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This might shock clean freaks and guys who must put each tool back in place every time it’s moved, but a lot of contractors don’t work that way. They have work to do and no time to worry about cleaning each tool and replacing it in carefully arranged drawers.  Reader ghb624 talks us through this great example of a contractor’s toolbox.

Someone who does general home repairs for a living has to carry a whole bunch of tools, because “you never know what’s next.”   So, the “toolbox” is sometimes the bed of his pickup. And of course, the level of “housekeeping” varies a lot from person to person.

What about when it rains, you say? Right, a cover would be prudent. But Tommy is normally more involved in drumming up business, making estimates and supervising his crew, as opposed to actual hands-on work. So, he doesn’t carry the tool outfit on all occasions.

We might worry about leaving the truck parked at the local big box with a “pick-n-pull” bed like this — but a helper in the truck would be just as effective as a bed cover, so his friend Tommy might be safe.  We offer our hearty thanks to ghb624 for a great photo of life in the real world of a tool guy.

Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]


18 Responses to Flickr Pool: A Real-Life Toolbox

  1. techieman33 says:

    That’s just asking to get stolen. And if he doesn’t carry it all the time, that another good reason to have it in some kind of a box, it would be a lot faster to load it up, or take it out, than trying to get a pile of loose stuff in the back of a truck.

  2. the tools that are closest at hand? sawzall – 2 of them apparently.

  3. Bill says:

    Who guards the truck bed at night? What does he do when it rains?

    I don’t see how anyone could effectively get any work done with that mess.

  4. Dano says:

    Oh brother. How are you suppose to find something in that rats nest. I can find any of my tools with my eyes shut. Everything goes back to the same place after usage. It makes it easier not to leave behind any tools at a job site.

  5. Michael W. says:

    I bought a used aluminum cap for my Frontier for $100 off of Craigslist (Not many used caps out there for Frontier Crew Cabs with 5′ beds, but patience won out). Not only does it keep stuff out of sight, it keeps stuff dry. I also keep my tools, fasteners, stains and paints, etc. in Rubbermaid tubs (large and medium Roughnecks from Home Depot – except for my miter saw and saw horses). I also bungied a section of PVC pipe to the inside frame of the cap to keep my levels up and out of the way.

    Saves me quite a bit of time when I have to find stuff, and time is money in my business. It also allows me to keep my tools in reasonably good condition.

    Customers also seem to be a little more confident in your abilities when they see that you are reasonably neat and careful with your tools. Makes them think that might carry over to the work you’re doing for them.

  6. Ken says:

    A clean and orderly truck bed is the sign of a warped mind.

  7. Ken says:

    The truck is protected by Mr’s Smith, Wesson and Browning

  8. Clark F says:

    I know too many techs that spend more time trying to find their own tools, then they do actually making repairs. Its ridiculous. Not only that, but how do you know if anything is lost, if you don’t even know where it should be in the first place? Clean, organized tools are a sign of professionalism. Find me a customer in any business that wont agree with that.

  9. Pops Blair says:

    This guy could use a YETI – http://www.myyeti.com. I hear stories every day about how guys get their stuff jacked from trucks like this. You need to do something to protect those tools. They may not look like much but there is probably over $600 worth of tool sitting there!

  10. Brice says:

    This is why our company uses vans. 🙂 Nobody pays me to keep my truck clean. If I want a clean work truck, that means taking time away from my family to clean it. That said, I try to reorg my truck at least once a week.

  11. David Bryan says:

    If this is what works for the man, and he gets his work done to standards, leave him alone. If somebody’s doing something unethical, or profligately wasteful, that’s one thing; but passing value judgments on somebody else’s methods is usually just plain snobbery.

  12. Nick says:

    wow seriously you guys really have a holier than thou attitude.

    Sometimes doing rough framing, ill just throw my mag 77 skill saw, router, sawzall and jig saw in the back of my truck till the jobs done. Only thing that will stay in the can in stabiils and occidentals.

    Other times everythign is just chaos on in the cab.

    Other times its nice and tidy in the cab (once every year).

    And in all honesty the quality of work is the same across the board.

  13. Koba says:

    Passing value judgments on somebody else’s methods, whether you like it or not ( I don’t) is a major customer relations issue. Any greenbean in almost any trade could tell you that a customers impression of your appearance, and the appearance of your work earns you repeat business.

  14. Nick says:

    Yeah but comon you guys who shows up to bid jobs with a truck bed full of tools?!

    After the job is signed I pick out what tools I need for the job and those stay in my truck. No point having the whole garage in the truck.

  15. Davo says:

    I swear, that is the exact scene I saw, at the flea market in San Jose, just the other day…

  16. fred says:

    My rolling plumbing toolboxes are mostly Ford E350’s and a few Step Vans. We use about the same set-up for our GC/Woodworking subsidiary work – supplemented with some heavier trucks and a few flat-beds/stake trucks to haul heavy machinery and our sitre boxes. Our vans are all neatly outfitted on the inside so we can find our tools and parts, know if something is missing, and improve productivity. My experience is that if one of my crews arrive at a jobsite in a disorganized and sloppy state – then this reflects badly on the firm and will ultimately result in the loss of business. Our clients are both the ultimate consumer (building or home owner) and larger GC’s. I know that the word-of-mouth endorsements that we get for professionalism and doing excellent work go a long way to our success. We are still working at close to capacity – even in the current market downturn. I think this is in measure to how we approach our job. Maybe a messy pickup truck, with lots of tools strewn about, might impress some folks – but in the long run it will likely hurt your business.

  17. Ken says:

    Why is it that everyone seems to equate a clean and orderly truck to someone who knows what there doing. If a contractor shows up at my job I judge him or her by the quality of their work and the knowledge of the job.

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