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Standard site toolbox
Standard site toolbox as used, e.g., in mechanical workshops like automobile repair shops

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A toolbox (also called toolkit, tool chest or workbox) is a box to organize, carry, and protect the owner's tools. They could be used for trade, a hobby or DIY, and their contents vary with the craft.

Types

Simple wooden toolbox

A toolbox could refer to several types of storage to hold tools. It could mean a small portable box that can carry a few tools to a project location or a large storage system set on casters. Modern toolboxes are predominantly metal or plastic. Wood was the material of choice for toolboxes built beginning in the early 19th century.

Toolboxes can be mainly divided as 5 types. They are:

  1. Plastic
  2. Steel
  3. Aluminium
  4. Waterproof
  5. Cantilever
Cantilever toolbox with carrying handle, popular with mobile service personnel of various professions, in opened state. For transport, the different compartments are kind of folded together (symmetrical towards the middle from both sides) so that a closed compact box with the footprint of the lowermost section results.

Small portable toolboxes are sometimes called hand boxes or portable tool storage. Most portable toolboxes have one handle on top and a lid that opens on a hinge. Many have a removable tote tray that sits on a flange inside the lip of the box, with a single larger compartment below. The tote tray helps organize smaller parts and accessories. Portable toolboxes sometimes use slide-out trays or cantilever trays in lieu of the removable tote tray. Metal toolboxes (typically steel) weigh more than plastic ones. A plastic toolbox laden with tools can weigh the same as a comparable steel box does when empty. Metal boxes are also subject to rusting and their sharp edges can mark the surfaces of things they are banged against. Metal is, however, known for being stronger than plastic, so one should balance its disadvantages against the need to withstand abuse and support the weight of many tools.

Portable chest with a carrying handle

Portable chests are a type of tool storage that is small enough to carry, but has drawers to organize contents. Portable chests have a handle on top for portability and a top lid that opens on hinges. Portable chests typically have 3-4 drawers. Most are made from metal, but some have a plastic shell with metal drawers in order to help lighten the piece.

A toolbox can also refer to a large tool storage system, or tool chest combos, that includes multiple pieces. These systems are almost always made from metal. Most tool storage systems are painted steel, but some are stainless steel and aluminum. They include a top chest that has drawers and a top lid that opens on a hinge. The top chest is designed to sit on a cabinet, also called a rolling cabinet (rollcab) or rollaway. The cabinet sits on four or more casters and has drawers to organize tools. Other pieces can be added to the system or combo. A middle chest, also called an intermediate chest, can be placed between the top chest and cabinet for extra storage. A side cabinet with more drawers can be hung from the side of a cabinet. A side locker can also be hung from the side of a cabinet; usually with a door that protects shelves or small drawers.

Tool chest with wheels

Toolcarts (also known as rollcabs) are commonly used in the transportation industry for maintenance and repair of vehicles on location. Used as portable work stations, some of the larger types are self powered and propelled, for example, pit carts in automobile racing.

After several decades of decline in popularity, today a resurgence in use is underway. Viewed by many as intended primarily for specialized craftsmanship, such as machinists, tool and die makers, jewelers and other specialized craftsmen, they are also sought after by average tradesman and collectors as working heirloom. Many toolboxes and chests from a variety of trades can be seen at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Material

Tool chests are primarily made of metal, though some expensive models are made of hardwoods.

Alternatives to toolboxes

A toolset in a plastic cover.
Iron worker's toolbelt
A professional socket toolset in a metal box, containing ratcheting socket wrenches in two sizes, sockets, bits and accessories. Such toolsets are standard equipment in mechanical workshops of various types. The image contains annotated descriptions for each item, visible when enlarged.

In computing

The term toolbox is used in computing to represent a set of subroutines (or functions) and global variables. Typically these implement missing functionality using capabilities available in the core software.

See also

References