Spring Cleaning Time? Don’t Forget Your Tool Box

Quite a few years ago I did a brief stint as a tool truck driver. If you want to learn a lot about the industry, visit 15-30 shops a day. You quickly get a good picture of what’s going on out there.

One of my favorite things was helping a technician purchase a new tool box. The first thing I did was inspect their old box as they generally wanted to trade it in. You’d really be surprised at what I observed —some good and some not so good.

Here are a few of my observations:

  1. Many technicians had nice clean, organized boxes. Tools were carefully put away and easy to find.
  2. Most had an entire drawer devoted to archiving way too many old and outdated sale flyers from all the tool OEM trucks. It’s probably a safe bet that it’s OK to get rid of them if they are more than about a month old.
  3. There was also one drawer packed with salt, pepper, sugar, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, mayonnaise, and soy sauce packets, along with assorted napkins, plastic knives, forks and spoons. The drawer was completely full and unavailable for tool storage.
  4. Another drawer was filled with old and rusty nuts, bolts, washers, clamps, cotter pins, bits of hoses and other miscellaneous items from previous repairs that “may” be needed in the future. This drawer was usually so heavy you could barely open it.

Now might be the perfect time to do a spring cleaning on your tool box. Clear out any of the items that are just taking up space — you might even find a tool or two that you were sure had gone missing.

And if you’re thinking about purchasing a new box, it’s also a good time to do a thorough cleaning of your existing box. Get out the cleaner and wipe down inside and outside of the box. Grab any old car polish and give the outside a shine. Trust me, the tool guy doesn’t want to spend hours cleaning your old box and you will get a better trade-in value.

Once your tool box has been purged, or your new box has arrived, invest in some organization accessories to help keep things in order: good quality drawer liners, socket or screwdriver racks, drawer organizers, foam cutouts and small plastic storage boxes.

Your tool box is probably the single biggest investment you will make during your career. Protect your investment by keeping it clean, neat and well organized. It will definitely pay off in the long run.

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About the Author

Bruce Cansler

Bruce Cansler started his automotive career in 1973 as a technician for Datsun. He retired from the U.S. Navy as a Seabee Construction Mechanic with 20 active years of service and 10 as a reservist, then spent time working in Ford, Lexus and Caterpillar dealerships. Bruce has obtained ASE certifications in both cars and medium/heavy trucks and has worked with the Commercial Vehicle Group at Mitchell 1 since 2009.