Organize Your Tool Collection With DIY Foam Tool Inserts

Near the top of the list of the most aggravating everyday mysteries, up there with lost socks and missing TV remotes, is whenever we need a particular tool, it seems to be the only one missing from the drawer. Whether your vice grip can’t be found, or you have a million flat head screwdrivers when all you need is a Phillips, it’s exasperating to waste a half hour searching for a tool that you only need for a few seconds of work.

The simple answer is better organization, but that’s more easily stated than enacted. When things need to be fixed on the fly, a tidy tool box is the last thing on our minds. The solution is the creation of an organization system that lets you quickly find a tool while making putting it back easy enough that you’ll actually bother doing it. The simplest and most cost-effective way to do this is by creating your own foam insert tool box liners, a DIY project that will save you time and preserve your nerves.

Tool chest liners are made from layers of custom-cut closed-cell foam, creating an individualized spot for every tool in your collection. Not only do these liners work wonders for organizing stationary tool chests, they can help visit:- you stop losing tools as well. These foam inserts are very easy to create on your own, with the only materials needed being the foam sheets, spray adhesive, a non-serrated knife, and a marker. If you’re comfortable tracing, cutting, and gluing things, you have all the skills needed to make your own tool box liner.

Naturally, the first step in creating your custom foam liners is figuring out how much material you’ll need. The sheets should lay within the drawer snugly and smoothly, but as long as you abide by the saying “measure twice, cut once,” you’ll be fine. After measuring how much foam you will need, you need to decide what type of foam to use. Because of its moisture resistance and durability, only closed-cell foams should be used to make tool inserts. Foams types to look for that will work well as tool case inserts include cross-linked polyethylene, polyethylene roll, and standard polyethylene. Open-cell foam will quickly tear and stain, and polystyrene is too rigid and will crumble with use.

You will want to purchase two layers of foam, one being white or brightly colored for a bottom pad, and the other a dark top layer that will hold the tools. The reasoning behind the contrast in color is two-fold. The bright, bottom layer is exposed when a tool is not in place, serving as a reminder that something is missing as you prepare to pack up. On the top, the dark foam helps create that necessary contrast and will aesthetically wear better over time. You can make the bottom sheet as thick or as thin as you like, but for security, the top cutout layer should ideally be deeper than the tools it will hold. It isn’t absolutely necessary, especially in stationary tool chests, but it can help keep tools from sliding and popping out if there’s a lot of movement. Additionally, it’s important to make sure the adhesive you need to bond the two sheets is appropriate for the style of foam you plan to use.

Once you’ve gathered your materials, trim your foam sheets to size for the drawer they will be placed in. Be sure to cut the foam generously, because the sheets need to fit snugly against the drawers’ sides to keep the insert in place and you can always trim the sheet down if they’re too large. The easiest way to cut the foam is on a cutting board or workbench, with a straightedge and a utility knife for clean, straight lines.

Once the pads are trimmed to size, arrange the tools how you want them on the top sheet of foam. When you’ve plotted your layout, carefully trace along the outer edge of each tool with a marker. Don’t worry about any accidental marks on the foam or sloppy tracing, as this side will be hidden when it’s glued face down to the base.

Depending on the size of the tools and how close they are to each other, a standard utility knife may not provide enough cutting control. If this is the case, precise hobby knives found at craft stores are great for intricate cuts. When cutting the foam, it’s vital that you cut INSIDE of the tracings. Cutting within the tracing ensures a snug fit that will “grip” the tool in place. Some people add finger slots to their cutouts to make removing a tool easier, but this is purely personal preference.

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