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custom tool boxes

jonKranked

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Nov 10, 2005
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i know there's more than a few tool nerds here. anyone here ever mess around with cutting foam inserts for your tool boxes? i've toyed around with this idea for a while, and have recently come into possession of a pelican 1600, and kaizen makes an foam set for this case that's not an astronomical price.
 
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4xBoy

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Jun 20, 2006
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You Instagram?

Toolboxwars is serious business.

Blank kaizen foam is cheap, I have been slow to finish mine, but, some day.
 

4xBoy

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Jun 20, 2006
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Abbey tools is selling a fit and finish one.

Can you believe, I almost bought it?

I didn't after realizing I already had almost all the tools already.
 

jonKranked

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Abbey tools is selling a fit and finish one.

Can you believe, I almost bought it?

I didn't after realizing I already had almost all the tools already.
i've seen the abbey one. out of my league, unless i hit the jackpot.

as i mentioned, i already have a pelican 1600. it's a little larger than i'd probably have gotten if i'd had my choice, but the price was right.
 

Jeremy R

<b>x</b>
Nov 15, 2001
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A couple years ago, I switched over to a tool roll instead of a box, and filled it with good tools from knipex etc...
I find this setup really convenient. I only carry the necessities with me in the car and when I am home, I can unroll it and hang it above my work bench. Plus, it was cheap.
 

iRider

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2008
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Do you guys have only one bike toolbox for home and travel use?
I am kinda debating downsizing my travel toolbox and moving some of the bike tools into the tool chests in the workshop. I am already partially there because a lot of tools that you only use when building a bike, building wheels or servicing a fork are workshop based anyway. But as always: it is the tool that you haven't with you that you need. :disgust:
 

jonKranked

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A couple years ago, I switched over to a tool roll instead of a box, and filled it with good tools from knipex etc...
I find this setup really convenient. I only carry the necessities with me in the car and when I am home, I can unroll it and hang it above my work bench. Plus, it was cheap.
last year i pared my tool box down to a super small one, just a 16" husky from home depot (i think it ran me $7) and forced me to really think about what the essentials are that need to go in there.
 

jonKranked

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Do you guys have only one bike toolbox for home and travel use?
I am kinda debating downsizing my travel toolbox and moving some of the bike tools into the tool chests in the workshop. I am already partially there because a lot of tools that you only use when building a bike, building wheels or servicing a fork are workshop based anyway. But as always: it is the tool that you haven't with you that you need. :disgust:
i have one that goes in my car (see prior post) that has the essentials of what i'd need for a ride, everything else stays in the workshop. back when i raced DH i traveled with a larger and better equipped toolbox.
 

jonKranked

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A couple years ago, I switched over to a tool roll instead of a box, and filled it with good tools from knipex etc...
I find this setup really convenient. I only carry the necessities with me in the car and when I am home, I can unroll it and hang it above my work bench. Plus, it was cheap.
do you have the knipex plier wrenches? what's a good size(s) for bike applications?
 

Jeremy R

<b>x</b>
Nov 15, 2001
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do you have the knipex plier wrenches? what's a good size(s) for bike applications?
I have the 10" one. It is an awesome tool to have to use for a variety of uses. Normally when I use it
on a bike, I am using it instead of having a specialty tool. For example, it works great for removing fork's
topcaps if you do not have the right size socket handy. The knipex will do it without marring the cap.
 
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jonKranked

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I have the 10" one. It is an awesome tool to have to use for a variety of uses. Normally when I use it
on a bike, I am using it instead of having a specialty tool. For example, it works great for removing fork's
topcaps if you do not have the right size socket handy. The kniplex will do it without marring the cap.
good to know. do you ever find yourself wanting/needing a smaller one?
 

kidwoo

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Aug 25, 2003
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Those are the best mechanical device invented since the wheel. I mean that. the price sucks but there's very little you can't do with those things.

They can fly planes, cook dinner, and even initiate spontaneous generation for new species, single or multi-cellular. They're incredible.
 

OGRipper

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Feb 3, 2004
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My portable kit is super trick: A Dewalt drill bag. Super compact. I've thought about a roll to get a little better organized, but haven't found one I love enough yet, and I don't have any problem finding what I need.

Jeremy R, which roll did you get?

There are some impressive setups out there. I get it for the pros, but man, all that foam takes up a ton of space, so you need a much bigger box than your actual volume of tools. Just doesn't make sense to me.
 

jonKranked

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There are some impressive setups out there. I get it for the pros, but man, all that foam takes up a ton of space, so you need a much bigger box than your actual volume of tools. Just doesn't make sense to me.
i wouldn't be considering doing this if i didn't already have a pelican case.
 

kidwoo

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Aug 25, 2003
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My portable kit is super trick: A Dewalt drill bag. Super compact. I've thought about a roll to get a little better organized, but haven't found one I love enough yet, and I don't have any problem finding what I need.

Jeremy R, which roll did you get?

There are some impressive setups out there. I get it for the pros, but man, all that foam takes up a ton of space, so you need a much bigger box than your actual volume of tools. Just doesn't make sense to me.
haha! I just dremeled out all the fins that hold a drill and battery in place in a dewalt box....probably the same.

I'm with you on all the wasted foam space. I don't need to 'protect' cable cutters and allen wrenches.
 

Nick

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Sep 21, 2001
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medium tool chest, maybe 6 drawers up top and 3 big drawers down in the garage.
tool bag for the car, with essentials. (hex tools, spare brake pads, shock pump, chain tool, zip ties, etc)
 

OGRipper

Turbo Monkey
Feb 3, 2004
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NORCAL is the hizzle
haha! I just dremeled out all the fins that hold a drill and battery in place in a dewalt box....probably the same.

I'm with you on all the wasted foam space. I don't need to 'protect' cable cutters and allen wrenches.
Funny. Great minds... Mine is actually just a canvas bag though, probably not even as fancy as yours. Works great, takes up very little space, and has had everything we've needed, even on our longer road trips.
 

toodles

Turbo Monkey
Aug 24, 2004
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Australia
I'd rather have a super organized workshop than a nice toolbox these days. When I travel to races I just take a small box for on-the-day fixes. Most of my serious work is done at home in the garage and I'd rather have tools on a shadow board for organization.

I was late getting on the Knipex plier program but they're a really good bit of kit. Coming from an electrical background I've also got a few Knipex cable cutters and their flush cutting side-cutters are absolutely mint. Great for cable tie trimming so you don't have any sharp stabby bits.

The other unusual bits which I think are worth having in a decent workshop are some good industrial scissors or shears like the Wiss ones and a set of bootlace electrical crimpers for cable ends. Good paper shop towels and an air compressor just make everything waaaay easier to manage. Sucks getting frustrated the night before a race trying to bead a stubborn tyre.

Here's how the garage looks now after I just replaced the old fluorescent lights with some sweet LED units I acquired. Normally there's a large German Shepard taking up half the floor space but she decided to wander outside and bark at possums.

Garage.jpg
 

toodles

Turbo Monkey
Aug 24, 2004
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Australia
Also, this guys setup is pretty ideal for a serious race mechanic


But you'd need a portable table to put it on and open it all up. And unless you have a dedicated race truck/van and pit area it would be overkill for most racers. Looks cool and all though, but cmon - race day fixes are normally done under heavy time constraints and by worn out, frustrated people. I can't see that tool kit staying in that condition unless you were a full-time mechanic rather than a racer fixing their own and their mate's bikes.
 

kidwoo

Celebrating No-Pants Day
Aug 25, 2003
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^^See how much more you can fit in there?

Most of my serious work is done at home in the garage
My really serious work, like involving complete frame realignment, wheelbuilds, steering tube straighning, exclusively occurs in parking garages at whistler or some colorado joint at 1am .
 

iRider

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2008
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Cool workshop! I see it the way you do, this is why I think of downsizing my mobile toolbox.

I was late getting on the Knipex plier program but they're a really good bit of kit.
Instead of the Knipex pliers I use this:


Coming from an electrical background I've also got a few Knipex cable cutters and their flush cutting side-cutters are absolutely mint. Great for cable tie trimming so you don't have any sharp stabby bits.
I use a toe nail cutter for that. Works well in tight spots.

 

toodles

Turbo Monkey
Aug 24, 2004
2,753
959
Australia
My really serious work, like involving complete frame realignment, wheelbuilds, steering tube straighning, exclusively occurs in parking garages at whistler or some colorado joint at 1am .
Goddamn I've got some horror stories about the repairs I've had to do without proper tools whilst overseas or away for race weekends. I generally try to not make a mess if I've got a nice hotel room, but I've had to rebuild forks in bathtubs and sinks and use kitchen cutlery to remove circlips and stuff. Got a few scars from that stuff going wrong as well.

I'm waiting till Airbnb bans MTB riders. If not for the repair mess, it will be for the beer spilt.

Instead of the Knipex pliers I use this:
I've had some nice Stahlwille shifters/adjustable wrenches and other brands that use good tolerances, but I'd still be loathe to use them on fork top caps and stuff. A good 12" shifter is still my go-to for old BBs and crank pullers and obviously you can use the circle on the end for extra leverage on an allenkey or whatever.

The Knipex pliers have that sweet mechanism for parallel actuation that makes them awesome for pushing back brake pistons squarely and other fiddly jobs where square force application and high pressure is required like shock eyelet hardware and DU bushes and whatnot. They're a bit easier to carry than a 6" bench vice...
 

Da Peach

Outwitted by a rodent
Jul 2, 2002
12,622
1,986
North Van
I have the 10" one. It is an awesome tool to have to use for a variety of uses. Normally when I use it
on a bike, I am using it instead of having a specialty tool. For example, it works great for removing fork's
topcaps if you do not have the right size socket handy. The knipex will do it without marring the cap.
My friend the bike mechanic recommended that very tool for that very application.

He has moved away.

I guess it’s time to get one...
 

maxyedor

<b>TOOL PRO</b>
Oct 20, 2005
3,261
415
In the bathroom, fighting a battle
Unless you get paid to travel around wrenching on bikes the full custom toolbox seems a little pointless IMHO. I keep my bike tools in a Rigid pack-out and it takes a couple minutes to sort them out while working on something, but I'm not on the clock with a rider waiting, so no biggie. I considered doing the foam just to make it easier to account for all my tools, but ultimately every new bike part requires some new fangled tool so I'd constantly be re-cutting the stuff. Even with just the essentials it weighs 35lbs, if you use a Pelican 1600, and take advantage of all that space it'll easily weigh as much as 2-3 e-bikes. My 1600s I used to travel with weighed 125-150lbs depending on where I was going and what I was doing.

I built our tool boxes for the Oshkosh Baja program, and did lots of specialized tool boxes for military applications and found the best best source for foam is an industrial foam supplier. The same stuff Kaizen sells was like $20 for a 4'x8' sheet. I cut it on a waterjet, but a scroll saw works well too. If you do build a box, give it a look.

Toolboxwars on the Gram has some cool shit, but the pro's boxes are always limited to their personal hand tools, generally not full bike repair. I've seen a few with syringes, but never one with an actual bleed kit, pump, fluids, all that kind of shit goes on the team van, where is that going in your kit?

Think about the repairs you’re likely to do on the road and tools/parts you’re not likely to find. Do you need a headset press? Probably not. Do you need a bleed kit? If you have shimano or Sram brakes, yeah, you definitely do.

Started typing that at work and then had to go and missed a bunch, but it seems to be the consensus and I never miss a chance to recommend Knipex pliers wrenches, you should buy them and buy them now, I can’t recommend them enough. KCTool will probably have them, as well as all kinds of other good tools you should buy on sale for Black Friday.
 

jonKranked

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Nov 10, 2005
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Unless you get paid to travel around wrenching on bikes the full custom toolbox seems a little pointless IMHO. I keep my bike tools in a Rigid pack-out and it takes a couple minutes to sort them out while working on something, but I'm not on the clock with a rider waiting, so no biggie. I considered doing the foam just to make it easier to account for all my tools, but ultimately every new bike part requires some new fangled tool so I'd constantly be re-cutting the stuff. Even with just the essentials it weighs 35lbs, if you use a Pelican 1600, and take advantage of all that space it'll easily weigh as much as 2-3 e-bikes. My 1600s I used to travel with weighed 125-150lbs depending on where I was going and what I was doing.

I built our tool boxes for the Oshkosh Baja program, and did lots of specialized tool boxes for military applications and found the best best source for foam is an industrial foam supplier. The same stuff Kaizen sells was like $20 for a 4'x8' sheet. I cut it on a waterjet, but a scroll saw works well too. If you do build a box, give it a look.

Toolboxwars on the Gram has some cool shit, but the pro's boxes are always limited to their personal hand tools, generally not full bike repair. I've seen a few with syringes, but never one with an actual bleed kit, pump, fluids, all that kind of shit goes on the team van, where is that going in your kit?

Think about the repairs you’re likely to do on the road and tools/parts you’re not likely to find. Do you need a headset press? Probably not. Do you need a bleed kit? If you have shimano or Sram brakes, yeah, you definitely do.

Started typing that at work and then had to go and missed a bunch, but it seems to be the consensus and I never miss a chance to recommend Knipex pliers wrenches, you should buy them and buy them now, I can’t recommend them enough. KCTool will probably have them, as well as all kinds of other good tools you should buy on sale for Black Friday.
i can't really refute anything you say here, but as a former mechanic and DH racer, the appeal of a well organized travel tool kit is something i've always lusted after.

funny you mention foam suppliers, i know a few (including local ones) i could probably get straight sheet stock from at a fraction of what i'd pay through kaizen. i've got some ideas for stuff that would be really rad but involve more than foam. as i've previously alluded to, i wouldn't really be considering this if i didn't already have a pelican case (or 2 or 3).