In my Journey to an Organized Workshop series, I walked through the process of how I designed and built my modular tool storage cabinets.
In this post, I’ll dig into the variety of different ways I have organized the inside of the 56 drawers that I built!
Other Posts in this Series
Rather than letting everything slide around on the plywood drawer bottoms, I decided to line the drawers with a material that would help hold everything in place. To achieve this, I used a vinyl flooring product I found at Lowes. It comes in a 36″ wide roll that is cut to length in the store. At just $2.55 a foot, it’s pretty cost effective.
I cut the pieces to size with an Olfa Rotary Cutter and fixed them to the drawers using double-sided tape.
I’m really pleased how this worked out, especially because the ridges running across the drawers hold almost every tool firmly in place. The material is great for drawers with larger items, such as drills, hammers, and saws.
I wanted to organize the smaller items using a system of boxes. I already had a sizable collection of Schaller Boxes, so I doubled down on this investment.
See Also: Stuart loves these bins too!
Schaller’s 1″ tall boxes come in ten different sizes, ranging from $0.45 for the smallest to $2.16 for the largest. They also have 2″ boxes in a similar size range. If you need even deeper bins, they also have boxes with 3″ depth.
The nominal heights of Schaller boxes are 1″, 1.75″, and 2.75″.
I have organized ~10 drawers using Schaller Boxes for storing knives, router bits, drill bits, drive bits, pens, etc.
Stuart’s Note: Sorry, I couldn’t resist showing how I’ve used Schaller’s 1″ boxes for small tool storage in the past.
Schaller’s removable boxes are made in the USA. While they do have some color options, I hope you like red. If you’re not sure about what sizes you might need, they do sell sampler packs and larger drawer-filling assortments.
Some Drawers Have More Drawers
When I was researching custom-made tool cabinets on Pinterest, I picked up on the idea of having small removable drawers inside a bigger drawer.
I built around 10 of these smaller drawers using offcuts of plywood. I then installed a strip of plywood on either side of the main drawer to rest the removable drawer on, attaching it using double-sided tape.
These worked really well in the drawers I use to store router bits, drill bits, and screwdriver bits. I tend to store the most regularly used pieces in the removable drawer and I can slide it out of the way to access less frequently used items.
Auer Removable Bins
I recently reviewed Auer Packaging Assortment Boxes. I was really impressed with their product, so when I purchased a large collection of their boxes, I purchased enough of their insertable bins to fill two 3″ high drawers.
My plan is to use these drawers to store small parts I use regularly, saving me the need to locate and open the right Assortment box.
Dewalt T-Stak Tubs
A couple of years ago I purchased ~30 Dewalt T-Stak bins. They come in two sizes and have a removable lid, priced at about $2.50 or $3.50 each.
These work really well in my 6″ drawers for storing bulk items and random parts. Depending on how the Auer bins work out, I may sell these on eBay, as I’m not sure if I need three different types of removable bins.
I have a love-hate relationship with Kaizen foam. Kaizen foam is amazing for organizing a drawer so that you always know where to find a particular tool.
However, it does not maximize the use of space and is time-consuming to get things laid out and cut right. Worst of all, if you don’t plan ahead, you may have to start from the beginning to add a new item.
I have organized three drawers using Kaizen foam so far, and as time allows I will do 2-3 more. It works particularly well for my Woodpecker layout tools drawer, as shown in the image. With the Kaizen foam approach, I always know where to find the right tool, and there’s less chance of them getting banged up. I can also spot at a glance whether a tool is left out and wasn’t returned to its proper place.
Kazien foam starts at $13.19 for a 2′ x 4′ sheet, but for a cleaner and more professional-looking installation, you’ll likely need to spend ~$45 on a couple of tools:
FastCap Long Nose Marker: The long reach of the marker allows you to accurately trace around the tools you are looking to store.
Kaizen Knife and Thin Blades: FastCap’s thin blade is a specialty blade that fits their Kaizen snap-blade knife, featuring a very narrow profile designed for cutting out intricate shapes.
Kaizen Foam Hot Knife: adds the final finishing touches by melting a smooth bottom into the section you have cut out.
FastCap’s tools work well, but you’re not limited to that one brand. For example, Benjamen was able to achieve good results using a hobby knife.
At some point, I intend to experiment with cutting out tool layouts using my Shapeoko CNC router, which should result in an even cleaner finish. The trade-off is that laying things out might be much more intensive than simply tracing around tools with a long-reach marker.
One of my first projects with my Shapeoko CNC router was creating storage trays for my Wera Socket set. I created a prototype using MDF and still haven’t gotten around to picking a material for the final design. To be honest, it worked out really well, so I moved on to more pressing jobs.
My goal this year is to finish the project and also create trays for my wrenches and screwdrivers.
If you don’t have a CNC router, you can do something similar with a drill or regular woodworking router.
Whilst not actually a storage drawer, I’m enjoying the usefulness of my pull-out worktop, which I essentially use as a cutting board.
From the outside, it looks like one of my normal 2″ drawers, but when pulled out it reveals a 24″ x 18″ Dahle Vantage self-healing cutting mat ($16-22 via Amazon).
Labels for Everything
Of course, with all these drawers, it can be hard to remember where everything is. The obvious solution is to print out labels for every drawer. I used 3/4″ wide clear tape with black writing, and it stands out really nicely on my aluminum drawer pulls.
At some point, I will also label the Schaller boxes storing drill, driver, and router bits and accessories. I’ve been putting this off because it will likely take hours.
I use a Brother P-touch PTP750W ($111-122 on Amazon), a wireless label maker that features Wi-Fi connectivity and can run on batteries. This makes it ideal for bringing to the workshop temporarily to print out labels.
My quest for the perfect workshop storage solutions is neverending. There are so many different tools and parts to organize that it’s impossible to pick just one solution. I’m pretty satisfied with the different approaches I have taken, and am excited to see how far I will get creating custom-made inserts using my benchtop CNC router.
I hope the solutions I’ve outlined in this post give you some inspiration to come up with your organizational strategy!
What are some methods or products you have used to organize your toolbox drawers?
Tools and Materials
- Vinyl Flooring Runner via Lowes
- Olfa Rotary Cutter via Amazon
- Schaller Boxes via Schaller Corp
- Auer Insertable bins via Auer Packaging
- Dewalt T-Stak Bins (Parts H1200317REC, H1200323001, H1200318REC, H1200324001) via Dewalt ServiceNet
- Kaizen Foam via Fastcap
- Long Nose Marker via Fastcap
- Kaizen Knife, Thin Blades via Fastcap
- Kaizen Foam Hot Knife via Fastcap
- Dahle Vantage Cutting Mat via Amazon
- Brother P-touch PTP750W via Amazon