What is the Best Material for a Tool Chest?


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Tool chests are most commonly made from sheet metal, with secure locking throughout. Different metals can be used for construction such as plastic and aluminium which each have their own advantageous properties.  Let’s have a look at the different types of materials that are used so you can determine which is best for your business.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is a metal alloy that is ductile and corrosion-resistant. This alloy is highly weldable which means it can be shaped without cracking or becoming brittle. The metal is then hardened using a thermal process resulting in a material with exceptional strength and durability. Stainless steel is well suited as a material for a tool chest, being lightweight, durable and strong, as well as providing a corrosion-free container for your tools. 

Advantages of stainless steel tool chests

  • In a workshop situation, a stainless steel chest is corrosion-resistant and withstands all conditions it may encounter. Tools will stay clean and dry inside drawers. 
  • The stainless steel tool chest can be securely locked with a central mechanism and provides a safe place for tools to be left overnight. 
  • Portability is easy with the stable structure of steel allowing high-functioning wheels and handles to be attached.
  • The strength of steel allows heavy tools to be stored without damage to the chest, drawers or tools. 
  • Stainless steel can be powder finished and coated to prevent scratches and have longer durability.
  • Stainless steel offers protection against most elements, hazards and environmental occurrences.  


Aluminium can have some advantages over steel. Aluminium is light, strong and flexible and offers a lightweight alternative to the heavier stainless steel.  Aluminium is naturally non-corrosive and is also non-sparking which is suitable for high static locations or where electrical hazards may occur. Aluminium is used widely as fasteners and structures for plastic tool chests and boxes.

Advantages of aluminium tool chests

  • Aluminium is very lightweight while still being strong and ductile
  • As aluminium needs less processing it can offer a less expensive alternative to stainless steel
  • Aluminium is non-corrosive and non-sparking making it a safe substance 
  • It is an attractive metal with a silvery finish


Plastic is created from petroleum and is an extremely malleable and durable substance. As a tool chest material, plastic is versatile and lightweight. Plastic can be made transparent so tools are easily located, and its non-corrosive properties and easy portability make it a desirable tool chest material.  

Advantages of plastic tool chests

  • The lightweight material is easily moved around the workshop
  • Can be easily moulded into useful shapes for holding a variety of tools 
  • Plastic offers a lower-cost tool chest 
  • Plastic is non-corrosive and keeps out water and damp 

When considering the type of material you prefer for your tool chest, take into account the environment it will be stored in and the type of tools you want to store in it. For more information about tool chest options, consult an expert at RS Online. 



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