Label makers are one of the most effective accessories to help you get organized, making it quick and easy to label tool boxes, bins, and equipment cases. I have a Brother handheld label maker and a PC-connected version, and both are in regular use in our house. If you want to take your organizational skills to the next level, a more visual system becomes appealing, as it’s far easier to see what’s in a box if there’s a picture right there in front of you. It also makes it easier for others to work in your shop.
I discovered Brainstorm ID cards when I was researching the best way to label up my Festool\Tanos Systainer tool boxes. These boxes have four slots that accept a credit card-sized label. Of course, you can just write on a label, but what’s the fun in that! I particularly like that the Systainers bundled with Festool tools have a picture of the tool right on the box, which makes it much easier to quickly find the right tool with just a glance at a Systainer stack.
I am comfortable with PowerPoint, so I created some master slides for each tool brand and then quickly started to produce cards for all my Systainers.
Most of my time was spent finding the right image of each product, and I found that Bing’s image search was the best way to do this. I saved the slides as JPG files and imported them into Brainstorm ID’s layout tool. This tool generates a PDF file that matched my printer and laid everything out so I’d get a full edge-to-edge print on each card.
It took me about an hour one evening to produce ~20 cards for my Systainers, and I am thrilled with the end results. It’s so much easier finding the right box when there’s a picture of the tool right there!
Brainstorm ID Cards
Brainstorm ID PVC cards measure 3.375″ x 2.125″ – the same as credit cards – and are durable and waterproof. Festool and Tanos Systainers have label slots that perfectly fit these cards.
Brainstorm ID created a system that works with various Canon and Epson inkjet printers that feature CD-printing capabilities. You’ll need a Brainstorm ID card tray ($20), which holds two of their special cards at a time. The cards can be printed on both sides.
Price: $18 for 100 cards, $20 for a printer tray
As of the time of this posting, the least expensive compatible printer we could find is the Canon TS8120, priced at $65 via Amazon. There are also a couple of printer options around $99.
After labeling my toolboxes, I found a number of other useful ways of using the cards:
- Luggage tags for suitcases
- Emergency contacts cards for my kids’ backpacks
- Labels for my Think Tank Cable Management bags
- Inventory list for my travel first aid kit
If you have the right printer, I would definitely recommend checking these out!
Let’s say that you want to add visual labels to other tool boxes. You could potentially use the same system, and tape or otherwise fix Brainstorm ID cards to the boxes. There’s also the option of creating a standard size of your own determination and printing to card stock or heavier weight paper that is then trimmed down and fixed to your tool boxes.
Labeling your tool boxes isn’t a big deal if you have a couple of different cases that you can identify at a glance. But what if you have a couple of modular tool boxes of the same size and style, whether Systainers, Packout, or ToughSystem, each with different contents? That’s where visual labels really start to shine.
Would you create visual labels for your tool boxes?
Stuart’s Note: When I went on a toolbox-labeling rampage back in 2013, I spent $50 on a label printer and $20 on film tape. That’s worked well for me for a couple of years, but visual labeling seems like something to try next!