If you work with a lot of tools, you know they can quickly get disorganized. This happens to mechanics and carpenters at work, to businesses where people share equipment, to drivers who keep a tool box in their trucks, and to homeowners who have tools for work in the garage or the garden. In some large workplaces, tools can even get stolen. The key to keeping everything where it needs to be is figuring out how to organize tools logically.
In many cases, the best tool box organizer is the one you customize yourself. Toolboxes and tool chests are all a little different, and the ways people use tools and the frequency with which they use them vary. The first step to getting organized is selecting a foam tool kit or other tool foam product. Then you can tailor this foam to fit your needs. You can create a single tool tray organizer or drawer organizer. You can also cut foam for every drawer in your tool chest.
To help you find the perfect tool organization solution, we’ve put together a list of 19 tips and hacks to inspire you. These toolbox organization ideas include advice for making the most of your foam, tips for cutting foam, and hacks for using foam in unique ways. Keep reading to find out how you can create the tool organizer you’re looking for.
1) Create a Layout Before Cutting Foam
No matter what type of foam liner you’re working with, you’ll likely have to cut it to fit the drawers of your tool chest and to fit your tools. To maximize your foam and achieve the best possible layout, don’t start cutting until you have a plan.
First, lay out every tool you want in a drawer on top of the foam. Stop and consider what the best arrangement will be. Try putting tools you use together near each other. You might want to place tools you use more frequently closer to the front of a drawer where you can access them more quickly. Once you have the layout you want, trace all the tools using a pen, pencil, or marker. Then you can start cutting.
This tip sounds simple, but it’s some of the best advice about cutting tool foam. If you start cutting without a plan, you’re more likely to space tools poorly and end up wasting material.
2) Make a Shadow Board for Your Toolbox
Toolbox foam comes in several styles, sizes, and colors. Some types of foam are single color – often called foam drawer liners – and some contain two colors. These foam tool organizer kits with two colors have a dark top layer of foam (usually black or blue) and a bright bottom layer. When you cut out the shapes of your tools on the top layer and place it over the second layer, that bright second layer shows through. This arrangement functions like a shadow board (which people tend to associate with hanging on walls; whenever a tool is missing from your drawer, you’ll know immediately it’s not where it belongs.
Toolbox shadowing foam takes tool organization to the next level by calling out what you’re missing. This is especially useful if you take your toolbox with you to more than one location. At the end of the day, you can pack up and know you have all the tools you came with. If you work in an area where foreign object damage (FOD) is a concern, shadow boards can make a big difference.
These shadow foam kits are also ideal for facilities using Lean manufacturing practices such as 5S. 5S is a systematic approach to organization and housekeeping that advocates that there should be a place for everything and everything in its place. Multi-colored tool foam can help facilitate this type of program.
3) Use a Drywall T-Square to Draw Lines
When you outline small tools, drawing straight lines probably won’t be a concern. You can easily trace the tool itself. If you need to draw long, straight lines to cut a piece of tool foam to size, though, a straight edge such as a drywall T-square can make the task a lot simpler.
Align the short end of the T-square with the edge of your foam and cut along the length of the device. Your edges will be perfectly straight, so your toolbox foam inserts will fit snuggly into the drawers of your toolbox.
4) Use the Right Tools for Cutting Foam
Most foam tool organizers and tool foam sheets are made from cross-link, closed-cell foam that’s resistant to water and chemicals. They’re made from durable materials, but that doesn’t mean cutting the foam will be too difficult. You just need the right tools.
In most cases, a simple tool such as a utility blade or X-Acto knife can cut your tool foam. These blades are fairly small, which allows you to cut small shapes without too much trouble.
You can also use a heavy-duty foam hot knife for foam cutting. You can make clean, precise cuts with these knives. They’re helpful for large cutting projects and for cutting through thick foam.
5) Cut Finger Holes for Easy Pick Up
If a tool fits snugly into toolbox foam, it can be difficult to pick it up quickly. You don’t want to leave too much space around a tool because it could slide around, though. An effective way to fix this problem is to cut a semi-circle on each side of a tool’s handle that lets you reach in and grab it.
You can cut this circle with a knife, but it’s even easier to do so with a hole punch (the metal kind you would use to cut perfect circles in plastic, leather, wood, and other materials). Before you punch the hole for a tool, though, make sure you cut out all the shapes on your foam sheet. This way you can assess the space you have and figure out the most logical place to put the hole for easy tool pick up.
6) Cut a Horizontal Strip for Easy Pick Up
In some situations, in makes more sense to cut a strip through all of the tools in a drawer so you can pick any of them up easily. This works if you have a drawer of wrenches, for example, where you have wrenches of many sizes placed close together. The wrenches might be too close together to use the hole punch method, and the horizontal strip method will likely create a cleaner finished product.
Consider using a straight edge to trace this line and cut the foam so it neatly bisects your tools.
7) Save Space by Putting Small Tools Close Together
Toolbox foam sheets work great for organizing smaller tools that would otherwise be thrown together in a drawer. When these tools are neatly arranged using foam, you can find the size you need without digging through a jumble of tools. This method is useful for creating DIY wrench organizers, socket organizers, and screwdriver organizers. You can see an example of a plier’s organizer below.
When you lay out your small tools on the foam, you can maximize space by fitting the tools close together. Either place them next to each other in a line facing the same direction or fit them together like puzzle pieces. You may want to try several layouts before settling on the best option.
8) Alternate Handle Directions to Save Even More Space
Another method for organizing drawers with small tools is to alternate the direction of tools to maximize space. This works well for pliers, screwdrivers, and other tools with a narrow end and a wider end with a handle.
It’s often a good idea to maximize space this way, but you don’t have to cram everything into a drawer if that doesn’t make sense for you. Sometimes spacing tools out among multiple drawers will be more logical for your application. Select a layout that gives you the organized tool box you’re looking for.
9) Don’t Forget Spaces for Cords and Batteries
When you plan toolbox foam layouts for power tools, don’t forget to make spaces for cords and batteries. Cutting out spaces for these accessories will prevent them from getting lost and it will prevent damage to cords. Cutouts for cords don’t need to be perfectly shaped, but they do need to be big enough to fit the cord. Make sure to lay the cord out and trace it so you’ll be able to fit it into the space without trouble in the future.
10) Use Thick Foam for Larger Tools
Foam tool kits work well for small to medium-sized tools, but for larger tools such as drills you’ll probably need thicker foam. It also makes sense to use this thick foam in the deeper drawers of your tool chest, so tools don’t sit too low in the drawers.
Thick tool control foam is often constructed of thinner layered foam sheets glued together, so you can cut out several of the layers and fit a tool into the foam without cutting all the way through the foam. This means your tools will be protected from damage on the bottom, too.
Remember Action can help customize your truck with toolboxes from top suppliers such as Reading Truck Bodies, Weather Guard and more. See all our toolbox options on our website. https://actionandjbtruckparts.com/parts/tool-boxes/