Can you readily find that short Phillips-head screw driver when you need it? Do you have a collection of rusty screws and bent nails floating around in your tool box to jab you? Organizing your tool box is a great rainy day project that you will have a hard time getting to, but will save you time and “ouchies” later.
How to get started? Take a tarp or old piece of carpet and spread it out on the floor. Go ahead, just dump the contents of your tool box out in the middle of it. What do you have there? Start sorting tools into piles, screw drivers to the left, socket sets to the right. You get the idea.
While the tool box is empty, give it a good washing on the outside with a household detergent. If it’s greasy, wipe it down with shop rag containing a little paint-thinner. Be sure to work in a well ventilated place so the fumes will not make you light-headed. Wipe the inside, too.
Now back to your piles. Look at each tool and clean them as you work. Are they in good working order and free from rust. Throw away that broken wrench, but make a note to replace it. Now sort through all those loose screws, washers and nails and put them into containers, even zip bags will do.
Once clean and dry, cut a piece of cardboard and fit it into the bottom. It will absorb any grease or oil from your tools. Do you still have the case for your socket set? Arrange the sockets in size order. Do you have an assortment of wrenches or screw drivers? How about bundling them in a piece of fabric (felt works great – it’s soft, absorbent and doesn’t ravel around the edges). Tie them with a long twist tie or reusable zip-tie. Have a bunch of loose ties? Use one to fasten the rest together. Things are looking better.
Most tool boxes come with a shallow tray that fits on top. Put the small accessories in the top along with your favorite flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, wire cutters, pliers, and tape measure. Reassemble the rest of the tools into the bottom of the tool box. Put the least used tools in first. Leave enough space for the tray to fit in and the top to latch.
Do you have battery operated items, like flashlights? Keep them in the top tray as well. Remember to store the batteries in a zip bag outside of the tool. Corroding batteries can ruin them or they could get switched on accidentally and run the battery down. Some discount tool stores publish coupons for free multimeters, tape measures, etc., stock up on these now.
Did they all fit? Okay, if not now you have an excuse (who ever needed one?) to buy another box. Don’t forget to replace those broken tools, too while you’re shopping.
Billie Nicholson, editor