes are also constructed with impact resistant polymer and IP65-rated seals to prevent damage from water debris. Users can choose to utilize the different tool boxes, organizers, and totes separately from the system. They easily detach, and each has unique storage features, such as organization trays and various sized pockets.”

Milwaukee Tool’s new modular Packout storage system


Tool storage bags

Greenlee’s Next Generation Storage Bags received a Showstopper Award at the 2017 NECA Convention and Trade Show in Seattle.

“Greenlee rethought the standard tool bag and developed an innovative new line of Next Generation bags,” King said. “The series consists of eight bags in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each one is engineered to reduce strain on the user and withstand wear and tear. In addition, the two backpacks allow for customization with a personalized name patch. The rugged tool bags and carriers can manage heavy loads and harsh work environments. They are constructed from a poly and nylon Ripstop fabric. This method of construction contains any tear that should ensue, maintaining the durability and utilization of the bag. Critical seams that receive stress from weight are reinforced with double and triple stitching to prevent separation. Next Generation bags are lined with a light green interior to increase visibility of bag contents. A durable, hard plastic bottom keeps dirt and water out and allows the bag to stand in an upright position for easy access.”

Greenlee also has developed a crate cover tool organizer.

“The design transforms a standard molded crate into a tool organizer,” King said. “The organizer has 11 universal double-stitched pockets to provide tool storage and organization.”

Greenlee’s tool bag line won a 2017 NECA Showstopper Award


There is a trend for tool carriers that integrate both hard and soft storage.

“Users want storage solutions with the flexibility of soft storage and the durability of hard,” Vargo said. “Our new Ultimate and Low Profile backpacks are good examples of this. They include a hard molded and impact-resistant base that allows the bags to stand up and stay dry, hard-shell electronics and equipment pockets on the Ultimate backpack, dedicated puncture-resistant pockets, and 48 tool and accessory pockets on the Ultimate and 22 on the Low Profile.”

Components of DeWalt’s mobile storage system can be used separately. The ToughSystem Tool Case features organizational elements including four deep, large-size cups for storage of small tools and parts; storage pockets in the lid for screwdrivers and drills; and a padlock eye for extra security.
“The tool case also features an IP65-rated dust and water seal, rust-resistant metal latches, and a durable coated handle,” Carmeli said.

DeWalt operates seven U.S. plants in the United States that manufacture products and accessories with global materials.

Linda Rolfe, senior product manager, Klein Tools, Lincolnshire, Ill., said today’s electricians are using backpacks more frequently to transport their tools easily from one area to the next.

“New backpacks make transporting tools to the job site much easier than before,” Rolfe said. “Professionals can keep their loads balanced and still have their hands free to carry their lunches, hard hats, or any other items they may need. Klein Tools Tradesman Pro line provides electricians with more pockets, open and closed, so that tools stay organized and can be found faster without losing time on the job.”

Klein Tools Tradesman Pro backpack


Klein Tools also offers bags designed with molded bottoms to keep tools safe from outside elements, such as water, gravel and mud. Rolfe said the Tradesman Pro Tough Box Cooler has a flat top that supports up to 300 pounds so that electricians can sit during lunchtime.

“The majority of job sites do not have seating areas,” Rolfe said. “So many times, tradespeople have to scrounge the area for buckets or boxes to use as seats while they eat. With this cooler, they can carry their lunch and have a place to sit all in one handy chest.”

About The Author

GRIFFIN, a construction journalist from Oklahoma City, can be reached at [email protected].





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