A tool box is essential for organizing your tools, but it’s only as good as the material it’s made out of. With all kinds of materials from light-duty plastic tool boxes to heavy punchers like steel, titanium, and metal tool boxes, you may want to consider what kind of materials your future tool storage option will be made out of. When thinking about the material, one should consider the use and environment their tool box will be in first. Some people may benefit from materials that are lightweight, while others may need extremely heavy-duty materials that are not only tough but also waterproof and rust-resistant.
Start by putting together a list of characteristics that you commonly encounter while using a tool box. This list should include the following considerations:
- Is the working space indoors or outdoors?
- What kind of tools do you need to store?
- Are you mobile or stationary?
- How big of space do you have?
- What are the temperature, humidity, sun exposure, and water exposure levels?
Keep in mind this may just be a partial list, but it is a good starting point. Now, let’s review some common materials a tool box is commonly made out of.
Common Tool Box Materials
The most common modern-day materials for tool boxes are:
- Stainless Steel
Each material will have pros and cons and work for some people and not for others. Let’s start with considering aluminum. This metal is the second most abundant metallic element in the earth’s crust and is known to be strong yet lightweight. It is the same primary metal used in airplane construction. Aluminum tool boxes typically come from sheets of pre-pressed designs that offer a rugged texture such as a diamond plate pattern. This type of pattern is typically offered for surfaces that need to offer some kind of traction for the user.
For example, you may not want a slippery surface when opening a truck tool box, and so you may want to consider something like aluminum because of the traction the pattern offers. Another great benefit of aluminum is its anti-corrosion properties. Aluminum is also known not to rust, even when exposed to water over long periods of time. In some cases, companies will also spray the aluminum with a water-resistant coating to ensure your tool box stays rust-free. Therefore, this type of material may be best for trucks and heavy-duty triangle tool boxes.
Steel is the second most commonly used material in tool boxes. This metal is much heavier than aluminum but is therefore much stronger, as well. While metal is durable, you still need to know how to care for it. Due to the strength of steel, it can also bear more weight than aluminum and is therefore great for mechanic tool boxes that may be needed in home or commercial shops and garages. With this being said, portable tool boxes that need to travel often aren’t usually made of steel. Steel tool boxes also typically come lined with a special water-resistant powder to further prevent rust and corrosion. Consider a steel tool box for either heavy tool weight, or extremely rough terrain where your tool box will need to endure a beating.
Stainless steel is not as common compared to aluminum and steel tool boxes because it generally offers the same toughness for a higher price point. However, stainless steel does have one major advantage, and that is its endurance or longevity. A stainless steel portable rolling tool box will continue to look brand-new over many years compared to the other metal types. Also, stainless steel is known to never rust.
Although the other two metals (aluminum and steel) are known to be resistant to rust, they still inevitably will begin to rust unless you regularly apply water-resistant coatings. Stainless steel, however, is a material that you can use and never again have to think or worry about rust. Therefore, this material may be good for lifelong tool boxes in your home garage or as a long-term investment in your commercial shop.
Next up are non-metal materials that certainly aren’t as durable yet still offer other valuable advantages. Plastic tool boxes share the same ability of never rusting or corroding much like stainless steel, but are much less durable. Plastic, however, is much cheaper than stainless steel and will, therefore, be a good choice for more amateur tool owners. Furthermore, plastic is typically lightweight and comes in many sizes and shapes. So, plastic can be a great choice for the varying needs of any home-based tool owner. One last perk of a plastic tool box is the transparency of the material. This allows you to see into the box before you open it.
The final boxes on our list are wooden tool boxes. Wood as a material for tool boxes typically serves uses that need high accessibility yet do not expose the tool box to many dangers or risks such as weather, rough terrain and abuse. Often times window cleaners, painters and other indoor uses will be best served by this material. Also, these types of tool boxes can offer a more visual appeal for those who are more artistically oriented.
With all this in mind, the type of material you need for a tool box will really come down to your budget and specific needs. In some cases, you may want something that is heavy-duty like steel, or something lightweight and durable like aluminum. Try your best to come up with a list of variables that your tool box must endure then reference this article. Also, remember to start small when buying a tool box!