Organizing My 18-Drawer Tool Chest

Hey there! I generally don’t post this late in the day, but I literally just finished organizing my new Husky 18-drawer tool chest (I got this one from Home Depot), and a couple of you asked me to show how I organized everything in it. So here it is! For the first time ever in my life, my tools are organized in a way that I can easily find them, and it feels amazing.

tool chest 1

The absolute best advice EVER regarding tool chest organization came from a couple of you who recommended putting the labels on magnets so that they can be easily moved when I decide to move things from one drawer to another. I used the sticky back magnet roll (like this one) that’s easy to cut with sharp scissors, and borrowed my mom’s label maker (like this one) to make the labels.

tool chest organization - magnetic labels

And as far as the organization, here’s how I’ve done things for now.

In the top section with the lid that lifts, I have sanders, drills, nailers, staplers, and jigsaws. These are pretty much the tools that I use the most often.

tool chest organization - sanders drills nailers and staplers

I want to build something that each of these tools will slide into so that they’ll stand on their own rather than leaning on each other. But for now, this is fine.

The narrow drawers on the right side are my favorites because I find them so much easier to organize. Multiple categories of tools don’t have to share a drawer, and I like that.

In the top drawer, I have all of my wrenches.

tool chest organization - wrenches

Next drawer holds clamps. I do have a “Kreg Jig and accessories” drawer, but I put my Kreg clamps in this drawer because they can be used for so much more than just with a Kreg Jig.

tool chest organization - clamps

Next up is the pliers drawer.

tool chest organization - pliers

And then the screwdrivers and screwdriver bits drawer.

tool chest organization - screwdrivers and screwdriver bits

Below that is the drawer with all of my utility knives and any other sharp cutting knives and blades.

tool chest organization - utility knives

And then there’s the drawer with all of my drill bits and spade bits.

tool chest organization - drill bits

The next drawer is a bit random — tape measures, allen wrenches and furniture movers.

tool chest organization - allen wrenches and tape measures

And the big drawer at the bottom holds all of my sandpaper, sanding discs, steel wool, and dust masks.

tool chest organization - sandpaper and dust masks

So that’s all of the narrow drawers on the right side. Now on to the wider drawers on the left side.

The top drawer holds scrapers, chisels and tin snips.

tool chest organization - scrapers chisels and tin snips

The next drawer holds glue guns and sticks. And yes, every workshop needs a good (big) glue gun. 🙂

tool chest organization - hot glue guns

The next drawer is nails and staples for my pneumatic tools, as well as blades for my jigsaws and reciprocating saw.

tool chest organization - nails staples and saw blades

The next drawer is the wide, shallow drawer that is the whole width of the tool chest, and it’s where I put some of the tools I use the most, including levels, speed square, hammers, mallets, prybars and punches.

tool chest organization - levels hammers punches prybars

Next up is the drawer that holds all of my electrical tools.

tool chest organization - electrical tools

Under that are my hand saws and caulk guns.

tool chest organization - hand saws and caulk guns

The deep drawer on the bottom left holds my Kreg Jigs (crown, pocket hole, cabinet hardware and hidden hinge) on the left and my Dremel Multimax on the right. In between, I put two containers. The left one holds Kreg attachments (pocket hole drill bits, pocket hole screwdriver bits, crown angle finder) and the one on the right holds Multimax accessories (blades, sanding attachment, etc.)

tool chest orgnization - kreg jig and dremel multimax with attachments

And then I use the handle on the side of the chest to hold my framing squares, large clamps, and crowbar.

tool chest orgnization - framing squares large clamps and crowbar

And that’s it! That’s the full tour of my new tool chest. 🙂 I’m so excited to have things organized, and I love those magnetic labels with the freedom to move things around as needed. And if you were keeping count you probably noticed that I still have two free drawers on the left side, although I doubt they’ll be free for long.

What you didn’t see in this chest were any tools related to painting. Everything for painting — paint sprayers, rollers, paint can openers, etc. — will go on the five 12-inch-deep shelves that I installed in the sunroom. I have one shelf that’s 8 feet long, and the rest are 6 feet long, so I’ll have plenty of room for cans of paint and any painting tools.

I also have a spot in the sunroom where I’ll store all of my large tools — circular saw, floor nailer, air compressor, table saw, miter saw, etc. And I still need to put some hangers on the wall where all of my extension cords will be stored.

Of course, this is all temporary. The sunroom will one day be gone, and I’ll eventually have a workshop in the back yard where all of this stuff will reside permanently, and my big tools will be set up for use any time I need them. But for now, this is still a huge step up from what I’ve ever had before.

So overall, my organization is coming along nicely. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about organization in my life. 😀

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  1. I’m a bit of an organizational freak and I don’t understand the self-imposed frustration people go through when they aren’t. I always tell my hubby…you never have to “look” for a fork because they are always in the silverware drawer. No where else. Why not the same with your tools? Life just got easier for you 🙂 I love the suggestion of labeled magnets.

    1. Jamie, that’s a good argument for me to use on my husband – the most disorganized man I’ve ever seen! If the kitchen can be organized, why not the tools?!!!

  2. I’m sooo jealous! This is a dream of mine, to be this organized with tools, and art supplies!

    I know how happy you are! Woot Woot! YeeeHAW!

    Great idea with the magnetic labels!

  3. Cool! Not sure if it’ll work in your drawers (mine are wider than depth…instead of narrow like yours) but we “pointed” flatheads into one corner and Phillips in the opposite… we found about twice as many screwdrivers when moving and had a hard time fitting them all back in the box. Since the business end takes up less space than their handle, the collection rounds around a corner and you can fit a collection in a much smaller space. Also all the tips are in one spot, so you can spot the tool you need easier.

  4. Very cool Kristi! Can you come and organize my husbands tools and other stuff? Never mind, he wouldn’t keep it that way, so it’s pointless! :-{ Maybe if I got him one of these fancy tool storage thingies and got him started???

  5. WOW! Everything about this is impressive — that big, beautiful tool chest, and all that gorgeous organization! I bet it felt SO GOOD to get everything set up and organized like that, and the fun will be when you go to use it and can find everything you need in a snap. Maybe you could print color pictures of the way you have things organized and store one in each drawer so nothing gets out of place in future?

  6. Some women dream of a jewelry box. I think it’s pretty cool that you have such a great tool box!

    Did you ever own a “Scroll Sander” for your jigsaw? My brother invented that (lost the business in his divorce and the product is no longer made), but they were pretty cool.

  7. Jealous both of your new tool chest and some of your tools. I hadn’t read all the comments but putting the labels on magnets is a great idea.

  8. Fabulous! I was so excited in the spring when I came across a rolling two part tool-box in the scratch and dent section at Sears a little while back. But when I got home, I kinda froze about how to organize it. Thanks so much for the peek behind the curtains at how yours is set up. As for the paint stuff, I found a fabulous set up on Pinterest that I’m anxious to do in my garage (just waiting to get a leak sealed up first). If you are interested in seeing it, its called “Organizing the Garage DIY with Pegboard Storage Wall” I didn’t post it, but I can just see it in my garage when I’m done…right next to my rolling tool cart with magnetic labels (thanks so much for that tip)

  9. Why so many utility knives, hammers, caulking guns, measuring tapes? Just curious. With us, it’s sometimes easier to go buy a new one than to find the old one! My husband is getting a tool chest so that should help.

  10. Very impressive Kristi…..this is going to make your daily tasks so much easier. What an awesome idea about the magnetic labels. They look great and so practical to change out if you change what’s in that place. Kudos to you Kristi for getting this organized.

  11. I’m with the “this is a jewelry box”!!!!

    Hey do you have recommended phillips screw driver brand? Have grown weary of the worn off tips… they are useless. Want to buy some good ones?

  12. I bought my hubby one last Christmas but a lower height one with the butcher block wood work top (also a black Husky). He loves it. I even store some of my tools in it. They are the greatest thing for the tool room.

  13. I have been working on trying to get my house organized since we moved in two years ago. This is exactly what I need to do to help my husband find his tools. All I ever hear is, “have you seen my…” and it’s driving me crazy! LOL. Looks amazing! 🙂

  14. I admire your organisational skills. I believe that there should be a place for everything. The trouble I have is 1. Not enough space.
    I am a little concerned that by posting all your wares on the web, and your personal details are you not worried that your expensive equipment will be a flag for burgulars? Although I hope you are insured. But I really love everything you have done and have been a fan for years.

    Love reta downunder

  15. The truly amazing thing I see here is that you have the knowledge to USE all of these tools. What I would give to spend time with you to learn what you know. There are few teachers with your talent that are willing to share their time/talents, and even fewer woman teachers out there in general. You are a true jem Kristi! Thank you for your work.

  16. I literally adore you for posting this. Your post about how you spent hours looking for your fish tape was basically my life – I’m also renovating my entire house basically all by myself, and two + years in I have soooo many tools, but NEVER where I can find them. I’ve twice in the past month been reduced to angry tears because I couldn’t find my stapler. I never really looked into these tool chests I think because I thought they would be TOO specific – I don’t have the type of mind that can keep everything that separate. However, the chest you’ve bought and the way you’ve arranged it is so so so so helpful. You have the same range and type of tools as I do, and for all the same type of projects, so for now I’m just going to flagrantly benefit from all your organizational effort and get the same chest and organize it exactly the way you did! Seriously, this post was so helpful. THANK YOU!

  17. I have been thinking about buying my husband a good tool cabinet or chest for his birthday and I wanted to look up different ways he could organize it as well. That is a great idea to label the drawers, that would make it really easy to find whatever you are looking for. I like the way you organized your tool chest. Thank you for the ideas!

  18. Thank you! Thank you! I’m looking for a similar tool chest right now and your organization has helped me choose which one to purchase. I’m the organizer in our home while my husband tends to leave tools wherever. Tempted to fuind a cabinet that locks!