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Old 04-03-2015, 10:35   #1
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Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

I have a large boat -- 54' on deck, with a decent sized engine room and multiple cabins. Yet -- I can't find a decent place to keep my tools.

I have a kind of workshop -- a passage cabin between salon and aft cabin, where my washer/dryer lives, with cabinets where I keep a lot of parts and supplies, with a pilot berth on top. That's a blessing, but what to do with the tools? I could keep a tool chest on top of the cabinet, but then what do I do with the pilot berth mattress?

I have different bags and cases of different kinds of tools -- an electrical bag, a plumbing bag, etc. But what I am most concerned about are the general tool bag, and the wrenches. I am sick of digging for the wrenches box, which doesn't fit anywhere easy to get at, and which is already missing a catch, and I'm sick of my tool bag where the tools just form an incoherent mass of metal to cut your fingers while you awkwardly grope for the tool you need. Bah! Time for change.

One owner of a boat like mine installed a Snap-On rolling chest in the engine room. That would be great -- luxury -- except that I can't do it -- I have a larger platform for my generator which does not leave room for that. There would be room for a considerable tool chest on the end of that platform -- but the generator exhaust goes through it in two places, blocking access. Another owner of a boat like mine installed pegboards in the engine room doors -- very convenient. But my engine room doors are on light cabinet-type hinges, and have soundproofing. I don't think it's a good idea to load them up. Anyway, how would you keep them from flying off the pegs in a seaway?

In despair, I hit on the idea of buying a metal tool chest, and keeping in -- in the heads. My after heads compartment is a large room, bigger than needed. I could put in a strap to restrain the chest against the engine room wall.

But a tool chest in the heads?! Seems kind of inelegant. To say the least. So I'm still tearing my hair out.

Maybe some of you guys could share what you do? Maybe give me and probably dozens others some ideas.

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Old 04-03-2015, 10:42   #2
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

Dockhead - wife and I were just discussing this same issue last night. Previous boat had a tilt out cabinet were wife made a nice fabric holder for screwdrivers (seems the most frequent tool) that worked well. I recently bought a plastic toolbox (Harbor Freight) but when it got home, was already broken in several spots - returned it. I too hate the jumble of tools in the boat - so different that the nicely organized toolchest at home.

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Old 04-03-2015, 10:47   #3
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

No metal: fabric tool bags or plastic chests.
My Go-To bag would reside somewhere convenient. The less used tools would reside under a settee usually.
Your go to bag should fit on the floor of any head or etc. Hard to believe a 50 ft boat doesn't have some spaces......?
I found a nice soft bag with a lot of places to slide pliars and screwdrivers etc invaluable. Just grab and go where you are working.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:53   #4
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

interesting question - I dont think there is a 'right' place for tools - they are a fact of life and on my boat they get spread around where theres room for them - its not a big boat - theres a couple of draws for electrical tools and miscellany in the aft cabin because its guaranteed dry, theres a working toolbox in the main cabin near the engine, the saws all go in the map slot under the nav desk and theres a waterproof storage box up forward with less used items. Hate to admit it, but I've been planning to tidy it all up for so long now I realise i've just gotten used to it. Never going to happen. Life is what happens when you're planning other things...
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:54   #5
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

No metal. I put in a kitchen utensil divider in our nav station (charts kept elsewhere) for everyday tools. Separate soft bag for electrical. Separate "tool kit" plastic socket set. Larger spanners in their own holder stored on a flat shelf in the V berth (rarely needed but accessible).

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Old 04-03-2015, 10:56   #6

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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

Recently bought, and like:

Welcome Aboard Backpack Tool Bag
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:12   #7
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

Large plastic toolchests, under seats. Although they are painful to get to.

One thing I decided recently was to keep mini-toolkits of regularly needed tools close to where they are used ... so a mini-engine toolkit lives near the engine, and consists of the parts required to adjust the fan belt, change the impeller, and to change out the fuel filters. Likewise my electrical box has a mini electrical kit including a multimeter, small screwdriver, wire stripper, and a crimper as well as a selection of common connectors and bits. My toilet has the tools nearby required to clear a blockage. I also keep a canvas bag of frequently used general tools ... adjustable wrench, screw drivers, pliers, allen keys, wd40, 2 part epoxy, superglue, pencil, knife, etc. in an easily accessible spot in case of emergency.
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:11   #8
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

I've mounted two Ikea magnetic knife bars, one directly over the other for stronger holding power, and keep my most commonly used tools there. I also have a "run bag" with a few more, and I add to it on an ad hoc basis when I know I have a project. My power tools are under the settees in their cases. The rest are below the settees in fabric tool bags sorted by type, such as, cutting, clamping, wrenches & pliers, etc. I have put labels on the lazarette covers and the tool containers.
The main problem I face, without the common sense or space to remedy it, is that there is usually no good place to put things displaced when gathering the tools - it's sort of like those little puzzles with the colored squares that you slid around; they had one "free" space; on a sailboat, providing the "free" space requires more diligence than I possess.
I have no idea if my method rises to even acceptable levels, so I'm eager to hear other solutions. Maybe one day we'll have super fast 3D printing that will quickly make any tool or part required - come on Star Trek, time is running out for me...

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Old 04-03-2015, 12:19   #9
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

Use task-oriented tool bags (as suggested)

I really like roll-up tool organizers:

I've made a bunch for my Jeep, now I need to make some for the boat because, as Dockhead mentions, rooting through the tool bag for a specific tool is a pain.

I'd make em color coded so you can look a a bunch of rolls in the bag and know which ones are pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc... Sockets in a blow-mold case they came in. You also know immediately if one isn't there.

The head idea isn't all that bad IMHO, or find some unused space to build something in. You could craft a storage unit for the head that looks
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:20   #10
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

Under a settee next to the waste tank, I keep most tools in bags, different bags by use, as in electrical, general mechanical, plumbing etc. I keep plastic bins with nuts, screws, bolts, electric terminals, splices etc. there as well, again different bins for each specific types of use. Bigger tools, like saws, and drill stay there too, but they are by themselves, extra bilge pump, fresh water pump, air conditioner water pump and the like are also stored there. Same for sealants, adhesives, varnish except they go in double bagged heavy duty ziploc bags and then in storage cloth tool bags.
I buy the tool bags and plastic parts bins at Lowe's
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:22   #11
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

I use a plastic tool chest. Metal will rust pretty quickly and it can damage surfaces when you set it down or bump something while carrying it.

You can use a single large one or multiple smaller ones, whichever works for you and your boat. I'm not sure the head is a great place for tools.
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Old 04-03-2015, 13:19   #12
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

I keep a small tool bag with screw drivers and another with adjustable wrenches, pliers and vice grips in a drawer readily at hand. I put all other tools, parts, etc in Rubbermaid tubs. One or more for each type...electric, plumbing, mechanical, carpentry. One whole bin is glues and tapes. It takes a spread sheet to keep track of where each bin is stored.

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Old 04-03-2015, 14:09   #13
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

I keep the handful of tools used 90% of the time split between some drawers at the nav station and an easy to access shelf, those I use 9% of the time in a soft tool bag in their own locker in the aft cabin and the rest buried up the front somewhere with the rest of the junk
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Old 04-03-2015, 14:29   #14
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

You are dead on about the need for tool storage. I don't like to put them in the lazarettes nor under the sole owing to the potential of water damage.

The layout of my boat is identical to yours. I do have a few things in the engine room on the generator platform behind the genset case (small hand pump, hacksaw, one of those orange, cone-like rubber bungs, etc., and in the space between the engine room doors and the stringer supporting the engine I keep coolant, funnels, anti-freeze and a quart of oil. I really would not like to have a tool box over the engine no matter how suspended or located. The idea of things falling onto an operating engine in rough weather ....

The most frequently used tools are in a canvas bag stowed under the bottom companionway stair. And yes, reaching into it can lead to nicks. Also obscures the courtesy light there, but the bag fits and does not move about underway even with a fire extinguisher also located there. In the space behind the backs to the settee by the salon table are the plastic boxes with wrench sets, sockets, drivers, etc. Also a plastic compartmentalized box full of screws, nuts, bolts and that sort of thing. On top of it go some spools of wire, the drill and multi-meter, etc. Not as easy to get to, but when underway those tools are used less frequently.

The admiral already complains about my tools encroaching everywhere. If a box showed up in the head, well, man, we're talking mutiny.
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Old 04-03-2015, 14:38   #15
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Re: Where the Heck Do you Keep Tools?

If you have bottom drawers in the compartments there should be space for roll up tool pouches, (laid out flat)! I have most of the tools I need on our boat (37 ft.) put away with no problem. I cannot imagine with a 54 ft. boat you don't/can't have room for an organized tool assortment. You must have space under counters, in cabinets etc. Do you have closed companionway stairs? There must be space in the engine compartment to make shelving or cubbies for tools.

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