Road Box?


Active Member
There are lots of posts about what tools people reccomend, and what they use...etc. My question is what do you keep it all in? Ship and OldGrover previously mentioned a road box, but I'm not 100% on what that is. I think its the really big tool boses on wheels, but I'm not sure. I've got an electricians pouch that holds my screwdrivers, linesmans, channel locks, strippers, c-wrench, and a few other things. But I've got a ton of tools, and not really anywhere organized to put them. What do you guys use? Could you link me to a picture or manufaturers site? Thanks.

I use a large bright yellow toolbox for all the small fiddly tools and supplies and this :

as my 'job chest' / road box. (sorry about the horrid URL). The Job Chest gets all the bulky stuff - circular saw, larger clamps, drills, socket set, etc.

My air compressor and my largest clamps don't fit in the job chest, so they end up coming in separately, but going to the job chest has REALLY cut down the number of trips. I thought of building something custom, but it was just cheaper and easier to buy the plastic thing :) (I had such grandiose plans, too, all sacrificed on the altar of laziness :D )

Ha ha cool we use the exact same box at my school. But instead of it being for all the tules (we have a whole toolshed built into the side of the theater) we use it only for carrying lighting supplies like the $40 dollar lightbulbs and the fuses and anything else related to the dimmers and boards that needs replacement at certain times. It works really well cause then we can just roll it anywhere we need it in the theatre instead of having to carry stuff back and forth to find the right thing.
I was at Canadian Tire today, and saw that box, came home and made the original post. :) thats cool. When I worked at canadian tire, we carried a job chest even larger than that one. It went discontinued just before I left, and I didnt pick one up. Its a good idea to use one, my issue is would it be cheaper to buy the box, or just build a roadbox out of plywood and some flight case hardware.

Grover, we may very well have the same yellow toolbox too, haha. I got the Mastercraft one with the 3 drawers in it. I have a lot of the Professional series stuff, before they replaced it with the "Maximum" line.
I've been through all sorts of tool bags and boxes over the last nine years, from high school through college and now the professional world.

For most of high school my main toolbox was a big duffel bag affectionately referred to as the "Oh, Sh*t! Kit". It held up pretty well and was light, but I got tired of digging through a big dark bag for the tool I needed, which was inevitably at the bottom.

Partway through college, I switched to a big Rubbermaid toolbox. It was one of those two-part boxes; there's a small toolbox on the top that you can use on its own, which attaches to another toolbox on the bottom. The top one has a handle that can swing up, and the bottom one has rubber wheels, so when you're using the double-tall it can be wheeled. I have horrible memories of wheeling it to the T (subway) in Boston from my apartment to take it to the theatre. It was also nice because it was just about the right height to use as a stool for sitting on at FOH when repairing things (I generally like to stand to mix).

As durable as they are, though, once you're touring and throwing your toolbox on a truck, though, Rubbermaids and the like just don't hold up packed with tools. And, again, even with the tray, you get the big bottomless pit effect.

At some point in there, I can't even keep track of when, I tried one of those open-top/zippered soft toolbags (CLC, I think?), which I liked, but the open top (in this case, it was open pockets on the outside for wrenches and screwdrivers, and then a zipper on the main compartment) is a badddd idea.

Before I went out on my first tour, I bought an Anvil ATA briefcase. This held most of what I needed for the tour, and was wide and shallow, so it's easy to find what I need. It's a bit small though, and I've finally outgrown it. I was going to look into the larger technician's case they make, but still, I wanted something more compartmentalized, and a bit bigger, so, I'm now on what will likely be my final toolbox...

I'm currently awaiting the completion of a custom built ATA toolbox from Olympic Cases. Over half of it is filled with foam with cutouts to hold my meters, cable testers, measurement microphones, etc. Then there's a smaller open compartment for other goodies, also padded on all sides with foam, and the top of the lid has a tool pallet to hold my wrenches, pliers, and cutters. It's pretty much shaped like a tech case, and has wheels and a telescoping handle to help in carrying it, since when full it'll be a bit on the heavy side.

When I get it I'll try to post a picture. It's expensive, but short of a road workbox, it's pretty much all I could ever want in a toolbox.

Now, you ask what a road box is. That's a somewhat vague term, but in this case, it may be referring to a workbox, such as this:

That's actually one made for a guitar tech, hence the padded table surface on the top of the actual box, but you get the idea. Standard ones just have the drawers, and optionally either a foldout table in the lid or a lid that converts to a table like in that one.

Lots of companies make them, Olympic has some really cool ones on their site that are shorter and double-wide.

Basically, to sum it up...I do not recomment open top toolbags, they're too easy to lose stuff out of. Duffle bags can work, but have to be really sturdy ones, and they have the "big black hole" effect. Rubbermaid type boxes are great for local work, but if you're throwing the box in a truck week in and week out, you'll want something hard-sided, which leaves you pretty much with either a Pelican case or an ATA style case of some shape and size of another. If you're on a big tour and can get the truck space for it and afford the shipping or get the production company to pick up the tab, of course, a big workbox is the way to go.

Hope some of this helps,
I've outgrown the briefcase, as well as the large toolbox. I might carry too much gear, but I cant think of leaving anything at home. I'm doing the college thing, as well as working a lot of local gigs. I have a nice electricians pouch* that carries my main stuff that I need for electrics, and on lighting gigs, if I need anything more, I was thinking of getting a zippered tool bag. The issue is the carpenty gigs. I dont have a car right now, so its public transportation for me, or else begging for rides. I need something to hold hand saws, levels, 100' tape, cordless drill, circular saw...etc. The stuff thats hard to move.

* I say pouch, but its almost a bag. Its an oversized electricians pouch, with a shoulder strap, and a handle. There is no belt loop, its too big for that. It holds all my screwdrivers, pliers, strippers, wonder bar, pens/pencils, 25' tape, c-wrench, DMM, lamp testers and a few other things.
I'm not at the point where I need an ATA case. I dont need anything that durable yet, and certainly nothing that big. I try not to bring too many specialty tools to call gigs.
Yup, like I said, it's a matter of knowing what you need for what you do, and what you personally like. I don't like soft bags anymore, some guys love them. . My box is definitely overkill for a lot of the folks here, but I figured I'd give a full picture of all the different carrying devices I've used over the years :)
We have 2 road boxes.

Box 1 is a very tall ata case that fits on the truck inbetween light cases. It has different depth drawers to hold everything from gender changers and converters, to headphones, to a drawer full of cds, etc. We have it because we travel. If you're at a permanent venue, I can't see the need. Maybe a tool chest from Craftsman or Home Depot, or whatever, but not something as big and movable as this.

Box 2 is the same size, but is foamed in. The bottom has a refrigerator (no, I'm not kidding). Above that is a microwave, and above that is a coffeemaker and a drawer. Everything is nice and snug, and the back has a flush mount a/c receptacle. So we get to the show, plug it in, and everything is ready in an hour. Then we can stock it with whatever we bought at the grocery store. We do that because it is very difficult to drive the truck to a restaurant, and there seldom is anything within walking distance, and it's cheaper as well. Again, not necessary if you're in a venue, but we do local stuff with sometimes 20 hour days and this makes life much more managable.
LOL, yeah, they keep a mini-fridge in our props "standard" (huge triple-wide box about 6' tall or so, the key word is GIGANTIC) for the road production office, as well as a microwave, too. And I've got a little electric cooler that I keep out at FOH for drinks. I'm actually waiting for a case of Honest Tea to be delivered to the arena tomorrow, LOL. Haven't gotten around to throwing a George Foreman Grill out here yet, but you never know...

Of course, that's getting well off the subject of toolboxes, although those cold drinks are very key to a good sounding show ;o)
andy, its somewhat related, but somewhat not.... when u were in HS, did we have tools? now we dont. i dont use a road box or anything because i dont have storage and i dont drive, so my locker contains everything. and i mean everything, gaffers,duct,glotape,board tape, any tools i need that arent illegal to keep in school... wires... anything else. my locker is not very far from the auditorium entrance but i wish i could find a better and secure way to keep stuff. if the custodians found my tools they would without a doubt take them all so i cant leave them in backstage storage unless ihave my own locking box.
I am in HS and dont really have too many tools. Ok, well i dont really have any tools now that I think of it. We have a little lapple type bag (very thin nylon type cloth) that really wasnt even ment to be a tool bag (closer to a purse) that we keep a few ajustable wrenches in and plyers and screwdrivers, stuff like that. It's not really a road box, and everything else that might normally be found in a road box is really scattered in different closets throughout the auditorium. Sorry i am not much help when it comes to road boxes
Hey Matt,
Nope, it was all our own tools when I was there, too. I can't remember what I did before I was driving, I know that senior year I ended up leaving the duffle in my car. Actually, my tool-carrying device of choice pretty much always lives in my trunk when I'm not on tour, now that I think of it...

I can't think of a single toolbox that doesn't have tabs for a lock, so that might be a way to go, just lock it up with a combo lock (so you don't have to worry about forgetting the key) and throw it in the cage or somewhere in the booth. Maybe even get a bike lock and lock it to something by the handle if you really don't trust it.

BTW, I keep forgetting to ask, are the two Bill's still there on custodial? If either/both of them are, definitely say hi for me. I know the younger Bill was still there a couple year ago, not sure if the older one retired or not by now. Great guys!
yea, i dont think anyone will steel my case, i think its more likely that if one of the custodians saw a nice shiny wrench sitting there and had a job they needed to do they might borrow it instead of running back to their office and forget to return it. they arent bad people and i dont think they would intentionally steal it (at least not the ones who have keys) anyway, i dont know if there are still two Bills, but there is at least one, the one who thinks he knows tech but really doesnt and screws everything up. he has also said on many occasions that we F*ck up equipment and i have heard he doesnt like students and despises stueent techs, but that hes a really nice guy if ur not one of those groups. hes the guy the boss has do shows he doesnt wanna pay us to do or pulll us outta class for. but ill say "hi" for u.
Hmm, not sure if that's the same Bill. There were two when I was there, and both were always great to us. One was a younger guy, kinda shaggy black hair, and really, really cool. The other was older, kinda average length gray hair, glasses (I think), and always looked cranky and bitter (and, for that matter, usually was), but was always nice to us.
ccfan213 said:
andy, its somewhat related, but somewhat not.... when u were in HS, did we have tools? now we dont. i dont use a road box or anything because i dont have storage and i dont drive, so my locker contains everything. and i mean everything, gaffers,duct,glotape,board tape, any tools i need that arent illegal to keep in school... wires... anything else. my locker is not very far from the auditorium entrance but i wish i could find a better and secure way to keep stuff. if the custodians found my tools they would without a doubt take them all so i cant leave them in backstage storage unless ihave my own locking box.

I sure hope you're feeding those gaffers you've got in your locker. :wink:
I've got it here beside me, so here's whats currently in my pouch. 6 klein screwdrivers, 12" channel locks, snips, 10" and 6" c-wrench, vice grips, dikes, strippers, 2 knives (straight and curved blade), zip ties, marker, pencil, 4 types of electrical tape, notepad. LOL. Just started an install today, didnt really know what i needed yet. Tomorrow the pouch will be lighter/few different tools.

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