I’ve always had a fairly large number of hand and power tools for DIY home repairs/improvements.
Recently my thoughts have been turning to toolboxes (partially because I’m always tripping over one or having to move it out of the way and partially because I’ve been catching up on Chris Schwarz’s blog recently).
I realised that my views on toolboxes have pretty much gone full circle and I wondered if anyone else had been on a similar journey or been as surprised as me at the outcome.
I bought my Black & Decker Workmate Workbox WM450 in about 1996 when I was a student.
It’s a great little toolbox – now sadly discontinued – with workmate jaws on top:
The lid is held up by a plastic stay to expose a removable tray for small tools:
Under the tray is a large compartment for bigger tools:
On the front is a small set of compartments for screws etc – I keep the plastic bench dogs in there:
The one issue is it’s a bit too bulky – when full of tools it’s hard to carry comfortably due to ones arm being at a funny angle because of the position of the carry handle in the center of the workmate jaws.
This served me well through my student life and later renting, until I got married and we bought our first house, at which point my tool kit had a bit of a growth spurt!
The transition from renting to buying meant I was able to do a lot more than just running repairs and with the exception of the floor sanders we rented to strip the wooden floors, I always tried to buy the right tool for any job I did.
In our first house I didn’t have anything I could call a workshop, although I did commandeer a large cupboard on the landing to store my tools in a fairly accessible manner.
During this time (just over 5 years) my toolbox was used to store the tools I didn’t use and I always felt I had passed the point where I could fit all the tools I needed into a single box, or that this was desirable in the first place.
I dreamed of the day I could buy a house with a garage or a big shed that I could use as a workshop, and fill it with tools on pegboard, on shelves, in cupboards and drawers and hanging from the roof!
When we bought this house about 3 years ago my tools were amongst the massive amount of “stuff” in boxes in the garage.
As we slowly unpacked all the boxes, the more frequently used tools ended up on a shelf in the garage. Some even spent quite a long time in the loft while I boarded it.
I’ve only recently realised that I was probably barking up the wrong tree with my dreams of spreading tools all over my workshop.
I don’t think I’ll be racing to build an Anarchists toolchest, but …
… for the first time in about 8 years I have a toolbox with a selection of useful tools that I can take with me.
It’s a general purpose toolkit with tools for working wood, metal and various odd jobs including emergency repairs to plumbing and electrics.
Where I have multiple versions of the same tool, such as screwdrivers, chisels, No.4 plane etc, the best version(s) will remain in the workshop and the “B team” can live in the toolbox ready for use around the house (or at friends and family’s houses).
A selection of frequently used screws and rawplugs live in compartments on top of the toolbox:
Inside there are 3 fold-out trays holding smaller tools including tape measure, combination square, drill bits, pliers, allen keys, chisels and an awl:
The bottom compartment holds larger tools including a bench hook, G-clamps, hammer, Acorn No.4 plane, spanners, mole grips, a junior hacksaw and a hand drill:
I’m quite surprised at how useful this little toolkit is and how much I can fit into the toolbox.
Being quite narrow it’s a lot more comfortable to carry than the WM450 too.
My previously nomadic existence in the renting market meant that a collection of old jam jars full of nails and screws wouldn’t have survived many moves, so I ended up buying a Stanley compartment organiser for the screws and nails I accumulated.
One thing I really like about these organisers is that you can lift out the little yellow compartments containing the nails/screws/whatever that you need and take them where they’re needed, rather than lugging the whole thing around.
When we bought the first house I added a second deeper organiser to keep the larger things in, and these two organisers continue to (just about!) suffice.
The two organisers stack on top of each other and I think even in a small workshop, they’ll continue to earn their keep.
I confess that I have amassed a few jam jars full of old screws too though … 🙂
I think there’s probably not enough space in my single garage workshop to achieve the dream workshop, but I’ve also stopped believing I really need that.
I expect there’s a happy medium with my “grab and go” tool kit always ready and a few frequently used tools stored on or around my bench, the rest hidden away in some compact form of storage to avoid the place feeling too cluttered.
I’m not one of nature’s minimalists, but I am trying!