Box rebellion

When toolmakers first offered hard plastic cases with their tools, I rejoiced. I thought they were wonderful. Now, not so much.

The manufacturers still tout hard cases as an asset for portable power tools, and for many I suppose they are. If you don’t use a particular tool often, they’re excellent at their intended job of storage. And if you regularly lug your tools to a jobsite, then these plastic boxes are invaluable – it makes them way easier to carry, easier to stack in your car or truck, and protects them from the inevitable tumbles inherent with truly portable work. And on top of everything else, they just look so darn cool.

But if you use your tools nearly every day in the same shop space, chances are good that all those cases are, and remain, empty. And if you’re like me, all those bulky empty cases are no longer a protective storage solution, but a storage nightmare.

I’d need to sit down with a rule and calculator to figure out just how much space those 12 cases were taking up, but it’s easily several cubic feet that could be put to better shop use. And unfortunately, you can’t really use them for anything else – they’re all molded on the inside for specific tools, so you can’t just use them as storage boxes for all your other stuff. So while you’re looking for a place for your stuff, all these empty boxes are just taking up space and becoming attractive homes for unwanted multi-legged shop denizens. Might as well put little signs in spiderese saying, “Free Apartment.”

I do have other hard cases I’m keeping that function as intended for tools I don’t use often, like my belt sander and power planer, plus a couple others contain accessories and attachments for tools I keep elsewhere. But these 12 totally empty boxes are taking a one-way trip in the big green truck that pulls up to my house every Tuesday.

And I’ll bet you $10 that the trash guy grabs a few for himself, because hey, they’re cool. But unless he owns one of the specific tools that fits the molded interiors, I’ll also bet he’ll end up storing a bunch of empty boxes.



  • Hey A.J., Did you ever consider cutting around the edge of the molded section with a piloted plunging bit? I use either a small router or die grinder. Then you can rip th’ guts out and voile’ there’s a whole empty box that you can fill as you please.

    Keep ’em comin’…. have a WUNNERFUL day….. and thanks for your support,

  • Roger Muller says:

    Festool Systainers are wonderful. I have thrown away all of the other cases. Systainers stack and lock together. Dewalt and Bosch are coming up with similar systems

  • Bill says:

    Would the average purchaser pay extra for tool manufacturers to change to a removable moulded liner so the box could be used for other uses?

    I’m like you- most of the cases immediately go into storage thinking I may need them “someday”.


  • Chris Wong says:


    I believe that you can cut out the moulded interior of blow-moulded containers so that they can be used for other things. My favourite suggestion for what to do with tool cases was to fill them with concrete and use them for stairs.


  • You just made me wonder if I should cut out the inside custom liner: I bet it is hollow under the forms and then we’d all have something useful again! Stay Tuned…..

  • i have alteredcarring boxes by taking the partations out . use a hot knife and cut to suit. once cleaned out they can still be used to transport tools.they become storage boxes while in the shop.

  • Gary Schmidt says:

    I have altered an old cordless drill box by cutting out the custom molded liner and replacing it with foam in both the top and bottom portions. Then with a pocket knife stab an X , which makes a holder for a router bit. Depending on the diameter you can fit a lot of bits in the case and the foam in the lid keeps them from coming out until the lid is opened.

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    Excellent suggests, everyone. Even though I got rid of a mess of these, I still have plenty left.

  • Chuck R says:

    I sell my tools every several years and buy new ones. When I do, I include all the cases and papers that came with them. I bundle them up to take to the local tool consignment shop. My stuff always sells first and for a good price.

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