A couple of years ago, many different companies were launching subscription boxes, following the Loot Crate model. You could sign up for many types of subscriptions, and I was surprised to find that this included tools.
Basically, a subscription box is a mystery box where you never know what you’re going to get.
I posted about the first tool subscription company, or at least the first that I knew of, called “Get to Work.” After seeing images of their first 3 subscription boxes, I wrote that I thought they had potential. I guess they couldn’t gain enough traction, because the company’s website is now defunct.
Fast forward a few years, and tool subscription boxes are trendy again.
Here are some options, as of late 2021. I don’t have experience with any of them, and I also don’t find any of them to be appealing in the least bit.
The Tool Chest on Cratejoy – this seller, on what looks to be a subscription marketplace, offers standard, premium, and “plumber’s edition” tiers, priced from $51 to $85 per month. From the images, you get basic tools, but it doesn’t look like you get your money’s worth. It looks like most of the subscription boxes are sourced from the “special buy” and value-priced sections at Home Depot and Lowe’s.
The Tool Chest – on their own website, The Tool Chest also has standard, premium, and plumber’s edition subscription tool boxes, priced from $60 to $100 per month. They show some boxes with Dewalt, Husky, and Milwaukee products, but others have Anvil, Olympia, and HDX. Aside from tools, you get supplies such as wood glue, stain, and Danish Oil.
ToolHeadsCrate – this company appears to have stopped updating their website 6 months ago. They offer, or offered 3 tiers – basic, standard, and premium, priced from $30 to $75 per month. There are some recognizable brands, such as Lisle, Irwin, and Mayhew, but most boxes are filled with generic entry-priced tools.
The Handy Box on Amazon – each month you get 4-6 “tools, equipment pieces, electronics, housewares, and gadgets,” with a starting price of $36 per month. After your first month, it’s $40 each month. The company says that you get at least $70 worth of stuff each time.
Tool Crate – a reader brought up this new company (thank you Jared), which offers quarterly subscriptions at $250 CAD (~$197 USD) each time. They advertise that each box is “meticulously curated by industry experts” and that you will “find tools from the big guys and innovative boutique tool companies. Each box looks to come with tools, apparel, and PPE gear.
Here’s the big question: Are tool subscription boxes worth the money?
Frankly, I’m going to say NO!!
Looking over all of the different tool subscription box options – current and recent – I would regret paying for any of them.
I don’t want to pay for a tool subscription box and get Harbor Freight-quality tools or supplies, would you? Or in the case of the $200 quarterly option, if I’m spending that much on an assortment of tools, I want to know exactly what I’m getting.
The “Get to Work” subscription that I posted about a few years ago had potential, and I found their curated selections to be interesting. Tool Crate looks to be the only interesting brand of the current bunch of options, but their price is steep and their mystery boxes often include tools I don’t want, need, or already have.
Some of the tool subscription boxes look to partner with up-and-coming tool brands – smaller niche tool or accessory makers that advertise heavily on social media. Others look to be sources exclusively from home centers’ gift centers and main aisle shelves.
Tool subscription boxes seem best suited for gift-giving.
I occasionally receive surprise tools in the mail, and it’s wonderful. Getting mystery tools is FUN. But buying a mystery selection of tools?
I have never seen a tool subscription company’s large enough to actually work with manufactures at a high enough level to make things interesting.
With a pop culture type of subscription such as Loot Crate, you might not always get something that perfectly matches your tastes, but chances are that you’ll get something new and different. The same goes with food or related subscriptions.
But with tools?
For every tool subscription box I’ve seen, I’m sure I’d find better ways to spend the same amount of money on tools and supplies.
Even if you’re more of a beginner tool user looking to build up their kit, these aren’t the best ways to spend your money.
I don’t think I would ever buy something like this for myself, at least not from what I’ve seen so far. I shouldn’t say never, as I can think of ways that tool subscription boxes could be made more enticing, such as with customized or special edition products, but even then you’d need themes and pricing tiers.
The problem with tool subscription boxes is that they need to be very narrowly focused to be worth it – in my opinion – but there would be so many different categories to manage.
From all the current options I could find, Tool Crate seems to be the most giftable, but at nearly $200 USD and $250 CAD per quarterly box, it’s still a lot of money for a mystery box.
Would you ever buy a tool box subscription?