Tool Box Socket Trays




If  your tool box is a mess with loose sockets rolling around, and you do not want to spend $$$$ on those commercially available organizers that waste sooo much space, this DIY idea may be just for you. And no welding is involved........this time.

All your materials can be scrounged. Keep your eye out for the re-useables on garbage day.  Old stoves and dryers are good candidates for sheet metal in the 18Ga (.050 ") range. Even old furnaces and duct work (although lighter gauge steel) make good project  materials and it is free. Donors feel good about stuff being re-used also...........have had help disassembling things at times.

The first step is to lay out your sockets, the ones you want to group, in the pattern you want them grouped in. Then measure the space they occupy and cut your sheet metal accordingly, leaving a little bit on the folded up sides to trim off later. That way you can ignore any  "bend allowances"  you would need to calulate if you were to cut the material to the exact size initially.

Layout some marks where you want the bends to occur, then get to work bending. If you have a sheet metal brake that you have already made up then great use it, if not you can do an acceptable job in your "mechanics" vise.  Get some angle irons (free bed rails work OK) in your vise and have them extend out to the side of the jaws enough to accomodate the width of your bends, plus a bit to allow a clamp on the loose ends.

You now have your sides bent up and are ready to check the fit (of your sockets) and decide upon the height you need for those sides. Cut them down as needed , then file or sand paper the cut edges to make them smooth. When happy with what you see, you are ready to cut some straps to close in the ends......nothing special here, just something to close off the box. That strap can be rivetted or screwed to the sides. I like those black self drilling screws that are used to hold metal studs together and are available where they sell building supplies. You will need to cut them off after installation or they will be in the way, or  just use  "pop rivets" and smack them down flat, on an anvil of sorts, after.

Now you are ready to paint it any colour you want to.


Step 1: Prepare Your Materials.

This tray is a bit different as it was made in one piece. The corners were marked and drilled 3/16" (or so) removing the interferring materials that would prevent a nice clean corner bend. The bends were made against a hardwood block that was cut to size and used as a form. The space the sockets occupied was used to determine the wooden block size

Step 2: A Tray a Bit Different.

Views of similarly  made  trays.

Step 3: Wall Mounting Socket Trays.

A slightly different approach (wall mounting) on this  rack. Picture also shows what can be done for mounting larger drill bits and air gun chisels too. But, that bit rack did involve a bit of welding.

Step 4: Raw Materials Available.

Some of the  sheet metal that is free for the taking at curbside. This particular home owner had it all dismantled  and it was ready to go..............must have known I was on my way to pick it up.



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    7 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 2

    Very cool idea. I like the idea of recycling the sheet metal this way. Creative!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    These are really nice! I've drilled out some scrap pieces of wood to hold sockets and it is a pain because the outsides of sockets in sets varies so much. So I need to use a lot of different sized drills to make a holder. I might have to have a go at making some of these myself. I make random metal containers out of empty metal cans I cut apart, but that's not really the same thing as this. The rectangular gallon paint thinner cans have some sheet metal stock to them as well for those that don't have much way of scrounging materials. it's thin, but suitable for little holder boxes I suppose. You can cut it with heavy scissors too if you have a pair. So no special snips are really required.

    I think I've just about talked myself into trying to make a box now if I can lay my hands on an old metal can! Great Instructable.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Ha ha you beat me to the suggestion. Though the steel of a lot of old computer cases is the cheapest of the cheap. Sort of makes it easier to work with in a way ...


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    For sure they are good, also have seen steel shelving too (If you already have too many shelves up) Beagles


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Just regular "Wiss" type snips. Look for ones with raised handles that let you cut in away from the edges of the sheet. Clean up any marks or uneveness with a file, later.

    I also have a Makita (electric) throatless shear and a 12" bench hand shear ............but did not use either on those jobs.