When Home Depot meets Harbor Freight

Bought into the Husky Rolling Connect system from Home Depot, but misliked that there isn’t a drawer system available — took a saw to a $15 5-Compartment Connect System Tool Caddy Small Parts Organizer, added two Storehouse®20 Bin Medium Portable Parts Storage Case from Harbor Freight et voila!

Gory details of the cutting:

Still trying to work out tool selection/arrangement:

Not sure if the yellow trays are actually useful, but cutting the rectangles out of the anti-fatigue mats was a lot faster:


There is a narrow space to the side of the organizers — unfortunately I can’t find anything which fits into it — suggestions for a ~1.75" x 4.75" x 12" space?

3D print a pull-out drawer where you can put flat items like a small pry bar. Not knowing what you have, it is hard to tell you what you could store in the drawer.

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Unfortunately, that’s a bit larger than my 3D printer (an Ordbot Quantum I need to get working again after loaning it out) can manage.

I’ve been thinking about making a drawer or something, but it’s such a narrow space I’d lose a lot to the structure — I’m thinking I may just go for a small tool roll holding some gloves and a pair of safety glasses.

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vernier caliper (or dial, or digital, if those are your preference)
Rules and squares- That is about the right size for a combination square set

A simple vertical divider and form a drawer/sliding tray from acrylic or ABS sheet?

French fit from wood to hold one of the above?

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Hand plane? Twenty characters.

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I’ve got all those tools in other places — went with an old Caselogic zippered case holding a pair of gloves and a pair of safety glasses.

Next up is deciding what all gets French fit into these two cases (probably the chisels and so forth and my Blue Spruce Ultimate Coping Saw) — then I need to figure out what all I can fit into an Apache 5800 case I picked up as an impulse buy from Harbor Freight — then I’m going to stop on tools and so forth, and use things as they are until I retire, at which point in time I am going to make my dream workbench, and either a replica of the Studley Tool Cabinet, or some custom thing which holds all of my nicer tools.

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Dial caliper is safely in:

(which box is in the top compartment of a Craftsman machinist chest (Kennedy 526) I lucked into and have my other machinist tools in)


Organizing this into a gallery:

The new photos show a rather ingenious tool for tracing out the tools — just a block of wood with a hold drilled through it, two angles cut so as to make the hole the apex of a triangle, and a pen insert taped in place — makes for a consistent line around the tools.

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Well, I ordered a Stanley FatMax storage unit in the hopes it would fit better, and it does, but not well enough to justify the effort, plus it’s taller and wouldn’t allow me to stack two.

When I picked it up, I did notice:


which looks to be about a perfect fit, except it too, is too tall to stack.

Have you checked Lowes because they have Craftsman tools and they have a bunch of storage box as well as Dewalt. Maybe you will find the perfect one soon!

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Yes, I’ve been to Lowes and Home Depot as well as Harbor Freight.

My problems with the available storage systems:

  • Systainers are too expensive / not flexible enough (and a bit small)
  • Versastak/T-Stak are too small
  • Dewalt’s Tough System doesn’t have enough drawer options/drawers and overall are too large
  • Milwaukee’s Packout is too large, only really suited to power tools, and doesn’t have drawers

Arguably, I should just break down and get a Pelican 450, but they’re not in stock now, pending an updated version last I checked, or a Stahlwille or similar chest, but they’re a bit too expensive, and I’m not convinced drawers are going to work.

The Husky Rolling Connect w/ the two HF trays is pretty close to workable, though bulky, and unfortunately, under-represented in terms of saws (the ones I usually use are too long for it). Did purchase a folding Ryoba, but it’s much smaller than I was expecting (obviously should have gotten a folding Ryoba from Bridge City Toolworks instead).

The current plan is to see how many tools will fit in an Apache 5800 case from Harbor Freight — that will still leave me short on saws (that was the reason I bought the folding Ryoba), so I guess I’m going to be buying from Bridge City Toolworks presently. I figure I’ll load that up with tools I actually use, and just make do with it until I retire, at which point I will set up a workshop which will allow me to work w/o having to traipse up and down basement steps, and will have room for a nice tool cabinet, à la H.O. Studley:

(while I probably won’t build an exact replica of his tool cabinet, I do hope to build something inspired by it)

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Wow, could I have used a name like that in high school. :smiley:

Retirement will only help if you slow down. That’s a good book. Thanks for posting it. Lots of good ideas spring forth!

I don’t think you can get everything perfect because of the N+1 tool rule. The next time you get that new tool that you can’t live/work without, the whole storage thing will have to be re-engineered to fit the new acquisition. :wink:

I’m pretty far gone (almost embarrassingly so) down the tool collection trail, and am at a point in my life where the new tools I want and don’t have are a very short list, and most purchases are replacing a tool with a nicer version of the same tool.

More importantly, I’ve figured out that one of the sadder things in the world is an unused tool gathering dust, and any new tool purchase has to be weighed against how often it will be used, and how much time/effort it will save, and whether or no it will represent an actual improvement in my work or the quality of my life.

Posted this to the Lounge, so you may have missed it: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/interesting-blog-post-on-tool-storage/1906

So I’m hoping to get to the “mature sets of tool” stage, and do fitted cases/racks which fold and open up — we’ll see — obviously, before I work on this much more I need to place another order with Lee Valley, but more importantly, I need to get some stuff designed and cut — I’m hoping that some of the ideas I’m working on will translate well into making the fitted cases and racks and folding systems I’m planning.

I ascribe to many of the principles in this blog post but here are some of my views on the subject.

Like the author, I have tool duplication because I have purposely assembled tool boxes for electric, plumbing, etc. I even have a metal and mostly wood shops so I don’t set the place on fire when I weld or grind or cut metal.

I use drawers extensively and I label the drawers so I can find the tool I need.

In addition to milk crates, recycling bins are also good to store materials.

Some tools are difficult to store due to their size an shape and are often in my way.

I hate tools sold in their own cases, I never use them but I can’t seem to bring myself to throw them out and they sit empty on a shelf taking room I could use for something else. On the other hand, most tools that come with no box should have a small toolbox to keep the accessories together.

I envy the organizational skills of people who post video of their 10X10 shop that appear to have even more tools than I have but I see them having to put away each one every time they change task on a project.

Trying to deal with leftover material without waste means that too much room needs to be dedicated to things like wood coupons.

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I tend to agree with this, to a point. Most of the cases I have received with new tools in the last few decades have been worse than useless-- oversized, odd shaped, and poorly made. THey take too much space, don’t fit shelves or drawers well, break, don’t protect the tool well, often are hard to open and close, and, in many cases (pun intended), provide poor or misleading affordances (unclear top, difficult to put the tool back in the correct position, and so on). I have no problem throwing them out.

I keep a few larger tools in the original cases (corded portaband, sawzall, right angle drill for example, that get more use on the road than in the shop, for example… maybe half a dozen), and make compact, easy to store, cases for precision tools that either get little use or go into the field. A few ‘collectable’ precision tools are in the original cases, when the cases came with them, but even most of them lose the case due to age-related deterioration.

Most tools just live in one of the chests or in a special purpose kit. The most heavily used stay in the most accessible location, like the mid-grade 0-25mm micrometer that lives in the stand on my light work/electronics bench, and 150mm vernier caliper next to it.

As my shop is far from sterile, dust free, or dry, few things stay out when not in use, and nothing sits within 100mm of the floor that is not watertight.

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Yeah, that’s one appeal of tools sold in Systainers (though I haven’t bought any yet).

Fortunately, I don’t have too many tools which came in specialized cases — the couple I’m concerned about are put away in an otherwise empty drawer of my Kennedy toolchest (except for the case for my Brown & Sharpe micrometer — I’m sure I put it away somewhere safe, but need to find it).

That’s one additional constraint I’ve placed on tool buying — no buying a tool unless I’ve planned out where and how it will be stored.

I was thinking more of powertools. I have cases for a router, a few cordless drill and driver, circular saw, sawzall… Of course they are all different size, won’t stack, tools don’t always fit well inside if you want to use it. The tools are good but cases useless.

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Yep. I have a drill (my brother-in-law got the matching driver, and a couple of other power tools in weird cases on a shelving unit.

I keep putting Festool power tools in my shopping cart when visiting Woodcraft.com, but I can never bring myself to leave them in when I actually purchase. The tools all being in Systainers does remove one objection though.

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