Tools and Tool Boxes

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Chris Foster

Senior Member
Oct 12, 2007
Vessel Name
Vessel Make
46 Grand Banks Classic
I haven't yet come up with a good way to store tools aboard, nor a good place to do so.* I have a 3-drawer Craftsman chest that's currently living on one of the aft cabin berths, so that won't be a good permanent solution.


- need a secure place to keep the box that won't be in the way, and won't dump the contents all over the place if seas kick up.* Dry is a good thing, too.

- the engine space might be a good place.* That's the most likely place to need tools, it's dry, it's out of the way, and there should be a good way to strap the box down when not inuse

- but that makes it a PITA when you need a tool somewhere else - need to clear the main cabin and open an engine hatch, then reach down and drag the heavy box out

- maybe two or three boxes - the heavy duty tools with the engines, and a small box that has a few screwdrivers, pliers, smaller wrenches, and such that can be stored in a cabinet.* Maybe a third box just for electrical - meter, terminals, crimpers.

So what kind of solutions have you come up with?*
I have the forward cabin hanging locker behind the helm which is MINE! I built a set of shelves in one part which is custom fit for my spare bolt box, socket set, drill bit set, screw box, VOMeter, etc. Each box has it's own slot/shelf. I put my "common use" tools, screwdrivers, pliers, etc in a soft sided bag which sits on the floor.

Big tools, prop puller, prop wrenches, and anything that is seldom used, live in the engine room in a plastic tray.

I'm not a fan of a hard box. It seems like they always find varnished wood to bump against. Or, my luck I'd leave it with the drawers unlocked and my tools would be soaking in the bilge when I looked for them.

Having said that, I keep a multi-bit screwdriver and a pair of pliers in my helm tray for those inevitable little jobs that need attention.

Ken Buck
I have a lot of tools aboard in several different boxes etc. One box just has electrical stuff. One has smaller hand tools. I have one in the engine room that has tools that will only be used there. And a 4th box that has engine tach, taps and dies, Micrometer sets etc. They are in different types of boxes. The neatest setup I have is in the saloon under a shelf behind a door, I mounted 2 pickup truck boxes side by side. These are boxes meant to go between the wheel well and the tail gate on an suv or pickup. The boxes are 8" wide by 19 high by 17 deep. The door in the front drops down and it has 5 drawers of 2 different sizes. Because they are tall and narrow it gives you a lot of storage space without a large foot print.
I also have a 3 drawer craftsman box that sits in the middle of the saloon. Only it looks like and is used for a foot stool. When I had the saloon furniture recovered a couple of years ago I had them make a cover that slips over the top of the box. The cover is the same material as the rest of the furniture. I also have another footstool that is actually a file cabinet. It has all the paper work for every system on the boat. Hope this gives you some ideas.
I think several toolboxes is the answer, at least on my boat. I have a small (maybe 12" x 5" plastic one in the pilothouse, which contains the stuff I use 95% of the time. Wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, key to open the Groco strainer, ruler, etc. I keep the electrical stuff in a small drawer there too... strippers, crimpers, voltmeter, etc.

The engine room has a medium sized one tray box that has most of the stuff I use in the engine room, like oil filter wrenches, pipe wrenches, larger wrenches and screwdrivers, etc.

In the guest cabin I have a three drawer tool box that has everything else. Most of this stuff is specialty stuff or used less frequently than the others. One caution, be sure to remember to close the lid when underway, as if one drawer slides out, it can make the thing unbalanced and fall over. Everything else will come open and fall out too. Don't ask me how I know this.
I've the multidrawer in the ER that contains all ER-related tools, and we have one of those Husky tool kits that contains just about everything you could ever need. This kit is stashed up in the saloon, behind the recliner, but is easy to grab when needed.
I like to use a tool box and several of the satchel bags by Caraftsman and others to keep testers, drills, and other large items in. They are easy to store, pick up and move they have soft sides and bottom so they don't scratch anything.
Thanks guys - some good thoughts.

I think I'll probably try putting the hard box in the ER with the engine-specific and the heavy tools that aren't needed frequently.

Then two soft-sided bags to be kept above - one for general purpose tools, and one for electrical tools and testers. I might do a third for drill, bits, and adhesives/sealants.
I have two or three full sets of everything on the boat.* The engine room has two full sets of mechanical and electrical*tools/parts that would be required*for the engine room.* The pilot house has a 5 gallon bucket that has one of about everything, which is used most of the time as it is portable.* Under the pilot house bridge is a large storage area for the bigger power tool, and on the roof in a storage box is the epoxy/paints/solvents/varnish and power tools required for the exterior.*
Anyway I would have more then one of everything in two separate areas,*one*for easy quick access, and a larger one in an area not so easy accessible.
I just leave the tools around the place in heaps, works for me

Ok ok she ain't too happy about, I will tidy them away soon, promise*
I like the soft bags like klein electrical bags. Also the "Nantucket Bags" as seen at the boat shows for storage in clean, dry areas. Then the big plastic ones for big heavy stuff. Plano made some bags that folded with the tacklebox hand held boxes for screws, bolts etc. And then the step to the pilothouse for frequently used items.
I use a number of plastic tool boxes for
-large heavy tools
-supplies such as sealers/lubes/greases
-several blue rbrmaid bins for spare parts, gaskets, etc.
-bunch of Plano small parts boxes for ??? small parts
My tools for stuffing box and such I v'e built holders to keep those specific tools close at hand. Saves a lot of digging.
My boat is small enough that there is still STUFF hanging about. (maybe I keep too much aboard, NAH)

I stopped using metal boxes. No matter what I did they rusted out and made a mess and messed some of the tools. They all must live in the engine compartment.
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