I’d like you to think I’m super organized — that all my gear and tools are perfectly sorted and at-the-ready, but in reality, that’s just not the case. When I need a socket, I usually end up hunting through a jumbled mess of stuff crammed into some nook or cranny in the truck. In other words, I was long overdue for some much-needed organization in the truck, especially in those ARB storage drawers I purchased 2 1/2 years ago for a pretty penny. So this weekend I spent 3-5 hours of my own time and an extra $29 to give my main tools a secure, organized home in the Explorer.
A home for tools…and other stuff.
I keep most of my tools in my rear storage drawers. The drawer setup consists of one full-height ARB roller-top drawer on the driver side, and one shallow “tool drawer” on the passenger side. The fridge sits on the shallow drawer for easy food (beer) access. Up until now I’ve tried tool rolls (too tall for the the shallow drawer to function properly) in conjunction with socket holders (the sockets fall off and go everywhere). It was time for change – and time to get crafty…
My drawer setup – I am using the shallow drawer on the right for tool storage
In my aimless internet browsing I had seen 2-layer foam tool organizers meant for tool chest drawers – and because the do-it-yourself tool foam blanks run less than $50 each (and I only needed one), I decided to try my hand at creating my own custom foam tool holder.
I purchased a tool foam set from Amazon for $239, and it was close to the perfect dimensions to fit snugly in my ARB shallow drawer (16”x22”). The foam in the kit is pretty dense – not a ton of “give” to it, which in my opinion is great because I need the foam to securely hold tools while I barrel down dirt trails!
Test fitting the base red foam layer in the shallow drawer
The kit consists of 2 layers of foam: a 1/4” deep red base-layer, and a 1/2” deep black layer with an adhesive backing. The black layer is for the tool cutouts and the red layer attaches as a base. The finished product is a custom tool mold specific to your toolkit — perfect for organization while keeping tools securely in place and serving as a friendly reminder to put everything back in its place.
I spent about 2 hours mocking up my tools on the foam. I wanted to make everything fit in a logical arrangement. After I finalized each tool’s placement, I traced the outlines and then started cutting using a Stanley hobby knife and a box-cutter with an exacto knife. This part took the most patience…
Here’s what I’m storing in the foam organizer:
- 10 shallow sockets (10mm-19mm) for a 3/8” wrench
- 10 deep sockets (10-19mm) for a 3/8” wrench
- 10 ratcheting combo wrenches (10mm-19mm)
- 2 ratchets (1 long-handle and 1 stubby, both 3/8”)
- 2 socket extensions
- 1 set of Channel Locks
- 1 crimper
- 1 combo screwdriver
- 1 pair of needle-nose pliers
- 1 pair of wire snips
Trace, cut, test-fit, cut some more, test-fit, success! Now do it 34 more times…
Thankfully, the tedious work paid off, and I’m thrilled with how the tool organizer came out — why didn’t I do this years ago??? This past weekend, I had the truck out on some washed-out forest roads going at a pretty good clip, and the foam tool holder held everything in place — Success! Time will tell how well the foam holds up, but in my opinion the solution is perfect for my needs and I got a great sense of satisfaction making my own custom solution.
However, I will have to say that it’s a lot of work, for something you can get a lot cheaper on amazon. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks, you should check out the wrench holders on amazon: