Truck Toolboxes Tech Center

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Take advantage of this resource guide to find advice, hints and tips on picking the right truck toolbox for your vehicle

Why should I buy a truck toolbox?

Truck toolboxSure, letting the tools of your trade roam freely in your truck bed seems budget-friendly. But consider what you may lose by leaving your gear loose in the bed. Tools can crash into the walls and break. Thieves can make off with your best stuff. Or, nasty weather can rust-out your tools and render them useless.

Good truck toolboxes can make your tool-carrying life much better. Consider your truck toolbox a sturdy sidekick that looks nice ‘n burly, and provides these three big benefits:

  • Storage that keeps all of your gear in one central, contained spot
  • Security that ensures your tools stay where you left them
  • Protection that safeguards your pricey automotive tools and automotive hardware from damage

The storage advantage of a truck bed toolbox: a fast guide

truck bed toolbox storageThanks to substantial size and smart trays, a truck toolbox gives you nearly infinite storage options. Most notably, the ability to keep the equipment you need for your life and livelihood right at hand. Those days of scrambling all over your bed for the tool you need are long over.

There are plenty of other things you can secure in a truck toolbox besides your tools, too. As most true pickups lack a trunk or similar storage area, a good number of truck toolboxes are used simply as locking, confined storage areas for a wide variety of items. Everything from shopping bags to groceries and emergency supplies like jumper cables can make their home in your truck toolbox.

Best yet, as you’ll find out when we cover truck toolbox styles later, the options for toolbox storage are almost limitless. There are toolboxes for the front, sides, rear, and even underside of your truck bed.

Truck bed toolboxes and security: a key reference

toolbox lock and keyEver had your Sawzall or nail gun ripped-off by some faceless punk? It’s not only costly, it’s infuriating. What’s even worse, you have to haul yourself down to the home mega store and plunk down for a new one. This is where a truck toolbox can pay for itself, with sturdy metal walls that keep your gear out if sight, and rugged locks to keep things where you leave ’em.

Truck toolbox employ a variety of keyed lock styles, most notably rotary latch lock mechanisms with spring-loaded paddles or push button assemblies for opening the lid. Most boxes also feature adjustable or self-adjusting lid strikers for the tightest possible seal. Unless a thief has polished lock picking skills or a cutting torch, there’s no getting into your toolbox. Truck bed toolbox locks are often built flush with the side of the lid to keep moisture from entering the lock and freezing. Select models even feature a cap over the lock.

Another key security feature of a truck toolbox is that the box itself is difficult to steal. Aside from the sheer weight of a full truck toolbox, the drilled-in or clamped installation makes the task of making off with your entire toolbox extremely difficult. If a thief wants your gear that bad, they’ll have to hotwire your truck to get it.

A guide to truck toolboxes and protection

Rain, extreme sun, snow and random debris. None of these are good for your tools. A truck toolbox keeps each of these enemies from doing their worst to your gear. And, your tools are guarded from busting in the bed when you make screeching stops, sharp turns and quick starts.

Not only does a truck toolbox keep your gear in a protective box that shields the weather out, each typically employs a weather seal between the lid and the box. Running or seeping water is prevented from getting into the seams of your box by rubber or foam tape seals that channel moisture away. In any situation short of driving into a lake, your tools will stay dry.

A guide to toolbox materials and construction

Truck bed toolboxes come in a variety of materials, each with their own virtues for tool storage. In our department of truck toolboxes, you’ll find three familiar metals employed in the toolbox walls: aluminum, steel, and stainless steel.

Aluminum

AluminumThe bulk of truck bed toolboxes are made from bent sheet aluminum. Typically, the aluminum sheet also features a rugged diamond plate pattern. Not only is diamond plate aluminum durable, lightweight and tough-looking, this sheet material will not rust or deteriorate.

Steel

SteelSteel is the old-school truck toolbox material. A steel truck toolbox is heavier than an aluminum one, but that weight isn’t necessarily a drawback. Fans of steel toolboxes like the more traditional truck box material because it’s tougher and resists more dings/dents caused by shifting tools. Steel truck toolboxes are topped by a powder coated finish to protect the walls from corrosion. However, any chip or gouge in the paint will invite corrosion right in – a drawback that aluminum and stainless steel boxes don’t have.

Stainless steel

Stainless steelA few of our truck bed toolboxes are made of stainless steel. This more expensive truck box material is reserved for premium toolboxes. Thanks to the composition of stainless steel, it provides superior corrosion resistance and can be polished to a much more brilliant shine than an aluminum box. And, it doesn’t require the same powder coated protection a steel toolbox does.

toolbox hingesBeyond the wall and lid construction, many other components are key to the life and quality of a truck toolbox. A heavy-duty hinge or set of hinges links the lid with the box itself. Basic boxes have twin modest-sized hinges; deluxe boxes employ one long piano-style hinge. The hinges are typically forged from a corrosion-resistant alloy for years of smooth opening and closing. Both styles perform well, but the continuous hinge design puts less stress on individual points of the lid, and evenly distributes the weight of the hinge. That’s why you’ll find the continuous hinge on better boxes.

Basic struts assist in lifting the lid with ease and closing smoothly. More budget-friendly toolboxes use only one shock at the middle of the lid, while the vast majority of toolboxes have a shock on each side for effortless lid operation. Premium toolboxes generally have integrated guards around the base of each strut to protect the assembly from blunt force damage, like getting whacked by a pry bar carelessly tossed into the box.

A QUICK REFERENCE ON TOOLBOX STYLES


Truck bed toolboxes come in a number of shapes, sizes and varieties for the many places you can use them on your truck bed. Here’s a look at the common types:

Tip for flairside trucks

Quick tip: overhead clearance and toolboxesWatch your overhead clearance if you’re adding a toolbox to a truck with a lumber rack. Some toolboxes, such as gull wing boxes, won’t be able to open fully without hitting your rack.

Crossover toolboxes

Crossover toolboxesThese are the most common truck bed toolboxes you see on the road; they’re named as “crossover” toolboxes because they cross over from one side of your bed rails to the other. These toolboxes typically have a single lid, opening up and back toward your rear window. Crossover toolboxes are also known as cross-bed toolboxes.

Among crossover toolboxes, there are several variations on the basic design, including:

Low-profile toolboxes

Low-profile toolboxes:

much like a standard crossover toolbox, except low profile toolboxes have a slim lid that allows better rear visibility.

Double-lid toolboxes:

alternative to a single-lid crossover toolbox, a double-lid toolbox features two smaller lids that open toward your rear window, effectively splitting your toolbox in two equal halves.

Double-lid toolboxes

Gull wing toolboxes:

much like a DeLorean’s doors, gull wing toolboxes feature two lids that open toward each other at the center of the box.

The gull wing hall of fame

DeLorean DMC-12Mercedes-Benz 300SLseagullGull Wing Toolbox(from left to right): the DeLorean DMC-12, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, an actual seagull, and our Ultima Gull Wing Toolbox.

Side-mount toolboxes

Side-mount toolboxesWhen a single crossover toolbox at the cab is too much or isn’t enough storageside-mounted toolboxes give your truck just the right amount of extra secure space for tools. Ready to mount to each side of the bed rails, these trusty toolboxes are great for longer gear and are available in a style that matches other truck bed toolboxes. Side-mount toolboxes are also known as “innerside toolboxes.”

Tool chests

Tool chestsTruck bed tool chests are big on capacity and versatility. These beefy boxes mount directly to the floor of your truck bed instead of wrapping over the bed rails. This design has some major advantages, and a few drawbacks. On the upside, a tool chest doesn’t impair your rear vision, looks smoother, and can be teamed with most tonneau covers without modification. On the downside, a truck tool chest effectively cuts the length of your truck bed. Long materials and supplies, like lumber, won’t fit inside most short-bed trucks with a tool chest.

Specialty toolboxes

Different storage needs have brought about a flood of new truck toolbox styles. Here’s a few of the prominent specialty toolboxes you’ll see:

Wheel well toolboxesWheel well toolboxes– filling the dead space between your wheel wells and the tailgate, a set of these clever boxes outfits your truck bed without hogging hauling space.

Fifth-wheel toolboxesFifth-wheel toolboxes– the best way to secure your tools and gear if you have a fifth-wheel hitch planted in your truck bed.

Underbed toolboxes<Underbed toolboxes– popular for flatbed utility trucks, underbed toolboxes add secure storage to a place that’s out of the way.

Dog boxesDog boxes– like a mini pokey for canines, these boxes keep your dogs contained and out of trouble. These toolboxes are ideal for animal control agents, hunters and dog enthusiasts alike.

A fast word on truck toolbox finishes

A truck toolbox usually offers you a choice of finishes to complement the look of your rig. Most models give you a choice between two basic finishes: black and bright.

Black finish

Black:

a generoupowder coating not only gives your toolbox a semi-gloss black look, it offers further sealing against corrosion.

White:

white powder coating is the finish of choice for most steel toolboxes. Applied in abundance to the surface of the steel walls, the smooth white paint looks sharp and locks rust and other corrosion out.

Bright finish

Bright:

the already corrosion-resistant diamond plate aluminum is buffed to a reasonable shine that lasts. The shine is not as deep as a polished chrome or stainless steel surface, but still looks sharp.

Other work truck gear to go with your toolboxTruck bed toolboxes are only the beginning here at AutoAnything. We have all of the other gear a work rig could need, including:
Bed caps Tonneau covers Tailgate protectors Contractor racks Bed rails WinchesAuxiliary lights Tailgates

Installing your toolbox: a basic overview

Mounting a truck bed toolbox to your rig is a straightforward job. Each box includes all of the clamps and hardware you’ll need to secure it to the bed rails. And, most toolboxes require only simple hand tools you probably have in your truck right now.

For example, most crossover toolboxes can mount to your bed rails with a basic J-bolt, a nut and a washer. The J-bolt wraps underneath your bed rail, tightening to your truck with just a few turns of a ratchet.

Minor drilling may be required to install your toolbox, but it’s no big chore to do on your own. Just a few simple holes through the inside of the bed rails may be needed to securely mount your box. This isn’t needed for all toolboxes and trucks, but should be a cinch for a regular tool hauler like yourself to handle if it’s required at all.

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Mike Cote
My 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road Access Cab 4x4 offers bed space to camp in, haul my dirt bike around, and it's been done up to take on the trails. Favorite mods include my Icon coilovers to soak up the bumps. My Walker Evans 501 Legend wheels wrapped in Toyo RT tires give me the clearance from my upper control arms to fit (and they look darn good) and the over-sized tires take on rocks with plenty of traction. My Rigid Industries fog lights have kept me out of a ditch or two when night wheeling. Growing up going to car shows and helping my dad work on the family vehicles ignited my passion. My best memory was the first time I flushed the coolant. My dad forgot to tell me to keep my face out from under the drain plug. Never made that mistake again!

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