Cheap Tool Box Organization




For years I  had to work out of scattered tool boxes housing all of my accumulated tools. I  would end up buying duplicates because i thought I had lost  a tool only to find it in the wrong tool box- silly me.  This last winter I bought a Husky  roll around tool box and started to round up all my way ward tools. I would like to share with you my  storage solution. Please bear with me as I try to make this understandable.

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Step 1:

Step 2: Base Idea

 I bought several 1/2 inch MDF boards from the local Home depot to use as a starting point. My biggest problem was having to dig thru a drawer to find that one tool. So, it  was only fitting that I organize my drawers for different tools. I could have bought an organizer set from Sears for one drawer for 19.00, but, being the cheapskate that i am, I  decided to  go the cheap route. I laid out my  pliers, needle nose and other  in  order from smallest to largest and figured out how many slots i needed.  then I drilled some 1/4 inch  diameter holes to insert wooden dowels. I found that 3/4 inch was a good starting point for tool spread.  this is what I came up with.

Step 3: Easy Socket Drawer

I then went to my  sockets and laid them in order on my work bench and figured out how many spots i needed and  again took the 1/2 MDF and drilled several lines of 1/4 inch holes, 3/8 inch holes/ and 1/2 inch holes to segregate all of my sockets into metric, standard, and specialty. After a couple of different arrangements, I am still not happy with the layout. Played with it again today. I will post pictures when I get it finished.

Step 4: Wrenches

The next  problem was my vast assortment of open end, box end, and specialty wrenches. Again I laid them out in  order and figured out how many  holes to drill. I found that 5/8 of an inch was good spacing for wrenches  down to 5/8 inch and anything smaller 1/2 inch spacing. The pegs I made 1 1/2 inch for the larger wrenches and 1 inch for the smaller. Turned out pretty good and i only have 12.00 invested to do  all 7 drawers. I use a black enamel spray can  and  coat the MDF with at least 2 caots to keep water from swelling the boards. Makes for a nice finish and easy to  patch when needed. You will notice the split in the middle of this board. I had to make it in 2 pieces because my drill press would not go in far enough for the  middle rows. These  holders can be made in  sections to allow for removal.

Step 5: Sheet Metal Drawer

I am a Heating and  cooling contractor and have a  good sized assortmemt of sheet metal tools. Again I took a small sheet of MDF cut to fit my  assigned drawer and  laid out my hand tools. I drilled 1/4 inch holes where I needed them and got the drawer made in 15 minutes.

Step 6: Be Creative

You are limited  only by your imagination as to what else to do with your own tool box. I have made some improvements to my socket holders so that I can take them to my work instead of always returning to my tool box. I put them on a  board that has a handle just high enough that is allows my drawer to close, but allows me to take the whole set to my work. I love how I did it because there was a space made for all my tools. If I go to close my tool box and find that there is an open slot or open peg, I go looking for that wayward tool. I am old and I forget sometimes, this is a good way to keep ME organized.  Comments?  I am missing a couple of pictures and some text- I will upgrade it soon. Thanks for looking and i hope this helps you to also get your box house trained....If you use any of my ideas and improve on them, please post your idea or project  for us to  use, thanks.  Buzz

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14 Discussions

HI buzz, great Instructable. I have started organizing a shop that has been in, shall I say, total disarray. There are hand tools, wrenches etc all in multiples, everywhere. I love your ideas. I needed a good idea for the sockets, wrenches, and screwdriver bits. I understand the wrench and socket principles, but how did you do the screwdriver bits? are they just holes that the bits fit into? What did you do with the 2" bits and double ended bits? Again this is great! Thanks.


2 years ago

The real beauty of this instructable is the efficiency of placing tools on edge opposed to laying them on top of each other! Like you, I too am cheap but I'm also a little lazy. For those of us that have fewer tools to contend with, I wonder if rather than marking & drilling nine b-zillion holes why not use one (or maybe two) thicknesses of tempered pegboard? I pushed a 1/4" dia. multi-grooved dowel pin into a piece of 1/4" tempered pegboard and the fit was just right. I'd have to check further to see if gluing is necessary, but it's no big deal either way once you have your layout how you want it. I think that the pegboard would work fine for pliers, sockets & ratchets etc. but wrenches... maybe not so much. The upside to the pegboard, besides not having to drill so many holes is:

1) Dry fitting to get the layout how you want it would be foolproof.

2) You wouldn't necessarily have to paint the tempered, dark brown pegboard.

3) Holes for 1/4" drive bits would have to be opened up a "tad", & for the 3/8" & 1/2" holes, but again, the pilot hole is already there. NOTE: I just checked and for larger 1/2" drive sockets the dowel pins need to be 1-15/16 to 2" apart - perfect for every other pegboard hole location!

4) I believe that 1/4" pegboard would be lighter than MDF and more stable.

The downside to the pegboard is:

1) The spacing sacrifices for the wrenches (1" spaced holes vs. custom drilled spacing - 5/8").

Perhaps a combination of the two methods would suffice. One easy way to get 1/2" spaced holes would be to use a 2" wide strip of pegboard, offset 1/2" from the work piece holes.

In any event, you can buy 1/4" dia., Multi-Grooved Dowel Pins ranging from 1" to 5" long with the suggested 1-1/2" length costing $12.55 / 1000 from the following site:

There are multitudes of sources that offer these dowels in smaller quantities at higher piece cost. My opinion is that the multi-grooved dowel pins would work better than the spiral-grooved pins.


3 years ago

You sir, are a genius. I'm making the shopping list right now. I love the idea of making my tool holders rather than buying them. It seems that it takes up less space than the store bought also.


3 years ago

I do like your idea. You know over the years you accumulate sockets from people moving n just getting rid of them. I dont throw away tool till their trashed. On YouTube everyone make a video on organizing for a service cart or a starter box. No makes one for a accumulator. One question I would look back at you article about afraid that I'll loss everything that I typed. The spacing of the sockets. Im thinking graph out the mdf. How big u think I should make the squares for 1/4 3/8 drivers. My tool drawers are old draft paper drawers so I have plenty of room.


4 years ago on Introduction

Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for. I have a lot of sockets and wrenches that don't really fit in my toolbox. I have been trying to make it more organized for a while now. This will make finding things so much easier. <a href='' >


5 years ago on Step 4

I dig this idea, especially in my home workshop. Not so much where I work, as you can see in the pictures below, I have half a ton of sockets in a drawer designed for exactly that amount in m y Snap-On, Epiq, top and bottom and I just ordered the side locker for it. I hope I don't need the other side locker, time will tell! 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 3/4 AND 1" drive sockets. The first three on light weight aluminum organizers. My home tools are more geared toward Home repairs, this Idea/ Instructable, is great for that purpose! I totally Dig it!!

1 reply

4 years ago on Introduction

I love your method of organizing your tool box. My husband is in great need of this. I am curious how you installed the dowels. Did you glue them in? Also, in the picture with Step 6, did you just drill lots and lots of holes for your bits to sit into? Did you spray paint all of the wood black? I don't know how old this instructable is so if you've been using this for some time now, has it worked out for you or have you had to make any modifications? Thanks for taking your time to share this with everyone!

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

The sockets sit on wooden pegs- I drilled a ton of holes and glued wooden dowels in place. The 1/4 inch drive pits sit in 1/4 inch holes laid out so that the different bit types are sorted. I also made a small tray of drilled holes so I could pick and choose the bits I would need for a job and take that tray to the work bench. The tool box works great when I take the time to put things back. Half the time I get called away before finishing projects and i have to go back and put tools away.

mcocco jr.

4 years ago

excellent idea. I will definitely apply these ideas to my own messy 5 drawer box


5 years ago

I love it! This is a great idea. I am getting ready to move all my crap - er, treasured tools & stuff into a room just for me (yea, finally). I have been trying to figure out how to organize it all. This ible has given me inspiration & ideas!!

1 reply

I like this very much. I saw a YouTube video where a guy did much the same thing, but he welded nails to a piece of sheet metal, then cut the nails down to size with an angle grinder. He coated the metal with Plasti-Dip; that might be a good idea with wood, too. Thanks for posting!

1 reply