Bring order and calm to your backyard work space with these terrific tool storage tips.
Prior to starting work on any job around the house, my grandfather spread out an old hessian sack and lay down (in order of likely use) every tool he would need for the job. It reflected his ordered mind, his well organised tool shed and his deep understanding of how things worked. It was something to which everyone in the family aspired!
My dad on the other hand is a shed man. He favours defined spaces, underbench storage and mobile metal tool trolleys with lockable drawers to keep his tools safe (or possibly to keep us kids out!). It also helps to keep everything clean when the sawdust is flying.
Flexible racks and shelving
My brother turned out to be a rack man. He likes to hang things in baskets, buckets, and on hooks and shelves, to shift things around a lot; he favours metal dexion or hammerlock shelving that can be reconfigured when he moves house.
Me, I’m a connoisseur of containers, on a quest for the Holy Grail – the perfect toolbox where there is a separate place for everything (and everything in its place) – ideally on wheels.
Whether you buy off the shelf tool storage systems or decide to design your own, make sure you check the quality of what you buy. Tools are heavy and many represent a serious investment, so you will want to ensure that they can be stored safely, with easy access for maintenance and use.
Choose containers of solid construction that will hold the weight of your tools. If your container is to be stored outside or under the house, choose rust proof or rust resistant materials, with quality locks or the provision to easily attach a substantial padlock.
If you need to need to travel with your tools, you will also need to choose a container which can be locked securely. You may even want to invest in a lockable security leash so that you can fix your toolbox to something secure to prevent it walking (in the car, your spare tyre; on-site, a tree or other immovable object).
When you are choosing new tools, think storage from the start. Power tools will often come with storage boxes and containers, but are they good enough, do they keep all the relevant bits together, do they offer the product with and without a container? Sometimes it will prove better value to buy a higher quality tool without a case and to make your own than one that comes complete with a complex, fiddly, under-sized case.
Top tips for tidy tools
Once you’ve settled on a storage system, how do you keep it in great shape?
- Tool sheds are often home to poisons. Keep family and pets safe by storing toxic products in a locked cabinet.
- Hang it! If your tool area is shared with the family’s bikes, install a couple of bike bars or hooks and get them up off the floor – you’ll feel as if your shed just got bigger.
- When you’re storing boxes it’s easy to forget what’s inside them – list the contents on the outside. Store boxes you only need occasionally or won’t need for a long time at the back.
- Don’t outsmart yourself. When choosing or constructing cupboards and boxes to house your tools, don’t make them too snug. You need to be able to get your tools in and out easily - otherwise you won’t put them away!