Marc was the latest to write in asking for guidance on how to choose between the different modular tool box systems currently available.
My question is now that you’ve had some time with all 3 storage systems, which one is your favorite, which one is the best bang for the buck( most places where I live don’t stock any of the systems, except the festool but everyone is willing to order them for me) which one do you use at home/work, and will there be a larger review of all three coming soon because you have had time to work with all of them?
It’s tough to answer this question because the options are not all directly comparable.
Here’s what I own or have used:
Festool Systainers – I have a few Systainers in various sizes, with half my Systainers housing tools and the other half were purchased empty. I also recently purchased a Systainer tool box, which I like a lot.
Bosch L-Boxxes – As mentioned in my complete L-Boxx tool box review, which will soon be updated to reflect my impressions on the new products, I have more L-Boxxes than any of the other modular tool boxes.
Dewalt ToughSystem – I did a brief L-Boxx vs. ToughSystem comparison and also reviewed the small case a while back. I have more than a dozen ToughSystem cases, but less than two dozen. When they’re all in the same place I’ll count them up.
JBOB (Just a bunch of tool boxes) – Although I have been phasing out my use of a hodge-podge of tool boxes, I am still using a few.
Just looking at price, the Tstaks are most affordable. But best value? That would be either the Bosch L-Boxxes or Dewalt ToughSystem cases during holiday shopping seasons.
I would say that 4 out of 5 of my L-Boxxes and ToughSystem cases were purchased during similar sales periods which typically only come around before Christmas and father’s Day.
Festool Systainers never go on sale.
There’s no one right answer or best overall pick.
I would have to say Festool Systainers (T-Loc) come closest to being best. They open and close the quickest and stack the easiest. But I don’t have a lot of Festool Systainers for one simple reason – they’re expensive.
Dewalt’s ToughSystem cases are best for bigger and heavier loads, and I often fill them up to where I really do need to carry them with two hands. Luckily the handles at the sides make this possible.
L-Boxxes stack and lock together fairly easily, the smaller cases have front and top handles for added convenience, and they hold a fair amount of tools. I also like that Bosch continues to bring new products to the L-Boxx line each year and that they have a healthy selection of cordless tool kit and L-Boxx bundles.
I have more Bosch L-Boxxes than any of the other products. Bosch sent over quite a few but I also ordered a few dozen more. At last count I had about 80 L-Boxxes.
Dewalt ToughSystem, period. These cases are made from structural foam and seal tight to keep tools and supplies isolated and protected from the elements.
L-Boxxes, Systainers, and Tstak cases are quite durable too, but the ToughSystem cases are just plain stronger and tougher.
The Tstak cases feel to be the lightest duty, especially when compared to ToughSystem cases. I would say that the Tstak tool boxes are similar in quality to the carrying cases Dewalt cordless tool kits are sometimes bundled with.
Modular Storage vs. JBOB
What benefits are there in using a modular storage system vs. just a bunch of tool boxes? Well, most other tool boxes are designed to be used by themselves. While they’re not quite one-size fits all, they’re not very flexible to use. If one tool box doesn’t quite fit your needs, you have to search out another brand, a longer box, or a different style.
Modular systems offer tool boxes that can be used individually or together. It’s about having options and the ability to customize your storage setup according to your needs.
As mentioned, I also have a couple of individual tool boxes in use, but I replaced most of my other ones with L-Boxxes. It’s just so much easier to work with smaller tool boxes that I can organize exactly as I want to, and at the end of the day they all stack together neatly and securely.
It is so much easier to use modular tool boxes to create separate tool and parts bundles that can be combined or separated depending on the project.
Not everyone is going to benefit from buying into a modular tool storage system, and that’s okay. But if you find yourself juggling multiple tool boxes and tend to carry around more than you need in a filled-to-the-brim standard-sized tool box, one of these discussed storage systems might better suit your needs.
Find a way to try one of each. It sounds like a hassle, but there’s no better way. I can tell you that one system is better than the others, but it simply wouldn’t be true.
I have purchased Festool Systainers, Bosch L-Boxxes, and Dewalt ToughSystem cases, and would purchase more L-Boxxes and ToughSystem cases without hesitation. Every now and then I purchase a Systainer or two here and there, but typically only for special cases. For instance, I bought one that fits sanding discs because it conveniently attaches to the systainer my sander is stored in.
I have not bought any Dewalt Tstak cases and don’t plan to buy any. They were on sale recently too and I still passed. They’re okay, and you might want to give them a try if you think the system might fit your needs. They’re a little small for my use and the configurations don’t work as well for how I currently use the other systems. To be fair, you should not dismiss the Tstak line just because I don’t favor it for my own use.
For most users, the choice comes down to ToughSystem vs. L-Boxx, which I discussed nearly a year ago. My L-Boxx and ToughSystem usage habits have not really changed since that discussion. I still mainly use ToughSystem tool boxes for bulky storage needs, and L-Boxxes for more categorized organization and storage.
I purchased all of my L-Boxxes, ToughSystem cases, and Systainer tool boxes from Amazon, except for the ones supplied by Bosch, Dewalt, Festool, and Tool Nut as media samples or as part of sample kits.
As mentioned, most were purchased before Christmas and Father’s Day with $20 or $25 off $100 coupons. Some were purchased as-needed. For reference, here is more information about Bosch’s $25 off $100 and Dewalt’s $25 off $100 holiday 2013 promos. My Systainer cantilever tool box was purchased elsewhere as it wasn’t yet available on Amazon.